It's not complicated: New reality sets stage to pursue simpler life

It has come, sadly, to this: A man in East Hartford, Conn., called 911 on June 13 because, like virtually everyone who calls 911, he was faced with a crisis beyond his control that he felt could be solved only by professionally trained emergency responders.


Was it a murder? A deadly auto accident? A violent home invasion?


Authorities say Rother McLennon dialed 911 – and I think I’m developing a migraine merely by typing this – because a deli supposedly didn’t prepare his sandwiches with enough of the ingredients he wanted.

While you’re cleaning up the coffee you doubtlessly spit out after reading that last sentence, allow me to add some perspective. Our ancestors used muskets, axes, keen wits and a relentless will to conquer a wilderness and create a new civilization in North America.

Now it’s about 400 years later, and those pioneers’ descendents are so ill-equipped to cope in this softer society that they feel compelled to summon the police because sandwiches don’t have “enough” cheese, whatever that means.


HAS OVERCONSUMPTION gotten us to this point – where it’s a code-red crisis when you don’t have “enough” of something you can do without? Where the line between wants and needs is becoming increasingly blurred?

That’s a dangerous attitude to have these days. As today’s editorial points out, continuing with infinite consumerism against finite resources is begging for economic trouble.

So, since the economy seriously started going into the tank in 2008, more people have sensibly had to get by with less.

Do you watch what you eat, and how much? Are you a hawk with your thermostat? Do you give more thought to which car trips are absolutely necessary?

Those are important first steps to simplifying your life – but they’re baby steps compared to what others are doing. These people are storing more food and other basic household items. They’re cultivating small farms, often in urban and suburban settings. They’re remapping their lives to make themselves as self-sufficient as possible.

Why? It depends on whom you ask. Some people are afraid that the same social and political unrest we’re seeing elsewhere in the world will strike in America, and they want to be prepared. Others are bracing for an apocalypse, either nuclear or biblical.


ONE ARIZONA family I saw on a National Geographic TV special had assembled an impressive greenhouse and a collection of livestock to weather what the husband called a “coronal mass ejection.” I didn’t know what that was until I looked it up – it’s a solar magnetic burst that can shoot far enough into space to reach Earth – and discovered two of them had actually hit Earth on June 16. No, I didn’t get zapped, either.

But you know what – I don’t particularly care why people pursue simpler living, and maybe you shouldn’t, either. The point is that they’re doing it – and why shouldn’t more folks do the same? Is there really a down side?

It’s not going to be an easy sell – not in a country where generations of Americans were brought up to believe that they lived in the land of plenty.

We’ve got plenty, all right – plenty of obesity; plenty of waste, from government on down to ordinary citizens; plenty of bad habits.

But we also have plenty of initiative; plenty of creativity; plenty of opportunity. And Americans really never have shaken our ancestors’ resolute will to survive.

We’re going to have to rely on all of that if more Americans want to pursue sensible living -- which looks more and more like the sensible way forward.



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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon