In closing out my blog posts for this year, I’d once again like to share a vision for a truly kinder and gentler society, offered in 1981 by John Ohliger (1926-2004), a pioneering, iconoclastic adult educator, community activist, and writer (not to mention dear friend):
My picture is of a future where we live more relaxed and more modest lives with an abundance of unmeasurable and infinitely available non-material (or better, trans-material) resources. All the travail and pressure we’re going through right now may be paving the way for that future. This future could be one where we will have a choice of “goodies”; not ones requiring scarce energy, minerals, or dollars; or ones permitting some people to get rich while others go hungry, but choices that we create with our own hearts and heads and hands among people we know and care for.
Although John’s political views placed him squarely to the left of center, he was not one for ideological browbeating. Even his frequent use of the term “radical” suggested more a general distancing from mainstream technocratic and consumer culture than a rigid sociopolitical and economic worldview.
Now more than ever?
The society John envisioned becomes ever more compelling in the wake of this economic meltdown. It is likely that many of us will have to moderate our buying and owning of “stuff” during the years to come. As the obscene term “jobless recovery” is shaping into a reality, we are knocking on the door of a long-term period of a difficult job market and lower pay and benefits. Retirement, where possible for those in their later years, will require judicious spending.
In sum, the years ahead may require us to think about what makes for a good and fulfilling life. John’s vision invites us to consider a potentially healthier and more satisfying way of living, even if material goods are in shorter supply.
For more about John Ohliger, go here.