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Why the Simple Life?



People often ask us what exactly it was that led to the radical step of leaving our “normal” life behind and starting a permaculture project – living with only those luxuries that are provided by Nature.

There are, of course, many reasons. But the underlying theme was the feeling that something is wrong. At the beginning that was it, only throughout the years does one figure out what it is that is wrong.

Author Daniel Quinn put it like this: We are “captives of a civilizational system that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live.”
Ever since the very dawn of civilization about 10.000 years ago, humans – who previously didn’t have any considerable impact on the environment – have systematically destroyed Nature by overusing limited resources and otherwise destroying their environment for rather selfish purposes. We humans are manipulators, our eyes guide our hands to form our environment to fit our needs. With the new mindset that became common after settling down and shifting from a (semi-)nomadic foraging lifestyle to a sedentary agricultural one, humans thought as themselves as excluded from the community: hunter, but never prey, eating, but never to be fed on.

After the industrial revolution, this disruptive tendency accelerated to a point where our destruction impacts basic planetary systems.
Around 10,000 species go extinct every year, we lose an average of 30 soccer fields of top soil per minute, the Amazon rainforest is being cut down at a rate of 50 soccer fields per minute,  irreplaceable resources are extracted and burned at an ever accelerating speed, accumulating an ever increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which in turn threaten more species and destroy more biodiversity.
The biggest challenge of our time – mitigating the effects of climate change, which will otherwise lead to droughts, wildfires and crop failures, rising sea levels, but also increased likelihood of storms, hurricanes, floodings, landslides – is yet to be seriously approached on a global scale.

Many prominent historical figures have advocated the simple life; from Lao-Tze, Siddhartha Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, over Diogenes of Sinope and Antisthenes from ancient Greece, Jesus from the Middle East, to St. Francis from Europe. If so many wise people advocate simple living there has to be something to it.

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