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A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

Quality of Life (Part 2)

This evening, I went to a presentation to an informal group of investors. In a discussion with one of the others after the presentation, the subject turned to quality of life. The subject of pending hyper-inflation had come up and I mentioned that I thought it was a good thing in that it would get people to accept a more modest lifestyle and that they would be better off for it. He then told me of how his house, which is located in the wooded hills, had burned down last year and how this neighbors rallied to help him immediately. He also mentioned how they get their water from a source heat with fire wood, so they are very frugal with those resources. He feels very connected to the community and the place. Given his resources, he could easily live in a luxury gated community.

It occurred to me that modern life offers a lot of conveniences. These are superficially good things. But like any good thing taken to excess, they can actually reduce our quality of life. The most poignant example that I can think of is suburban sprawl. Everyone wants their own house with a car in the garage and a chicken in the pot, but once we have it, we are spread thin and separated by distance, roads and walls from each other and we become trivial. By trivial, I mean, we do not really need our neighbors or even ourselves. If anything is broken or lacking, we just buy another one. The distance between us is not just a physical distance, but also chasm of need. Unless you grew up with your neighbor, which is unlikely in many places due to mobility, then there is little reason to interact with them. You might find some mutual interest such as football or church, but that is limited. The distance between us and the person on the next block is even greater. They might as well live in another town. Rather than feeling happier, we end up feeling alone.

Another example is the convenience of motorized vehicles. Itís a lot better to drive than to carry things for miles. Taken to the extreme as we have today, our towns are laid out such that you almost have to have a car. To get exercise most of us have to set aside time to walk or work out outside our normal activity. Those who do not or cannot, pay the price with their health. Obesity, high cholesterol, depression, high blood pressure and many other conditions tend to improve when we get proper exercise.

When the cost of buying clothing or a meal is so small compared to what we can make them for, we tend to devalue those things. We do not take as good care of them nor do we appreciate them as much as if we or someone we cared for had made them.

My point is not to get rid of cars or houses, but a more judicious use of those tools would be better for our soul and much more sustainable. With the productivity we have today, there is no reason anyone should have to work more than 4 hours a day to live a fulfilling, sustainable life.

by Didier G.
on 12/06/2009

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