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thought provoking tidbits collected from here and there...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Consumerism - some futile thoughts

It was by mere accident I came across this article on "How much is Enough?".
"At a recent conference on alternative economics, I happened to sit at dinner with a man who had done our New Road Map Foundation course, Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence. He told me this story about his own struggle to discover just how much was enough for him.

From time to time he goes to a rural monastery for a silent retreat. Meals are provided by the monks. The many acres of wooded land are laced with walking trails. There are several small sanctuaries with just a chair or two. Each room has a bed, a desk, a chair, a lamp, and no more. The atmosphere is one of silence and peace. On one retreat he asked himself, "If I knew that everyone in the world would have enough if I had only this much, would this be enough for me?" The answer was a clear "yes."

While all of us at the table could identify with the simplicity of that vision, we went on to discuss what things we might add to support not only our spiritual nature, but our work and sense of community as well. A telephone. Certain books. Certain files. Another chair for a guest. A computer, perhaps. The more we added, the more difficult it was to draw the line. Where did necessity end and excess begin?

Through my public speaking on personal economics, I come in contact with many people who are sufficiently awake to the needs of the world to have asked themselves that same question, "How much is enough for me?" So many of them, even those who speak out about the inequities and insanity of our consumer culture, feel they fall far short of the mark in practicing what they preach. They confess their "sins of luxury" to me with everything from sheepishness to painful guilt."
Wikipedia says...
...In many critical contexts the term Consumerism is used to describe the tendency of people to identify strongly with products or services they consume, especially those with commercial brand names and obvious status-enhancing appeal, e.g. an expensive automobile, rich jewellery. It is a pejorative term which most people deny, having some more specific excuse or rationalization for consumption other than the idea that they're "compelled to consume".
This made me remember a verbal fight I had with a friend of mine about "the effect of advertisements on human mind". He believed that advertisements / promotions offered a great platform for the consumer to choose what he wants. I argued that the consumer's wasn't choosing, but he was made to choose, that his "need" was created, that the "demand" was created to augment "supply" which in turn augments "production". And that it was a capitalist agenda and that we need to be aware of the politics behind it. He said the whole process had nothing to do with politics. I knew I was pouring "anti-consumerism" into deaf ears and that he was one among those millons or billions who never knew that politics was interfering in their life.
"If you don't interfere in politics, politics will interfere in your life" - Lenin


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