Living without?

Living the day without the rest of the world – when we included in our book this tried and tested activity devised by Oxfam back in the late 80s, little did I think I would actually be trying to do it. But now I am in many ways, as are most of us.

The activity asks each person to think about their daily routines and to note down what they use or consume for each part of the day. For example, what wakes you up in the morning? What do you have for breakfast? What clothes do you put on? If you have an alarm clock, where was it made? If you use “Alexa” where do the device and the technology come from; where is it talking to you from? What about the orange juice / milk / coffee you like to drink every day? The wheat for the bread for your toast? The oranges for the marmalade or strawberries for your jam? The cereals in your porridge or muesli? The bananas? Where were your clothes made? This is a great time for research! Then you write or draw the items on a map of the world with lines to show where they come from.

It quickly becomes apparent that we depend on the rest of the world for many things in our daily lives.

Why is this relevant now? Well today, we are living in isolation. Yet, we are not living without the rest of the world in many ways. We may still, for the time being at least, be able to get our orange juice, our coffee, our cereals, but we are living without physical contact with others; we are living without our schools, our workplaces, our sports clubs, our choirs and orchestras, our book clubs and our play dates, to name just a few. We are interdependent beings and now we are confined.

A writer and storyteller, Richard O’Neill, today posted on LinkedIn that he is reminded of the situation when he was growing up in the 70s (like me) and there was a move to battery- and factory-farming with animals confined together in cramped spaces. He questions how we will react when we are set free again. I was reminded of being given, some years ago, a pair of albino guinea pigs, rescued from becoming used in medical labs. They were born in an indoor cage and were due to be killed as too many lab animals had been bred and were expensive to keep. They were lost when we put them in a big cage with access to sunlight, fresh air and grass. It took a long time for them to ‘find their feet’. The good news is the guinea pigs eventually did and lived long with us. We humans are now adapting to captivity. We will need to adapt back.

This has led me to reflect on another activity in Values and Visions: Life without…. Here we wanted young people to  reflect on the role of technology in their lives. Could they live without it? What could they use instead of the technology? In the lifestyles we had ‘before’ this was an interesting concept to explore in the classroom. It still is. What discussions and reflections there can be now! For many of us who were not avid users of smartphones, tablets and social media they have now become lines of connection to our loved ones, to those who are alone and maybe vulnerable. Never before have I spent so much time in front of a screen! I would find Life without… my virtual contact with the rest of the world difficult at the moment.

We humans are interdependent: a concept explored in depth in our book; a concept to explore even more at the moment. Try these activities with the young people you are caring or responsible for and let us hear what they have to say. Can we live without the rest of the world? Can we live without technology?


The full instructions for these activities and the in-depth discussion questions that accompany them, can be found in Living the day without the rest of the world in the COMMUNITY section and Life without… in the EARTH section of Values and Visions: Engaging students, refreshing teachers (see homepage)

By Comments off April 1, 2020