I have just finished a book by Peter Singer called Practical Ethics. Singer was one of the key thinkers in the animal rights movement, but his work goes much further than this, and has informed much of the debate that exists around environmentalism amongst other things.
In his conclusion to the chapter on the environment he says :
“The emphasis on frugality and a simple life does not mean that an environmental ethic frowns upon pleasure, but that the pleasures it values do not come from conspicuous consumption.”
In the final chapter on why we should act ethically he argues that taking the ethical point of view offers a meaning and purpose in life. And I think that in our increasingly secular society this is certainly true. I think that there is a certain amount of fulfilment that can be gained through trying to live an ethical life, which is something that those who accuse us of being killjoys seem to miss.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my day is the simple pleasure I get from commuting by bike. Nothing I could go out and buy, at whatever price, would give me more satisfaction than the simple freedom that the bike gives me.