Some concluding thoughts after 2,5 years of cycle travelling

Authors: Alex & Jana

Simplicity is the result of maturity
(Friedrich Schiller)

There are subjects that were on our minds during the past (travel)years time and again. One or another have already been commented on in past blog posts. For other subjects there won’t be any room here either. Besides, it is important to mention that the description especially applies to today’s industrial countries.

Openness towards the diversity of the world
Our journey was a training camp, a ‘university of life’: We have learned a lot about other cultures, have studied different languages, have met people and got insights into many different living environments – and also into our own. Although all these living environments we encountered have been distinct and diverse, yet everywhere have we been met with a general helpfulness and hospitality.
The vast majority of the people on our planet (roughly estimated 99%) are good-hearted and peaceful. The parade example is Iran. A country that is displayed extremely negatively in the media, but the warmth and hospitality of its people stays unmatched.
We wish for more curiosity and openness instead of anxiety fuelled by the media.

Nature as our constant companion and the human source of life
Far away from the daily highspeed rat race of today’s modern society the Kyrgyz mountain lakes, the never ending Mongol steppes, the chirping in South East Asian jungles or the mere incredible Indonesian underwater world – all of those brought us ever tranquility and contendedness. Besides, being close to nature also includes some form of body work (hiking, dancing, yoga, …) and a health-conscious nutrition (best without industrially produced foods). This leads not only to physical, but to mental health as well.

Conclusion: It was the countless, touching human encounters and the awe-inspiring nature experiences which impressed us the most during our journey.

Fisherman in Italy

Frugalness
Besides, we were able to survive on very little for years. Our material needs could fit onto our bicycle racks. Doing so, we never had the feeling that we have to abstain from something. By a lower (material) claim and therefore a high concentration on the essentials, an invitation over night, a hot shower or a warm meal always caused feelings of greatest happiness in us.

Happiness is a choice
Life is too short to do things which you don’t like or which you only do because you feel obliged to do them. We are the captain of our ship (most of the time) and we can decide in which direction the ship is heading. Over the course of the journey a lifestyle evolved for us which is consumption free as far as possible, but at the same time appreciative. In many ways, this journey has shown us what really matters to us. For example
time for family, friends and idleness, openness, helpfulness, compassion.

Background:

Consumption and capitalism as the norm (and as a paradox)
We live in abundance and yet we see poverty everywhere. We have everything we need and yet we keep wanting more and more. We live in a democracy and yet we have little codetermination. There is more food but at the same time an undersupply of nutrients. Never have we produced so many food products, never have we thrown away so many of them (approx. 50%)
. We have more security, but more fear. There is more help, but more excessive demands. Unlimited communication, but still more and more loneliness.
Economical, societal, ecological crises. Crises as far as the eye can see. The supposed solution with no alternative is growth, expansion and carrying on regardless – in a system with limited resources.
The politics are only providing system maintaining emergency measures. There is only rescuing (banks, Greece, Euro). Neither the political elites nor the majority of the citizens have a comprehensive vision of the future. The question “In which society would we like to live?” is either only asked superficially or not at all. Into this vacuum the hated and loved capitalism is pushing in at full power, represented by economical elites who control the political system. The capitalism has levered out the democracy, because long since it is the big business lobby which decides about laws and not the governments. This has global social and ecological consequences. With both we have been confronted again and again during our journey.

Social and ecological effects
We, the privileged, the rich, the white, who can travel into almost every country on this earth – the ones, who have nothing to do with that. We were born in Germany by coincidence. On the other hand, the majority of the global population lives without health care, without educational opportunities, without advancement opportunities, without money, with poorly paid or dangerous work and finally without freedom of movement. It is the other side of a global imbalance. There is extreme social inequality, which will at some point lead to broken apart societies, forced migration, redistribution struggles and therefore to violence.
The extreme wealth is only possible because of the exploitation of other people (cheap labour) and the nature. The destruction of our source of life has been documented scientifically since decades: climate change, including droughts, floods, desert expansion, acidification and pollution of the world oceans, loss of biodiversity, ozone depletion, exploitation of soil, landfill and much more. These are the real costs of our lifestyle (paid for by people of other countries and all future generations).

