Living Simply (Part 2): What do we deserve?

Catch Part 1 here: The Difficulty of Living Simply

Thanks to everyone who left comments and gave feedback regarding my first post. There were some helpful comments practically as well as more theoretically. In the comments, Catherine said the book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger has been helpful for her in reducing her consumption: Je pense qu’une de mes motivations premières à vivre plus simplement, c’est de pouvoir partager avec les pauvres (I think one of my primary motivations in living more simply is to be able to share avec those less fortunate.). Related to this,  Beth wrote a post that hits on the same subject from a similar angle to Catherine. As I pondered, commented, and continued to reflect, I had some insight into myself again.

Beth writes about what struck her about a conversation she had with Amelia (who writes about that same convo here). They were discussing the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh.

“By shopping at these stores, we are basically saying, I deserve to buy a shirt for $10. Instead of saying, I can’t afford so I’ll go without, we say, I deserve a shirt that is affordable, so I’m going to buy this one.”

When I thought about it, this was true of me as well. Not only that, but I feel like I deserve a lot of clothing at a price I can afford in order to fit in in a basic way in society. My price point is determined by how much I want/think I need. “I need 5 pairs of jeans, so I’ll buy $15 jeans instead of more expensive jeans.”

The living simply solution seems fairly simple in my mind if I take it from this angle: if I choose to pay (a lot) more for ethically sourced clothing etc, I will not have a choice in living simply. My budget just cannot withstand 20 pairs of $20 underwear! This seems fairly reasonable, unless you consider further just how difficult it is to find clothes that fit this category.

While this probably wont curb my desire for more it is a helpful restraint in putting that into action. It will help me contemplate at what cost more comes. Do I really want more at the expense of others?

But, as I think more about it I still wonder if having these motivations in living simply will ever completely convince me always. As The Minimalist Mom writes in this post, even when we pair our lives down to the basics and it all seems great at first, we can grow tired of it and find it burdensome. This isn’t a reason not to pursue it but a reason not to look to it to solve any problems.

The problem is in us, not in stuff. Stuff isn’t bad — it has no moral value — it’s how we use it and look to it to give us meaning or value in life.

For those of you thinking about this along with me, do you think there’s value in living more simply? Why or why not? If so, what is a helpful motivation for you. ‘Social justice’? Anti-consumer culture values? Help us keep this thought process going by sharing your perspective in the comments. If you’re interested, check out how many slaves you have.

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  • http://notwithink.ca/ Beth

    So glad you weighed in!

    A really interesting point that having no stuff is not inherently more moral than having lots of stuff… I think there is (in my heart, at least), a tendency to self-righteousness based on simplicity.

    My motivation for wanting to make changes stems from a: a desire to live justly, treating other humans & the environment with love and gratitude and b. a desire to find joy and fulfillment in human relationships and creativity.

    Also, I find I need to make intentional and somewhat strict/radical choices in order to counteract the overwhelming voice of our culture that says, “more stuff! better stuff! this stuff will fix you!”