99.99% of us – or more – will not be magnetized by the word “minimalism.” When it comes to first impressions, it sounds too harsh and austere. And not fun either.
On the other hand, “moderation” sounds far too bland and boring.
Hopefully, someone will sort this out. They will give us the perfect word for the perfect movement to get the world back in balance. The one that gets everyone all fired up and happy. It’s definitely not “global warming” or “climate change.”
You see, we’re in a pickle. According to the Center for Sustainable Economy to sustain present levels of consumption, we would need 1.5 earths.
Have you seen any extra earths around lately?
Thank goodness for minimalism. We need at least a few – well probably more than a few – dedicated to super simplicity to counterbalance everyone who is consuming in even greater than 1.5 earths style. Which is likely to be most of the developed world. Like you and me, for instance. And those folks that are consuming the equivalent of 5 or 10 earths.
How many earths are you consuming? You can find out by taking the Ecological Footprint Quiz.
Reflection: Minimalism or Moderation?
We clearly need to curtail our willy-nilly consumption.
Is moderation enough? Or do we need to go to the extreme of minimalism? Here are some thoughts from the Dalai Lama on levels of commitment.
“I feel strongly that luxurious living is inappropriate, so much so that I must admit that whenever I stay in a comfortable hotel and see others eating and drinking expensively while outside there are people who do not even have anywhere to spend the night, I feel greatly disturbed. It reinforces my feeling that I am no different from either the rich or the poor. We are the same in wanting happiness and not to suffer. And we have an equal right to that happiness. As a result, I feel that if I were to see a workers’ demonstration going by, I would certainly join in. And yet, of course, the person who is saying these things is one of those enjoying the comforts of the hotel. Indeed, I must go further. It is also true that I possess several valuable wristwatches. And while I feel that if I were to observe a strictly vegetarian diet not only would I be setting a better example, but I also would be helping to save innocent animal’s lives. So far I have not and therefore must admit a discrepancy between my principles and my practice in certain areas. At the same time, I do not believe everyone can or should be like Mahatma Gandhi and live the life of a poor peasant. Such dedication is wonderful and greatly to be admired. But the watchword is “As much as we can”—without going to extremes.”
-from Ethics for the New Millennium by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
This book was written in 2000. The Dalai Lama was fully cognizant of climate change at the time. He referred to the greenhouse effect as a “massive looming disaster.”
Perhaps his message about levels of commitment would be even stronger today, eleven years later. Or maybe he simply knows that people need what they feel is a doable agenda in order to step up and respond.
Give Me the Numbers
I’m a numbers girl. In fact, I think we all need numbers to guide us. I would like someone to tell me and the rest of the world, “You have to cut your consumption by 50%.” Or 25%. Or 75%. It might be difficult, but at least it would be clear. And, therefore, in my mind, doable.
There really is no time to lose. Climate change is already killing people.
In reference to the agreements made at the conclusion of the recent Cancun Climate Summit held in December 2010, science writer and world explorer Gaia Vince tells us,
“From the lack of any real binding commitment to act on the model data predictions presented by climatologists, I can only conclude that global leaders – and perhaps the public at large – simply don’t believe the threats to the planet’s humans.
Climate change is already happening, as I have seen on this two-year journey through the developing world. It is already killing people.
Unfortunately, the world doesn’t have time for this kind of autistism: even if countries were to act on the loose agreements made this morning (and they are under no obligation to do so), we would still be looking at 4 degrees of warming – something that would kill millions.
The world is not a stage: this is real.”
Minimalism isn’t necessarily about saving the world, but it could help. We’re all different. Maybe there’s not one single magic word that will reach all of us. Maybe it’s the mix of all these different angles that will make the difference. Minimalism, moderation, simplicity, eco-friendly, green living, carbon footprint, climate change, spiritual awareness, deep ecology, saving a buck, concern for our children, poverty and starvation.
They are all worthwhile concerns. We need them all. But most of all, we need to take over consumption seriously.
Minimalism vs. moderation? What do you think? What motivates you?
A Few Fabulous and Fun Minimalists
Thanks for reading. If you enjoy this entry, please spread the word by using the share buttons below. And, I would love to hear from you in the comments. Thanks! I appreciate your support. Sandra