We live in what could be called a “post-modern consumer” culture. All day, every day, we consume. As we change our surroundings from moment to moment we are constantly flooded with the opportunity to consume, whether it is food and drink, fabric, plastic, entertainment, intellectual material, or opinions, to name a general few. This influx is a never-ending chain of events systematically created to give us the sense of meaning and fulfillment in our daily lives.
The problem, as we see it, is that none of these consumable products actually gives us that meaning or grounded sense of beauty and awe in a world so full of that and much more. To find real meaning in our lives, we must a take a vastly different approach, one that does not require paper or plastic money.
If we are to truly build a new world, where all have the means to life (food, clothing, shelter), something must shift in our daily routines. We have been stuck with the same consumer culture since the end of feudalism in Europe simply because we were sold the idea that freedom to BE and freedom to buy were synonymous notions. We have all heard that money cannot buy happiness, but from the looks of it, many of us do not actually believe this well-worn wisdom. We still value riches, wealth, flashy consumer products such as cars, clothes, fine dining, jewelry, houses, and most of all, lifestyle. We clamor for the latest in celebrity news not because we love, but because we loathe those who have what we cannot seem to find. This cycle is full of ups and downs that are based not on what can be given to the world by the individual, but what is or isn’t received constantly in every moment of every day.
These distractions cannot bind us unless we willingly oblige. As individual bodies and minds, part of a larger human race (or collective), we hold the keys to our own “enlightenment” or “freedom.” When we choose to observe our desire to spend, and subsequently consume, we can alter the framework of an only seemingly physical reality. If collectively we can come together and choose to place importance on self-love, silence, reflection and compassion, we shift the matter which constitutes the physical world. This means less activities which require money for participation, more time for communion with friends and former strangers. We will celebrate more often and for no reason other than celebrating life. Work will not be a necessity but a willing obligation that allows you to take part in the building of a new world full of Peace, Harmony, Equality and so much more.
The highest aspect of reevaluating our consumption habits is the space we create for the suffering of the world. We can heal the planet simply by spending less money. We can bridge the gap between the rich and poor, the glamorous and the displaced. We have seen so clearly these past hundred years, that for a consumer culture to exist, the planet must be raped of its resources while people in neighboring cities and countries foot the bill for our mindless waste.
Be not discouraged. The change must start in each one of us. If we choose not to look at our own thoughts and patterns of behavior, we allow ourselves to be led like sheep to the slaughter. If we accept our part in this collective masterpiece and work each day, never falling into self-doubt, we will create a paradise on Earth.