The “Good Living” is an integral way of perceiving and living life: everything is interconnected and interdependence is the key to ensuring that everyone lives a full life.
The mystique of good living is rooted in community myths that narrate the interdependence of all beings who are part of the common home. It invites us to live fully in the present, remembering the past and learning from the future, taking care of the fabric of life. The ‘Good Living’ is, therefore, a way of being, of living and of relating in and with our common home.
This being-being is not a completed fact, it is a series of attitudes that try to become every day in order to build a just eco-society where every being has its space in the community, where power relations are symmetrical and where the vital system as a whole is taken care of so that everyone may have clean water, fresh food, the freedom to work and create with a mysticism of joy that is expressed in celebration, in silence and in encounter.
“Good living” arises from the translation of the vital expressions of indigenous peoples. In the Aymara peoples, in the Andes, the expression is suma qamaña, “suma” expresses balance, relationship, fullness, it does not only mean good or good; “qamaña” means life. In the Quechua peoples of the valleys and of the Amazon the expression is “sumaj kawsay“, “sumaj” expresses deep attention, harmony, it does not only mean good. While “kawsay” means life, as in Aymara, but with a slight tinge of continuous movement.
Another less known expression, but frequent in the everyday language of the valleys, is “misk’y kawsay“: “misk’y” expresses whatever achieves a pleasant taste, a close relationship, an integral gentle presence, which intensifies the sensation of well-being. By broadening the meanings of these words, starting from their use in the territories, we can show that the “Good Living” corresponds to an integral way of perceiving and living life, where everything is interconnected and where interdependence is the key to symmetrical relationships.
It also enables us to question the translation as good/good, which risks being interpreted as a value judgment that classifies one way of life as good as opposed to another which is bad, a position that reflects a dichotomous view of reality. and allows some beings to be judged as good and others as bad.
The Guarani peoples of the Amazon speak of “the search for the land without evil,” “yvy marané “, which expresses an intact, privileged, indestructible soil, where the earth produces by itself, where corn grows by itself and death does not exist; a place of perfection that will erase the expressions of all that is limitation.
These four vital expressions support the spirit and the proposal of good living as a way of daily life, which is in tune with the abundant life to which Jesus refers when he says: “I came that they may have life and have it in abundance” (Jn 10:10). “Good Living” challenges us to live a daily mystique with attitudes and actions (personal and social) that co-build an eco-just society, a life in abundance.
Tania Ávila Meneses