Change by Example, not Politics or Money
I was born into a liberal, politically active family. My grandfather was a minister and a professor of religion, instilling all subsequent generations with ethics, and critical thinking. In my mother's generation this bloomed into activism, with my mother joining the civil rights movement.
I inherited these traits, and, as a young adult, followed and pinned my hopes on politics, while all the time reading and continuing my education. At first I followed typical "liberal" candidates, casting my first and only vote for Barack Obama in 2008. The many broken promises and hypocrisies, and the general lack of true liberalism disenchanted me with the supposed liberals, but I clearly didn't agree with conservatives on many issues, either. In 2012, I donated, and campaigned for Ron Paul, a libertarian, Republican presidential candidate. Unfortunately for the world, he lost the primary, and was not chosen as the Republican candidate.
At around this time, I was reading libertarian and anarchist thinkers, and wondering if politics was not entirely a distraction. Modern politics is all morally bankrupt from the beginning, with the basic premise being to decide how other people's lives and money are to be spent. I have felt ever since that giving attention and legitimacy to politics only causes harm. I began to focus my attention and efforts on building alternate systems to give people a badly needed choice.
8 or 9 years ago, I was at a career peak, having received funding for my bitcoin wallet startup from a major venture capital firm. I was on my way to Panama, in search of economic freedom, when my aunt Mel gave me a figurine and told me she hoped that I found balance.
At the time, I was so excited and full of hope for the world. I thought of money as a tool for building. I wanted to build alternate systems, to compete with the horrifically corrupt status quo. I thought that if I could make enough money, I could use it to change the world for the better, and that that relief would spill over into my personal life.
Instead, what happened was a general bitcoin community wide loss of direction, as hot money and shallow newbies flooded the ecosystem. I think I fought back harder than others, and definitely put my money where my mouth was in terms of investing in systemic change. Still, being surrounded by those people, including my girlfriend at the time, I eventually lost my way. Even the disenfranchised (i.e. unbanked) people whom I hoped to help seemed more interested in getting rich quick than achieving a more free and stable economic position.
A fish cannot fight the sea. I knew I had to evolve and get out.
I was absolutely miserable. The pressure to succeed for investors, employees, and the world weighed on my mind nightly. Though it was necessary to stay in a place like Panama to have the freedom to innovate, the climate of the city was oppressing me. I stopped exercising. My hair was falling out and going gray prematurely. My lymph nodes and skin were constantly inflamed.
A few years ago, I reached a breaking point. I had tried once again to build something important for people, and it was once again torn down by the greed of my partners, investors, and contractors. My girlfriend threw me under the bus, and was completely uncooperative with any discussion or attempts to change track. She insisted on an expensive, urban lifestyle, and that money was the goal. Well, I was killing myself making money, and even my own spending goals of investing in change were failing due to a disinterested public.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
At this time, I broke up with this girlfriend, and met my current partner Ingrid. She is younger than me, and reminded me of how I used to be, when I'd been happy. She saved me. We made and appreciated art. We appreciated nature, and began a garden, then got chickens, and black soldier flies. We moved further and further out of the city. I rediscovered my dream of homesteading, and finally (re)discovered balance and happiness.
Today, my hope is to lead by example. People didn't use or support my projects for systemic change, because ultimately, they couldn't envision a better or different system. They didn't actually want to change. I believe, however, that if I show a different lifestyle to my children, and anyone else that wants to watch, some people will understand the vision and follow along the trail that I have blazed. In the end, my aunt Mel, and my grandparents, were right. I try to give minimal attention to politics, the media, or the pursuit of money, and I am reconnecting with friends, family and nature. My goal is to lead a balanced, ethical life, and set an example. Toward this hope and goal, I will record and share my thoughts and experiences.