Thoreau was a great advocate of very simple living. His simplicity of living even descends to the level of labelling food as the only essential requirement in a man’s life. The other three essential elements shelter, clothing and fuel carry an element of luxury in them. According to him as one simplifies one’s life, the laws of the universe will be simpler and poverty will not be poverty.
Thoreau bought several acres of land at a very cheap rate from a poor family. He built his own home without any permit and did not provide it with any electricity. He teaches others also to lead a simple life that he lead near
Walden pond, but there are certain realities in the modern society that would make his proposition more complicated. Modern man is attuned to living with certain comforts which are now considered essential for a hassle-free living. A secure home with certain facilities- a car, a refrigerator, a television and such other equipment are not luxuries but the essential requirements of modern life. There is a change not only in the outlook of the man but also in the adaptability of his body to the surroundings. Man has reached a stage where he cannot live without these facilities. So Thoreau’s advice to lead a very simple life devoid of all the modern amenities looks far from practical (Thoreau 1985).
No doubt there are people in the dark areas of African continent who lead very simple lives far away from the comforts of modern science and technology. But it must be noted that such a life is not of their choice and option but it was one of struggle for survival like that of any animal. Even those people if introduced to the taste of the modern comforts and then asked to go back to their earlier primitive lives, they will not be willing to oblige (Thoreau 1985).
The main difference between society of Thoreau’s times and modern society is the multiplication of income through multiplicity of methods. Thoreau earned his income through farming and selling crops. In such circumstances, one can lead a very simple life. But in the present day circumstances when the population has multiplied a number of times, it is not practical to expect people to live on agriculture only and lead very simple lives. People had to opt for diverse occupations to earn their livelihoods. In the process, they had to come across different facets of cultures and lifestyles which prompted them to adapt themselves to the requirements of those cultures and lifestyles. Apart from this, there is lot of diversity in the climates of various countries which require people to adapt different equipments to live in synchronization with vagaries of nature. So unless permitted by nature, it is not possible for man to live the simple life preached by Thoreau all over the World(Thoreau 1985).
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