Voluntary Simplicity

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I don't know if anyone will come upon this, but in the chance that there may be a few who do, I thought I'd post a few thoughts.

By Duane Elgin, from Voluntary Simplicity and the New Global Challenge
To live more voluntarily is to live more deliberately, intentionally, and purposefully - in short, it is to live more consciously. We cannot be deliberate when we are distracted from life. We cannot be intentional when we are not being present. Therefore, to act in a voluntary manner is to be aware of ourselves as we move through life. This requires that we not only pay attention to the actions we take in the outer world, but also that we pay attention to ourselves acting - our inner world. To the extent that we do not notice both inner and outer aspects of our passage through life, then our capacity for voluntary, deliberate, and purposeful action is commensurately diminished.

To live more simply is to live more purposefully and with a minimum of needless distraction. The particular expression of simplicity is a personal manner. We each know where our lives are unnecessarily complicated. We are all painfully aware of the clutter and pretense that weigh upon us and make our passage through the world more cumbersome and awkward. To live more simply is to unburden ourselves - to live more lightly, cleanly, aerohynamically. It is to establish a more direct, unpretentious, and unencumbered relationship with all aspects of our lives: the thing that we consumer, the work that we do, our relationships with others, our connections with nature and the cosmos, and more. Simplicity of living means meeting life face-to-face. It means confronting life clearly, without unnecessary distractions. It means being direct and honest in relationships of all kinds. It means taking life as it is - straight and unadulterated.

There is a culture of consumerism that has been cultivated in our society. There is industry built around reaching citizens as consumers, perpetuating a market environment, where systems of advertising, marketing and media become hegemonic tools to socialize the buying power. We are in an age of hyper-consumerism, and our choices of consumption in our system are having severe and real ramifications on the environment, the global community, and our individual well being. It often becomes challenging to see hope for change or to see possibility of experiencing life outside of the environment of consumerism that is saturated around us. So, I thought I would post some of Elgin's thoughts, for he offers a challenge to make choices that are in opposition to our experience of consumer society, and I think there is value in mulling this stuff over. I have the whole article if anyone is interested in reading it. I thought it was pretty great, so you could email me if you are interested. (jillianwong@gmail.com)

STAND UP against poverty

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Stand Up Against Poverty

"What is STAND UP?

STAND UP is an innovative and exciting challenge to set an official Guinness World Record by having the greatest number of people ever STAND UP Against Poverty.

When is it happening?

Join forces with people all over the world on October 15, 2006 for STAND UP. Within a 24-hour period, a minimum of 10,000 people must physically and symbolically "STAND UP" to let world leaders know that we are holding them accountable for their promises to end poverty by 2015. " (quote taken from www.makepovertyhistory.ca)

"Stand Up because:

- Every day 24,000 people die from hunger
- Every day more than 100 million children are denied the chance to go to school
- Every day 1.1 billion people have to drink polluted water
- Every day 8,200 people die due to HIV/AIDS" (quote taken from www.standagainstpoverty.com)

Thanks guys.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

I know that no one has posted on here for a while, but I've still been thinking a lot about unity...
I have a quote from the Coptic monk Matthew the Poor with regards to this subject that I thought you might benefit from reading:
"If we are not together it is a) because we are seeking it before we have surrendered our whole heart and whole soul and our whole mind to God, and b) because we are seeking it outside ourselves; that is to say, we are trying to realize it as a matter for discussion and not within ourselves. The unity of men is an ideal that surpasses human strength if it is sought at a divine level. It flows, as a necessity, as an inevitable and direct consequence from the union of God with man. Unity is truth, and truth inspires, and inspiration first lodges itself in the heart, and only then in the understanding."

A call to inaction

Thursday, June 30, 2005

This blog combines an interesting concept with some ardent and laudable ideas.

However, I'd like to propose that much of what is happening here is a reification of relationship, and I think I mean that pejoratively. What I mean to say is that much of what is proposed here is in the mould of "let's do relationship better, let's change our focus in the church to relationship[ping]." But relationship, especially in the way it is being discussed here, is an abstract concept, especially if we extend it to apply to relationship in terms of an infinite absolute (one with the god).

