Exclusive to this blog, here is a DRAFT of my next One World Column (see www.oneworldcolumn.org or http://new.edp24.co.uk/content/commentary/OneWorld.aspx for previous columns by myself and fellow columnists.).
Constructively critical comments welcome! Any help improving what will go into the paper would be welcome.
best, and thanks in anticipation; Rupert.
How do we go from Generation Stressed to what could perhaps be termed Generation Blessed? Since ‘X’, one negative term after another has described the rising generation; how can we break the circle, and at last create a new generation that is… blessed?
That we – and in fact not just children, but all of us (http://society.guardian.co.uk/children/story/0,,1871309,00.html ), are Generation Stressed, is scarcely to be denied (for the uptodate evidence, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6897485.stm ). To verify this, just ask yourself when the last time was that, when you asked someone how they are, they replied, “Yeah, just fine; really relaxed. Totally unstressed.” For many of us, I suspect it was sometime in the 1970s…
I want to propose a way forward. I propose that the way to start to de-stress, is to see that one is actually rich if one has much less than virtually all of us in a country like contemporary Britain have. We can be rich, while living in every sense within our means; and if we live with less, we will have a chance of turning the tide, and showering blessings thereby on our children and their children. We can create Generation Blessed, only by first becoming Generation Less.
‘Generation Less’. At first blush, it can sound negative. But being taught that what we need is more more more is what has made us Generation Stressed in the first place. The cult of consumerism is a treadmill – what used to be called the rat race – that terminally stresses individuals, families, cultures, and ecosystems. I stress “terminally”. The ultimate stress we are under is that cloud hanging over us in the form of a climate that we are changing such that human civilisation itself is under threat. Worse than the threat of non-state terrorism, or of the mushroom cloud, or of the exhaustion of natural resources (according now even to the FT — see www.thepeakist.com/world-will-face-oil-crunch-%e2%80%98in-five-years%e2%80%99/ — ‘Peak Oil’, which will lead to an economic crisis and to a speeding up of dangerous climate change – see my http://oneworldcolumn.org/132.html — may be less than five years away), the abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the ultimate stressor, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Our endless more is coming back to haunt us. More: to consume us. With each more throwaway ‘good’ that is produced, we add another brick to the CO2 wall that we are throwing up around our planetary home, and bring terminal over-heat one step closer.
It is the rising tide materialism and consumerism that has brought us to this literal rising tide. Generation Stressed is literally a product of ‘the affluent society’. The way out of stress is through: less.
But less needn’t translate to lack.
Because: Less really is more.
Less stuff. Less waste. Less junk. Less impatience. Less marketing. Less competitiveness. Less working hours. Less travelling. Less carbon emissions. Less fear. Less mental illness. And yes: less speed, and less choice. The speed of life and the amount of choice we are faced with are making us ill and distressed. Just as they make the planet burn.
We’re not talking about hairshirts and deprivation. We’re talking in fact about a better way to live (www.marklynas.org/2007/7/10/a-better-way-to-live ). The convenient truth of the matter is that the very things we need to do in order to stop climate catastrophe are the very things we need to do in order to become happier. Happiness comes not from affluence, not from material goods, but from the recreation of community, security, and simple human kindness. As we relocalise our society, as we reverse the neo-liberal globalisation that has brought us to the edge of catastrophe, we will willy-nilly recreate the seeds of well-being that have been withering since roughly the 70s.
Generation Blessed can come to us. But only if we take the road of Less.
We know that, in the true sense of the words, less is more. So let’s seize the day:
Let’s be Generation Less.