A version of "DsLife", my personal history and philosophy, is in http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LessIsMore/message/38511
- and is:

On Feb. 4 2002 age 65, I, David M, wrote "DM's intro (philosophical, not short)"
{was at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LessIsMore/message/188 - but now removed by Yahoo when they only allocated 30 MB for the emails of each list and we'd exceeded that. All emails to #6470 on Dec 16 2002, were trashed.
[But I saved some of mine in the LIM files, in the Database section. If you've signed-in to LessIsMore, you'll see this one, #188, in Table "A- DMac's posts 020204_020228" - "David MacClement's LIM posts, Feb.'02 on. {'-=-' is end-of-line}"; then Find: 0188a and 0188b, the second and third in that table.]}

-{Part 1 of 2:}-

· Here's that intro-to-who-I-am that I promised.

· There's a lot of my philosophy in it; I saw many posts in January-2002's LessIsMore list about religion - specifically Christianity - and since my philosophy takes the place for me that religion takes for most people, I am including it. I'm atheist.

· Furthermore, at age 65 and with two sons 29 and 27 and a daughter 24, I have gotten to the stage where my philosophy is a life-and-death matter - I nearly killed myself in the mid-90s, since I took the "there are 4 billion people too many in the world, for sustainable living" to apply to me. [I was also depressed by having come to the end of my paid-work life at age 53.]
{I resolved my problem by using almost nothing, living as light as a feather} [and I got myself out of three years of depression partly by celebrating the freedom of "early retirement".]
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· I was a solitary boy while growing up, and still have clear memories of various places (not people) such as the water lapping on the shore of Lake Ontario (Canada), when I was age 8 or 9 [1945], the mixture of sticks and leaves on the ground under the trees in the patch of NZ bush that was on our property in Titirangi (New Zealand) when I was about 12 [1949], and the contrast between the hot sun on the white shells of the beach at Algies Bay (near Warkworth) with the cool shade under the pohutukawa trees on [Joy and Athol Algie's farm on] the land side. [I spent two months a year there, in our bach and sailing, 1953 - 1959. My mother retired to what is now Highfield Garden Reserve on the west side of Kawau Bay, and my daughter and husband now live in their eco-house on the east side (no roads, just boat access).]

· We were poor then (though many others were too), and I grew up with the knowledge that everything I used (certainly if it had been bought, but including drinking water and soil) had to be made-good-use-of. You didn't waste anything; one of my jobs was to take the kitchen scraps down to the compost heap as soon as the bucket was full (a stinky job, but quite obviously necessary) and to feed the chooks [hens] every day in the (rainy, chilly) winter.

· At age 23 I returned to Canada with my 2 sisters to live with my father and step-mother. After graduating [with honours BSc in Physics], I was employed as an electronic engineer on the [NASARR] radars of Canada's fighter jets, but my habits weren't changed by the large salary I was earning; I walked to work at the main plant, then when sent to Montreal to take charge of [the Canadian Westinghouse] radar technicians at the factory where the CF-104 aircraft were being made, I bought the smallest car available in Canada, a [second-hand] Austin Mini. Besides exploring the region around Montreal, summer and winter (skiing), my hobby was gliding [Silver-C badge No. 125 in Dec 1963] - again, a minimal-use-of-resources activity. It wasn't any lack of money; I was rich, compared to most Canadians.

· I met my wife while I was teaching physics at Centre-Wellington District High School, Fergus, Ontario and I was sharing an apartment in Guelph with a Turk (Ozdemir Gulen or zdemir Glen in Turkish) - a graduate student at the University of Guelph.

· We lived and worked in Ghana, west Africa from 1968 to 1970 - a great time, I thought, though my wife told me she couldn't have stuck it out if I hadn't been with her. [ Our 1976-78 Ottawa house. Bera, with Biophysics PhD, was researcher at NRC, I lectured at Carleton University. We took our 3 kids with us to Nigeria when we lectured at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1979.]