Ergo, I'd like to propose that the revolution not be one of action, but of being. That is to say, the revolution will be an internal one, specifically, that we pursue a rich, enthralling, and happy life. Indeed, the one we call Christ died to give us such an abundant life, and I believe he did so primarily because he love(d/s) us. What better witness could there be than happiness?

In many ways, the ideas already proposed are internal, so we're all ready on a good path. However, the focus seems to be on action, rather than transformation. Perhaps our focus should be divesting all that robs us of rich and full life.

And for me, that would start with church.

Stepping in, stepping out.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I have to echo Jeff's excitment and feelings of encouragment. There is dialogue happening, people are thinking and sharing thoughts, I have had such a great sense of hope from many good conversations. There is a common discomfort, and I think there are a lot of people feeling it, and this is where we can start doing something about it. Revolution is happening.

About change.
If change is going to happen, a need for change has to be realized. To realize that need, there needs to be an understanding of why things are the way they are, and why they need to be different. I agree that we need to start with ourselves, and I think part of that is working to understand the times that we are living in. Understanding how things are and why they are as they are. We need to dig to the roots of how we've been led to where we are, and then begin to dig them up from that very bottom. Then we have to create realization that relationship is something vital, something that is damaged, and something that is lacking in the way we are.

We need to know what we are opposing and pull it apart. If indeed it is capitalism that we are opposing, then we need to understand capitalism, and how and why it has shaped our world the way it has. We need to think about what it is about capitalism that we are actually against, and how it got to be that way. Maybe its not capitalism, I don't know. Read some books perhaps, talk to people, find your personal discomforts and work through them and share any thoughts.

How can we cause a need for change?
Right now, there is so much ingrained into our minds that it is difficult to see another way of living, or another way for our society to think. Something has to be done to break the bubble, and to allow others to experience the reality of something other than our current norms. Rosa Parks, during a time of racial segration in Amercia, started a revolution by refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus. We could start a revolution by talking to our neighbours on the bus. Think about how things are, and how they should be different, and how that difference can be exemplified. Maybe we will need to start randomly hugging people, maybe we will need to make a commercial, maybe we will need to win the lottery and give all the money away... think out of the ordinary. Maybe this will happen some other way, so far outside the box that we can't see it yet. I don't know, but let's dig for it.

A slightly different note...
A thought of confusion.
Individualism, or primary concern for the Self is a problem. However, we are all made to be individual from one another. There is an important aspect of individuality that should not be lost. But then, how can individuality exist and be encouraged without promoting individualism? Capitalism allows for freedom for the individual, which is a good thing I think, however, it's negativity comes when compeitition and self interest lead to an importance on benefiting a sole person without regard for others. Capitalism at its core may not be the problem, but rather the way we use it, and the way we think within it. Do we change the system? Perhaps I may be speaking hastily because I know very little at this point, but I thought I'd throw something out there because I'm very interested to hear anybody's thoughts.

Random tangent...
I think this revolution needs to begin within the Church. Not the institution, but the community of believers, unified by a common pursuit of a relationship with God. Beginning, perhaps, by encouraging and understanding one another outside of preconcieved expectations and definitions of each other, coming together, working together, powered by prayer for each other. I really liked what Michelle had to say about the body, and I think we need to find and take out the Self in the institutional religions, find the genuinity of relationship with God and the relationship of our individuality to the body, and build that as our base. Maybe this is a sub-part of the revolution, but an essential root I think, or vital base.

I feel disorganized in my thought. I think I am unsure where to focus, what to focus on, how to focus our intentions into realistic action. Maybe that's ok right now. I'm not sure, but lets keep talking.

Converting thought into action...

Alright. I'm really excited and encouraged to see so many new members to this revolution of sorts. If you are interested in joining as a posting member-type person, then just do the email thing. It's very exciting to see people talk about revolution. It's cool to think of this revolution as a kind of secret that floats about and sticks in people's minds. But there can only be so much talk.

