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Rejecting the snake oil of the 1% or toward a more austere lifestyle.

Small House

France – Flicker Creative Commons

CraneStation’s latest diary got me thinking.  We here so much about the excesses of the elite and the wealth distribution in this country but how many of us have taken a really good look at our own life styles.  Seems to me that as one commenter said quite some time ago on a BBC news article, “The best way to get back a rich folks is not to play their game.”

This may piss more and a few people off but really how man of us actually envy their life style ? Their excesses and ability to gorge themselves when ever they want.

I know this is trite and cliche’ but we really do consume much more that is necessary. Not just food – though that is a big part of it – but houses and cars and entertainment and toys and on and on.

Has anyone actually though that the reason CraneStaion and Masoninblue and exist on dumptster diving is because of the wasteful life styles the rest of us indulge in ?

Here are a few things to consider.

The French stay thin and live an average of 3 years longer than we do.

Eating is a leisurely experience. In the United States, we often wolf down meals in record time or eat while driving or sitting at our desks. But the French appear to have all the time in the world to sit around and dine.

“We sit down and eat for pleasure, using all of our senses,” Mireille Guiliano, author of the best-selling book French Women Don’t Get Fat, has said.

In America, low-carb diets have many of us saying no to white foods like bread and pasta, but in France, everyone seems to be toting a fresh baguette to bring home.

“You need to eat a large volume of bread or pasta for the calories to add up, and most of the time, French meals are quite light and portions are small,” says Benchetrit.

They consume a hell of a lot less than we do and take time to do it. Not only that but meals are a special occasion. You will rarely see Frenchman eating alone.

Is it our culture, our heritage, our gastronomy, our climate…? It is a combination of all these things. The famous “A table !”, which means that everyone should come, sit and eat together represents all those things in one : social habits, values, education and of course delicious food.

The also bike and walk a lot.  The streets are narrow and not conducive to cars. They use public transportation a lot as well. This is not only true for France but most of Europe. And I do not want to leave the Asian community out here, but look at the diets and life styles of Japan and even Korea.

And the “stuff” that we own and replace even when it’s still perfectly functioning simply to get the latest and greatest. Do we really need these big TVs and room size entertainment centers ? I won’t even go into the the automobile area here as we all know how outrageous that has become.

And gardening. Europe loves gardens. Even roof top gardens. Vegetable gardens, flower gardens and quite often both.

The French are pastmasters at getting the most out of their potagers. Virtually every yard has a spotless vegetable garden. Often, it occupies most of a small yard. And it is planted so tightly you can hardly imagine how the gardener manages to walk between those closely packed rows. What’s more, there never seems to be a trace of a footstep between those immaculate lines of vegetables, which always appear freshly cultivated. It’s as if the gardener hovers in the air to do his or her work!

And entertainment.   We here are most likely to squat in front of our video screens and let out minds be awash with whatever drivel it offers. But Paris and Berlin and Amsterdam offer streets lined with small clubs and cafe’s with local groups and acts and socializing galore.  It’s where groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones got their start. As wells as singers and comedians etc.

These being examples of how one can have a different approach to life. To do ones living differently. To simplify, simplify, simplify.

I am not suggesting at all that anyone just drop what they are doing and live like this or some other way. Far from it. Change takes time and work. Little by little.  Take what works and discard the rest.

But it’s not enough to just go through the motions. To take some superficial approach. Like all those articles I have read or programs I have seen of people “giving up the urban/suburban” life to move to the country and then bring their attitudes and desires and behaviors with them. Trading their fancy lifes in the cities for a fancy life in the country. Like episodes of This Old House and Hometime and others.

It takes an attitude change. A deep rejection of the seductiveness of the elite. Like the charlatan you turn your back on and walk away from but without a self righteous attitude about it.  Embracing a different life style with out feeling superior to others in the process. And this is the difficult part since it is a letting go of ego. And this is where I have had a difficult time with those who have attempted this and the the movement  of the past.  Far to many have tried to appear to have change but retained the better than though attitudes they had in the first place.

These people will ultimately fail.

But to succeed would be a cultural revolution.


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