(Stephen Shade got his bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University)
To pursue the American dream is to join the Rat Race.
At a young age, most of us are taught to go to college and get a good job, so we can get a mortgage and buy a big house, finance the sweet car, eat at the nicest restaurants, and have the coolest gadgets. The problem with this dream or life plan is that you get trapped in your good job. You have to keep working to pay back the banks, and support the car manufacturers, and the gadget makers. This trap is often referred to as the Rat Race.
Every bill you have to pay is a chain holding you in the hamster wheel. As you start living off the grid, you start removing these chains and freeing yourself. Every utility bill, cell phone bill and television bill is a chain. Every loan, credit card bill, car payment and mortgage is a chain. The best thing you can do for yourself is free yourself from these chains. Living off the grid can be your way out.
I propose a different American dream. I propose that we work to live not live to work. I propose that we go back to the times when we would raise animals and grow crops to sustain ourselves. I am not opposed to going to college and getting a good job, but I think that we should avoid coming out of college with a mortgage and a car payment. We should avoid gathering debts, and live simpler lives off the grid. We should strive to become self sufficient and free of the chains of the grid.
I pray that I can convince my girls to live with me after college, so they can save up to buy their own farmstead. It is much easier to start on the right foot than it is to back track. If you are like me, then you are stuck in the Rat Race, but there are still things you can do. For example: if you are upside down on your house, you may be able to rent it out, so the rent covers the mortgage. You could also pay off your credit card debt. That way you are free of those chains. Living off the grid is the only true way to be free from the Rat Race.
Tell us your thoughts on staying out of and escaping the Rat Race?