"Elegant Simplicity" (2010) by John Reed
A Review by Charles Day
I recently hung out with author John Reed at a conference on "Re-Envisioning Prosperity," held on Wall Street in New York City to make its point. He gave me his recently published book on "Elegant Simplicity: Reflections on an Alternate Way of Being," which anticipates many of the conference issues. It's about our need to learn and relearn "living with less and enjoying it more" if humanity and the planet are to survive the many problems we've created over the past few decades, which he succinctly and eloquently details. He laments the current world view that worships capitalism, materialism, and consumerism - not to mention the militarism that fuels and is fueled by them - a view that is now alarmingly being exported to developing and underdeveloped countries and is rapidly leading humanity down the path of self-destruction. We have long passed the possibility that "sustainability" is enough to solve our problems.
He feels a new world view and any meaningful change will probably have to happen in some evolutionary/spiritual/miraculous way, since time is now of the essence and our rational intellect, our altruistic and compassionate desires, and even our self-interest do not appear to influence the economic and political powers presently guided by egoistic greed, competition, and immediate gratification. "Greed is Good" has become the acknowledged mantra of Wall Street, and ours as well to some extent, though less consciously, since we really don't want to give up much of what we feel we've honestly earned and are entitled to.
Reed's views were echoed by the "Re-Envisioning Prosperity Conference presenters. He and many of the spiritual leaders and spiritual-but-secular participants were cheerful individuals, but they were nonetheless pessimistic about outcomes, especially presenters who had been Wall Street financiers and left their jobs because they could no longer conscientiously participate in what they perceived to be the accepted, promoted, and rewarded immoral and unethical practices and policies now governing Wall Street brokerage and banking firms. They all felt our economic future is going to get even worse because we're applying only short-term solutions that enable the same destructive practices to persist without having enacted any appropriate and effective long-term regulations. While I agree that realism dictates pessimism regarding the apparent direction of humanity and the planet, my imagination keeps me optimistic. I highly recommend "Elegant Simplicity" to all who care about creation. Peace, Charlie Day