· A couple of years after our first son was born in March 1972, [when I was 35yo] we were walking along the Thames river just north of London Ontario, and I realised that there were now too many people on the earth [see my http://davd.tripod.com/#up ], with the consequence that:
** for an increasing number of individuals there was at least one other person able to do what that one was doing (leaving practicalities out of it), so no ordinary person needs to feel they are indispensible, for the first time in the history or pre-history of the human race. **
· This gave me the freedom (since I'm normally driven by duty, obligation) to choose what I do from a wider set of choices. I could now consider doing little or nothing (at least some of the time), since:
** doing less is a good thing. **
Resource consumption is involved in most of the things people do. [Re "doing less", see note after 1st para. in "Part 2" below]

· Since my late 20s, after realising I had considerable skill (which has saved my life several times when driving or flying - sailplane and light aircraft), I have believed I could do virtually anything anyone else has done, given a few minutes to a few weeks of study and practice.
But I am a contemplative, "observing" kind of person, not one who spends most of my time doing things. I enjoy my own company, and don't need people and activities to be busy with.
** Consequently I've done a lot of thinking during the last 60 years; **
I have absorbed much from my reading (largely science fiction [starting with Robert A. Heinlein] in the last 3 decades) and a little more from people I have listened to, but I can think of only three books I have learned a lot from - most of my philosophy I have worked out for myself based on my own observation.
(Those books are:
(1) the previously mentioned "Blueprint for Survival", ISBN 0140522956;
(2) The Limits to Growth - {1972}, ISBN 0-87663-165-0; and
(3) Global Warming - The Greenpeace Report {1990}, ISBN 0-19-286119-0 )

· Someone asked me: "As a quite active 'environmentalist', the question is: On what philosophical base do you build up your 'belief'? Or simpler: what's your drive?"

· This may have been asking me to name some generally-recognised philosophical view, or "school" of philosophy, that I align with. My philosophy has been clear to me since the end of the 1980s (I have written about our family trip to India in 1988 and how that affected my conscious thought); but in the last two years I have come to realise that the Greek "school" called the Epicureans is the closest I have found among named philosophies. It isn't the same: I haven't read more than a few words about them, but I believe they highly valued certain sensations and situations (which I don't to the same degree), but they also were minimal "users" of food and other resources.

Here's what I wrote to the GreenViews NZ list, at 08:47 7 Oct2000 +1300:
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· A couple of minutes ago I was asked for the word for a person or a group of people who are intent on using very little.

· I said the extreme version is an ascetic (I could be described as one).

· But there was an Athenian philosophy school called the Epicureans, who arranged their lives so that what they did use, do, and eat was the best - highly valued by them - so "they didn't want for more".

· And more recently, in the food line, there's the "nouvelle cuisine", in which (I think) you are served small precious servings, very carefully chosen, cooked, and arranged on your plate, so that again you feel satisfied after eating the meal. Assuming you haven't been putting out large physical or mental effort and physiologically need more calories (starch).

· So it may not be so bad to change from the last couple of generations' emphasis on quantity, to an emphasis on quality in the little we use.

· This way "a decent standard of living" could be quite pleasant even at one third the level described by Diane [6 October 2000, on the _public_ Positive Futures list, see: http://csf.colorado.edu/mail/pfvs/2000/msg05103.html ].

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-{Part 2 of 2:}-

· I grew up in a world that was nearly sustainable, and I am somewhat disgusted by the excess that is seen as normal by this generation (the 28- to-48-year-olds). I am fully aware that I am one of the 4 billion people that are in excess of a sustainable population for the earth while the richer half are gobbling up the last of the good things we have here. If everyone would live at a material standard of living somewhere between:
** the average European in about 1980 and a well-off country Thailander today,**
- I believe we'd all (including Americans) be a lot happier, but mainly there would only be minor changes needed ... before our ~6 billion people would be able to live sustainably.

