This narrative started out being about hip geezer homes but then morphed into a screed about crunch times. In my mind they are strongly linked, but in reality don’t need to be. I’ll get to both, but first the latter. In biblical terms it’s referred to as The Great Tribulation; the worst times ever to befall the world. You know, when the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan; when all world systems break down: succinctly characterized, if I must say so myself, by the phrase Entropy Gaia, which I coined in my novel, Y3K (which few have read but all but the intellectually challenged have liked… it has too many big words). (Forgive the shameless plug.)
In theory, at least, Cambodia like Oregon will fare better during hard times than many places because of the abundance of water, the most essential ingredient of survival. Like Oregon, its ground water has never been tapped to any extent. Many people here survive on extremely little, so will probably fare better than those who now live high whose fall will be extreme.
One problem here is that few country people have the small money it takes to have a well dug. I paid $350 for a twenty meter deep well which included a concrete pad and cast iron hand pump. Even in dry season ground water is only three or four meters below the surface at my land but they go down farther to be sure you have enough for irrigation. I didn’t want to pay for a wire, meter and electric pump (though they don’t cost much) since, not being around full time, someone might have tapped into my line to steal electricity. It happened to me in Phnom Penh so it’s not unusual here. Maybe even the pump might get nicked.
A few years back while visiting the countryside in hot season I witnessed an old guy at least my age using a shovel to dig, very slowly I should add, his water hole deeper in a 100 degree sun. The hole was about three meters before he started; with his efforts he was getting to soil moisture but not yet water. A majority of Cambodians live on less than a dollar a day so $350 for a well would constitute a princely sum for them.
Back on topic: hard times are not crunch times. It seems unlikely I’d be able to protect my property in the face of hungry neighbors. On a macro level, will the fact that the Khmer people recently went through the worst of times inoculate them from repeating those types of horrors, or would their history more likely portend a retreat back into collective bloodletting and insanity?
Moreover, do I want to be tied down to land when times are chaotic? Where ownership for non-citizens is not terribly secure? In a place which is welcoming now but could change drastically in extreme conditions? I’m currently enjoying my life here way too much to want to return to the States any time soon, but maybe I’d prefer being in proximity to my progeny at some future date.
By my prediction, Entropy Gaia begins in the mid twenty-teens and lasts for seven years of more or less intensity. The signature event is a multi-year drought in a context of economic chaos. For many people the contamination of their air, land and food supply will add to their trials. Disclaimer: My predictions have been wrong before - plenty of times, in fact - therefore I take no responsibility whatever for any wacky actions my readers may take based upon these ramblings.
On the other hand, is there any reason to think the US will be a safer place than Cambodia when food is scarce and gas costs $20 per gallon? Well, maybe, but certainly not in an urban setting; there are already so many guns and is so much violence, hard times can only intensify that American social malady.
Besides, you’ll need a place where you have the ability to grow at least a large part of your food supply, and it’ll need to be in an off-the-beaten-track location that’s reasonably defensible against the roving hungry.
What also must be considered is that America is a militarized surveillance state where the government has now taken upon itself the right to abduct citizens and non-citizens alike anywhere in the world, incarcerate and torture them and hold them indefinitely without charges, let alone trial. They don’t even have to tell the world who they are holding.
Everyone who attends leftist demonstrations is photographed by various police organizations. It would be extremely easy at this point for a right-wing government to target all demonstrators, or dope smokers, or whatever, as terrorists.
If you want to demonstrate at a political convention or at any kind of important international gathering, you get shunted off to a ‘free speech zone’ far from the action behind barbed wire and probably under a freeway, but if you’re a right-wing crazy you can bring loaded firearms, not to mention threatening signs, to an Obama event.
America has given gazillions of dollars to the big banks, but its citizens aren’t privileged to know how the money has been used. That would be too much of a burden on the banks. A public option for health care would amount to unfair competition to greedy-bastard insurance companies, so they get priority over the needs of ordinary human beings.
I feel thoroughly dismayed, disgusted, demoralized and more by what’s happening in the States now: The practice of feeding the rich while letting the poor tough it out, as is currently the prevailing philosophy, is destroying the world and the masses are cheerfully going along with it. Well, maybe not all that cheerfully but certainly not with the anger and revolutionary fervor it so deserves. Americans have been brainwashed into loving capitalism even when it is strangling them. To defend the rich even when they are being ripped off by them. To rail against socialism even while they benefit from socialist Medicare.
The world could’ve easily saved itself from itself if the elite who own it had just a smidgen of heart, empathy or compassion; but they clearly don’t, not even a whisker of it. They gleefully line their pockets with trillions of dollars of government handouts while bemoaning the cost of providing health care for commoners. They use the public money granted them in lieu of their malevolent mistakes to pay themselves huge bonuses and hire legions of lobbyists to resist the regulation they desperately need, and the country and the world needs.
It’s not too late for America to correct most of its ills - though not without some difficulty - but instead it’s rushing headlong into the abyss. And dragging the rest of the world along with it.
Anyway, I’d not be going back for the culture or my friends. While individual friends are irreplaceable, and I love my stateside ones dearly, I’ve accumulated lots of great friends here too. The potential for survival and proximity to my family would be the greater draws.
That said, I sure wouldn’t want to belittle commune life and certainly not the hip geezer home idea. The life we cobbled together on the commune, in very difficult circumstances, was precious and exceptional and would be an excellent way to live out the coming doddering days. It would also be something worth doing for its own sake, oldsters or otherwise.
We had a great time on the commune and gained an irreplaceable life experience. The bond we created has remained with us now for four decades. Furthermore, facing the future together would also give us an advantage during hard times.
At a certain point many of us will not be able to take care of ourselves entirely on our own. Besides, as my mother remarked, being together felt like living on a resort. For me it would be a fitting finale to a superlative and fascinating life. To be with my extended family and not only see my own children and grandchildren progressing, but all the other kids too. To witness the generations: a great privilege.
We have a strong reason to want to bring this idea to fruition - our previous experience together had its spectacular moments - but anybody my age with a countercultural disposition, even half of one, should be thinking about new kinds of places for oldsters, otherwise you may wind up in a middle-class fogey home/torture chamber and bemoan your fate till your dying days.