Personal Evolution or Collective Revolution?
Brian slips an eloquent challenge to lifestylism into his discussion of creativity in transforming education, asking (I'm paraphrasing) whether lifestylists will use their choices to live effectively within society's constructs or to show the way to better types of society:
"Will the presuppositions of lifestylism originate in authentic creativity, or status quo creativity? Much of the self-help speak is status-quo creativity in that the focus of the ideas are designed to find variations on living within the exisiting presuppositions of our society. An artistic perspective on lifestylism, however, would be something quite different in that it would seek creativity by questioning and challenging the presuppositions that establish social norms themselves."I kicked off this project with the question: What is Lifestylism?...and the answer was that it has its roots in anarchist literature. The true anarchist (one who would destroy or subvert existing power structures) views lifestylism as vacant escapism that can have no lasting positive effect on the evils and imbalances of the world. As I said then, I don't really buy the criticism -- I prefer Brian's question.
At the core, I think lifestylism is about how individuals make lifestyle decisions that match their core values. So right from the start, we have to acknowledge that our values are formed within the existing presuppositions of society. That fact limits our creative capacity somewhat -- if our values are aligned with the status quo, and we're making decisions that match our values, revolution is improbable.
But it also seems to me that we're coming into a time when many people's values aren't particularly in synch with those existing structures and paradigms, or even well-aligned with their own lifestyle choices. For example, if you ask people what's really important to them, most will say that they want to spend more time with their loved ones...but when given the option, they'll almost always choose to work more for more money, which reveals their actual priorities. Not that engaging in our work or pursuing higher incomes is inherently bad, but it doesn't reflect what they say they want.
I think that if more people actually aligned their lifestyles with their values, we'd see more creative paths showing up. What if 50 million north americans suddenly realized that the American Dream wasn't their dream at all, and that they could figure out new ways to live, work, play and create with less negative impact on the environment? What if those ways let them spend more time doing what they want, and less time keeping up with the Joneses? What if their global awareness and local focus got them more engaged in determining their political direction and structures? What if they stopped watching TV and started spending more time working with likeminded folks on fixing some of the most pressing problems of modern society?
Seems like every good question deserves...more questions.