I embraced Degrowth but… he didn’t, she didn’t, they didn’t…


In her letter dated 21 09 2012, Petei Sapiri wrote: “I fell in Degrowth… as some fall in love!

Yes, but ? [I] embraced degrowth…

As a matter of fact I embraced degrowth ALONE… she didn’t, he didn’t, they didn’t…

Him, her, them, they are the people in my life. Girl-boyfriends, companions, children, friends, colleagues, neighbours, all these close friends did not follow the same pathway.
We were wandering along the paths of life, carefree, and I realised I was alone. Were they left behind, stranded at the foot of a hill, stuck in a curve, or did they follow a different pathway or embark on the system’s high-speed-train rollercoaster?

I do not know: for me, some little roots, the sprouting of long forgotten seeds, the discovery of seedlings full of promises… and I stopped to observe them. As a cry, resurging from the past, a strong energy took hold of me. The “realisation” [evidence] Petei Sapiri talks about appeared to me. That’s it: this is the path we must follow. I told them, I showed them, I used examples, I wanted to take them with me, I change my [our] lifestyle… a mother can do that. Some essential prerequisites appeared to me, obvious, and I implemented them.

But… they saw my degrowth as deviant, unconventional, solitary, impossible, unrealisable, utopian; their love and indulgence made it look even more odd, as a life experience can be. They did not understand, did not want to accompany me, refused to read and learn with me, they told me– a lone snail – that my shell was far too brittle and would shatter and might destroy me; the strength and power lie on the other side, not on mine.

I remain lonely and fragile. My dreams and my reflexions will remain radicalised for a long time. Fractures, misunderstandings, lack of flexibility, withdrawal, disillusionment, depression even, are real and beset me.

Catherine Thumann tells us: “We should not secede” (Degrowth Number 91). Why? But, what should we do then?

Encounters, meetings in the spirit of sharing, conviviality, re-connecting with this second family that has become so important, are like reconnecting with life, resurfacing after a long period of apnoea.

My reality, our reality is not theirs. “ An active, reflexive” approach after a time of unease, cutting some links because they are not based on sharing that is no longer possible, despite a certain kindness. There is a small difference between a male and a female snail, after all. They say that she does not have a choice, that she is trapped in an ancestral patriarchal heritage, and that they have failed to show her the way, they have bullied and harassed her. The failure of our loved ones to chose to follow in our footsteps is felt like blows to our reality; the reality we have understood.

Unbridled consumption, cutting a hedge for a project, purchasing yet another electronic gadget, spraying weedkiller, repeated burnings of rubbish in the garden, a staunch critic of the Other: the one who ”benefits” in our vicinity, drilling for gas, establishing a roundabout, destroying a wetland to build a shopping centre a little further from us are all blows to our ideals, we think we must follow and we deem necessary for the survival of our reality as inhabitants of the planet and for the WELL-BEING of all of us.

But to embrace degrowth is to lead a different life, the former having no room but where the other ones still remain, frozen in an illusory image of compulsory happiness in our consumerist society. HAPPY since they know everything there is to know …

One regret: “I would have liked to have the courage to live as I wanted and not live according to what was expected of me” (Regrets of the dying- a survey published in the Guardian (1)). The resurgence  of creative energy in spaces where “other possibles” are concocted” and emerging roots allow us to go forward, even if they are solid roots keeping us grounded like algae do. The other “Elsewhere” of the “neighbourhoods with a different odour, where the air is cleaner” (W. Sheller (2)) are waiting for us, here or elsewhere…

We shouldn’t have any regrets about this other “Elsewhere” we have discovered, neither should it lead us to renege our principles, to confuse us. It must give us the courage to speak out, the courage to act, the courage to go forwards … the courage to live a different happiness.

The true harvests are differed harvests since we do not know today how many seeds of hope have been sown…. Take care of yourself, your desires, your dreams and wishes. They are the ones that, through your own happiness, create the happiness for the world, at your own scale and at the planetary scale…” Therese Delfel

With or without him, her, them…



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