So to combat the lack of conversation and to bring us closer together for at least a day, I approached Kim with the plan. She was all for the idea, however there were conditions. It was not to occur on a hot day, and the fridge had to stay on. I agreed with the conditions and set the date for February 8th, 2008, as the weather forecast was favourable all weekend. The hours for unplugged day were to be from 6am to 10pm with only the fridge to be running.
Now I devised some conditions of my own. The children were to stay home all day and not visit friends, and that we were to spend the time together. Pretty easy, or so I thought! No sooner had I announced my cunning plan at dinner that evening, I began to be lobbied by various parties, stating that it was too long, the wrong day, that they would be bored, miss their PC’s, and miss the idiot box (TV). After stamping my proverbial foot, there was no more discussion until the day before the event. Apparently the kids had been chewing Kim’s ear off all week about the proposed unplugged day, and she had buckled! She then cleverly convinced me that it should be moved to the Sunday and that the time period should be from 12pm to 6pm. Now I know how politicians get lobbied. So for peace in the house I agreed and now my plan was complete. Finally a happy household.
Sunday 12pm arrived and all the kids began turning off every appliance at the wall! Amy got into the spirit straight away and brought out some very dusty board games and to my surprise, Adam, Megan, Ben and Amy played. It is the first time in a very long time that I have seen them all playing together. They were having such a good time that Kim, Kim’s mum Pam, and I sat outside on the patio, read books and chatted. The children kept themselves amused for 4 hours before they came looking for us. Once they joined us, Adam began to tell us some stories about his weekend with his mates. Some of the crazy things he gets up to when out on the town took me back to my youth and adventures. Everyone laughed so much at his tales, that I didn’t want him to stop. However, a promise was a promise and it was now 6pm. I gave the nod, and you should have seen how quickly all of the PC’s came on again. It was such an eye-opener.
We had such a great afternoon and I think they all learned a valuable lesson. That was that you don’t need digital distractions to enjoy yourself. It is all about the simple things in life, good company, sharing, and love. They also learned that each of us needs each other. I learnt that I couldn’t force my will upon the family and that a series of negotiation produced a better outcome that everyone bought into. I re-affirmed that Kim as a very special lady, who goes along with my crazy ideas. Of this I am truly grateful.
My little experiment proved that community, or in this case family, is far more important than material things. This is because when we take away all the stuff that clutters our lives, community/family is all we have left. Our western society has lost its sense of community. With far too much consumerism and brainwashing by media advertising, we have become slaves to the market. We all buy too much, with money we don’t have, to make us happy, and to show off to people we don’t even like! Most of us living in cities don’t even know who our closest neighbours are, let along talk to them. It is a sorry state of affairs when people own multiple mobile phones to talk to friends, but can’t be bothered to lean across the back fence and converse with their fellow man (or woman). We need to bring back the sense of belonging to a community if we are to survive the troubled times ahead.
I know it can work. Cuba, who over the last 17 years, have gone though an artificially induced Peak Oil crisis (due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990), and have survived, but only because of their sense of community. Read here about how the Cubans achieved it and how they are a lot better off today because of their actions. They are a shinning example of what can be achieved in the face of adversity. Think of their story as an example of what may happen to all of us when global Peak Oil hits, and we enter the downward side of the peak.
We, as a family enjoy our time together, partly because of what happened on unplugged day, but mostly because I believe that family comes first above all else. Kim and I instil these values into everything we do, by leading by example foremost.
I love them all so much. Now, how do I tell them that I already signed the family up for Earth Hour in three weeks time?