Wednesday, August 24, 2005

There is life beyond a consumer economy!

There's a great article in Yoga International magazine's September issue called The Next Salt March: turning our backs on consumerism by Eknath Easwaran. He talks about what it feels like to grow up in India with a foreign culture (British) superimposed on his own Indian culture. And it struck me that at a global level this has happened to all of us. We've had consumerism superimposed on human culture.

Easwaran says, "When I went to college, I never questioned the axiom that everything worthwhile...came from the west. The science, the wealth, the military power, all demonstrated unequivocally the superiority of Western culture. It never occurred to me to look anywhere else for answers".

Well, I think the same thing has happened to us as a human species. We've never questioned the consumer economy--of course it is superior to anything else. But is it? A consumer economy depends on a constant of making things, selling things, and constant growth. Stop the insatiable buying and the economy grinds to a halt. Everyone scrambles to get the engine going again so we can move forward with life. The only way to do that is to start buying again. And it never occurs to us to look anywhere else.

There is another place to go--the world existed before there was a consumer economy! Which means it can exist again without it. It is up to us to create that and it is doable. But we will need to do this from a 6-10, proactive, conscious whole person/whole community/whole world mindset which is going to be difficult since most people operate from the 0-5 reactive, unconscious, get rid of the problem mindset which is the norm right now. But as Einstein said, you will not find solutions by using the mindset that created the problem in the first place. Well, we created a consumer economy from a 0-5, every-man-for himself mindset and we will not find our solution there.

It is obvious we are heading into some challenging times. But if we approach that challenge proactively, we'll be able to create something wonderful. If we approach the challenge reactively, we'll let our fears consume us. This is not a time for fear! And if you are using Life Puzzle as a model for creating your daily life--continue to use it as a foundation for creating your life in a post-consumer economy! There's a wonderful adventure ahead of us!

There is quality of life after quantity of stuff

Watching CNN, they were showing a woman discussing a change in her lifestyle due to high gas prices. Driving a huge SUV, it took $64.00 to fill it and it needed to be filled several times a week due to commute schedule etc. The income shift which required more to be allocated for gas, forced her to change her shopping to such a degree that she no longer would take her kids grocery shopping with her because she didn't want to hear them ask for all sorts of things that before she'd say yes to but now she had to say No!

I'm sure we'll see more and more stories around this economic challenge and it will go far beyond one person's shopping habits. We are about to discover just how oil dependent we are. Everything has a drop of oil in it somewhere. Think that a carrot doesn't have oil in it? Think again--it was packaged in a plastic (oil) bag, shipped (oil) to a distribution center, shipped to your store etc. It doesn't take long to see the rise in price of a barrel of oil creates a ripple effect in so many different systems.

But this posting isn't about fear--it's about discovering that we don't have to look at this shift as necessarily a bad thing. It might actually be the best thing that could happen to us. After we get over the shock of realizing that shopping habits will have to change, we might be pleased to discover that "you are not what you own". It is time to discover there is quality of life after quantity of stuff! Get excited about this. The time once spent in massive consumption can now be spent doing things like reading books, exercising, sharing with friends, learning guitar, reading to your children. Being still. Life Puzzle-making! :)