Jan Mar 2011

Jan Mar 2011
What's a Good Life


All around us, the notion of a ‘good life’ includes exotic foods, big vehicles, lots of travelling, big buildings, designer homes, and factories to produce an uncountable variety of things, and electricity, coal and gas to make all this possible - all to keep pace with our faster lifestyles. Individually, we may ‘seek happiness’ in a range of directions, but collectively most of the developed / developing world looks for a host of material comforts to lead a good life.

The Internet’s profound influence on our cognitive abilities is turning us into adept multitaskers, but at the cost of imagination, creativity and in-depth thinking

Globally, and in Australia, food has become too cheap. This is having a wide range of unfortunate– and potentially dangerous – effects, which include:

‘I never let schooling interfere with my education’
Mark Twain

No studies, no regular classes, no exams, tests, and no tension about marks for a whole year! This sounded too good to be true.  On a trek once, Appa told me that I could take a break after completing my Class 10 examinations instead of immediately going to college. I was then 15 years old – he gave me an opportunity to experience life differently and explore my passions and hobbies.

In what has become his trademark incorrigible style in documentaries, filmmaker Michael Moore is standing outside the tall glass façade, with a red megaphone in hand, screaming, “This is Michael Moore, and I am here to make a citizen’s arrest of the Board of Directors of AIG”. When he is unable to get through the gates, he runs a “Crime Scene – Do Not Cross” tape around the entire block of buildings, making his point quite clear – that men who occupy high posts on the Wall Street are nothing less than criminals.

Artist, anti-nuclear activist and puppeteer Shyamali Khastgir feels art is a means to understand interconnections, and in this age of machines, an opportunity to create with our hands….

In modern times, we favor factory and industrial processing, which gives us the convenience of a quick meal. Processing destroys the nutrients in food rather than increasing them, and makes our food more difficult to digest. Furthermore, industrial processing depends upon products that have a negative impact on our health, such as sugar, white flour, processed and hydrogenated oils, additives, colorants, synthetic vitamins and an extrusion processing of grains – which are the tools of the food processing industry.

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE To tell how far down a certain path you’ll walk once you’ve taken that vital first step. Ten months ago I decided that I was going to live as oil-free a life as possible. Originally this consisted of me using no plastic, only buying products from local craftspeople, having no bin and eating nothing but local, organic and vegan food.

Along with reflections on his personal journey, the author articulates some of his co-ordinates for a Good Life.

My eyes can’t help zooming into the shopping carts of people around me in shopping-mall checkout lines. There are plentiful options of what and how much to buy. This cart example could be a metaphor for a good life, for a good life depends upon the choices we make. To live is to choose, but “to choose well”, says Kofi Annan, “you must know who you are and what you stand
for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.”

An ecological worldview is one that sees endless possibility

What keeps us creating, as societies, a world that we as individuals abhor, a world violating our deepest values and common sense? Why is poverty deepening and climate chaos quickening even though solutions to each are known? These are the most puzzling, most critical questions of our time.