Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
No possessions. This is easier for me. For several years, I considered joining a Catholic religious order. I looked forward to the prospect of making lifelong vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. (Well, poverty and chastity, at least! Obedience? Say what?) The modern life of monks and nuns in religious orders isn’t completely free of possessions, but it comes close. It’s definitely a refutation of consumerism and greed. The Paulist Fathers more accurately call it a promise of Gospel simplicity rather than “poverty.”
After much “discernment” (the work that both the inquirer and the order do to find God’s will in the matter), it became clear to me that my mission is to live in the world, with all of its challenges, not in a monastery or friary designed to help me cultivate my interior spiritual life.
Well, the fact is I’m not a monk, and I no longer seek to have no possessions. In fact, I’m looking forward to upgrading the RAM in my PC and probably replacing my ailing DVD player. But I try to live relatively simply. I am very conscious of greed in our society, and its effect upon the soul and upon the world. “Freedom from want” is nigh impossible when nearly every marketing dollar goes is spent to increase wanting. And meanwhile, often because the very definition of the consumer society is that it can never have enough, the other kind of wanting—lack, deprivation, hunger ensues.
Idealistic top-down efforts have tried and failed to change this. Communism was a spectacular failure of idealism, which created horrific suffering for the world. What I can do, is work on the bottom-up approach. I can control my wanting. If I destroy the wanting engine within myself, someone else can have more. Imagine if more of us did the same, we would be doing the one of most revolutionary things possible.