Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction and our ego satisfaction in consumption. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced and discarded at an ever-increasing rate”. – Victor Lebow (1955)
I go to visit a friend of mine in Barrydale. When I arrive she’s already having tea with another visitor, a woman who is complaining bitterly about her grandchild. She says:
“My daughter has done everything for her. They sent her to the best schools, and she had access to every kind of extra-curricular activity she was interested in. Then they sent her to an excellent University. They wanted to prepare her as best they could for the world. They gave her all the opportunities that they never had, and now she’s twenty four and all she wants to do is sell her home-made jewellery at markets and festivals across the globe. She has no interest in the corporate world. Good Lord, she even has dreadlocks! When is she going to face up to reality? When is she going to grow up?”
I love this conversation. I get all excited and say:
“Different generations believe that different things will make them happy. She’s part of a much bigger world-wide trend towards a new way of living and being in the world. Things are changing. Priorities are shifting. We live in very exciting times.
At the moment there is a huge move internationally towards minimalism. No one wants to work for big corporations anymore. In fact, no one really wants to buy from them. More and more people are searching out the little guy, the person who does it on their own.
People don’t want as much money as they used to. They don’t want to chase after it and sit in an office through the best years of their lives. They want to live. Tim Ferris opened the doors for this movement when he published the book that became a bible for a whole new generation: The Four Hour Work Week.
Consumerism formed the backbone of our actions and interactions over the past fifty odd years. It made us spiritually sick. We started defining people through how much money they’re able to generate and spend. The more we subconsciously believed this, the more a Great Emptiness started to creep into our chests. We became spiritually starved.
Consumerism is built to dis-empower the individual, to keep them wanting and dissatisfied, to lock them in instead of setting them free. Consumerism wants to keep you wanting.
“Beginning in the 1990s, the most frequent reason given for attending college had changed to making a lot of money, outranking reasons such as becoming an authority in a field or helping others in difficulty…” (Wikipedia)
Now that cycle is ending. People are waking up. Don’t expect your friend’s daughter to do what her mother and father did, or to want what they wanted. She lives in a different world, in many ways a kinder world.”
Empowerment and freedom are directed by the basic structures and belief systems that govern our lives. In order to create more of both, it is necessary to investigate our current structures, to ascertain why we have them and how they serve us.