Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Week of Voluntary simplicity - Expresssions, Part B

Duane Elgin in Voluntary Simplicity drew up a list on typical practices of those who self identify as living a simpler life:

-Invest time and energy by simpler living in activities with partner, children, friends (walking, music, meals, camping) or volunteering or civic affairs
Students playing at the Annual No Talent show. They had never played together before, but they sounded great. Steve had his banjo playing debut that night. He's been a nut about it since, and he's happy. I have better headphones now.

-work on personal potentials - exercise; emotional development (relationships); mental skills (reading, classes, new skills); spiritual (quiet mind and compassionate heart (a summary from many faith paths))

- reconnect with Earth, ecology, environment,
Walking at Point Pleasant Park in the spring. City parks can be lovely.

-concern for world's poor, social justice, use of world's resources,

-lower levels of personal consumption - buy less, reduce personal ornamentation, fewer cosmetics, holidays made less commercialized,

-consumer goods that are more durable, easy to repair, non-polluting in manufacturing, energy efficient, functional, aesthetic,

-shift diets away from processed foods, meat and sugar, (huge debates on the food topic - too complex to comment on here)
Baked apples. Every three months we gathered at a different house with a different theme for the meal. Now we meet for different pizzas and beers. Not as earnest, but we support local pizzerias and local breweries.

-reduce clutter and complexity in personal lives, (yeah, but don't buy magazines to tell you how and then buy pretty boxes that fade to fix it up)

-use consumption politically,

-recycle, cut back on items that are wasteful of non-renewable resources

-pursue livelihoods that directly contribute to the well-being of the world and uses creative capacities*
       I have a problem with this one. I think a better phrasing might be find a lively hood that causes no harm. Lots of scientific discovery has been co-opted by the military or corporations. Many jobs are interesting but require a greater sensitivity to global concerns. Would it be wrong to be a stock broker if markets were more responsible? Bankers and banking policies? I'm all for using creative capacities provided it isn't about being a robber baron.
Snow the Cat wants to be a Train Conductor but only if he's allowed to nap on the job.

-prefer smaller-scale, more human sized living and work environments,**
        I don't buy this entirely. It's too complex an issue. If you sell your mega home to live more simply, aren't you just off loading your consumption onto someone else and going to the bank with the profit? Also, living and/or working in a dense urban center means less energy consumption over all.  In some ways, what is wrong with an office tower? This needs rethinking given current potentials in heating and cooling and public transportation. New York City is probably one of the most environmentally sustainable cities, simply because people and systems are so close together and can reduce gas consumption by a huge degree, if only......

-I like this portion of the list but think the rest is full of self congratulations. Read page 110 and see what you think.

Overall, there needs to be a precaution against two things. Don't congratulate yourself too easily and don't rationalize hard choices too quickly. This needs deep work to figure out choices that are sensible, possible to endure and not a response to guilt. Therefore, resilient.

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