Simplicity is beautiful. A simple life is a good life. Possessions are a burden. Love all living things.
I know that the mere suggestion of these ideas is anathema to being a 21st Century patriot and Christian. A true patriot, a true Christian shops until the credit limit is reached, loses her job, and lives (like Jesus Christ) as a homeless person for the rest of her life. Just ask the last president. During the national melancholy that struck America after 9/11, he actually told us that shopping was the solution. Show them they did not win, go shopping. Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani of New York said pretty much the same thing: the way we show them they didn't beat us was to come to New York City, see a show and shop.
It is no wonder that the simplest things in American life have no value. Simplicity is not revered, is not even considered. Accumulation of stuff, and things to do, and places to go, are a sign of success in our culture. The bigger the better, damn the expense.
There are few philosophies in modern America that offer much different.
In the latter part of the last century, Buddhism became more mainstream in America, and it is easy to see the similarities between Buddhist teachings and the teachings of Christ (although not necessarily the teachings of Christianity).
If Jesus Christ had been born today, he'd reach more than a small nation ("Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication.") with his message. He'd have encountered Buddhism. Along with his traditional spiritual education he would likely have come to the same conclusions about love, peace, neighborliness, and life that we hear in Buddhism (and in the Gospels, but not necessarily from Christians).
Writer Leo Babauta, has published an article that I found engaging and helpful. He writes:
A simple life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For me, it means eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending your time doing what's important to you.
It means getting rid of many of the things you do so you can spend time with people you love and do the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value.
However, getting to simplicity isn't always a simple process. It's a journey, not a destination, and it can often be a journey of two steps forward, and one backward.
If you’re interested in simplifying your life, this is a great starter’s guide (if you’re not interested, move on).
That article is not long to read, but if you are too busy or irritated about reading seventy-two items, it is summed up this way:
1. Identify what's most important to you.
2. Eliminate everything else.
Thanks to Michael for the link.