The struggles of living in luxury

I am either going to sound like a dickhead or a crazy guy who lives in a little house in the woods (or someone’s front yard in NZ) with this one.

How did people and society get taken so far off track that they have 14 lane highways, no bicycle or walking infrastructure and people lives revolve around the morning news reports of the traffic flow and if a break down or crash will add on another hour or more to their already 3-hour daily commute…

IMG_1264For the first time in about 13 years I have been forced to be somewhere I didn’t really want to be or choose. I’m currently in Atlanta, Georgia, USA for a couple of weeks training for a volunteer program I will be doing in Uganda for the rest of the year.

For the first time in a long time that I have had to grin and bear my surroundings. Even when I was being depressed by the environment and atmosphere of Singapore a year or so ago it was at my choice to be there. Atlanta is full of wonderful people and I am not having a dig at the fine folks of this town but it is a way of life that is so far from my preferred way of life and the life I get to see in many other countries, especially developing countries.

Beautiful sunset through the double glazed windows to keep the highways noises out and the airconditioning in!

Beautiful sunset through the double glazed windows to keep the highways noises out and the airconditioning in!

Let me set the scene. I have a buffet breakfast each morning with a choice of almost anything I can imagine, I then go to 9 hours of lectures and workshops in air conditioning that is so cold you need a jumper and jacket compared with the 30 degree celsius temperature outside, and sleeping is in a well to do hotel equally frozen with air conditioning and rooms that have windows that don’t open and contains all the ‘best things in life’ like a comfy bed, TV with heaps of channels and daily service to turn your bed. I’m sorry this is my form of near living hell – told you I was going to sounds like a dickhead or crazy guy in the woods! Even when I walk to or from the training venue, 5 miles away along roads that don’t have footpaths or any inkling of non-car infrastructure, people think I am completely crazy.

Not out in the countryside this is suburbia Atlanta style - nice trees but huge houses with huge yards that makes the suburbs sprawl endlessly and somehow no footpaths

Not out in the countryside this is suburbia Atlanta style – nice trees but huge houses with huge yards that makes the suburbs sprawl endlessly and somehow no footpaths

If I look at all of this from even a not so crazy perspective it shows that the bulk of peoples lives here comprises of commuting, working and recreating – largely by watching TV or shopping to buy things to make them happy in the few spare moments they have outside of having to work and commute so much to pay for a house that is many times bigger than they need. I hope that is not a too crazy perspective to see that is pretty weird when compared with the simplicity, self-sufficiency and sustainability we largely came from even just 50 years ago.

I usually don’t try to make too many value judgements and I see that it is different to my own perspectives and shouldn’t be considered wrong but it worries me when it is so inbuilt to a societal level that it is a little depressing. I feel like I want to evangelise simplicity and reassure this society that they would be happier with less and they are on a conveyer belt to personal, societal and environmental degradation and destruction.

 

Am I upside-down in this town or is this town upside-down?

Absolutely each to their own but for me in this environment I am dreaming of my Happy, simply home, the hills and beach of Paekakariki and rich conversations with friends and strangers not stuck in their cars.

On a happy note there is a good potential with all the storms to see a monkey-shaped cloud…!

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2 thoughts on “The struggles of living in luxury

  1. Today I had I moment when I wanted to complain about the poor quality selection of vegetable available to me (cabbage, under ripe tomatoes and onions) then I talked to the women selling them at the market, laughed and then walked along ocean for my lunch break. I completely agree with your sentiments in this article and not a day goes by that I would want to be living anywhere else but Tonga.

  2. Very true. I find it so hard not to glorify poverty but I can’t because I have a choice to not live in poverty and the best I can do is admire it from my perspective and learn from it. I also believe there is a middle ground there where just enough is plenty – for all… Happy beach walks!

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