The past two weeks has again seen an outpouring of generosity from the British public. Over £50 Million and rising has been given to the DEC for the Typhoon Haiyan appeal and Children in Need Raised over £31 Million on the night alone, with the total set to rise way above that figure. On top of that many people gave up their time to bolster the fundraising effort for either or both of these causes.
There is no doubt that on this evidence that as a Nation we seem to be quite generous.
And yet, as a Nation we also find ourselves in increasing financial turmoil and challenge. The rising cost of living, a debate about a living wage and a significant increase in our personal household debt.
Earlier this year as a family we took part in a challenge called Live Below the Line. We lived on £1 each per day for our food for 5 days. We were raising money for Tearfund and were encouraged by many friends and family sponsoring us. The real eye opening experience for us as a family of 4 was just how much of a reality this was for many families every single day rather than just for 5 days. A point brought home by the brilliant blog of Jack Monroe. For those 5 days we acted in solidarity, learnt a lot and raised some money, but we had the luxury of being able to return to what we were more used to again.
How much of our giving, whether it’s financial or otherwise, is done because we really love to do it or want to do it out of a genuinely good motivation? Do we, if we are honest, sometimes give out of guilt, out of compulsion or from pressure rather than it really being the thing we desire to do? Is there a danger that we can give without noticing it or give in a way that is not really going to be that costly?
These questions really challenge me because I know in all honesty that some of my giving is definitely done more out of duty and habit rather than from a place of deep love and it being or feeling sacrificial.
The Author and researcher Brene Brown (check out her amazing TED talks ) has written a great booked called Daring Greatly. The book is the practical outworking of her research on vulnerability. She says that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” and that Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage”
Could being more vulnerable mean being more daring, being more generous?
Our generosity does not, arguably should not, be just about the money we give. Generosity seems to be more about an attitude of our heart or how we orientate our time and desires. As well as giving our money we may be able to consider giving time, sharing the gifts and skills we have with others, opening up our homes and practising hospitality.
As well as being more open to give, I think we also need to be more open to receive the generosity and giving of others, to be willing to be more vulnerable and allow more of our lives and ways we live to be more shared and communal. Even if we are more naturally introverted and value our personal and private space.
When it comes to giving and receiving have we played it too safe? Do we need to reimagine how we might view and make use of our money, time and possessions? Is this what it might mean to Dare Greatly?
Roll up, roll up! For more bread and circuses. Everyone has been raving about The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, released today, ever since the original film came out last year. The latest film fuses the reality-type show of Big Brother, the horror of Lord of the Flies, the sinister surveillance of Orwell’s 1984, and the glamour of
Jonathon Porritt is the author of Capitalism as if the World Mattered, one of the most useful books I’ve read on the topic of sustainable economics. He’s taken his time with a follow-up, (not counting this one) and it’s something completely different. The World We Made is a fictional history written from 2050 by a teacher and his students. It’s imaginative, engaging, and surprisingly playful.
Earlier this week I posted a review of the book ‘Enough is Enough‘
This has inspired Christian Ecology Link to start an initiative called Joy in Enough
Christian Ecology Link have also booked Dan O Neill, One of the books authors, to be a Key contributor to an event called ‘Joy in Enough‘ on Saturday 29th March 2014. Save the Date! It should be a great event
More details to follow
Enough is Enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources: Rob Dietz and Dan O Neill
We’re overusing the earth’s finite resources, and yet excessive consumption is failing to improve our lives. In Enough is Enough Dietz and O Neill lay out a visionary but arguably realistic and grounded alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth – an economy where the goal is enough, not more.
It’s a message that goes against the grain of our hard wired thinking that growth is both good and desirable. In essence the book is articulating a practical and outworked theory that we have to change course to the norm, that growth is not the answer and that a ‘steady state’ economy of enough has to be the way of the future in order to create sustainability and also well being.
