Pride Cometh Before the Fall

credit:  Brooke McAllister
What I’m striving for in my own daily life is true simplicity, characterized not by deprivation, but by honest, joyful living. Out of this place of joy and material simplicity one is able to question both consumer trends and one’s own desires. One is freed to look more honestly at the roots of one's dissatisfaction and cravings.

If we live in this sort of freedom, we are also released from making simplicity a goal in of itself. Let’s face it, living lightly as an all consuming goal is so tempting because the mileposts can be so clear. Reduce garbage from three bags per week to one. Check. Buy birthday gifts at Fairtrade market instead of mall. Check.  The danger, of course, is that with each category checked off, the sense of moral righteousness inflates with it, until we’ve lost the wonder of gratitude and the joy of simple living and are instead focused on our own accomplishments. But pride always cometh before the fall! Allow me to illustrate.

Being leaders of a national Christian conservation organization, Markku and I occasionally get to play host to leaders of other national Christian conservation organizations. It’s a pretty small fraternity and while there are no secret handshakes to signify one’s membership in this elite club, there are plenty of other signifiers. Like, for instance, turning one’s living room into a laundromat.

“Ah, I see you’re using a laundry line,” Mr. Environmental CEO observes as I show him and his wife into our home.

“Why, yes,” I say, practically pawing the ground with my toe.

“In your living room no less!” remarks the wife, with obvious approval.

“The environment’s more important than aesthetics,” I chirp.

“Indeed,” everyone harmonizes in sympathetic agreement.

We weave through our 800 square-foot dwelling to the kitchen, and I can tell they are taking mental stock of our possessions and lack thereof. Feeling very chuffed about our obviously moderate ecological footprint, I brew up some Fairtrade, organic loose-leaf tea, and we start in on the favorite topic of all Environmental CEOs everywhere—the evils of a consumer society. We bash all the hedonists we can think of for their private jets, mega mansions and fleets of Hummers.

Conversely, what enlightened souls this guy and his wife are! So perceptive when it comes to society’s ills. So bang on. They are truly so very likeable. I start to wonder if we can set up some sort of arranged marriage between our children so that we can spend all our future Christmases together.

In the middle of my reverie, Mr. Environmental CEO shifts the conversation. To dishwashers. Not the billionaires’ uber-delux dishwashers, but the average citizen’s plain old dishwashers. Such energy hogs, he says. And, whatever happened to the good ole days of hand washing dishes? And, how about redirecting the money people spend on electricity to feeding the poor? The litany goes on and on, and I begin to feel more and more like a kid caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar; for, all the while this guy is musing, I am trying to magically inflate myself like a puffer fish so as to conceal what I am standing right in front of—our brand new Bosch ultra-quiet dishwasher, which I love to pieces.

P.s.  I know, I know, the image above is of an antique stove and not an ultra quiet Bosch dishwasher.  Please allow a bit of artistic licence in the name of aesthetics. It is, after all, still a kitchen appliance!
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