When enough isn’t enough

Juliet Schor in her book “The Overspent American” talks about the current American culture being one of over consumption. She makes her case by providing evidence that the “average American now finds it harder to acheive a satisfying standard of living than 25 years ago.” She points out that despite the fact that we are working harder and for longer hours, making more money and buying more stuff, we aren’t satisfied with what we are spending it on. She also argues that consumption in this country is social, we are trying to keep up with other people or we simply buy things because it is the thing to do. A country as rich as ours shouldn’t be looking to get more money, instead we should be spending time figuring out how to spend it more wisely. Of course this is made infinitely more difficult because billions of dollars are spent every year to convince us to spend money on what we don’t need. Schor’s book came out in 1999 so things are probably worse now than they were with her research.

It can clearly be seen in the economic mess that we are in. It wasn’t that people didn’t know that something like this was bound to happen. Instead, we were all content on trying to accumulate more and more stuff with every single extra dime we made. You might think that you are immune to this because you didn’t lose your house and could afford to pay for it, but just consider just how much debt you are in. Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt and for what? A bigger car with speed and power that we don’t need? A house that is bigger than what we actually use? How many countries around the world actually have a full fledged storage business? Think about that for a second. We have so much stuff, that we actually have to pay someone else to store it for us.

I am not going to keep harping on all our excesses. Smarter and much wiser people than me have written about that ad nauseum. My focus is on the what now? Is this something we can’t fix because it is too much a part of our system? Is it just the curse of capitalism? I don’t think so. I think we can take back our wallets and fight this extreme consumerism. The first step would be changing our priorities. We need to get away from trying to find self worth from what we buy. We need to stop trying to keep up with other people and focus more on what we need. It doesn’t make sense to me for a father to pull 60 hours a week working just so he can afford a huge house when he can cut those hours in half and spend more time with his family. We should put our money into things that matter like our schools etc., instead of buying that new car. Or maybe I am just in denial.

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5 Comments to “When enough isn’t enough”

  1. No, my friend, you are not in denial – the greed of man is instinctive in nature; and unless we are aware, we will destroy ourselves. Even the first story in the Bible speaks of how paridise was not enough for Adam and Eve. . . they had to have more. Stay aware my brother; else face self destruction. I will too. Thanks for the beauifully written reminder! Peace, Light and Love to you and yours. . . . CordieB.

  2. Thanks CordieB,
    I just felt that it was the right time to talk about something like this. I’ll keep reminding myself also so I don’t get too caught up.

  3. “the greed of man is instinctive in nature”?

    I do not agree with this premise.
    The story in the Garden is about choices.
    Where they lead.
    Reversing direction is as simple as making
    a choice.

    Each day we have the choice to
    say No to temptations that we know
    will destroy us.

    Each day we have the choice to
    start anew and say Yes
    to all that is good and beneficial
    to the Earth and the Future Generations.

    “All we like sheep have gone astray”
    indicates the sacrifice of free will
    of free choice.

    We are where we are in excessive consumerism
    because of choices we made and continue to
    make.

    Now, it is not easy, we say, to go against the fake flow,
    to sacrifice “fortune”, “fame”, “desirability”,
    the lures of Mammon.

    Yet, it is as easy as making the right choice
    in the moment.

    If I had not made a different choice in the big
    things, the Direction of my life, at a certain point
    I could not make this pungent statement
    of personal responsibility for how my world
    turns out.

    It is my choice: the Culture of Death or
    The Culture of Life.

    I choose to live responsibly and well.
    I choose to do the right thing today.
    I choose to live with no credit, no properties,
    no piles of funny money. Just enough, plus a little sometimes, to live.
    I choose to live as if something else matters more than money..
    I choose to test the promise that if I do the right thing
    “all these things will be added unto me.”

    I could not talk about this if I were not 64
    and thankful I made that choice 30 years ago or more.

    thank you for stirring my thoughts, brothers.

    Live in The Love.

    –bgfour

  4. @bgphour. Very well said my friend. So simple. . . yet so true. It’s all about choices. I often wonder why some choose love, while others choose distruction.

    Peace, Light and Love to you and yours. . .

  5. @ bgphour. Always enlightening to hear from you my friend. I will argue that we do have something in us that does strive for more. Thats why we are more receptive to certain messages than others. Maybe I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it is instinctive but there is definitely something that causes people to gravitate towards choices that are greedy.

    @cordieb. The problem is that not enough people love and more people choose destruction. Stay well.

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