Please raise your hand if you think that self-reliance only means that you have to be able to survive in the desert for the whole length of Midburn without help from other people? Let me tell you a story that happened to me at one of the Burns I was at.

I was walking around with a friend of mine who was a virgin … and a smoker. After finishing her cigarette, she realized that she had forgotten her cigarette-butt container at the camp which was not so far away, but not so close either. Aware of MOOP and being pocket-less, she decided to ask a person in a camp nearby to throw her cigarette butt in their bin. I was quite surprised to hear the person say “NO.” They explained (quite aggressively) that my friend had to be self-reliant and should not ask them for this; she was irresponsible.

I was a bit shocked by that person’s reaction. Mostly by the way they were enforcing what they considered was the right thing to do, but it also got me thinking. Dismissing the fact that they lacked any level of diplomacy, they technically didn’t break any principles (not that I am the principle police anyway). There was some logic in what they said.

What I always thought self-reliance was (bring your water, bring your goggles, bring your cup, basically bring all the stuff from the survival guide and more) had just got extended. It might not just be about me surviving, rather it might also include me not breaking any of the principles. The same way when you go on a hiking/camping trip and you have flip flops, experienced hikers will get upset at you and worried for your safety. Similarly if you leave your bins behind, others will equally get upset at you because of your impact on Mother Nature.

Though here comes the problem of drawing a line between self-reliance, respect, principles and safety. Is it ok to ask people to help to save us from our troubles? Is it ok to ask for help to preserve the principles? Hard questions, right?

Depending on the type of person you are, you probably have a different answer. You might abide by the principles no matter what and feel like everyone should too. Or you might enjoy being an educator. Maybe you are more laid back and feel like people around you should be there to assist you if there is need, the same way you would do if they asked.

“Need” might mean different things for different people. Some might consider your need as a consequence of your laziness. Your need might be due to your inattention, or your need could actually be a real one and exist for good or bad reasons. More importantly, a needer one day might turn into a helper another day. Fun happens the way it happens, we are not always in control, and Midburn is a place to also lose (or find) ourselves. It is ok to ask for help, it is ok to give help, it is not ok to abuse it or be careless.

One conclusion is that Midburn is a growing community, and like in every community, there are individuals with their own opinions and priorities. We all find in Midburn different things that fill the voids that we have, but we should all try to use our common sense and not be a free loader. Respecting this community means respecting its principles.  Every Burn is a learning experience, no matter how many you have been to. And the more we do to be part of it, the more we will get out of it.

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