As we go to press, American troops, tanks, and warships are pouring into the Middle East to the steady drumbeat of the warrior. But the drums are oil drums, and the enemy is a man who threatens the Western world’s right to consume that oil in gargantuan quantities, at low prices.
Oil is our principal source of energy, and energy is what makes our engine run. But in recent years we have learned that this engine is dangerous – it pollutes the air, warms the globe, and creates mountains of garbage and poisonous waste. And in our personal lives, we can barely keep up with its demands that we work harder, make more money, and buy more stuff to use up, throw out, then start all over again.
What is enough? The question has suddenly taken on a poignant urgency. We can easily blame corporations, or governments, or advertisers for our blitzkrieg destruction of the Earth in the name of cheap consumer goods. But who buys the products? Does the buck stop here? Or do we spend the buck on something we really don’t need, and that contributes to environmental destruction?
Ironically, we had chosen the cover for this issue – Pogo with his famous dictum, “We have met the enemy and he is us” – well before world events brought Saddam Hussein’s name out of complete obscurity for most Americans and into common usage as synonymous with Hitler. Is the Iraqi dictator threatening our way of life? Or are we in the Western world, with our culture’s gluttonous appetites for money, energy and things, our own worst enemy?
Knowing the answer to the question “What is enough?” is the key to bringing our lives into alignment with what the Earth can sustain. It can also be the key to personal fulfillment – to a life that is simpler, less cluttered, yet rich with purpose and meaning. This issue is about how to begin asking that question in your own life. The asking, and the answering, are a call to high adventure. We invite you to read on.
Special thanks to our guest editors for this issue, the members of the New Road Map Foundation (NRM) and Duane Elgin. Duane is the author of Voluntary Simplicity, a landmark work whose relevance has grown enormously over the decade since he wrote it. For more about NRM, press here!