The balance between “slow life” and “modern world”: is it our common future?

    19 Aug 2021

    Some countries of the Persian Gulf are an example of how countries of a “temperate” climate will live if all forests and historically formed ecosystems are destroyed. In such a hypothetical (and apocalyptic) case, Europe, for example, would have to desalinate water, live in artificially air-conditioned cities, and grow fruits and vegetables not in open-air fields but in greenhouses.

    Meanwhile, many of the “attributes of civilization” implemented in the UAE and other super-developed countries – like megacities, artificial islands, plans for total urbanization – can soon go “out of fashion.” Sustainability and “simple life” are more on the agenda of the 21st century than ski resorts in the desert.

    The main question is: what if we… don’t need urbanization and consumerism?

    Sustainability implies decentralization, abandonment of large-scale agglomerations, “slowing down” of GDP for the sake of environmental goals.

    Alas, it is not achievable quickly and immediately. All of the above, for example, contradicts the development of China and other countries striving to dominate the geopolitical arena.

    What is the alternative to consumerism?

    A simple life is the desire of people to satisfy their needs first, not selfishness. Although asceticism, in general, is aimed at a simple life and abandoning luxury and self-indulgence, not all adherents of simple life are ascetics. People who choose a simple life differ from those who are forced to live in poverty in that their choice is voluntary.

    For example, the characters of the “Nomadland” movie, which we wrote about in our review, are forced ascetics. In general, they are a typical generation of American “baby boomers,” for whom their mansion and a set of middle-class goods are parts of their everyday lifestyle. It’s just that society threw them out of the endless race to pay off the mortgage.

    Meanwhile, the simpler lifestyle chooses for various reasons, including spirituality, health, “quality time” with family and friends, a balanced life, personal preference, humility, or reducing personal environmental footprint and stress. Simple living can also be a reaction to materialism and overconsumption. Some cite sociopolitical goals associated with anti-consumerist or anti-war movements, nature conservation movements, economic decline (degrowth), social justice, ethnic diversity, tax cuts, and sustainable development.

    What to eat?

    The concept of “food miles,” the number of miles it takes to get a particular product or ingredient from farm to table, helps simple-minded people to motivate local food production. This concept is now gaining more acceptance as it contributes to a significant reduction in the ecological footprint.

    City dwellers can also grow their own fruits and vegetables in crates or small greenhouses. Tomatoes, salads, spinach, beans, strawberries, and some types of herbs grow well in pots. Help with self-cultivation can always be obtained from the Internet.

    Slow living

    It is a conscious lifestyle and social movement aimed at enhancing personal, collective, and environmental well-being. Adherents of a slow life are well aware of the role that time plays in shaping the quality of our life. By slowing down life, we begin to feel more fully our experience and come into closer contact with others.

    The process of slowing down involves simplifying life and minimizing distraction so that you can spend more time on what is more important and doable. By deliberately limiting our actions, we contribute to reducing some of the negative social and environmental consequences of our actions.

    Writers Beth Meredith and Eric Storm define the Slow Life as follows: “Slow life means that you build your life so that it is filled with meaning and brings you satisfaction.” Close to the principles of “voluntary simplicity” and “downshifting,” she adheres to the principle of “less is more” and focuses primarily on the quality of life. The slow life aims at a balanced life and pursues well-being in its most total sense.

    The path to the future?

    The living standards that the US and Western countries have set for the Gulf countries since the middle of the twentieth century turned out to be wrong. The worst we know about ecosystem destruction and climate change is the fruit of the consumerist lifestyle and the race to increase GDP.

    We will have to get used to the idea that sustainable development is life and consumerism is death. Just a bare fact, without a “but” and a “somehow things will sort out.”

    Ecological problems are brutal and leave no chance for “half-hearted solutions.” The current catastrophes in the form of pandemics and climate disasters are only hints of a future that is more intolerant to humanity.

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