The following short video (5 min) concerning this subject is worth to be seen:
https://vimeo.com/82227577

Less is more – about simplicity and happiness
Constantly there is carnival in our brain, constantly are we distracted by a flow of different information. In addition, advertisement with all psychological tricks, which is creating artificial needs in us. Consumption defines our personality – tell me what you buy and I tell you who you are. Besides the status, there is also the emotional aspect of consumption. When we buy something a moment of happiness occurs. But these moments are extremely short. Following this logic: a person who would like to be happy all the time, would have to consume never-endingly. The social and ecological consequences of consumption have been described above (background).

Small life, happy life
The answer to this relatively impenetrable and contradictory societal relations in which we live could be a simple equation: less = more. Less is more. Less consumption means having more cash to spare. Having more cash to spare means being able to work less. Working less means having more time. More time means more quality of life, more freedom, relaxation, balance, inner peace, tranquility, easiness, more physical and mental health. And ultimately happiness.
The separation of essential matters from the non-essential ones and therefore focusing on what we really need to live happily (and sustainably), is the crucial characteristic for the future sustainability of our generation.

Simplicity is the result of the journey
(Alexander Gabriel)

– THE END –

Kyrgyzstan

Links regarding the fields mentioned above and more:

Consumption and environmental pollution
The following short video (5 min) has already been mentioned in the text above and is a good introduction into the subject:
https://vimeo.com/82227577

Video: Story of Stuff (20 min, English):
http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-stuff

Movie: Home (90 min, English):
https://vimeo.com/34689930

Scientific approaches from

  • Niko Paech (Book in English: Liberation from Excess)
  • Harald Welzer (Book in English: Climate Wars: What People Will Be Killed For in the 21st Century, Book in German: Selbst denken! Eine Anleitung zum Widerstand = translates to: ‘Think yourself! A tutorial to resistance.’)
  • Here is a PDF document that treats many aspects of Welzers German book ‘Think yourself! A tutorial to resistance.’
  • Hartmut Rosa (Book in English: Sociology, Capitalism, Critique)
    2 speeches from Hartmut Rosa in English:
    about acceleration (18 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uG9OFGId3A
    lecture about capitalism (90 min) https://vimeo.com/57907126

Global unequal distribution
Worldmaps which show the size of a country according to certain categories, e.g.:
Carbon emissions (map): http://www.worldmapper.org/display.php?selected=295
Undernutrition (map): http://www.worldmapper.org/display.php?selected=178
More maps regarding other categories: http://www.worldmapper.org

(Dept) Money system
The problems of interest, interest on interest, cash generation by private banks, hoarding of money, interbank systems (decoupling from the central banks), speculation, disentanglement from goldstandard and real values, etc:

Video “Money as Debt” (45 Min):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqvKjsIxT_8

Balanced diet
Movie: Hungry for Change (Trailer)
Movie: Food Inc
Movie: We feed the world (Trailer, German with English subtitles)

Exercise (and the positive effect on mental health)
Meta-analysis: Exercise and psychological well-being
(PDF: Exercise and mental health, English summary on page 3)

Mass media
A good article (unfortunately only in German),
lesenswert ab “Wie Journalisten an Informationen kommen: Informationsquellen”
= worth reading starting from ‘how journalists get their information: information sources’
http://www.bpb.de/izpb/7527/wer-journalisten-sind-und-wie-sie-arbeiten?p=all

Encouragement for sustainable ways of living:
Buy second hand, repair,
grow fruits and vegetables in your own garden, transition towns (video)vegetable box scheme, local exchange trading system, car sharing, multi generational house, living in a caravan, energy-plus-house, sustainable energy, ethical banking, credit unions

and a lot more, e.g. here at betterworldlinks.org


Minus Development
I collected,
worked,
saved,
accumulated
and created
material goods.
But my WEALTHINESS
did get lost:
the quiet leisure,
the fascination of nature,
the healing tranquility,
the contemplative seclusion,
my calmness.

(Kristiane Allert-Wybranietz)

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