07 August 2007

The Enough Movement

"I have enough. I will keep striving, because to strive is an essential part of being human, but I am not going to strive for more."

I've been thinking and blogging (not necessarily in that order) about economics, distributism and related topics for a while now. In the back of my mind a crazy little idea has been taking shape, influenced by guys like E.F. Schumacher and G.K. Chesterton. I'm calling it "The Enough Movement," and in the relatively near future I'm hoping to put it together in some sort of coherent, comprehensive-ish form. Maybe a manifesto on ChangeThis. For now, I'll just post a few bits and pieces here and there.

This Enough idea is fundamentally about three things: contentment, gratitude and generosity. It's about doing what you can, producing a manageable amount - enough for me/my family and some to share, either by selling at a fair price or giving it away, so that others can have enough too. It's about having good priorities.

As I previously mentioned, I don't want to be rich - I want to be happy, and from what I've seen, riches tend to decrease happiness, not increase it.

The funny thing is, I'm not sure I'd really want to be part of this "Enough Movement." On some level, I still associate more with better, more with happier. Previous posts notwithstanding, I sort of do want to be rich. Also, I've got a family to provide for, and I still think they'll be happier if I can give them more (and I'll be happier too). So I'm still working this out, in my own head and my own life. I think I'd like to take some sort of vow of poverty, if I could do so without subjecting my family to it... but maybe that's just a convenient excuse for not doing it. Who knows?

Schumacher wrote "The aim should be to obtain the maximum well being with the minimum consumption." I suspect the link between well being and consumption is indeed inversely proportional (after a point).

He also wrote "the essence of civilization [is] not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of character," and he bemoans the way "our fathers luxuries become our necessities."

So, I'm wondering - what am I going to do about it. We'll see.

5 comments:

mandy said...

Hey Dan, I am generally a silent reader of your blog, but today I HAD to comment on this post.

For a while (since before we were married) Eric and I have also had to think this idea through. We are no closer to resolving it but we don't want to be comfortably satisfied by the gross collections of things...If we have enough for "the extras", then we have more then enough to bless others with.

I'll look forward to reading your well versed thoughts.

Dan said...

Hey Mandy - thanks so much for the comment! I just noticed that I posted the Enough thing right above the "I got a Mac!" posting... heh. Like I said, I'm still figuring it out.

I think the real core of the whole thing is the "contentment, gratitude, generosity" bit.

And of course, I think it's no mistake that all the great religions, across every culture, talk about the spiritual dangers of excessive prosperity.

I'm interested to see where this train of thought leads. Hopefully nowhere too weird. :)

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