(This is the first of two posts on making a prison break. This one is an explanation of WHY we should do it. In the next post I will look in detail at HOW to do it.)
I get lots and lots of letters from people asking for my help and advice. A very common situation is that they are renting an apartment or are in low-income housing and have a car or small SUV—but they are just barely surviving and want more out of life. often they are living on a very limited budget because they are:
- On a small fixed income like Social Security, Disability or a pension,
- Living on their savings
- Working at a minimum wage job and barely surviving
- Unemployed and unable to find any work
They all tell me they are trapped because they have so little income that they are living paycheck-to-paycheck; every penny they get goes to just barely surviving. They’ve read about vandwelling and want to do it but all they have is a small car or SUV and they aren’t sure they can live in that small a space. They feel trapped because they can’t live in their little car but they can’t afford even a cheap van. Unfortunately, this is a story that is occurring in ever greater numbers in every part of the country. The foundation of the American Dream is crumbling everywhere around us and people’s lives are being devastated.
As more and more of us consider vandwelling as an alternative lifestyle we make a terrifying discovery: civilization is a prison and we are enslaved in it. For those of us in the Middle Class it is a very enticing and pleasant prison full of wonderful things. In fact it is such a nice prison we can completely delude ourselves into forgetting it is a prison and actually believe we are free. But it is a prison nonetheless.
The four main chains that bind us are:
- Specialization: Most of us are lacking in the most basic skills needed to provide for ourselves. We can’t grow or kill food; we can’t make our own clothes or shelter; we can’t make our own energy; we can’t take care of our health needs; we can’t fix our cars. We are like helpless babies needing civilization to provide all those things for us. But civilization will not give us any of those things for free. Only good little drones and cogs in the machine get the bounty civilization has to offer. If we go to work, pay for a house and buy lots of crap, then and only then will civilization take care of its dependent little children.
- Consumerism: From the cradle to the grave we are constantly bombarded by society’s messages urging and even demanding that we keep buying more stuff. That requires two things, a job to pay for it and home to store it in. So we gladly buy and accumulate walls of stuff to hide behind without even realizing those walls become our prison cell.
- Debt: Society trains us from birth that debt is good and the more the better. So most of us jump in with both feet and accumulate lots of debt and only when it is too late do we realize it is slavery and locks us into living exactly the life society demands we live.
- Homes: The cost of a home is so high it locks us into society’s death-grip. It takes such a large proportion of our income that the majority of us can’t ever seem quite able to save enough money to break out of its tyranny.
In this very bad economy there are lots of people like those that are writing to me that desperately need a way out of their horrible economic predicament. Many others have decided they don’t want to work at a job they hate and go into debt to buy more crap they don’t really want and pay for a home they can’t afford. We want to be able to either quit our jobs or at least work less so we can actually enjoy our lives. When they start to look for a way out they find the system is designed to force them back into it.
If you look for ways to move out of your apartment and live in a way society doesn’t approve of, the figurative steel doors begin to slam shut. You quickly discover that the game is rigged so that you can literally only live this one way: you have to go to work at a job to get the money to pay for a home so you can have a place to rest so you can go to work to get the money to pay for a home so you can rest so you can go to work…and so on until you are old and worn out.
What’s required is a prison break but very few of us are willing to take the risk. And it does appear to be risky. Nothing you have done before can really prepare you for it. Your income will probably drop drastically and you won’t have the comfort and security of your home and maybe not even your family and friends. Vandwelling is simply not as comfortable as living in a house and sometimes it is downright unpleasant (too hot, too cold, too lonely, too scary…). If you are already in economic distress and don’t have the money or time to get a good van and prepare it, vandwelling can be even harder and more unpleasant.
Breaking out of prison is not for the faint of heart and only those people who have truly opened their eyes and see their old lives for what they are will to be able to pull it off. But if you are determined to live the free and good life you can do it and in my next post I am going to tell you in detail exactly what to do to make your own prison break.