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Religion Politics

Get Real! Five Spiritual Responses to Political Reality

Peace dove
Peace dove, courtesy Dan Slee/Flickr

This article was originally published by OpenDemocracy on 1 June 2016.

“Get real!” they say, in a thousand different ways, but mostly as a call for conformity, not awakening.

At its best, spiritual life is fundamentally about a deeper engagement with reality, a turn towards the confounding fullness of life, not an attempt to escape it. The idea that a renewal of progressive politics might require a spiritual turn is therefore about courage, about squaring up to those neglected features of reality that have untapped political potential.

One way to get real is to consider Neal Lawson’s excellent analysis on the existential threats to social democracy. Many believe in a beneficent state that arose from an alignment of class, governance and the cold war, when politics was national and industrial. But this state is clearly failing to adapt to a global and post-industrial world.

Part of the solution, Lawson suggests, is that we need a more visceral appreciation for values and activities that are not materialistic. We can still love our homes and our gadgets, but we need to dethrone consumption as our lodestar and touchstone. That means fostering passion for the time rich, relationship rich, experience rich and purpose rich lives we want to live.

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Environment

Improve the Planet with the Click of a Mouse?

 

Do you know the impact of your ecological footprint?
Uncover your ecological footprint / photo: Vu Bui, flickr

Looking for another reason to pass on that second glass of wine with dinner?

Turns out indulging in more Merlot not only increases your caloric intake, but your global footprint as well.

I learned this from a website I stumbled across the other day – Consumer Consequences – that offers a new twist on measuring your global ecological footprint. It builds on the methodology behind the Ecological Footprint Quiz, which “estimates the amount of land and water area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis.” Consumer Consequences builds on this idea by helping a user answer the question, How many ‘Earths’ would be needed to sustain life if everyone lived like me?

The site maintained by American Public Media assesses the total number of ‘global acres’ (biologically productive space on earth) each part of your life consumes and projects how many planets would be needed if everyone consumed like you.

The quiz asks a series of questions to help evaluate consumption in six areas: home (how and where you live); energy use (electricity used in the home); trash disposal; transportation; food and drink; and shopping (use of goods and services).

Turns out even though I live in a small apartment, am a diligent recycler who buys organic and doesn’t own a car, it would still take the biologically productive space of three earths if everyone lived like me.

The site also offers tips on how to reduce your ecological footprint and influence environmental policy.

Now if only sustainable living were as simple as taking the quiz…