It's amazing how powerful the word "no" can be. Columbian Women had waited 20 years to get the dirt road to their village paved when they engaged in a crossed-legs strike, denying sex to their men until the improvements were made. Thirty-eight days into the strike, with some men joining in a concurrent hunger strike, the funds for the road were granted.
And saying no can produce more than paved roads. "No" brings us back into balance with an awareness of the human condition and desire. Have you ever had that Vegas buffet or cruise ship experience when you never get a chance to be hungry because there is just too much food coming at you all the time? Hunger and desire are intimately linked. Too much, even of a good thing, can leave one feeling unsatisfied. Nothing like a fast, know those who practice fasting for religious holidays or cleansing, to make that first bite of break-fast so mouth-watering. And that's part of the point for the religious -- fasting helps us to appreciate the blessings bestowed upon us so we will be more thankful, and also to understand the suffering of those less fortunate so we will be more generous.
In a country with capitalism as close to a state religion as an economic policy, all of us run the risk of losing satisfaction in life as we try to keep up with the mythic Jones.' The problem is, the Jones' keep getting more. And as any casual reader of tabloid covers at the supermarket can tell you, even those with more than we can imagine ever having, have their problems. That's why some of them try to put their consumption in reverse and skiddadle to someplace like a ranch in Montana to live closer to the land and their own humanity.
We all have waste in our lives: too much time, money and attention spent on junk food, junk intoxicants, junk entertainment, and junk products. The first step to freedom from all this junk is identifying it. The look of satisfaction in champion boxer Oscar de la Hoya's newly sober face as he revealed his long kept secret of alcoholism says it all. Restraint opens new doors for a fuller life.
Self-examination can be challenging and scary. But the rewards to true awareness of our own excesses can be the path to a much better life. And the benefits of saying no to one thing can enrich your life, and even those around you, in so many unexpected ways. For instance, I decided to cut plastic bottles, bags and packaging from my shopping cart for the health of my family and the environment. Guess what? That led to buying a lot less fast food and produced food and a lot more actual produce from the farmers' market in my reusable bags. And all that fresh food led me to remember the joys of cooking nutritious meals. My family benefits in nutrition, the satisfaction of a home-cooked meal, and in conversation around the dinner table. Giving up a few hours of TV or computer time may lead you to pick up a great book, or get out and talk to a person face-to-face. Giving up an addiction could save your life.
So Join the resistance. Decide how you can make do with less and watch the benefits multiply.