Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Why Simplicity? A Complex Answer, Part V
I realize it is inconvenient, but [simplicity] as a lifestyle choice, especially for one so concerned for the poor, it makes absolutely no sense.
If it makes no sense to you, then I'd suggest you ought not embrace simplicity.
It makes perfect sense to me and many others. Why? The reasons are many. A few starters...
1. We have finite amount of potable water. The more demand for clean water, the more water prices increase, the less affordable water is to the poor. Possible conclusions?
a. Consume less water.
b. Use rainwater.
c. Build in ways that slow runoff (which leads to polluted waters and other problems)
d. Drive less (or not at all - driving contributes greatly to water pollution)
e. Advocate for less road building, more mass transit, bike lanes, sidewalks
f. Advocate AWAY from the personal auto solution and towards healthier solutions as policy matters.
g. Some of the same responses in section 2, below.
All of which I believe ultimately helps the poor.
2. We have a common world to share, it is not ours to exclusively pollute. Additionally, pollution tends to hurt the poor more (the poor are more likely to live in polluted settings, to suffer from asthma, cancers, etc) Possible conclusions?
a. Pollute less.
b. Drive less.
c. Live in smaller circles.
d. Shop locally (stuff shipped in from 1000 miles away comes with 1000 miles worth of pollution/toxins/costs).
e. Grow more of my own food.
f. Some of the same answers in section 1, above.
All of which I believe helps the poor.
3. Dependence upon foreign oil has many negative consequences, many of which directly and indirectly harm the poor. When we wage war in a foreign nation to defend "our" oil, it is often the poor who are killed as "collateral damage." When we wage wars of any type, it is often the poor of both nations sent as cannon fodder.
a. Many of the same already mentioned...
b. Drive less
c. Live in smaller circles
d. Consume less Stuff that is dependent upon foreign fuels for its production/transport
e. Shop locally
f. Advocate against policies that keep us tied to foreign oil and fossil fuels in general
etc. We have many global and local problems whose origins are found in our lifestyle choices. Simplifying our lifestyles could/would have many positive results for the world in general, and the poor specifically.
That is, it is incompatible with a real desire to help the poor as it limits one's ability to impact the greatest numbers.
Says you. I am wholly unconvinced that the answer to the problems of poverty is more charity (ie, Dan trying to make more money so he can give away as much money as possible to help the needy poor), which can be debillitating and less than helpful, at least at times.
As the saying goes (sort of):
Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he eats for as long as he can fish.
Work to enable the man to have good health and clean water in which to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.
Teaching a man to fish does no good if his water is toxic sludge. If the man has cancer from air pollution, teaching him to fish does little good. If the man is in a wheelchair and unable to travel to the water, teaching him to fish does little good.
Charity has its place, to be sure. But more important to me is to work for systemic justice, part of which suggests to me simple living sorts of answers.
One could ask to Dan, what is more important? Living simply or helping the poor? One of these seems just talk.
You set up a false dichotomy. Who says we have to choose between living simply and helping the poor?
Only to the uninformed would simple living seem to be just talk. Our life choices have consequences for us and beyond us. Giving money to problems can be a good thing, but better still is working to end the problems and ending our part in contributing by our lifestyles to those problems.
Giving money to establish a job skill training program can be a very good thing and help some people.
Being an entrepreneur that creates good jobs and just working circumstances can be a very good thing and help some people.
AND, living in ways that don't contribute to pollution or people losing their way of life is ALSO a very good thing that helps, it seems to me, even more people.