This is one of those subjects that I don’t know what to write because I have no business talking about it. So, I am just going to start writing out my thoughts because I need them all in one place so that maybe I can draw some conclusion from them.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of “enough” lately, specifically in regard to the way we live. This is such a broad subject and I can’t pull it apart to get at the pieces to examine. This is probably going to be the worst blog post in the history of blogs, so bear with if you have the stomach for it.
What does it mean to live simply? To live with enough to live adequately. Now I am not talking about basic survivalship, like a mud hut somewhere and living “off the land”. I am trying to think about real life in the context of where and how we live as Americans. Now, I understand that the U.S. is a rare bubble in a world of poverty and pain. As a friend of mine put it recently, “You know we live in Disneyland, don’t you?” He and I were talking about something completely different, but the image is still the same. We act as though the way we live in the U.S. is normal, but it is more like living every day in Disneyland. Reality is across the ocean and south of the border. Reality is that 40% of humanity lives in abject squalor. Reality is that thousands of people die every day from starvation and thirst. Reality is that a car, a steady supply of food, a roof, clean running water, electricity, etc. are all luxuries. I am not an advocate for wringing our hands in guilt for the wealth, luxury, and power that the U.S. has. On the contrary, I look at the United States of America as a rare gift that is worth protecting, preserving, and using for the sake of good in the world. By the way, I am not talking about the government of the U.S., I am talking about the whole thing from the people, wealth, knowledge, culture, attitudes, running water, electricity, etc. that make up what we are as Americans. The loss or potential loss of this precious gift is what I assail and what I lament on occasion in this (and my previous) blog.
How does one have any sense of reality while living in Disneyland? There is an old saying “to whom much is given, much is expected”. It’s based on a bible verse (Luke 12:48), but I think it has come to mean more than it was written to mean. Everyone is born into this world with some degree of talent, wealth, influence, etc. or the capability to obtain such things. To me, it boils down to how one utilizes those attributes and things for the betterment of humanity. To put it more in touch with reality rather than idealism, to live simply I must utilize my wealth, intelligence, wits, possessions, vocation, etc. for the betterment of my family, my community, and for those that do not have access to the attributes and things to which I have access. For me, only by doing that can I have a chance to comprehend and perhaps change the reality that most people experience.
When is enough “enough” for an individual or small community of Americans? Do we unplug from society and commiserate with the impoverished 40%? Do we insulate ourselves from the riff-raff in self-imposed seclusion? Do we simply throw up our hands and give up? I think the answer lies somewhere in the goal of improving the reality of people in the world. I think it is incumbent upon every American to offer a hand up to those that are below some minimum threshold of what we think reality should be for humanity. Is that minimum threshold clean drinking water, electricity, a steady supply of food, some combination of certain things, etc? I don’t have an answer to that question, but it is something we should ponder as a society. Americans already do quite a bit toward this end, but the goal is not reached yet. Would you be willing to sacrifice some of your wealth for the sake of someone (or many people) to have that minimum threshold of what it means to be human? Are we capable, as a society of free people, to share a small portion of the rare gift we have been given as Americans?
Your thoughts are welcome.