Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Simple Life

This article will be appearing in the Concordia newspaper, but what the heck, I'll post it here also:

The Simple Life
by Brittni Carey

                We are rich.  On a student budget, though it doesn’t seem like much, we live better than most of the people in the world.  We have ready access to clean water, the grocery store, and Tim Hortons.  We drive cars that are built to last five years maximum and wear clothes we throw out at the smallest sign of wear.  We own laptops, iPhones, digital cameras, huge flatscreens, more movies than we would ever watch, and more stuff than we could ever need.  I’m not pointing this out to make anyone feel guilty; in fact, I want to point out how blessed we are to live in such affluence!  Our needs are met, freeing us up to think about the deep questions in life.

                I don’t know about you, but with the time I have, instead of thinking philosophically, I tend to think materially.  About what I own, what I want to wear the next day, or what’s going on on Facebook. Things are distracting. They can also be destructive.  Our earth is burdened with the shells of our spent pleasures, and the more stuff we buy, the more we throw away. I not only find this fact frustrating, but also frightening: and even more so, how so much of us buy into our consumable culture – literally.

                To reconcile the desire for sincere contemplation of life and the things in life that matter, I think our society needs to put focus on living more simply.  This doesn’t mean dressing in sackcloth and living in a cardboard box.  Rather, I think it means being more intentionally about the way we live.  I love this verse:
Two things I ask of you, LORD; 
 do not refuse me before I die: 
8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; 
  give me neither poverty nor riches, 
  but give me only my daily bread. 
9Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you 
 and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ 
Or I may become poor and steal, 
and so dishonor the name of my God (Psalm 30:7-9).
Where we have much, we should share with those who have little, where we have little we should depend that God’s plan for us may involve something more than that new shiny thing we’ve been chasing after.  Like some of you, I have this terrible fear of losing everything, of not having enough money to take care of myself.  Jesus assures us that our Heavenly Father, who takes care of the birds and the grass of the field, will take care of us also.

                In light of these thoughts, what does living simply mean? I was recently inspired by a project I heard about through a friend.  To raise money for providing water to people in third world situations, Jenny Doh has pledged to wear the same brown dress everyday (when it isn’t being washed, of course) from Valentine’s Day of this year until 2013. She has used her gifts of art and the blessings in her life to reach out to the world around her, putting the needs of others before her own.  Living simply, to me anyways, means being intentional about what we buy and how we use it: using recycled products, sharing resources with the people around us, creating a community which is not based on supply and demand, but rather on respect for the earth and love for each other.  This is a general statement to be sure, but I think that everyone has a different approach to living the simple life.  Some who have much share what they have; others decide to boycott corporations which oppress and mistreat their workers.

What does the simple life mean to you?

Check out Jenny Doh’s Crescendoh Project at


  1. "Our earth is burdened with the shells of our spent pleasures"

    Love it - very vivid image!

  2. I can't comment on this in the newsletter so I'll do it here:
    Simple life to me means that I shouldn't be concerned if suddenly my earthly possessions are destroyed, I mean come on, I'm still alive, right? Right? And I still have my friends and family.
    Still, I don't know if I am mentally capable of not being concerned. Technology is huge in our society. If I lived in Bella Bella for the rest of my life I would find it a lot easier to give up these pleasures.