Someone whose blog I read frequently asked for nonfiction book ideas. She's wanting to read something more challenging than the latest romance or thriller. Since we have similar interests, I made a recommendation. The book "A Reasonable Life--Toward A Simpler, Secure, More Humane Existance" by Ferenc Mate is one of the most thought-provoking books I've read in a long while. If you are interested in simplifying your life, moving to the country or a small town, or just getting out of the rat race and getting a life, you might enjoy it too.
Mr. Mate was born in Hungary, escaped at the age of 11 and has lived all over the world.
Some of the blurbs on the back cover:"A sane and exciting vision of a happier world.""The most powerfully damning, inspiring and hopeful call for a fulfilled life you can imagine. Now if only we'd just listen, for the sake of our children." -- Country Journal"A Reasonable Life is wonderful! This fast-paced book is just what we need to make us slow down and thing.--Pete Seeger"A masterpiece. Ferenc Mate writes brilliantly with Runyonesque humor and poetic prose. He satirizes our modern society driven by greed and mindlessness, and in its place he recommends the ultimate sanity. I love it. Highly recommended."--Dr. Helen Caldicott
Here's an excerpt that really struck me--enough that I've marked it and come back to it again and again. (This is a bit long, but worth it I think.)
"No one has to tell us about the pleasures of a small town. We know them well, if not from reality then from the old Andy Griffith show, or It's a Wonderful Life
. But the small town we know the best is the one deep in our heart, with its elm-shaded streets, little clapboard houses and picket fences,and gnarled fruit trees and run-amok vegetable gardens, where doors are never locked, and where shopkeepers stand in front of their shops and greet you, and the cop greets you, all by name, and you stop and chat with them because what else is life for, and when the bells toll at noon the shops close up, and you all go home for lunch, a nap, then to hoe the melons or to do a little fishing; and everyone you liked in fourth grade is still your friend, and it's a swell place to be a kid and perfect to be a family, and it's a humane place to grow old, and, when you have to go, it's a good place to die.
If such a town doesn't exist, the big question is "Why
?" If we all dream about it, if we all long for it--and recent surveys found seven out of ten of us would live there if we could--then where in damnation is it? When all it takes is a few good-natured people; a few to teach school, a few to own the stores, some to farm the land, some to mend the sick and a bar to tend the healthy, then why isn't there such a town behind every tree? I mean only a few of us dream of having missiles, tanks, and bombers, and rockets to the moon, yet the world is littered with them; hardly anyone dreams of pesticides and freeways, yet they're choking us to death; no one dreams of junk mail, yet we're drowning in the stuff; no one I know dreams of stripmalls and fast-food chains, yet there are a hundred to the mile! How the hell did it happen that the things hardly any of us want are burying us all, while the simple town we all dram of we can rarely find?"
This simple argument/question still haunts me. If people truly want this simpler, kinder life, then why aren't they taking the steps to achieve it? Why are we still commuting hours to a life-sucking job where we perform meaningless tasks? Why are we killing ourselves in order to buy the bigger house (that's always empty since we're working to pay for it), the newer car (so we're more comfortable driving hours each day back and forth to the meaningless job), the better clothes so that we can impress the people we work with (people that we might
not even like and would never associate with outside of work)?
Does anyone "see" the insanity of this approach to life?