In the weeks of July and August, I’m highlighting the Five Life Standards here, working from material I’ve compiled in the Simple Living archives.
The Five Life Standards, the essence of voluntary simplicity, are detailed in Doris Janzen Longacre’s book, Living More with Less (now available in a 30th Anniversary edition):
- Do Justice
- Learn from the World Community
- Nurture People, Not Things
- Cherish the Natural Order
- Nonconform Freely
Simple Living and the Five Life Standards on The Common Good Podcast
In the episode 27 of The Common Good Podcast, Lee Van Ham and I find common ground in the micro-economics of voluntary simple living and the macro of Jubilee Economics. It goes way beyond “class warfare” in America to global fairness… seeing the interconnection of our small choices and purchases to the larger systems of governments and corporations. Everything’s connected.
Life Standard #1: Do Justice
“Do Justice” may remind us of the courts… to get our due. Biblical Justice is quite different. It reflects God’s great love for the poor and our call to respond to their needs.
In How Much Is Enough? Alan Durning categorizes the world population into three groups. One fifth - 20% - are the disenfranchised people. They have no reliable source of food or water, no medical care, only one set of clothes and they walk wherever they go. Three fifths - 60% of the world population - are the sustainers. They have basic, reliable sources of food, some medical care, several sets of clothes and they take public transportation. The remaining fifth or 20% are the overconsumers. This group has access to lavish, cheap food, has reliable medical care, has many sets of clothes and they use private transportation. This last group, the over consumers, is made up, to one degree or another, of virtually everybody in North America, Western Europe and Japan.
Guess what percentage of the world’s resources are used by the disenfranchised and the sustainers, 80% of the world’s population and by the over consumers, 20% of the world’s population. That’s right, just flip the figures. The overconsumers use 80% of the world’s resources and the other 80% of the world’s people use only 20% of the resources.
Notice that the first principle is not “thinking about Justice,” or even “believe in Justice.” It’s Do Justice. In addition to our prayers, our contributions, and our pressuring of governments, we help the poor around the world by taking seriously the phrase, Live Simply That Others May Simply Live. By consuming less we make more available for others.
As we work to take control of our own lives, our own consumption, our own waste, we work toward changing the inequitable distribution of wealth. As we share ideas of simpler living with others we hasten the day when Justice is done.