At the weekend, a trashy glossy mag found my hands. There was a picture of a 3 year old celebrity toddler wearing high heels and having a wardrobe worth 2 million. Sorry, I don't recall if it was pound or dollar, and I don't care really because such minute details are beside the point. Thing is, I got fuming furious.
As I do when I see food being thrown into the bin. Not that I'm never guilty, just that I feel so flipping angry when I see people (including myself) doing it.
Excessive spending, excessive richness, excessive waste do my head in. In my world, there is no justification for the super rich. It annoys me unspeakably when people justify the amount of money some people earn, receive, inherit, or spend. To me, there's only so many resources going around and if someone has more than their share, there are people on the other side with less than their share. In the past, this had led to people calling me a communist. In times of the cold war, it was meant as the ultimate insult. But if that's what communism is about, well, fair enough, let me be one. Although I've never been comfortable with any label, political or not.
And yes I too fret over cute outfits and wish I had an excuse to buy them. In my case, there is no NEED to buy anything, yet I still DESIRE to buy stuff for my little girl. It seems in our parental nature. We want more. More. Ever more. Even if we've managed to disengage from buying ever more for ourselves, it all starts over even more viciously with our children. It's a daily struggle to resist the call for more, the desire to spend. I resent it when this competitiveness leads to mindless consumerism and, yes, greed .
At the same time as we can see from international comparison that those countries are more equal and fare better where the differences between the very rich and the very poor are least pronounced, where in fact a social Spirit Levelhas been achieved. Maybe my anger at greed, the very rich, the wastefulness of every day life, consumerism is well founded because all of this seems to be at the bottom of our society's ill.
I've been reading Not New Year blog with fascination over the past year - because of the very simple idea behind it, the attempt not to consume. It is more than an ecological statement. It is paying tribute to the limited nature of all our resources and the inequalities that our consumer society creates, the dependencies which, in the end, is likely to make us all suffer a rude awakening. I admire anyone who can make such a significant statement in their lives and not buy anything new for 6 out of 12 months. And they show us that it's possible, with conviction and real commitment, a commitment of action, not words.
A first step is of course to recognise our greed, our fascination with money and what money can buy us. The next step is to take stock of how much is enough: Do we really and truly need to consume the way we do? How can we consume less and in the process create a just society? Can we create general wealth by going with less (not without)? Is this possible to tweak our system or do we need to rethink it from scratch? Can we replace greed with compassion?
Above all, how can I make a small but significant start in my own life to waste less, buy less, give more to those who need (rather than desire) more? How can I free myself of the desire to have more when really and truly I have enough? Because at the end of the day, my gain is somebody else's loss.