Recently I received an email from a woman named Audrey, who lives in Seattle. She sent her thoughts and impressions of The Simplicity Primer. I was very, very glad to get her review because I've always wondered how the book would impact the Simplicity community in the Pacific northwest.
The simplicity movement is big -- huge -- in the Pacific northwest. Many simplicity authors reside in Seattle or Portland or vicinity. But I have not reached out toward these communities because, almost to a person, they reside on the extreme far left end of the spectrum and I felt they wouldn't care for my perspective.
So this is my first review from the far left.
Having been in the "simplicity movement" since 1986, in Seattle, with some of the early people (Cecile Andrews, Duane Elgin and Robin & Dominguez) every time a new book catches my eye I give it a read. Having read yours I felt drawn to give some feedback.
My life isn't perfect, but whose is? But I do live in a 100+ year old house of 600 square feet, eat game, buy meat and eggs from my country friends, have a huge garden, cook from scratch, eschew TV, cable, dish, internet, books, getting my needs met at my local library. My clothes, excluding socks and underwear come from thrift stores. I drive a 30 year old car, they were simpler then, it gives me no trouble. I have been living the life for a long time.
But you really got off track with #354. "Move to where there are like-minded people." [NOTE: The text of this tip is copied below.] Whoa, sister! That sort of attitude fosters an "us versus them", red state/blue state, bunker mentality that engenders things like the Aryan Nations. I made a choice to move here 16 years ago and I'm not leaving. I suppose people see me as an eccentric, radical, commie-pinko but I was raised by parents who had a mantra, "what other people think of you is none of your business." What we have to try to do is find the common ground, sometimes it may be only that we are of the same species. My buddy thinks Glen Beck is god and I think he's a wing-nut but we have endless discussions on techniques for organic gardening. I trade him homemade bread for rototilling. We get along, somehow.
Regarding religion... My parents raised the six of us on "the golden rule", do unto others, etc. We were encouraged to explore, read and be free-thinkers; some of us have religion and others don't. Personally, I do not deny the existence of god, I just haven't seen it proven scientifically. Maybe god is quantum mechanics or string theory. I guess I am a militant agnostic; I don't know and YOU don't either. If you don't have the resilience and strength of character to handle life's challenges and religion gives you that, go for it. Some of us, however, prefer freedom FROM religion.
The Green Movement is a sinister plot to move us to Socialism?!? Whoa! What sort of Tea Party Kool Aid you drinking?!? [NOTE: The text of this tip is also copied below.] If we don't get this climate change thing back to 350ppm nothing will matter. You are a breeder, just what sort of world are your grandchildren going to have to cope with? I personally don't think there is time to get things fixed but we all need to do what we can. The underlying problem is that the corporate concerns who run politics in this country have a vested interest in keeping the status quo and deriving short-term profits at the expense of our children's future. Maybe green politics is one response, but personally I think armed insurrection is a better idea.
I found alot of things in your book to like and agree with. I probably sound retro but I think if people have kids under 18 there should be no divorce unless there is a documented history of abuse. Work it out. Too many kids in poverty, on welfare, not getting a fair start in life and being a burden to the taxpayer besides. This business of sexualizing young girls, WTF!! Don't tell ME this is feminism! My mother, Susan Sontag and Bella Abzug are rolling in their graves. I laughed hard at the "country living" sequence. When I moved here most people thought I was a few bricks short of a load and the others were saying "such a beautiful place, why aren't you living in the country?" My response was, "are you [expletive deleted] nuts?!? I GREW UP IN THE COUNTRY! I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE! In town; I turn on the faucet and water comes out, I flush the toilet it goes to the sewer, Donny Mueller picks up the trash every Thursday, the city plows the street when it snows. Living in the country is over-rated." Yes, it is nice...IF you are prepared to deal with it. Plus it costs money. I live alot more frugally and with alot less hassle in town. Not to mention, now that I am officially in "old bag" status, it is more prudent.
Best wishes with your publishing career and other business interests.
Here are the specific points from the book which Audrey referenced:
354. Move to a Place with Like-Minded People
If moving to a different town or even state is in your plans for a simpler life, take warning: make sure you investigate your destination area to see if you’re among like-minded people.
Beyond the usual red-state-blue-state demographics, it is wise to be aware that there are certain places where the political or social climate may not be to your liking. If you have strong political beliefs, for instance, and you move to an area where the majority of people are at the opposite end of the spectrum, you’re going to be miserable.
Be sure to research your target location thoroughly. Subscribe to the local newspapers. Visit. Rent for awhile, if you can.
