Reflections

A Magazine of Theological and Ethical Inquiry from Yale Divinity School

DOWNSIZING

Author: 
Tom Kimmel

No one moves into a smaller place.

It’s anti-American!

And moving into a smaller place

with less closet space –

Am I not undermining democracy,

being a detriment to capitalism?

What is this? Some kind of subliminal

recognition that I’ll never be King?

Or am I simply getting an early start

preparing for the golden years?

Then again, how do I expect the market

to recover if I’m not out shopping?

And how can I be sure my country

will remain a superpower if I’m

paying down debt and saving money?

I’m thinking now of how during

the last wave of civil rights unrest

in Alabama, thirty or so years ago

I was informed that I could be one

of four above-average students

at Wilcox County High School

who would be allowed to skip

their senior year, provided I was willing

to lifeguard at the town pool over

the summer and complete a

self-study economics workbook.

This study, to be honest,

was a fairly dry exercise,

but the workbook contained

one fascinating lesson: A country’s

fiscal well-being is eternally tethered

to an ever expanding economy.

“How,” I asked my supervisor

when I turned in my workbook,

“can growth be limitless on

a planet with finite resources?”

“Well,” he replied, with a pinched

look, having quickly flipped through

the pages of my workbook

without really looking at them

and scrawling a big red letter A

on the cover, “It’s possible, Tom,

but they can’t really get into

that in high school economics.”

And now, now I’m thinking of the

ever expanding universe,

the galaxies moving away from each other

at faster and faster speeds

into cold, infinite space,

like subdivisions disappearing

into the south Alabama countryside. 

Issue Title: 
Money and Morals after the Crash
Issue Year: 
2010