Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

5.06.2006

Living Simply?

I'm guessing this article will provoke a reaction with many, because it seems to be attacking those who are at least trying to do something instead of those who could seemingly care less. But I think it's those who are trying who are at least in a position to hear and understand her point, to acknowledge that they have some measure of wealth and privilege. Because admitting you have privilege is the first step in helping those who don't and possibly changing the system. I remember early on in our relationship trying to convince my wife that I could relate to growing up without much money--we couldn't afford to eat out, only had one car for the family, etc. It certainly seemed to me that many of the people I saw had more than us. But we were never really poor. And we certainly weren't immigrant refugees who started in this country literally with just the clothes on our backs, no skills, and not even speaking the language. I finally had to admit to myself I couldn't relate to her experiences. I have since heard many people make similar arguments. No one really feels like they have much money because there's always someone with more and we never have enough to not struggle in some way. No one wants to admit they might have it easier than others because then they feel like they should feel guilty about it. But we do have it easier, and denying it doesn't do anyone any good. We don't necessarily have to feel guilty, but we should at least understand the reality of the ways we are privileged.

While the wealthy may strive for "simple living," the poor try simply surviving . . .

Simplifying, for the wealthy, has become a task, a burden, an end in itself. (When I say "the wealthy," I mean nearly every citizen of every wealthy nation.) For so many people in wealthy worlds, simplifying has also become an industry which, ironically, turns out an array of alluring products: toxin-free paint so wholesome it's known as "milk"; clothing woven from hemp fibers; even the fat, glossy magazine Real Simple. But conscious simplicity is not what it appears to be. After all, Thoreau's idyll at Walden Pond was made possible by the fact that someone else did his laundry. Which is to say: for most people, living simply is a luxury, and one that still ends up consuming a great deal -- whether new categories of goods, other people's labor, or both.


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