"In the end, Hamon said, we will return to the way we used to live a generation or two ago. That means grandparents living with their children. Workers taking lunch pails to work instead of eating at [iconic donut shop]. One-income families. People raising their own children and cutting their own grass. Camping instead of cruising. "There will be a reduction in living standards," Brennan said."
This article struck me as both a good and bad thing. On one hand, I think it's good that the seriousness of the economic situation is finally being talked about in the mainstream media. And words like "cataclysm" certainly draw attention, and might serve as a wake up call to those still slumbering in the soporific stew of consumer culture.
But on the other hand, I don't agree that living the way we did a generation or two ago can be considered a "reduction in living standards." I already take my 'lunch pail' to work and I already cut my own grass. In fact I'm cutting it less and less often, and there is less and less to cut, as I let grassy areas grow wild. I already prefer camping to cruising, but don't even need to go camping really, since I've got a nice garden to putter about in, whenever I want. And, we've been weaning ourselves down to one salary for a couple years now, and could go further. None of this has been a hardship, and it certainly hasn't been cataclysmic.
A dictionary definition of 'cataclysm' is: "A violent upheaval that causes great destruction or brings about a fundamental change." Some synonyms for the word 'cataclysmic' are: disastrous, devastating, catastrophic and calamitous.
In fact I'd take the radical approach that what we have wreaked upon the earth in the past 50 -100 years has been the cataclysm, not what's happening now. I'm looking forward to things getting back INTO balance again. And for that I will happily keep packing my lunch pail and skipping the obligatory cruise.
Chapter 37 of the Tao Te Ching has something to say about this, about returning to basics and knowing when enough is enough:
The Tao never does anything,Tao Te Ching translation by S. Mitchell
yet through it all things are done.
If powerful men and women
could enter themselves in it,
the whole world would be transformed
by itself, in its natural rhythms.
People would be content
with their simple, everyday lives,
in harmony, and free of desire.
When there is no desire,
all things are at peace.
Picture courtesy this website.