I read a short newspaper article about the Danish professor of sociology Rasmus Willig recently. He believes that the post-WW II welfare state has been replaced by the competition state. We are constantly being evaluated, and to be honest, there’s no way we can win. We are compared to a perfect, impossible standard, and striving for this perfection makes us sick, according to Willig.
I think he has a point. I will publish this on my other blog as well, the one where I focus on autism, nonverbal learning disorder, and ADHD. The standard is even more out of reach for people that are different, more likely to live outside the box in one way or another, or people that struggle with skills others take for granted.
There are many reasons why you should consider choices like indie, minimalism, and counteracting stereotypes. It is true that policy and lawmakers make life a lot more challenging, but it’s also about the choices we make. We have to be an active participant instead of allowing things we can control, which admittedly is the tricky part. It’s so easy and comfortable to continue in the same track, and I frequently find that I have to make myself do things.
The three choices I mentioned are important because they are not just about you and making your life better; they are also about creating a better society. When you see someone who is apparently poor, maybe even homeless, do you make assumptions about this person? When you see someone that appear to be an aspie, do you assume that this person lacks empathy, and is possibly dangerous? When an immigrant family moves in next door, do you assume that they are a threat to the Norwegian, American, Canadian, English and so on way of life? When you see someone with Down syndrome, is your first thought to feel sorry for them because they couldn’t possibly have a life? You may even think that the parents should have aborted. The truth is that if society is willing to embrace difference, and do the work necessary, everyone can get a meaningful life. But sadly many have prejudices, and most of the time they don’t even realize it.
You can be very accepting of your gay neighbours, but still harbour subconscience attitides towards religion, skin colour, social status etc. I don’t think there are people without prejudices. Some may not know about them because they make these assumptions without reflecting on them, and some may be aware, but refuse to acknowledge them. As with minimalism less is more. This is what Hatter told Alice in Alice in Wonderland:
You’re not the same as you were before, he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.
In short, we need to have the right kind of muchness, or to be much in the right places. We could lose some and gain more on our minimalist journey. It’s sort of about finding back to who we used to be. I’m not in position to buy anything at the moment. I wish I could buy a home, but that will have to wait. As for possessions we sort of had to go minimalist four years ago. We were living in Nordland county, which is a three day drive from my hometown, and it would cost well over $ 5000 to bring our stuff to Haugesund. I didn’t know what else to do but to leave all books, DVDs, furniture, kitchen equipment etc. That was a pretty serious blow. So I don’t have a lot of possessions today.
Minimalism now is more about what I focus on. I have big problems focusing. Reading is never easy. It may sound like I hate it, because I have to force myself to do it, but I actually enjoy it. I just find it so hard to focus that it’s difficult, which is partly because I have chronic pain in both arms. That makes holding the book open a challenge, but I do a combination of reading and listening.
I also find writing worth while, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts I like listening to podcasts. The Minimalists like to ask their listeners on their podcast whether what they are doing adds value to their lives. I believe I have added value to my and my family’s life, but of course I’ll never reach the finish line. I used to call myself a recovering teacher, which means there’ll never be a day when I have officially recovered. I remain a work in progress, I keep moving forward.
It’s also about trying to be the person I want to be, and even though I sometimes feel that minimalists can be a little unrealistic, it’s not a bad philosophy for change because when we remove more and more of the clutter, both in the physical space around us and in our minds, we are more likely to get a life we rather enjoy.