· A note on doing less:
- by Keith Rankin, a historical economist, has (at the end) :-
"mass labour market participation may contribute even less, net, than mass idleness."
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· Following on from that above question was: "following your line, the conclusion is that if everybody now would step back to the level of early 80s we would be happier"...

· With that word 'everybody' I refer to 6.3 billion people, the majority of whom lived a better life in the '80s than they do now (with so many more people, worse weather, threatening gangs and wars, illnesses such as AIDS being widespread, etc.).

| As a philosophical guide, I regard "happiness" as at least misleading.
| I know it's used in the American Constitution ("the pursuit of ..")
| and in economics ("well-being" is generally considered to mean
| "happiness"), but I regard being happy as a sometime thing, unusual
| and valued when it does occur, but not the unspoken goal of the
| ordinary person's life - their 'driver'.
· No, my guess is that it is satisfaction that people look for in their weekly activities. The distinction is important, first because if analysts set up the ephemeral "happiness" as a solid goal, they're hunting for reality in the wrong place, and secondly because being satisfied involves sufficiency, and achievement: you've done what you wanted to, and you can sit back and enjoy your situation. That IMO describes most people's goal - not the most "driven" ones, but most people.
When reached, in that state the person doesn't want change, doesn't want more; their life is fine right now.

· There is a feature of a sustainable world which is hardly recognised, but which IMO controls much of what goes on in such a world.
--=# That is: it is steady-state, stable. #=--
Not in transition, as the world has been since the Renaissance; Adam Smith and various philosophers championed the idea of "Progress". In certain measures, such as the amount of money in circulation, it could still be growing, and there will be increases in some areas with decreases in others, but overall it will have to be stable since we've come up against some severe limits, like fresh water and cheap materials supply. So continued growth in human-population and materials-use now requires the mean material-standard-of-living to decrease. (And with the richest 20% of the world demanding more, this demand forces an increase in number of the poorest - i.e. "middle-class" are becoming poor - and the poor are being pushed into increased risk of starvation, illness and death. I refer to billions of people, here. The world per capita grain supply has been level or decreasing for 15-20 years now.)

· Earlier (in this LessIsMore list) I said:
I grew up in a world that was nearly sustainable, and I am somewhat disgusted by the excess that is seen as normal ...
If everyone would live at a material standard of living somewhere between:
** the average European in about 1980 and a well-off country Thailander today,**
- I believe we'd all be a lot happier, but mainly there would only be minor changes needed ... before our ~6 billion people would be able to live sustainably.

· Progress is a sometime thing; there has been progress in certain areas, public health, mobility, education, freedom (esp. if you're not a european/white male), electronic technology. But it is not a suitable overall aim, ongoing into the indefinite future. In many areas of the above type, what could reasonably have been called progress has slowed, stopped and in some cases become regress.

· My reference to 1980 above is usually misunderstood by most people, brainwashed by the whole: growth, 'progress', transition ethos of the last few decades. I look at recent history (roughly spanning my father's lifetime) and see that, yes, we did do some things right during that 90 years. I myself could pick out many of these things and ways of living, and others I'm sure have a better ability to do that than me.

· So I suggest that we construct a world out of those things we have done well.
We don't have to look forward to "the wonders of the future"; some things will fit that description, but:
** we already have concrete examples of good things, good ways of living, that have been used and developed so that they have few faults now. **
I know of many from my time in New Zealand in the 1950s; some of the best times of my life were in the 1960s and 1970s; and there are a small (but not insignificant) number of advances in the 1980s and 1990s that we should keep on using. Like cheap computing, the internet, and solar power.

· In summary, I'd say that greed, people wanting more and more, is gradually squeezing the life out of the earth - is making things worse for most living things. Putting the economy and its growth at the top of the human agenda has been a serious mistake - fatal for thousands of species and hundreds of millions of people in the last decade.

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This is: http://davd.tripod.com/DavidsLifeStory_onLIM2002.html#up