An Inconvenient Friend (Urban Christian)

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That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary. Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves. Tzu-Kung asked: "Is there one principle upon which one's whole life may proceed? This is the sum of all true righteousness — Treat others, as though wouldst thyself be treated.

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Do nothing to they neighbor, which hereafter thou wouldst not have they neighbor do to thee. It is such a simple principle — and yet if it is extended to include all living beings an essential component of sustainability , it requires a complete shift in how we live our lives. Because we do unto others all day long — through the clothes we buy, the energy we use, the food we eat, even the toothpaste we brush our teeth with. Every choice we make impacts others — through its creation, its distribution, its use and its disposal.

And most likely we'll never know — or even see — who we are impacting.

Our Impact

But they are out there, nonetheless, suffering — or thriving - based on our choices. Because we live in such a global, profit-at-all-costs world, the number impacted is astounding — hard to grasp really. One detailed life cycle analysis of aluminum cans , for example, documents the steps required to manufacture, sell and dispose of an aluminum can and the resulting impacts:. At every stage in the life cycle of this product, humans and other animals and plants are negatively impacted — through destruction of habitat; exposure to land, air and water pollutants and, for humans, potentially low wages and unsafe working conditions. In all, the production of an aluminum can requires over 60 different types of raw or processed materials and creates over 75 different types of pollutants. The material inputs and manufacturing equipment also have their own life cycle impacts.

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Manufacturing an aluminum can causes increased global warming, acidification, eutrophication, low level smog, and ozone layer depletion. Story of Stuff author, Annie Leonard adds:. Aluminum smelting requires more energy than any other metal processing on earth. It's estimated that more than a trillion aluminum cans have been trashed in landfills since So choosing a life of love requires a lot of work — a lot of rethinking — a lot of soul searching. The question we have to answer in every choice we make is: how loving do we really want to be?

And how inclusive do we want to be in our love? Living, of course, involves impacting others — all of life impacts others.

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But is our impact unnecessarily harmful — or is it based on a conscious choice which minimizes harm done and maximizes benefits? Looking back at the Golden Rule, we all want our homes protected, our neighborhoods unpolluted, a plentiful supply of safe drinking water and food — and knowing that our future is secure. And we want others to make choices that ensure we have these things. The loving approach to life, then, is to offer that same level of care back to others. It quickly becomes clear then that choosing a life of love requires us to change just about every aspect of our lives — to change how we spend our days.

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It involves shifting our lifestyle away from consumption and toward more sustainable activities such as:. The inevitable question arises then — 'but will I be happy living this new way? Happiness studies have exploded over the last decade and have found a great deal of evidence linking altruistic and sustainable behavior to happiness:.

At least two studies of groups that chose to change their lifestyle to achieve personal values such as "environmental friendliness" and "voluntary simplicity" found that both experienced higher levels of well-being. Bok We share a big yard; we often eat meals together Once, after my daughter begged me to let her try skiing, I sent an email out to my community members asking for advice Because we share and borrow many of the things we need, we are able to consume less Stuff. Because we provide one another with services like baby-sitting, repairing and listening, we pay less for services than others do.

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People whose primary life goals are intrinsically rewarding obtain more satisfaction and pleasure from their pursuits. Intrinsic goals are those that you pursue because they are inherently satisfying and meaningful to you, which allow you to grow as a person, to develop emotional maturity, and to contribute to your community. Lyubomerisky Sustained pursuit of activities that you value is more happiness-inducing, with its ability to deliver a stream of positive events and regular boosts in happy mood. In other words, you are likely to adapt quickly to your new situation and begin to desire ever-higher levels of pleasure e.

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How do we balance diversity and unity? This is observed in the biblical record in many ways. What is your own basis for absolute truth? Our thoughts and feelings, indeed all abstracts, are an illusion. Jesus was obviously arrested before the passover. It does not seem to them to be either unnatural or preposterous, but very noble. B For the whole church to take seriously the need to raise up a new generation of incarnational workers, willing to go and live among unreached urban slums, seeking holistic transformation through Christ with their new neighbours.

Lyubomerisky , Over the past decades, an increasing number of studies have documented that experiences in, or of, Nature can be beneficial for human health and well-being…More specifically, contact with Nature has been reported to have psychological benefits by reducing stress, improving attention, by having a positive effect on mental restoration, and by coping with attention deficits.

In addition to mental advantages, there appear to be direct physical health benefits, such as increased longevity, and self-reported health. There is solid evidence to support the perennial hypothesis that benevolent emotions, attitudes, and actions centered on the good of others contribute to the giver's happiness, health, and even longevity. Post The "helper's high" [a pleasurable and euphoric emotional sensation of energy and warmth] was first carefully described by Allen Luks Luks surveyed thousands of volunteers across the United States, and found that people who helped other people consistently reported better health than peers in their age group.

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Many stated that this health improvement began when they started to volunteer. Harvard behavioral psychologist David McClelland discovered that…"dwelling on love" strengthened the immune system.

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Altruism is associated with substantial reduction in mortality rates, even after differences in socioeconomic status, prior health status, smoking, social support, and physical activity are accounted for. Anthropologists point out that early egalitarian societies practiced institutionalized or "ecological altruism," where helping others was a social norm, and not an act of volunteerism.

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There appears to be a fundamental human drive toward other-regarding actions. When this drive is inhibited, the human being does not thrive. So it's a lot of work and it will bring many positive benefits: increased joy and satisfaction and a sense of purpose and improved health. It will also bring a greater sense of community — a much wider community than we normally identify with. Shifting to a sustainable lifestyle may involve making radical shifts in how we spend our days. Integrating these changes into our lives involves first shifting toward wanting to make each change:.

As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, you should keep it. If you were to give it up in a mood of self-sacrifice or out of a stern sense of duty, you would continue to want it back, and that unsatisfied want would make trouble for you. Only give up a thing when you want some other condition so much that the thing no longer has any attraction for you, or when it seems to interfere with that which is more greatly desired. Mahatma Gandhi "Vishnu-Bharati" Reading sustainable blogs and books and watching videos see RESOURCES sections below , taking classes on sustainability and joining local sustainable communities are all effective ways to shift mindset.

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Also making smaller shifts leads to larger shifts as the benefits of each shift becomes clear. What follows is an effective path for shifting into a sustainable lifestyle. For instance, I quit my day job in early , started my own small business and moved to Portland, Oregon. Without simplicity, I would still be stuck in my cubicle.

The rest is cluttering your space and time.

Happy birthday to Henry David Thoreau – an inconvenient yet invaluable friend

Donate unneeded goods to charity or a freecycle program. Getting rid of everything you don't need — and cutting out any activities that don't add value to your life — is one of the most effective ways to kick start a sustainable life. Your surroundings impact what your mind focuses on. By creating a de-cluttered home, you are declaring your intention every day to live sustainably.

Simplifying gets rid of a lot of garbage including mental that you no longer need. It is a way to let go of the past and become focused on how you want to live your life going forward. Simplifying also leaves you committed to not re-clutter your life. You end up buying much less at stores — which makes it easier to buy sustainably. Once you have cleared out as much clutter as possible, try out the great recommendation by the Joy of Less author Francine Jay.

She recommends separating items in each room into three categories:.