live simply

January 5, 2011


It didn't take me long to find something to share with all of you from my college course. Before class on Monday I cracked the text book (Developing Management Skills) to get started on the first chapter and was sucked in by a particular quote. As I warned you, it is long, but so much of it resonates with how I feel about our world right now, with things I have learned over the past few years, and it spoke to the changes I wish to make in my life or values I want to live by.

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much...We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and lie too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.
We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We've conquered outer space, but not inner space; we've done larger things, but not better things; we've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we've split the atom, but not our prejudice; we write more, but learn less; plan more, but accomplish less; we've learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals; more food, but less appeasement; more acquaintances, but fewer friends; more effort, but less success.
We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; we've become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure and less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.
It is a time where there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom.

The quote comes from an essay by a former Seattle pastor and is clearly inspired by words by the Dalai Lama. Because of controversies surrounding the pastor, and because this is not a religious blog, I have decided to omit one line in the quote and refrain from providing the pastor's name. This is mostly in the effort to retain the impact of the words above. I believe these statements to be true, at least they are for me and for what I see in our society in general, regardless of the fact that they are over 15 years old. I hope you enjoy this quote as much as I do and are as inspired as I am to correct these contradictions. To build patience. To take pride in what we have. To slow down. To deepen relationships. To live simply. To en-joy life.