Embracing the Journey of Simplicity

credit:  Brooke McAllister

Embarking on a journey toward simple living is to travel into uncertain terrain, especially when one is navigating only by the lay of one’s own land. It’s easy to feel you’ve taken the high moral road when comparing the ecological footprint of your family car (ours is a fifteen-foot long, fifty-three horse power Honda Civic) to David Geffen’s 453-foot, 50,000 horse power mega-yacht, but all self-righteousness is shattered to smithereens when comparing the self-same Civic to the family rickshaw in India. And, yes, my home might be modest in square footage by North American standards, but compared to an African mud hut, it is palatial.

Simplicity can be a bit of a tightrope walk with pitfalls of self-righteousness on one side and crippling guilt on the other. We can so easily end up like the friend of author Alan Durning, who aptly quipped, “I used to go on shopping trips, now I just go on guilt trips.” But despite the hazards, the journey of simplicity is worth taking if we are serious about making the connection between our everyday lives and the everyday lives of everyone and everything else in the world. In many ways, living more simply is the easiest and most practical thing the average North American can do to care for creation and their less fortunate planet-mates. Not many of us can trek to the Outer Hebrides to ring Storm Petrels or set up an orphanage in famine-ravaged Ethiopia, but all of us can shop a little less!
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