Is your head banging as you wonder how we can move towards an alternative economic system? How stuck we are in the present system, its web entraps us, we assume this is the only way. It really is Maya, the Hindu concept of illusion.
I’m happy but they (the industrialists) tell me I’m dissatisfied and the cure is enjoying the stuff they produce. Their message hits me from every angle and, filled with self doubt, I soon want their stuff. The government, which buoys up their status quo, prints paper, calling it money, so that I can buy what the capitalists produce. And these guys are clever, they keep inventing new ‘stuff’ to satisfy my ever-shortening desire cycle, for each thing they sell me grasps my attention for less time.
This fuels a global industry and everyone, forgetting we were once happy without ’stuff’, says the world is a better place for it. Except that the capitalists get richer and I get poorer for I keep borrowing from them (the government supports them more than me) to buy what makes them rich.
Yet its not all bad. They produce wondrous things that cure my cancer, replace my aching joints, dispel my depression. I live longer, although I’m continually dissatisfied with my lot and am convinced that the burger they produce will fill my heart, even though I vaguely know its production is killing off millions and millions of things in places such as the Amazon jungle.
Big companies entice us, telling us they enhance the quality of our lives, so we slog our guts out to be part of the magical mystery tour of consumerism’s delights. Buying stuff becomes our hit, our purpose. Do away with these temptations and what’s left? A fearful vacuum. We assume this is us, that our lives are empty now. Yet this void exists because our attention has withdrawn from the mindset ‘buy, buy, buy’ and is lingering upon the cliff of uncertainty. Yet beneath us is a landscape of alternative mindsets, but we can’t engage with them because we want consumerism’s painted cakes.
Blink, and see that the effort required to raise the money to buy all that stuff and the ensuing emptiness has drained you. You now look at what once satisfied you (a sunset, a bird?) and see only dullness. That’s how clever the big companies are. They’ve convinced you life without them is no-life!This is what we must change to save ourselves, and this will enable us to save our planet.
There is another way forwards. Change mind-sets. Go on, it’s easier than you think, all you have to do is decide to do it. Look at the mindsets spread beneath the cliff of despair and decide on one of them. Let’s say - deciding to socialise every time the ‘buy-buy, buy’ urge strikes (and it will continue to do so until you rid yourself of it). Going to see a friend, a family member or seeking company down in the pub may sound trite, but it has an insidious influence. Soon you will find an artistic activity or a walk will have greater attraction than the ‘buy’ thing.
“Now look at what’s happened!” you will argue, “Big companies are floundering, the economy is sliding into recession. We need them to pay our taxes. Without them there’d be no modern hospitals, schools, trains, defence forces.”
“Yup, that’s what they tell us, but let’s find another way to live which isn’t ruining the environment.”
“You daft hippie!” I hear you scorn, “that would mean a total collapse of everything we treasure.”
“Not necessarily. It’d shift things to another level. What if we bought locally produced things - food, clothes and….”
“Locally made will be more expensive.”
“Perhaps, but longer lasting, hence cheaper in the long run. We’d be entertaining ourselves naturally, in a low-key manner as has always been done. And we’d be helping to save the planet. That’s what it’s all about.”
“It’ll never happen. We’re all too selfish. And where will those vital taxes comes from?”
“Brighter people than me must work that out. The alternative is disaster. It is a matter of looking ahead, thinking of our children’s and grandchildren’s lives, not simply wanting self-gratification right now.”
OK, this is not a thesis, more a proposition. This blog, I’ve discovered over the years, has many inspired and amazing readers and you, or people you know, are already discussing such issues. Let’s hope somebody out there finds a better way forwards. Hurry though, time is running out. Really.
…. and that leads on to next week’s blog which will be about exciting communities building up in England.