Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Live Simply So...

...others can simply live.

This sounds like such a straightforward concept, one that should be easy to implement. Yet, too few people accept the wisdom of this maxim and even those of us who embrace it have difficulty trying to work it into our harried and complex lives.

What does it mean to "live simply" in this modern world? Should we shun modern conveniences like the Amish? Should we give away our worldly possessions to join a commune or an intentional community? Or is it enough to be an avid recycler and to leave the car at home one day a week to take the bus?

There is no singular answer. The concept of simplicity is very subjective. What may seem like simple living to you or I may seem very wasteful to someone else or vice versa.

Yet, despite this ambiguity, there should be no question that when one portion of a community utilizes the lion's share of finite resources, the rest of the members of that community are left with not enough for a sustainable existence. For example, if one nation uses a disproportionate amount of the world's oil reserves, other nations must go without. On a more local level, if area developers suck up most of the community's available land for high-end condominiums and palatial estates, what will this do to the housing market for working stiffs?

One of the mechanisms some people have chosen to utilize to try to come to a more universal definition of "living simply" is to apply the 7 generations rule. It asks each of us to consider our choices in light of how it will affect people 7 generations from now. Another tool (one my friend Julian Snow is a strong supporter of) is to use the Ecological Footprint calculator. The calculator seeks to show the amount of acreage it takes to meet our health, lifestyle and consumer choices. I just took the test and, though my score is far below the average, if everyone answered as I did, it would only take 2.6 planet earths to satisfy our collective needs!

Over the past month my wife & I have decided to try to put our belief in "simple living" into action. Though I'm sure we don't possess the amount of worldly material goods as most of our colleagues, we've found that we have accumulated a lot of needless stuff. For us, the key question is, "What do we need?" We've discovered that -- more often than not -- most of the various doodads we own are not things we truly need (e.g., we have two food processors and we don't use either of them!).

This is my challenge to all of you. What do you NEED to lead a happy and secure life? What represents clutter, duplication and wastefulness? What can each of us change about the way we live and the consumer choices we make so that others may simply live?

1 comment:

  1. The readers of your blog have confered and collectively wonder if you could help all of us live simpler by giving up your personal computer?


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