Fourteen Precepts in Fourteen Days: Day Five
Fifth: Do not accumulate weath while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh
Again, where to start? It seems that as a culture, our instatiable desire for wealth, fame and sensual pleasure is what’s gotten us into this mess in the first place. And there seem to be two camps, those who think that perhaps we could dial it back a bit, perhaps we don’t need so much stuff, perhaps we could even share our wealth not only with the poorer nations of the world, but with those folks who are struggling so hard here at home. And another camp that is outraged by even the suggestion that their lifestyles may in any way be contributing to the problem. A camp who sees sharing resources not as something that helps us all out, but as something that takes away from them personally. Why is it, I wonder, that so many people feel that criticism of their SUVs is a critical civil rights issue, that to suggest that these behemoths are bad for society and the environment is suddently perceived as a direct assault on their “right” to drive whatever they want? (And why aren’t these same people outraged over the assault on our actual civil rights being led by John Ashcroft?)
Buddhism posits that we are all connected to one another, that none of us is separate, apart, individual in the classic Western sense of the lone individual. If we are all in this together, then yes, hoarding resources for you and your own family is a problem. I would imagine going to war in order to “protect” “our” economic interests would then too, be seen as a problem.
I started this weblog because I wanted a place to explore some of my ideas about why choosing to live small, choosing to live a few rungs lower on the consumer food chain might be a good idea. Hence the gardening, the cooking, even the discussions about literature. It was my hope that if I could get off the wheel of consumerism, if I could get out of debt and into a house I can afford, then I could begin to clear some space in which to write, to garden, to have a life. To enjoy life. To take an afternoon and go paddle the Yellowstone, or hike Suce Creek with the dogs, or volunteer in my community. I’m still working on getting financially clear, but at least thus far, choosing to live small has been much more satisfying than those years I spent in the Bay Area trying to keep up. I only wish our nation could figure this out a little bit.