The Disconnect of Modern Day Colonisation
Since the pandemic started we’ve been through immeasurable change resulting in self directed and externally imposed adjustments in our behaviours.
I’ve been observing the growing fever of buying rural holiday homes or moving to the countryside and in doing so becoming part of the rapid migration of people – from urban to rural life since COVID began.
Understandably, as many of us no longer need to work from our company’s offices, we have relocated from crowded cities to spacious green spaces in search of a better life.
Many of us have romantic notions of what living in the countryside is about. We picture roses growing up the side of thatched cottages, cream teas on the village green after a game of cricket and time to wander slowly down country lanes after a local beer in the pub.
However this imagery is mostly borrowed nostalgia and paints a thin veneer over the real impact of wealthy city folk buying up the housing stock of rural areas.
We are in the midst of a rural land-grab here in the South-West of England. People are panic buying properties they haven’t even been inside. Gazumping is back. Property prices are inflated and yet they are selling faster than they can be advertised online.
Within local communities, while there are undoubtedly some who are profiting from this panic buying, most resign themselves to never being able to own a property in the places where they belong, have family, contribute to the local economy as shop-keepers, workers in the service industry and providers of the everyday needs a rural community has.
Rural Britain is heading towards a major housing crisis as second holiday homes displace local residents and inflated housing prices make even the simplest of homes unaffordable to those on an average income.
Viewed through the lens of the nervous system our behaviour around the housing market is firmly in the grips of a trauma response. There are those people caught in fight or flight greedily gazumping or panic buying property. And then there are those collapsed into the freeze of resignation, feeling they’ll never own their home stuck in the heartbreak of needing to move from the place where they feel most connected and where they’ve found belonging for the simple economic factor of being priced out.
This is the trauma of modern day colonisation – a phenomenon where we compete to win in a system that oppresses and marginalises. While we get our dream home someone else, who’s not yet on the property ladder, gets displaced.
We are a rootless culture – we have forgotten how to belong to place, the interconnected fibres in our soil of belonging are severed and we fail to consider how our actions of relocation and buying up homes for holiday lets force others to become disconnected forced to leave.
Without anchors that hold us to the land and to each other those who are forced to leave fall prey to the disease of disconnection and those who newly arrive find themselves in rural communities with no lineages, stories or culture of belonging where instead the dominant cultural degenerate myth of a traumatised Western civilisation prevails.
What we see in the South – West of England’s housing market is not new to us. It’s yet another example of what we have achieved with our illusions of progress driven by economic growth and a sense of superiority over all other beings who we share this earth with.
We are living in a deeply traumatised world.
What we need now more than ever is a radical awakening to connection to self and to all of forms of life and through that to deeply realise both their preciousness and their inextricable need to be part of our life on earth. This requires a shift from an egocentric sense of ‘I’ being at the centre of the universe to knowing the interconnectedness and interdependence of life.
Change of this magnitude requires rejection of the old story and a new narrative to be written in its place. A story which serves to consider the long term impacts of our current behaviour upon the next seven generations. We need to imagine and dream into a cultural narrative where we re-discover what it means to belong to place, to people, to all of the non-human inhabitants of the earth. Where we know what grows in the landscapes around us and we learn to ascribe value to it beyond the monetary sense. When this story becomes alive our roots will sink deeper into the earth, and our lineages of belonging will light up our intergenerational interconnectivity and we’ll start addressing the magnitude of ecological devastation with passion and determination.
Remembering our belonging – isn’t a mental act, instead its discovering the forgotten traditions of how we gather, what we celebrate and what we choose to bring meaning to. To belong is an act of remembrance.