Insights by Goldie
Reflections and resolutions

Sound Consumer | January 2005

by Goldie Caughlan
Quality Standards Specialist

I am sensing an upsurge in interest from people who, like me, are seeking to simplify our over-complicated, over-cluttered, over-stimulated lives. On one hand, each of us needs to address our personal consumerism traits and habits. I confess that I have a long way to go in my own journey toward fully embracing and practicing many aspects of the "voluntary simplicity movement." I resolve to continue to learn from this inspiring, empowering, sensible and liberating trend.

My primary resolve this New Year is to continue sorting out and limiting all the destructive mental clutter, and further limiting the sources and content of what I read and hear and look at. It's not unlike limiting junk food. Junk food displaces nutrients. Junk information damages our overall well-being.

I'm resolved to avoid the mind-numbing, spirit-warping, pervasive overload of material that otherwise would be dumped on me, just like an avalanche traps its victims. I'm resolved not to permit the presence of most commercial media, especially the so-called "news" or "infotainment" programs from commercial-dependent, corporate-controlled television and radio sources. I further resolve to continue to limit or eliminate their unsavory print media counterparts.

Ours purports to be the Information Age, but information absent a credible source, appropriate context and an opportunity to fully process it does not translate into knowledge. At best, it bounces off us as undifferentiated and unintelligible static. At worst, it is corrosive, clogging our mental pores, just as cholesterol clogs arteries, with similarly devastating effects.

Such mis- or disinformation, if unchallenged, can harden our thought processes, dulling our intuitive and common sense. It limits free-flowing, healthy intellectual juices and the exchanges of ideas. Just as cleaning out the closets feels so good and refreshing, so too does the wave of relief we receive by turning that knob — either "off" or to one of the many public and independent media outlets in our area. (Although Internet use, too, needs to be monitored, and not just for the kids!)

We need such openings, breathing a calm space into our day every day, where we can calmly and purposefully reflect, "mull" things over, talk to others and truly consider incoming information. I encourage you to filter it through your core values and listen closely to your inner voice. I personally resolve to create that space, practice reflection and prioritize how to expend my most valuable asset, my life energy.

We each operate within an elegant web of many interconnected circles, although we may not be fully conscious of their interplay. It has been said there are only six levels of separation between each of us on the planet. I'm convinced we're less far apart than that, in spite of how divided our human family seems at times, and contrary to how disconnected we seem to be from the rest of nature.

I am grounded by my immediate family, my precious children, their mates and my grandchildren; then by my extended family and friends, my physical community, and, by further extension, my role as a planetary citizen. To be a truly healthy, fully functioning member of the human family, capable of contributing to the good of the whole, I need to regularly fine tune and adjust myself to this complex set of inter-relationships.

I resolve to understand my place within the whole web of my existence, as I strive to deepen my personal commitment to work for social justice, and environmental, personal and planetary health and peaceful coexistence. I will (try to) honestly assess and confront my own strengths and weaknesses as a participant and a life steward.

Stewardship is necessarily serious work and a heavy responsibility. Yet, working within a community of others who are like-minded and determined, I believe such work need not be a heavy burden. Indeed, huge boulders can be leveraged, lifted easily, even joyously, with team effort.

Operating in a spirit of trust and cooperation with others, I am resolved to be a cooperative and respectful worker with others, as together we melt the icecaps of polarized viewpoints. I will expect harmonious and cooperative responses from others, as increasingly we realize we're all in the same lifeboat of planet Earth, together.

We need regularly to take our own pulse, however, and first take good care of our self. That's correct. First, I resolve to (try to) practice what every flight attendant (sensibly) tells us, "Adjust your own airbag first, so you can assist others."

I resolve to continue believing that we can take positive, appropriate steps to repair the damage we have done and are doing still, to our planetary home. In my personal focus, that means, especially, to continue working for the restoration of healthy farms and woodlands, and the production of and access to wholesome, healthy foods for all.

I also resolve to continue to regularly find reasons and ways and means to sing and laugh — and sometimes, to cry — and to dance and play, to create beauty, to give and accept love, to grow good food in healthy soil, to prepare and share good food, and to encourage others on their path. Each of us has something to teach and much to learn from each other.

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