Monday, September 26, 2011

The value of nothing

There is water in the river at New Norcia!

We were in the Benedictine town of New Norcia last weekend, taking part in a retreat lead by members of the Christian Meditation Community of Western Australia. It was a lovely quiet and restful time.

When we were able to take a break, we enjoyed the sights of the town we know so well, shown in its green and fruitful best after a reasonably good winter.

There was water in the river!!!

Lovely to be able to be there and enjoy the renewal of the earth and our souls. The olive trees are just budding.

Olive trees in bud. New Norcia's olive oil won major awards last year.

There is something very grounding in spending a couple of days in the farming belt -it reminds us city folk of how much the basis of our society depends on a healthy earth, and decent returns for farmers. Spending time in prayer reminds us of the big issues of life and death, and what is really important.

This coffee table in my lounge room is being decorated by an op shop find -a lovely lacy table topper- and a bowl of home grown musky roses.

Since I got home, I have been reading this book, which I found in my local library, called "The Value Of Nothing" in which Raj Patel makes some very interesting points which are very thought provoking. If you are in WA too, you will be able to ask your library to get an inter-library loan so that you can read it too. If you aren't here, it is available world wide in book stores. Easy to read and I recommend you do.

This is a quote about the book:

With great lucidity and confidence in a dazzling array of fields, Patel reveals how we inflate the cost of things we can (and often should) live without, while assigning absolutely no value to the resources we all need to survive. This is a deeply thought-provoking book about the dramatic changes we must make to save the planet from financial madness – argued with so much humour and humanity that the enormous tasks ahead feel both doable and desirable. This is Raj Patel’s great gift: he makes even the most radical ideas seem not only reasonable, but inevitable. A brilliant book.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine

I am writing this post as the Debt Crisis seems to lurch into another worrying phase. The ABC news has just now quoted an expert who is predicting Australia will be in recession in a year or so. To those of us who are trying to live simply, we look with concern for the people who get crunched when the big corporates and nations stuff things up.

  • Why haven't we been told of the things Raj writes in his book -about how, if we factored in the real cost to the earth and its people of a typical fast food hamburger, it would actually cost $200?

  • Why aren't we more concerned about the fate of the poor workers who labour to provide us with cheap consumer goods?

  • Why aren't we aware of how much the trade in rare earths which are mined in the Congo, and used to make components in mobile phones, has fueled the violence there over recent years?

  • Why hasn't any news outlet I have found in Australia reported the protests of these people in Wall Street for the past 9 days?
"The protest dubbed Occupy Wall Street kicked off September 17, targeting corporate greed and political influence, the government bailouts for banks during the 2008 financial crisis, capital punishment, and a litany of other grievances."

The title of the book comes from a quote by Oscar Wilde who described people who 'knew the price of everything and the value of nothing" .

I am heartened by what the author describes as grass roots movements of people around the world, often the poorest of the poor, who are taking back some of the political power and rights which our current system has stripped away.

Living simply is not just a lifestyle choice -it may be the only choice for the planet.

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