What do we call ourselves?

Being Human, Systems thinking

A question from The Blended Lifestyle

if we move away from a materialistic life, what is the name for the kind of life we enter into? I don’t like ‘de-materialised’ (so what is it then?), ‘simple’ (it’s not simple), or ‘spiritual’ (problematic term). So I am missing a word. Do you have any ideas?

There’s huge power in a name. I think I’ve written about the power of the “space race” before, and it’s obvious that words like “frankenfoods” and “credit crunch” can both act as a convenient shorthand, but also shape the debate. Names that allow us to aspire to greatness tap in to that which is the very best in humanity. Who wouldn’t want to agree with “Yes, we can!”?

Orwell has a defining essay on this topic: Politics and the English Language

Anyway, I spent a few hours in the garden yesterday, and had time to ponder this. So here’s the answer I posted:

Sustainable: quite obvious and somewhat tainted by the idea that it might imply “less” and therefore “less good”.

Transition: meh.. great for towns and to talk of the process, but says little about the quality of the goal.

Ascetic: technically more accurate (‘This is to be understood not as an eschewal of the enjoyment of life but a recognition that spiritual and religious goals are impeded by such indulgence’), but again hints at emaciated preachers beating themselves with sticks beneath a cold hose.

Gardeners: careful cultivation, working harmoniously with natural systems, long term thinking… this has a lot to appeal; and also is going to be an accurate description for most who choose this route.

Extraordinary: literal, and makes it sound more appealing. Hearing envious talk of “your extraordinary life” is something which can’t help but stir humble pride.

Sophisticated: from sophos (wisdom). to refine, make more complex, make more worldly-wise and less naive.

Philosopher: lover of wisdom (and all the things above). The philosophic life… has a nice ring, possibly too pretentious. Also the people best suited to determine the direction of a nation, according to Plato.  (Have you ever noticed how people who develop hierarchies find themselves at the top? Including myself in this example, thinking that ‘gardeners’ sounds apposite, whilst out gardening…)

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons

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