As an American, I grew up in a society that taught me to always want “more” and “better”. I thought I understood the difference between needs and wants, and I grew up with level-headed parents that taught me the importance of hard work and earning the things I wanted.
As I went through college, I took a lot of courses that focused on sustainability, and I began to question some of the things my culture had taught me. I began to revert to a more basic lifestyle. Some called me a tree-hugger, and I never denied my attempts at being “green”. But deep down, I still wanted the typical American lifestyle, the American Dream, maybe just with a green tint to it. No harm in that, right?
Moving to Africa has radically changed my worldview, and my understanding of want vs. need. Running water, electricity, a variety of food, heat, AC, internet….those are all wants, though many Americans would consider them necessary to life. I did. Now I am grateful for the luxuries I have (like electricity) and appreciate when I have access to other luxuries I don’t live with (running water). How I live my life has radically changed as well, and I intend to bring some of those habits home at the end of my Peace Corps service.
No, I won’t continue bucket bathing. But I will be conscious of how I use water. I will find a way to minimize my ecological footprint. Why? There are 7 billion people on this planet, and there are hardly enough resources for them all. I’ve seen what life is like for those who live without. By using the resources God placed on this earth responsibly, I can do my little part to make life better for all of us. And what if we all chose to live a more responsible lifestyle?
Some Christians argue that we shouldn’t care what happens to the Earth because God created it to be destroyed eventually. I’m sorry, but in the meantime, we have to LIVE on this Earth. And only God knows when the end of days will be, not even the Son or the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, by irresponsibly using resources, Christians (and others, of course) create suffering around them and elsewhere in the world. Some argue that global warming and climate change is a myth, but the global climate has shifted in the past. Why can’t it happen again?
I recently found out about the “crunchy” movement, and I really identify with it. God does not want Christians to get caught up in the trappings of the world, and the crunchy movement is about a simpler life, one that gets back to our roots and questions the things the commercial world teaches us. I’m down with that. Call me a Crunchy Christian if you will, but I think a simpler, less materialistic life is what God is calling me to, so I will share my experiences. I’ll talk more on my simple life later, as I feel this post is long enough already!