The Idea is to introduce, unpack and make practical the idea of a ‘Steady State Economy’ an economy that is prosperous but not growing. This is not exactly compelling on first reading given the challenges and state of the UK and Global economy at present. It raises the question about what sort of growth is good, sustainable and healthy and the role of the Green economy in this. Can we really create a steady state without growth? Does it become difficult to see how this can be achieved in light of the current economic reality?
The book is divided into 3 main sections:
Part 1: Questions of Enough: This is more exploring the why than the how. It asks lots of great questions as well as summarising some of the compelling scientific evidence of why growth and the current model we operate in is both flawed and unsustainable. This section is great as it raises lots of questions and also looks at lots of data and key facts. A good balance.
Part 2: Strategies of Enough: A practical escape route from the idea of perpetual growth. The section explores in depth ideas around limiting the use of materials and energy, stabilising population growth with compassionate and noncoercive means. Redistributing wealth and reforming financial systems and advocating a change in the way we measure progress and how Businesses and industry create and measure value.
Part 3: Advancing the Economy of Enough: The thrust of this section relates very well to Mark Powley’s excellent book, Consumer Detox, and the very clear and compelling reality that consumerism in its present form is not ideal or sustainable personally and corporately.
One of the compelling aspects of this book is that the idea has been formulated through a great deal of collaborating, sharing and listening. In 2010 over 250 people gathered for a conference on the theme and the outworking of the conference forms the large part of the content of the book.
Each Chapter also begins with a humorous but also profound cartoon image to depict some of the issues at stake. It highlights the creativity of the book and also the profound desire to make this accessible and practically engaging.
The idea of the Steady State Economy (SSE) is summed up in the Metaphor of a building made up of Foundations, Pillars and a Roof.
- Foundation: Features of an SSE: Sustainable Scale, Fair Distribution, GDP is not the only answer: Health, Happiness, Leisure, Quality time, relationships, community and stability.
- Pillars Policies and Strategies: Limit Resource use and waste production, Redistribute wealth and change culture of measurement and value. Replace Consumerism with Sustainability.
- Roof: Well being This is very akin with the idea and thinking around Human flourishing. Brought to life in an excellent report called Wholly Living by Theos, Cafod and Tearfund.
The challenge in all of this for me was the assumption that growth as a whole is a bad thing, when in reality this may not be so. For example, Growth of the very idea they are seeking to promote, that in itself must be positive and not to be frowned upon. Is some of this just to idealistic and is another world and another way of being really possible? I want to believe that it is. This book definitely goes some of the way but I’m left with some questions unanswered.
I think it comes down to the challenge of how we can find a way of swimming against the tide of what some call ‘Hyper Individualism and Consumerism’. Not an easy task. The book rightly calls for a wholisitic approach to tackle consumption, population, family, community, Business, Agriculture, Nature and Money. The interconnection is paramount, are we willing to make the changes?
That said, the reality that there is such widespread recognition that our planet is finite, that there is a great deal of value and sense in creating practical policies that can achieve some great outcomes and that there is a will and an ability to act as individuals, families, communities and nations highlights the value and importance of this book. There is a deep rooted need for all of us to be more content, more active, take more notice, keep learning and be motivated to Give more than we receive and express gratitude in our contentment. This book helps with that and empowers us to say that Enough is indeed… Enough.
To read more about this and the Steady State ethos visit:
It's been a busy month with no time to write, so I'm migrating some old posts across from another blog that I thought I'd have the capacity to write as well. That was optimistic. This one was originally published on Breathe, a Christian network for simpler living. Enjoy!
It started off so well. Two of us had read the
5 years ago we were introduced to a great short film called The Story of Stuff
The Story of Solutions, explores how we can move our economy in a more sustainable and just direction, starting with orienting ourselves toward a new goal. In the current ‘Game of More’, we’re told to cheer a growing economy – more roads, more malls, more Stuff! – even though our health indicators are worsening, income inequality is growing and polar icecaps are melting. But what if we changed the point of the game? What if the goal of our economy wasn’t more, but better – better health, better jobs and a better chance to survive on the planet? Shouldn’t that be what winning means?
We would really encourage you to watch this film and share your thoughts, ideas and any questions in this space