Less is More? What Minimalism Can and Can’t Teach Us

must have always been a minimalist at heart. As a teenager I would periodically initiate a purge of unused and well-worn clothing. I would also routinely clean out my closet, throwing out the old to make room for the new. Now as an adult, I still enjoy the art of decluttering. I feel alive when I can throw together bags for donations or toss something in the trash. When I was first married, I impressed my decluttering ways upon my husband, helping him loosen his grip on baggy clothes from the ’90s, which he kept for sentimental reasons. (Interestingly enough, my husband has always had double the number of shoes I’ve had; when he was single, he would buy a pair of shoes a month.) Now my husband always wants to get rid of things too, though I still have fewer shoes and clothing than he does.

I guess I was cool before it was cool to declutter, or, as some like to call it: simplify. Now minimalism could be called a trend or a movement. And though it is about decluttering and simplifying, it is also much more. One of the leaders in the minimalist movement, Joshua Becker, defines it this way: “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it” (25). For most of us, the term minimalism conjures up images of stark white walls, a solitary chair in the living room, bare countertops, and a cold hard mattress on the floor. It’s an extreme picture, though it could be true for some who call themselves minimalists. What Becker and others like him are trying to do is make minimalism more balanced and fit for everyone, not just bachelors. Minimalism is not just about decluttering, but owning less. It’s about letting go of your possessions before they possess you. It’s about simplifying your life and schedule, not just physical objects around your home. But all of this is done so you can pursue the things that do matter in life, whatever it is you value.

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Chuck Norris vs. Communism and the Transformative Power of Film

Animals speak, conspire, and plot to overthrow a farmer in George Orwell’s fable Animal Farm. And in his nearly prophetic novel 1984, Orwell presents a world filled with thought police, revised history books, and surveillance from an entity called Big Brother. The concepts in these constructed literary worlds are bizarre and unrealistic, but the alternate realities hide real truths. These are the worlds buried beneath some of our past, present, and possibly future cultural and political ideologies.

Orwell poses the “What ifs?” of our time in his prophecies of doom. He sheds light on the world around us, picturing for us a completely censored and controlled culture, a world in which people are told: “You must read this and not that, you must watch this and not that, and you must think this and not that.” These made up worlds are in reality representations of our world and its history. For many countries, this was the world in which they lived; it was not made up. People felt this reality in their own lives: the reality of being watched, interrogated, reported, and being told what to think, the thick fog of paranoia blocking their vision, while their very words were censored. This was (and in some countries still is) the world of communism.

The western world (particularly the United States) has directly interacted with the leaders/dictators who promote this ideology. We were involved in the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and we played major roles in the Cold War. But in 1989 the downfall of communism in Romania was planted by a small seed from the west. The United States played an indirect role this time and unknowingly sparked a revolution in Romanian hearts. The revolution didn’t involve weapons, armies, missiles, invasions, or financial aid—it came on reels of film from the Hollywood hills.

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Nightmare on Lancaster Avenue – The Gosnell Trial

3801 Lancaster Avenue. Only a few minutes drive from my house. At one time my husband lived in an upstairs apartment across the street from this building. For two years I tutored inner city children right down the street, not knowing about the women and children who died at 3801 Lancaster Avenue.

Eventually the local news covered the story. Dr. Kermit Gosnell was running an abortion clinic (Women’s Medical Society) at 3801 Lancaster Ave. An abortion clinic? More like a horror movie. FBI agents and detectives found barely conscious women in the waiting and recovery rooms. They found severed baby feet in jars of water, flea-ridden cats roaming around, cat feces on the stairs, and blood-stained walls, sheets, and chairs.

Gosnell became a millionaire by delivering live babies and then snipping their spine at the back of the neck. Many of these babies were illegal late term abortions. Many of the women were bodily harmed. Two women died. Despite the fact that they did inspections in the 90’s and received several complaints, the Pennsylvania Departments of State and Health and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health did nothing for 20 years. Gosnell is now on trial and charged with 8 counts of murder.

Film Project

Writer and director David Altrogge will be following the trial through his film project, 3801 Lancaster. His first 20 minute documentary introduces the background of the case and gives voice to the exploited patients. Be warned, there are some gruesome photos. Yet, the emotion, degradation, and horror Altrogge portrays in his short documentary is compelling.

The objective of the film project is to give voice to the women in this horror story, uncover the cover-up by state and local oversight agencies, make the public aware, and to make sure this horror story is not repeated. Altrogge recently appeared on Anderson Cooper who is one of the few media outlets to cover the Gosnell case. With abortion being such a controversial topic in our nation it’s no wonder we only hear the sound of silence.

Pro-Gosnell

After watching 3801 Lancaster, I’m surprised groups concerned with human rights, women’s rights,and pro-choice have not spoken up. What Gosnell did to these women was degrading: he tied them up, drugged them, and ultimately showed no concern for their well-being. What he did was not pro-choice; in fact they had no choice. One woman in the film changed her mind about having an abortion, but Gosnell beat her legs and yelled at her; she then woke up in recovery and not pregnant.

Gosnell was not pro-choice, but pro-Gosnell. He made $10,000 to $15,000 each abortion procedure. His choice was money.