Finally I’m controversial enough to have drawn friendly fire. A reader challenged “Enough” as a Trojan Horse for the a “Green/we are not sustainable” political agenda, and “More” not caused by the consumer culture, but by a deep fear of extinction in the competitive battle for resources. He said:
“This Enough reminds me of what the liberals, socialists, and commies have done: change labels to hide their agenda. Environmentalism … has become the home for liberals, leftists, and socialists who are running away from their label though the contents are the same. Thus: the new label ‘progressive’ when really they are watermelon democrats (green on the outside, pink on the inside).”
Anyone who has seen me live knows I relish intelligent (and this reader is smart) respectful opposition. It either gives me a chance to counter or to rethink. This one has caused me to think about my intentions in doing my work – and to share that with you. Maybe the following spontaneous responses (this is a blog after all) I’will draw more friendly fire. Let’s see.
The reader did praise the pragmatic approach to enough in Your Money or Your Life. He was just challenging the “hidden agendas” of spirituality and social change.
Enough as a teaching has always been rooted both in spirituality and in pragmatism.
Spiritually it’s releasing from what Buddhists call “the hungry ghost” – that aspect of self that is always trying to incorporate more from the outside to satisfy a spiritual emptiness. It shows up as fear, grasping, envy, jealousy, sadness, loneliness. It also shows up as over-doing/eating/debting/drinking/hoarding/spending/pandering/”fame-ing – you name it. We’re all somewhat in the thrall of “hungry ghosts” and the work to moderate our “too muchness” helps us center, breathe easy, get satisfied.
Pragmatically it serves two functions.
First, it helps us come back from the brink of ruin.
Second (and this is the Trojan Horse) I have been reading the data for 20 years about our collective living beyond the limits of the earth’s resources. I have participated in and tried to influence conversations at every level of intellectual and political debate. I know my limits. I’m a popular educator, not a scientist, academic or political leader. But I jumped in way over my head and have been swimming ever since because we really do have to change fundamentally towards “living well together within the means of the earth.” We actually have to evolve now beyond the zero sum resource game and find less energy intensive, more cooperative ways of providing the good life for all.
I have Progressive or Democratic leanings – I bend towards justice in my social concerns. But I am a fiscal conservative – and so is the program in Your Money or Your Life. I practice personal responsibility but not blame. I rail against the structural injustices that permit the degree of wealth gap nationally and internationally because it isn’t fair and also it’s a proven pathway to social unhappiness and ultimately unrest. I wish I had time to hug more trees, but I live among them and gain solace and inspiration from the forests and waters and mountains I can see from my home.
Had the issue merely been helping others with personal and spiritual healing I might not have invested so many years to this work. It’s this dire situation globally that compels me.
None of this has been hidden. I was candid about it from before writing Your Money or Your Life and indeed Enough is a cornerstone of the teaching.
I have in these last 20 years evolved in my own understanding of our systemic dilemmas, which draws me to reengage with teaching Enough to many. I believe that our frameworks of thinking influence our personal and collective choices. I believe we are wired for enough as well as for more. That we are cooperative as well as competitive animals. I believe that cooperative policies can’t make headway in a debate that presumes a zero sum world. Deeper, I think we have built our identities around a way of thinking and living that is on it’s way out evolutionally. Our systems of constructive, cooperative interaction – from the World Court and UN to the Internet – make us safe-er than our instruments of war.
Finally, I have been honest about how I burned out on this effort to redirect our consumer society. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 (I’m well now) and changed my own life radically not to survive physically but to rebalance spiritually. As I reengage with the work of Enough I do so for all the reasons above but with a lightness of spirit. Offering Discover your Enough Point comes out of love and a desire to give of myself without giving too much. I and my guests have had a grand time on the free calls and I’m loaded up with good content for the 4-session course. It’s pragiritual. Or spiragmatic. It’s all rolled into one. And maybe that’s why the reader saw Enough as a Trojan Horse. I hope I have teased things apart a bit. Let me know.
Flash: the UW has apparently posted an interview I did a dozen years ago that is very much what i’d say today, though the figures for median and sufficient incomes are way out of date: http://www.researchchannel.org/prog/displayevent.aspx?fID=570&rID=2586