Life in a Horticultural Society
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I imagine traveling back in time to an era where there are no city streets, no car horns honking, no cell phones ringing, and no superstores to shop in. It is a daydream that I have often, and it is a dream that my husband and I would like to replicate. For years the plans have been coming together and we are approaching the final stages. In a few short years, our dream will become a reality. We will be residing on a farm, on a remote piece of land, where we will live as close to a horticultural lifestyle as possible. Of course, the society side will not take place, given the circumstances. However, we do hope to find like-minded people with whom we could connect with, and possibly barter crops, livestock or meat for goods and services.
I chose to live in a horticultural society rather than a hunting and gathering or early industrial society for a couple of reasons. I am intrigued by the hunting and gathering society as I think it would offer a lot of satisfaction. It would be rewarding to provide for your family by hunting or capturing your prey and foraging for edible plants. However, it would also be extremely stressful and tiresome to be dependent on the seasons, the elements, and the patterns of the wild animals.
There are too many variables to be reliable enough for me to choose that kind of society. Life in the early industrial world was tough. Starvation and homelessness were a real threat if you weren’t one of the wealthy few, social inequality was abundant, and the working man struggled with unfair and dangerous working conditions. Living in a horticultural society would be a middle ground in which I would happily reside.
Life in the village is much different than life in the present day. Being born into such a society would guarantee long hours and difficult work days, planting and harvesting crops. Comparing my life today to that of a horticultural lifestyle, there are a lot of material differences between the two. As a woman, I am able to control my own finances and acquire possessions. These things would not be possible nor would it be possible to own the amount of possessions that I have in a horticultural society. People were just beginning to accumulate possessions back then. That being said, I am far better off materially then if I would be in a horticultural society.
I imagine I might be equally as secure emotionally in the horticultural lifestyle as I am in the current day. Being surrounded by a close family and strong kinship would offer impressive security. The lifestyle ensures that my basic and emotional needs would be met, as they are now.
Spiritually, I feel that I am definitely better off today. People who were in horticultural societies believe that dead ancestors take the place of spirits as supernatural forces who intervene in the affairs of the living. I am far too devoted to my Christian faith to believe in such things.
If I grew up in the horticultural society, I would be a much different person. The sociological perspective stresses that people’s social experiences underlie their behavior. I would likely be more reserved as roles were set and there was little power or choices for women. I doubt that I would be much of a dreamer and my emotional side might become hardened.
In addition, I would no longer think the same way as I do now. I am sure that there are parts of my personality that are deeply engrained into my soul, and I would hope that these attributes would shine through. However, the major differences between the two cultures and especially the gender socialization would hugely affect the way I think.
I do believe that I might think some of the same things regardless of which of the two cultures I was living in. My children would still be a main concern and would hopefully still be my top priority. I would still think about the ways I need to care for my family. Meal preparation and planning would also be a thought that would remain in either setting. However, there are things that would definitely change. Things that mean a lot to me these days, such as vacations and college schedules would no longer hold any importance.
I’m sure that living in a horticultural society would change my core values and would reflect the times. Values that are important to me today, such as maintaining a healthy work/life balance or excelling in school would not be valid in the horticultural society. I hope that I would still have a caring heart and would stand up for what I believed in. However, sadly there was no room for an opinionated woman in those days. I’m afraid that many of the values that I hold so dear, would be skewed from the thinking of the times.
Growing up and living in a horticultural society would be so different from the lifestyle that I know today, that it is hard to believe that any parts of my current identity would remain the same. I would be a different person, reared to different standards, and raised to have core values that are inconsistent with my beliefs. My social locations would be incomparable to the locations I currently occupy. I would not be the same person in any way, shape or form.
Although I dislike many aspects of the horticultural society, namely the gender socialization, the lifestyle still intrigues me. I am in awe of the way they produced their food and I respect their close family ties, but would not want to live as a second-class citizen. I am excited to begin the next stage of my life, attempting to live as closely as I can off of the land, and growing most of our food. However, unlike in a horticultural society, my husband will be right alongside of me in the dirt, on his hands and knees, as the equal partner that I deserve.