In the late 80’s I led a workshop on simple living at a conference on peace and social justice. This was at a Quaker church in my hometown of Whittier, California and two of my workshop attendees were an older couple with kind and careworn faces. As we all spoke of our experiences it became clear to me that this couple had been living lives of simplicity and conviction about three times longer than my own years on the planet. The woman said something that has stayed with me ever since:
“I know full well that if everyone lived the way I do – never setting foot in a department store, for example – the entire economy would grind to a halt.”
I believe with all my heart that we in the U.S. need to consume considerably less to live sustainably on this planet. I’m aware that I’m also talking about people’s jobs being at stake. Equally true is that millions of jobs have been permanently destroyed in recent decades precisely by the engines of economic growth, particularly downsizing and mergers. What we need is jobs — no, make that work – that is sustainable and resilient in the face of the climate changes that are already well underway.