The Downward Mobility series was born out of a desire to work through the implications of what it means to not follow the American Dream. As someone in a Christian order among the poor who has taken on a voluntary vow of simplicity, the theological underpinnings of what it means to not keep grasping for more, more, more are of great consequence to me.
For this series, a wide variety of people and opinions weighed in on the subject. Talking about money and privilege, as always, can be quite divisive, and this series was no different. Although I started the series with the intention of helping the practitioners of downward mobility find encouragement and solace, it quickly morphed into something else altogether: a discussion on the validity of the topic. The hands-down most popular pieces were the ones on how Downward Mobility wasn’t enough, or from people who had tried to live in this lifestyle and failed.
For me, I came out of this experience of hosting the discussion with wider eyes. I understand now that talking about this brings up feelings of shame and confusion, guilt and fear. I understand that unless spoken with grace, this sort of conversation can prove alienating to those who feel like they aren’t in a place to pursue simplicity, or who feel stuck in their current life situation, or who do not have the luxury of “choosing” downward mobility. Even in the past few months I am learning that downward mobility is not a linear continuum, but it is a helpful framework for a life lived for reconciliation. Because we live in an unequal world, folks, and many of us reading these here words are at the top of the pole. One of the many things we can do to pursue loving God and loving our neighbor is to put ourselves in a more equal setting with our neighbors–both globally and locally.
I’m more convinced than ever that you can sell all that you have and give it to the poor and still not have love. And I am more convinced than ever that if you start sloughing off, little by little, the lies of consumerism and consumption, if you start moving downwards–you might find your cup of love increasing. Even to the point of overflowing.
Posts in the Downward Mobility Series:
Thanks for reading.