There is joy in finding yourself among others who share your values. When we moved to Idaho, for instance, we found to our delight that we were among neighbors who cherish independence, family values, and thrift just as we do.
We know of a couple who purchased property recently in our area. They had wildly different viewpoints from those of their immediate neighbors. Wildly different. I met them once or twice and they seemed like nice folks, but I sensed trouble ahead because of their different attitudes and viewpoints. In our brief conversations, they immediately launched into their personal philosophies in a rather belligerent, defensive manner…almost as if they sensed they were different. I don’t know all the details, but their property was up for sale again within a year.
Relocation is much simpler if you know you’ll be welcomed in your new neighborhood.
244. Support Green Living, Not the Green Movement
We are urged to consider the sustainability and impact of our choices in order to think “green.” I find this to be a high calling, one worthy of everyone’s attention.
I support green living. I try to live by the principles of green living. It’s all so sensible—and simplifying. However, I do not support the green political movement because these activists are using “green” to advance Socialism. And Socialism, as any student of history will tell you, does not make anyone’s life simple. Socialism takes away independence. Sustainability increases independence. Which makes more sense to you?
Columnist Rebecca Hagelin writes, “If you let people control their own destinies, there's no limit to what they can achieve. But if you bind them with the straitjacket of central planning, smother their creativity with over-regulation, fence them in with high tariffs and take their hard-earned money with high taxes, you kill their dreams even as you wreck an economy.” [Emphasis added.]
But the march toward Socialism is subtle, and prettily wrapped up in 100% recycled green wrapping paper. After all, as commentator Walter Williams points out, there’s less resistance if liberty is taken away a little at a time. This year, light bulbs. Next year, temperature controls in your house. After that…who knows?
History has demonstrated the destructive results of Socialism. Become green and independent, not part of a collectivist society. Think for yourself. Only then will your life simplify, unless, of course, you prefer the simplicity of no longer having any choices at all.
Here is the reply I sent to Audrey:
Good morning, Audrey:
Thank you for taking the time to write regarding my book The Simplicity Primer. Like you, I’ve spent many years both living and reading about the simple life, including the authors you mention (Andrews, Elgin, Robin & Dominguez, etc.). I admire the way you’re conducting your life in conformity with your beliefs. Not many people have managed to do that, so you’re to be commended.
With regard to the tip to which you took exception (#354, Move to a Place With Like-Minded People), please remember that the ideas in the book are suggestions, not requirements. While I’m pleased you’re able to find common ground with your buddy who listens to Glenn Beck, you also mention how you moved to Seattle from a rural location, presumably because the social and political climate were more to your liking. In other words, you moved to a place with like-minded people. I find nothing wrong with living among people who share one’s beliefs, and believe me it has nothing to do with a “us versus them” bunker mentality, much less anything whatever to do with the Aryan Nations (yuck, pitooey).
Regarding religion: I think you’ll agree that the Simplicity Primer is a rarity among simplicity literature in that it’s written from the perspective of a conservative Christian. The premise of the entire book is that simplicity is achieved through making the right choices. I’ve chosen to embrace religion; you’ve chosen to do otherwise. If you’re satisfied with your choice, then you’ve achieved simplicity in that category.
I do maintain that the Green political movement advances socialism. We live a lifestyle that is “greener” than 95% of America, but it’s our choice to do so. My quarrel with the green movement is it is dedicated to passing legislation forcing others to conform to their agenda, i.e. phasing out incandescent light bulbs or regulating home temperatures. Such legislation reduces choices and increases unconstitutional authority. We keep our home cool and we use (mostly) CFL’s, but that’s our choice and I don’t believe there is any constitutional justification forcing anyone else to live the way we think they should live.
I thoroughly, absolutely, one-hundred-percent agree with your assessment of country living. LOL – sometimes I think I spend half my time convincing people NOT to move rural since (as you well know) country living is only for those willing to put up with a lot of hassle, grief, inconvenience, and even danger. We love it here, but then we don’t have to commute through snow drifts to a job (we work at home) or school (we homeschool), so we’re willing to put up with a lot of inconvenience. Life is indeed much simpler in many regards in the city, but we don’t like the crowded conditions or noise factor. It’s quite literally a case of “to each his own” when in comes to choosing a place to live.
I find myself in complete agreement with many of the things you wrote in your email. I wish we lived closer as I suspect we could have some lively and fascinating conversations over a nice pot of chai tea.
Thank you for your kind wishes and once again, I appreciate you taking the time to express your thoughts and opinions.