My biggest fear with this "think-blog" of sorts is that we will all just sit around and talk about how much we need to be in relationship or how exciting it is to revolt and talk about revolution. And, see, these are all good things, I think. I think that it is important to get excited about it and to talk about it and egg one another on. But there can only be so much talk.

We need to move. Michelle mentioned that in an earlier post... the need for movement. What do "movements" do? They move. But how do we move? What must be done to effect change? What do we need to do to begin to force a paradigm shift? I mean, in some ways, that's what we still need to discuss. Because, personally, I have no idea. What we are attempting to do is extremely difficult. We are wanting to get people to undertake a radical revaluation of lifestyle. Of course, this revaluation must begin here. At home. With me. With you. Before I can ask someone to undertake such a revaluation, I must perform one on my own lifestyle. Still, though, the difficulty arises in a number of places.

1) How do you get someone to want to reconsider their system of values (which are driven by self-interest) without, in the process, reaffirming those same values. i.e. We can't say, "It's in your best interest to make the move towards relationship." To do so simply returns the motivating factor to the Self.

2) What does it mean to revaluate one's lifestyle? Is there a way of facilitating this process? A survey? A questionnaire? A computer program? (Maybe that's not even the direction we want to be looking).

This interrevolution is going to be very very hard. But if we can start to make things move. If things actually begin to turn. That would be amazing and so worth it, wouldn't it?


a move

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I like the way that teens are moving these days. I sense some deep, perhaps divine, discontent with the way things have been and the way things are. We want a change. A couple years ago I felt that this longing would soon be extinguished in this world where, well, hope isn't so easy to hold onto. Last night I went to my old church and experienced what I would describe as a renewed sense of hope. Maybe it was there all along, maybe I just couldn't catch a hold of it for a while.

I know that I have been told for most of my teen years that my generation was the one that had the power and the opportunity to change the world. At first I believed it, naively perhaps. After a few years I began to witness too many things that are holding my friends back from real life in community with each other and with God. Too many addictions, too much empty entertainment, too many deadend relationships, too much money, too much stuff. I didn't think that there was much hope for us to crawl out from under that.

Today I feel somewhat differently, with some reservations lingering I must admit. :) I do really see potential in my generation because we are hurt. Through discontent with the status quo, people reach out for change. And change is what needs to happen. We need to move away from a way of thinking where we are the center and the most important thing is what will make us happy tomorrow. We need to find a place where we care as much, if not more, about our friends as we do ourselves and heck why not care about perfect strangers while we're at it?

I see an emerging group of young people who are looking for a different way to live. I see a church that is eager to pray and is ready, maybe even waiting for a revival, a revitalization, a revolution. I think it all starts with a prayer. From there, hearts are changed. It all begins when we realize that we are on a highway to hell... and we reach out to someone, something bigger.

I believe that there is hope. Will you join me? The thing is that it's going to take a little more than hoping to make a change. It's going to take changed attitudes, changed worldviews, greater compassion, greater vision and courage, and way, way less 'me'.

Let's go.

Brainstorming Opportunity #1.

Friday, June 10, 2005

In an effort to facilitate information, action, and thought, I'm trying to compile some lists of links, books, e-addresses, mailing addresses, e-texts, and anything else that might be helpful to those of you who are interested in participating in the wider revolution.

Very briefly:

> I would like to use the INFORM button (at the top of this page) to provide people with all manners of information for staying aware of what's going on in the world -- news agencies, human rights abuse reports, statistics, etc.

> the ACT button will provide a list of links and contact information (electronic or otherwise) for organizations already working to make a difference (e.g. Make Poverty History, World Vision, Compassion, etc.). This way, we can ensure that we are not adding to the administration and organization headaches by overlapping our efforts.

> the THINK button is sort of ambiguous. I was originally intending that this page would offer e-texts and books and contact information for theory and techniques which might prove helpful in our own search for solutions. Really, though, this could just be the catch-all links section. Maybe I'll change the button name to "THINK, etc."

At any rate, I'm eager for anyone's suggestions. Feel free to either post a comment with your ideas or email us at interrevolution@gmail.com.


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