Practicing Voluntary Simplicity
Our world is undergoing an intense process of transformation. Fact: The United States has 6% of the world's population and consumes 33% of natural resources. China's development is also accelerating the World’s resource depletion. Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth" clearly demonstrates the imminence of
a catastrophe of planetary proportions. Faced with the evidence that the earth does not support our way of life, a movement called Voluntary Simplicity has emerged.
In 1981, American Duane Elgin (1) wrote the book Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich (2010, 1993 and 1981).
If the world preaches a new human ethic that speaks of fraternity and communion, of solidarity and compassion to preserve our future, what about us, Christians, that we should be at the forefront of this proposal, but also of the ecological movement? In fact, we should be aware that God has entrusted the earth to us to take care of it and not to deprecate it.
Has God created us to love each other and to use people, other sentient beings, and resources only for our own benefit? We must begin by confessing that we become complacent with a system that produces social injustice and unbridled consumption of superfluous, while most of the population is deprived of the essential.
If we were aware of our identity as children of God, we would not be so vulnerable to the calls for advertisements that lead us to think that our value depends on material goods, outward signs of wealth and success. Those who need to invest so much in appearance reveal a poor inner life and inconsistent self-esteem. We must not forget that Mammon money is power and that we must choose who we are going to serve. The Kingdom of God is in the hearts of those who recognize Christ Consciousness as Sovereign energy and live according to its inclusive values. Being at peace with these two worlds that are antagonistic is impossible. The path of discipleship is narrow and quite contrary to the system in which we are inserted.
To live simple voluntarily in a more straightforward way means to choose a life more bereft outwardly and more abundantly inwardly. It is taking the excess weight of luggage to make the journey through this world lighter and more pleasurable. It means prioritizing the quality of life that does not depend on material resources but on peace and meaningful relationships.
Our time, yes, is very precious to be wasted in malls and in front of the TV. We must prioritize the essential to the detriment of the demands of our capitalist society.
Voluntary Simplicity is a path, a process of liberation from the materialistic system, where everything has its price, it is to live in the Kingdom, where everything is the fruit of grace! We need to learn and teach our children, to laugh at the advertisements that want to push us to buy products as if our happiness depended on them.
Enjoying God's presence in silence and in meditative solitude supplies us emotionally and enables us to resist the traps of the world:
Avoid impulse buying; rescue the child in you, playing with your children without a commitment to performance, but only for the pleasure of the game, preferably not competitive. Use your free time for a volunteer job, promoting and empowering marginalized people, being the voice of those who are not heard or even seen.
Simplicity rhymes with utility, durability, and beauty. It is not an end, but a means consistent with the Gospel of giving up superfluous expenses to generously benefit those who are deprived of decent living conditions. It is a commitment to justice that seeks to promote the human being and not just a welfare aid. It is not just about saving and recycling to ensure the survival of the planet, but about building a more fraternal and inclusive society where everyone is valued and has their basic needs met.
The more one gives oneself from the intimate experience of God's love, the more one receives love, joy, and peace. The most generous people are the most accomplished, while the most selfish are often frustrated and unhappy and angry. Whoever extends his arms to his neighbor integrates a fraternity that forms a network of solidarity and represents the Body of Christ, until He comes back inside our hearts. It is salt and light in a world that is losing its way out of the darkness of an ego-based society.
Duane Elgin is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and social visionary who looks beneath the surface turbulence of our times to explore the deeper trends that are transforming our world. In 2006, Duane received the International Goi Peace Award in Japan in recognition of his contribution to a global “vision, consciousness, and lifestyle” that fosters a “more sustainable and spiritual culture.”