How does a minimalist lifestyle contribute to our society from an environmental standpoint?
I was recently asked this question which is a great one, in itself exhibiting awareness. To me, the environmental aspect of a minimalist lifestyle is in a way the most important and is at the heart of the theme. Here's why:
For me and many others who experience discontent with the standard prescribed lifestyle in the States, it is an observation or felt sense that the way of living - especially with so much technology - is out of kilter with a harmonious, respectful relationship with the living world.
The development and rise of technology in the West came from a very mental perspective that sought to control nature and the masses. The craving of the mind to understand, know and in that sense have dominion over life is a strong one. Scientific thinking from the Industrial Age, promises a reality that is fixed. This makes life less scary and uncertain and offers the idea that all that we seemingly can’t control in life could be conquered. Man over “God”.
Technology, which develped hand in hand with scientific thinking, has given and continues to give us a lot. The thing to be aware of is the base of those inventions - what is the intent and motivation in their creation? We can respond with, “The purpose of technology is to better our lives, to give us more time for leisure, productivity, and increase longevity.” All of which sounds good and has its place and value. The question to me, is, “At what cost?” and “Just because we can, do we?” Wise contemplation is a critical piece that seems lacking in mainstream culture in general.
Our ancestors lived less time, worked harder (physically) and had less physical comforts and certainly conveniences. What they did have was connection to and relationships with nature, the cycles of life, the elements, the energies and beings (mountains, sands, trees, plants, waters etc. ) of the places where they lived. They had community.
When we feel dissatisfaction with the “rat race” and all that it creates, requires and entails, we are listening to the calling of Life, of the earth, to remember her. The natural respect that comes from sensitivity to life and nature are missing in today’s culture. “She” has such great capacity and space for errors and harmful acts upon her, that for centuries we have got by seemingly unscathed. In recent years, data and information about Global Warming and issues with the ozone layer have been nature knocking on our door. Some listen, others choose to deny the message. More recently we have been experiencing severe and intense “notifications” from the planet. She is losing patience, she is angry, she has limits on how much unconsciousness and abuse she can and will tolerate. Now she is taking us by the shoulders and literally shaking us awake - if we choose to hear and heed the information.
I left the “rat race” twenty years ago and left the country twelve years ago. I am glad to live afar where it is easier to keep myself from the current rage, fear and hopelessness that seems to be taking the country by emotional storm. Though, I’m sure it is a good thing, a healthy culture-wide cleansing. Still I wonder, “What will it take for people to really wake up, see the unsustainability and unhealthiness of the american lifestyle and choose to (vs. being forced to by natural catastrophes) change their ways?”
My desire is that I have made clearer the connection between a Minimalist lifestyle and its implications and relation to the environment. I believe Minimalism speaks to people who are waking up and questioning the ways of their culture, and good for them. Good for you. May you have the strength, courage and willingness to take the actions necessary - step by appropriate (for you) step, towards claiming a lifestyle that respects the environment, is healthy and harmonious in terms of your relationship with yourself, this world, and those creatures - human, animal, plant and elemental - in your midst.
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Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow, conscious living
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