“Livesimply” is a 21st Century reminder to all of God’s people that we are called to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor.
This theme was taken up by Pope Paul Vl, 42 years ago, in a prophetic encyclical where he said that what drives most people is the desire for security, enough to eat, good health, a steady job, a say in how their lives are run and a chance for a better education.
Pope Paul Vl said that the problem for much of the world’s population was that things were getting worse, not better !
Not much has changed. Even in the massively wealthy Western world we are now seeing what happens if rampant consumerism and corporate greed in excess of our real needs are promoted by reckless lending and borrowing. Many banks suddenly realise that they do not have enough assets to support their own huge borrowings and their world caves in, dragging the rest of the economy with it.
affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. (de Graaf )
Never has there been a better time to embrace the call to live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor.
Living more simply means learning to enjoy what we have and not wasting money on things we do not need even if advertisers try to convince us otherwise.
Living more sustainably means that we should not use more than our fair share of the shrinking resources of the world. We should use less energy and consume less “things” not only to reduce global warming ( important as that is) but also to help ensure there will be enough food, oil, coal, gas, minerals and other raw materials left to supply the whole world and not just the rich nations in the future.
Solidarity with the Poor
Living in solidarity with the poor means recognising that we have no God given right to hang on to the wealth we create in excess of our reasonable needs but should use it in the relief of worldwide poverty. This means almsgiving, prayer and also using the benefit of our faith and education to convince others that St Ambrose was right when he said that “you are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor but you are giving back what is theirs…You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone.”
There are no model answers on how we can live more simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor but what we cannot say is that there is nothing we can do which will make any difference! Revolutions always start with individual action.
If we all start living more simply in little ways who knows what the outcome may be, and it may help us to accept some of the consequences of the credit crunch too.
The Livesimply initiative has been running since Advent 2006 and much has already been done to increase awareness and encourage participation. Unlike many projects this one should not have an end date. It will only be truly successful if enters the fabric of our Christian lives on a permanent basis. Are we ready to take up the challenge?
If you are interested in going further, please visit the Livesimply website
Author: Ian Stewart