I have been reading posts from Jubilee Economics and Simple Living Works, so I decided to try listening to their podcasts (See http://www.jubilee-economics.org/podcast/tag/common-cause).  I recently listened to Number 28, which focused on “Stuff” and reducing our stuff.

I was disappointed.  Gerald Iverson’s main example of reducing stuff involved moving to a retirement home.  He and his wife did very well to reduce their “stuff” down to 30 percent of what they had.

But downsizing for retirement, or moving into a care community is as much pressure from conditions as it is a choice.  It’s part of the life cycle, and seems almost to justify a cycle that goes: acquire, acquire, acquire, then divest, divest.

When my husband and I moved to a smaller retirement home, we calculate that we reduced our “stuff” by about 50 percent.  A few years ago I began to wonder how to do more.  This is partly due to the expectation that I will eventually have to move to a continuing care facility apartment, and to the feeling, “I don’t want to leave this for the kids to deal with.”  But I also wonder what justice really calls for.

The question of justice arises from Lee Van Ham’s “One Earth Project,” which demonstrates that while we claim to understand that there is only one earth, our society operates as if there were five.  Check the link in my blogroll, on the right of the page.

Three years ago I decided to try getting rid of one thing for each day in Lent.  Including Sundays that means 49 items, rounded up to 50.  It turned out to be easy.  I was way over the number before Holy Week arrived.  So the next year I tried again.  It was a little more work, but I had a bookshelf I could turn into a display area, and my storage was much less crowded.

This past Lent I tried again.  It was getting more difficult.  I decided to count folders of old records I discarded (in the category of the things the children won’t have to deal with that’s good, but it doesn’t help anyone else, as gifts to thrift shops and worthy-cause rummage sales do.)  I realized, afterward, that I had hit a psychological snag.  What was the point of giving away things that would leave a gap on the shelf, or an empty space in the china cupboard?  Since I can’t assume that someone will find these items to be just what they want and buy used instead of new, why not let them sit?

I need to do some thinking about this and I was hoping the Common Good Podcast would give me some new insights.  Maybe they’ll take this up again.

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