February 24, 2014

Allergic To The Man Monday

I came into this world with an allergy to The Man. My mom says I was born happy and content - I did not cry at the moment of my birth. When the doctor dangled me upside down in front of him I slapped him before he could slap me.

Eventually it was time to leave the freedom of home life and enter kindergarten. I had a major reaction to the regimented schedule and authority figure, although in this case the man was a woman. I lasted less than a week before I started a sit-in on the front step of my house, refusing to go back.

Having a highly sympathetic mother, I successfully escaped what was supposed to be my introduction into The System. It turns out I was allergic to that, too.

I endured grades one through twelve, but not without being a quiet rebel. Graduating was one of the best days of my life… until I discovered that The Man's deleterious influence is everywhere. I wanted to change that.

As a teacher I acted as an agent of the state. I had become The Man, even though I thought myself to be a kinder, gentler version. But I was still working in a system designed to churn out compliant workers and consumers.

My allergy symptoms sprang up again, causing me to side more with my students than the superintendent and school board. I had to escape again.

After 10 years I gave up my tenured position to reduce my allergy symptoms, because freedom really is the best treatment for the negative effects of The Man or The System.

10 Proven Antihistamines To Treat An Allergy To The Man

  1. Grow a vegetable garden.
  2. Buy only what you need.
  3. Vote.
  4. Think for yourself and maintain your integrity.
  5. Stay home.
  6. Express your creativity.
  7. Talk to your neighbours.
  8. Go off grid.
  9. Be a contrarian.
  10. Watch out for the underdog.


  1. I love this! I think some of us are just born this way. We are hoping to get our boys into a charter school that encourages individualism and free-thinking. One of their specials is a class called eco-wellness where each child gets 4 sq. ft. of gardening space. I love that they teach so much more than just academics at the school and allow kids to take more control over their own learning process.

    1. Megyn,

      I love the idea of students having their own garden space to take care of. When you develop a relationship with nature you are less likely to participate in its destruction. Lucky boys.

  2. Anonymous2/24/2014

    What do you mean by saying "Watch out for the underdog."? I understand the meaning of underdog but why watch out for him? Do you mean the underdog within us?

    You did'nt cry at your birth!? Never heard of that before... :) And you are right, when you work for the state - The system - you end up beeing the Man. I only work part-time and have done that for years. I'm totally fed-up since I have little opportunity to do the job the way I think is best.


    1. Eva,

      By 'watch out for' I meant 'take care of'. An increasing number of people are being abandoned by government in an economy based on competition and greed rather than cooperation and generosity.

      Part time work is the way to go if you still want a life. Are you a teacher?

    2. Anonymous2/25/2014

      OK, now I understand. Yes, here exactly that kind of abandonment has happened quickly the last 8 years with a government that has completely changed the course of my country. But there will be elections in September and it looks as if a change is coming. People have started to realize what kind of society we create when suddenly a not small part of its' members are not members anymore but outsiders and that it can happend to almost anyone. We are just a bit more than 9 million people which means everyone knows someone who can't have a job, have hard time to get any insurance money, don't get the right medical treatment and the list of negative things can go on... I remember you wrote somewhere on your blog:

      "It's all about money, not freedom. It has nothing to to with freedom. If you think you're free, try going somewhere without money."

      So true! The party ruling now came to power talking about new freedom, freedom from state and communal "intrusion" in organization of society. The result? The money got much more important. Here, most people has always relied more on the state than private initiatives, perhaps not always so much better but until recently I think the state has at least stabilised some kind of justice, we're after all known for our "middle way" between socialism and capitalism. But the thing is of course not about left or right in the end. I believe more in the need of change of everyones' heart than politics.

      Yes, I'm a teacher, formally in Russian for beginners and Swedish as native language for ages 15-18. Nowadays I work with a bit younger students. I both like and hate it. I feel imprisoned, not free and I will certainly not feel more free if they gave me more money as are discussed in the media since the status for teachers is very low, the interest among the young of becoming a teacher is... well it's among the least wanted professions. The Swedish school is in a real crisis (and I guess many schools in the Western world are). Results are dropping fast. Students and teachers are frustrated. It's a kind of everyday chaos actually.


  3. This is so me my whole life. Now I spend most of the year living in a Mongolian yurt tending to my daughters, my laying hens, and my gardens. I cook on a wood stove, spend my evenings by candlelight or lantern or headlamp and enjoy a more natural rhythm. My husband is a teacher at a private school and loves teaching music, but loves the frequent and long vacations even more. We hope to get our micro fridge off grid and onto solar soon. The best thing is living in the Adirondack wilderness our playground is right outside. I am not sure the man knows I exist anymore! I have no credit cards, no tax returns, and very little consumer trail. We thrift shop everything we can. We do keep an apartment at the school for his duty nights and for the worst winter weather, but we prefer the yurt.

    1. Zenmama,

      Sounds beautiful. That is what I would call successful living. I like the idea of being off-grid as far as the authorities know, with no paper trail or electronic fingerprint. Increasingly hard to do in these days of mass surveillance, but worthwhile if you can pull it off.

      I think music teachers are special. The many music teachers I have met have all been exceptional people - very committed and passionate.

    2. He is lucky to have a job he likes that has so much time off. I do really enjoy the simple life, but it is also not always easy. Both socially and work wise. Providing for yourself takes a lot of time commitment. A lot of people do not understand why we choose to live simply, not travel very often and never by plane, and spend so much time caring for plants and animals. But I just never have wanted that typical middle class lifestyle of watch, consume, escape on vacation.

  4. Anonymous2/26/2014

    Hi Gregg and Linda,

    Greeting from the very cold and wintery Alberta foothills.

    I agree with much of your point of view, and enjoy your blog.I am in the process of reducing my footprint, rejecting consumerism, and living more sustainably. I grow a large garden, thrift shop as necessary, and spend more time at home. However, how do you address things like resources for old age, dental bills, and some kind of financial security? Those are some of the issues that I struggle with, and have not resolved. I'm ok with a frugal diet cooked at home, simple pastimes, and a quiet like, but definitely have not sorted thing out yet. Looking forward to spring in a couple of months.


    1. Jake,

      Hope the weather has broken there, and that the snow is starting to melt. We love the Alberta foothills and would consider doing what you are doing there if it weren't so, well, cold. Land is expensive, too.

      You ask an important question about planning for the future, and it is something that Linda and I are discussing a lot right now as we get ready for the next phase of our lives.

      One way we plan on preparing for the future is to be more self-reliant. We want to be off-grid, grow a large garden, keep chickens and a goat, and own our own small property.

      As far as cash is concerned, we have no debt and saved while we were working. We like to say that our dental plan is a good diet and the time to floss and brush regularly. So far that has worked for us, although the dentist is one of our largest annual expenses.

      It sounds like you are on your way. If you are like us the sorting out is an ongoing process that continues to unfold as we go along.

      Spring makes everything new again.

      Take care.


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