Thursday Thoughts

The Goal of Enough

“Enough looks inward at need, rather than outward at want, like consumerism does. Enough pumps the brakes when we are no longer hungry, or cold, or alone.

“Consumerism floors the accelerator, because there is always someone, somewhere to chase, fueled by consumerist envy.

“My father — a top-tier über-consumer — used to read stories about billionaires and critique out loud what he called “abstract levels of wealth”. “How many pairs of pants can they wear at once?! How many cars can they drive?!” In the next breath, he would chuckle about the six bagfuls of suits he just gave away, because his enormous closets were overstuffed, and “it got a bit crazy”.  (quote from a column by Richard Rohr)

The response to consumerism by Sister José Hobday (1929–2009), a modern Franciscan:

“Simple living is not about elegant frugality. It is not really about deprivation of whatever is useful and helpful for our life. It is not about harsh rules and stringent regulations. To live simply, one has to consider all of these and they may be included to some degree, but simple living is about freedom. It’s about a freedom to choose space rather than clutter, to choose open and generous living rather than a secure and sheltered way.

“Freedom is about choices: Freedom to choose less rather than more. It’s about choosing time for people and ideas and self-growth rather than for maintenance and guarding and possessing and cleaning. Simple living is about moving through life rather lightly, delighting in the plain and the subtle. It is about poetry and dance, song and art, music and grace. It is about optimism and humor, gratitude and appreciation. It is about embracing life with wide-open arms. It’s about living and giving with no strings attached. . . .

“Simple living is as close as the land on which we stand. It is as far-reaching as the universe that makes us gasp. Simple living is a relaxed grasp on money, things, and even friends. Simplicity cherishes ideas and relationships. They are treasured more because simplicity doesn’t cling nor try to possess things or people or relationships. Simplicity frees us within, but it frees others, too. . . . Simple living is a statement of presence. The real me. This simplicity makes us welcome among the wealthy and the poor alike. . . .”

One Reply to “Thursday Thoughts”

  1. Keynes predicted that we would be working 15 hours a week. The gains in productivity were channeled into increased consumption rather than reduced working hours to a greater extent than he assumed. This has been especially true during the last decades: which coincides with our consumption increasingly exceeding sustainable levels.

    It is especially true in the US. Americans are very hard working people and deserve respect for that. However, after the second world war, American people added a day in the weekend. That might have been one of the decisions in the history of the country that most tangibly shaped the everyday life of ordinary people.

    Perhaps something similar is needed again.

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