simplicity

Posted on February 9, 2012

2


“…Individualistic material progress and the desire to gain prestige by coming out on top have taken over from the sense of fellowship, compassion and community. Now people live more or less on their own in a small house, jealously guarding their goods and planning to acquire more, with a notice on the gate that says, ‘Beware of the Dog.” (Jean Vanier, Community and Growth)

I feel a deep inner calling to simplify my life. But what does that mean? There’s seems to be no path to simplicity that I can find in my community.

I’m not looking for incremental simplicity, like cutting off my cable TV; but rather a more radical reduction of expenses and consumption. I feel like there is a noose around my neck pulling me down from being free, from serving others and following my life’s purpose.

Why do we spend almost all of our time chasing after the dollar so that we can pay for our things? Then if we happen to make enough to pay for all of our stuff, we feel a drive to go buy more and more and more? What is that about?

Why do we waste away our time with family and friends so that we can earn the almighty dollar, so we can maintain our stuff, buy more stuff, and chase after the dollar even more?

Isn’t life about creating meaning… a meaningful life gives us a reason, a purpose. Working our hands to the bone to buy more things contradicts a meaningful life, doesn’t it?

Am I missing something? Am I off base? Should I just be normal and fit in to society? Should I participate in making the rich richer? And myself more and more tired? Is ending up in despair my goal in life?

What is the ultimate goal of my life?

Looking back from the end of my life, what is it that I wish I would have done more of? On my death bed, will I have regrets of things undone or will I smile and be confident that I have lived out my purpose in life to the best of my ability?

“God comes to us in the midst of human need, and the most pressing needs of our time demand community in response. How can I participate in a fairer distribution of resources unless I live in a community, which makes it possible to consume less? How can I learn accountability unless I live in a community where my acts and their consequences are visible to all? How can I learn to share power unless I live in a community where hierarchy is unnatural? How can I take the risks which right action demands, unless I belong to a community which gives support? How can I learn the sanctity of each life unless I live in a community where we can be persons not roles to one another? (Parker Palmer, 1977; as quoted in Practicing Peace: A Devotional Walk Through The Quaker Tradition)

Why do we each seek our “own” stuff when nothing is ours anyway?

Why do we each seek our “own” stuff when everything is temporary?

Why do we each seek our “own” stuff when it continues the cycle of consumption and waste?

Why are we so afraid to live in community where it is possible to live simply and reduce consumption so that we can be free to live out our purpose?

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