small is beautiful
“Ever bigger machines, entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence against the environment, do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom. Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful.”
- E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, 1973 London
What has happened to us? We’re all fixated on the most, the biggest, the best. We want bigger and better lives, but we end up settling instead for bigger TVs, bigger vehicles and bigger houses. We pave over natural wetlands to make room for our big suburban developments where we think maybe those bigger and better lives might play out.
It seems an unyielding imperative that our cities keep spreading and bulldozing in the name of generating more jobs, more units, more condos and more revenue for those same cities to spin back into developing, expanding and encompassing even more.
Where’s the plan? Where’s the vision? There was one, but it seems it’s been waylaid by progress. A variance here, a rule broken there, a plan and a vision forgotten. We watch and whine and pretend it’s all going to be okay. And it probably will be okay – for us.
But what about our children. This relentless push for progress will cost them dearly. We are using up all the resources. Cutting down and paving over every scrap of nature we can sell, gut and redo. We are getting bigger and bigger and our shadow looms over the near future like a giant poisonous-gas-filled blimp.
We are the generation that has sat by while the 1% have become “the best destroyers of all time”, impoverishing people and the planet like never before. (George Monbiot, p.19, The Guardian Weekly, 18.11.11.)
It’s amazing how little we really need, to be content in this life. The problem is, we want what we want. Will we ever think small, think gentle, think beautiful? Will we ever stop feeding the consumer and corporate machines that shove our desire for more down our throats by telling us exactly what it is we should be eating, wearing, caring about and buying?
Isn’t one gift at Christmas enough?
If not, why not? Why shop ’til you drop? Why stress and fret and over spend? Bring yourself back down to size. Think small. Teach your kids something else. Get sentimental about life, about nature, about your loved ones — not about buying a bunch of stuff that no one needs. Don’t get sucked into some endless black monday that spins into boxing day and then becomes an interminable cycle of gift-giving (aka shopping) imposed upon you by a bunch of “shoulds” from Wall Street and beyond? It’s time to throw a monkey wrench into the old escalator and jump off this crazy ride.
Small is beautiful. Small cities mean a greater sense of connection, ease of movement and self-sustainability. A small house, a small car, a small Christmas are all easier, more affordable, more peaceful and more spacious. Small means you have time and space for the lovely in life.
Even if you were not one of those who ventured downtown and held up a sign during the occupy movement, maybe you too believe it is time to challenge the status quo, to reign in corporate greed and to choose wisdom over progress at all costs. Maybe you can begin by acting as if all that you do matters and by realizing that small is also beautiful. Start at home and let the wisdom spread from there.
Here’s wishing you a small holiday season sprinkled with ease, beauty and love.