"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
Last post on consumerism catalyzed a considerable cavalcade of conversations. So, here are some more mangled musings in alphabetical order on the art of consumption.
A is for Appetite Grown Uncontrol’d: Michael Stipe: “…What we want and what we need has been confused…” Let’s face it. Our current consumer economy depends on us buying, accumulating, consuming and throwing away a staggering amount of stuff we don’t need. This is a recent phenomenon. NOBODY lived like this until post-war, mass production became the norm a scant 60 years ago. For most of our collective history we’ve lived quite differently. How can we rein in our super-sized desire to consume? Where to begin? Become aware of your appetite and what is driving it. What do you want? Need? Crave? Why? Sit with what you learn.
B is for Becoming-Aware of What’s Really Bought & Sold: William Wordsworth: “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…” Buying stuff is fun. Temporary happiness. Selling stuff creates income. Income is the blood in the body of business, the water in the community well. But, what happens when our blood carries carcinogens or is clogged with cholesterol? What happens when there’s poison in the well? Or, nothing at all? Often it’s not the stuff itself-it’s the stuff in the stuff we’re buying, the stuff that went into the process of making the stuff we’re buying, the place & people affected by the stuff we’re buying and the fundamental finiteness of the stuff we’re buying that counts. Traditionally these concerns were “externalized” which is basically a fancy way to say “ignored.” Not any more. There are an awful lot of us and we are growing. It may not seem to matter for you, “now” but what about the “now” of your children or grandchildren? Feel like gambling with the future of your children? Not me.
C is for Community and the Richness Therein: Chrissie Hynde: “I went back to Ohio, but my city was gone.” There are a slew of good reasons to buy local and they all point to the same thing: community. Consuming locally produced goods and buying from local merchants create a powerful positive value generating loop that supports and sustains a key aspect of what supports and sustains us: Say it with me: “community.” Strong Community also creates alternatives to simple monetary transactions. Consumption is essentially exchange of value and there are many ways to do this, including bartering, the creation of “local currencies”, and sharing the abundance of our collective efforts and wealth (the bounty of backyard and community gardens, extra profit and time, knowledge, experience and expertise, excess production, tools, leftover food). The opposite of investing in the health of community are intriguing phenomena like burning rivers and dancing cats. The choice, as always, is ours.