I open the morning paper. The lift out is always more frivolous and entertaining than the main broadsheet. I flick through it nonchalantly waiting for my tea to cool. Every page is related to food or fashion. Gourmet or haute couture. Every page. Excess everywhere. I sit discontent. It seems so worthless and narrow-minded. All of a sudden none of it makes sense. Is all this necessary? Does it matter if you can find 50 different ways to cook your tired old t-bone and then give it a fancy name? Does one really need to wear 10 labels per outfit to be accepted by society?I think of Socrates’ word, “Thou shouldst eat to live not live to eat”. What has happened to us? Why do we crave this materialism?
Australia is a truly blessed country and I am blessed to be one of her citizens. She has always protected me, given me immeasurable freedom and opportunities beyond counting. I can’t help thinking as I thumb through the pages in front of me how we may have started to take this for granted. Many people seem happier to have things than to do things; to accumulate goods rather than to partake in life. What’s wrong with just a few good clothes? And isn’t a frugal diet more beneficial to one’s health and to the world as a whole? Global land shortage is no longer just an idea, but rather a fast fact.
People can now obtain goods from anywhere in the world with just the click of a mouse whilst sitting at home in their comfy designer armchair (whilst probably feasting on their five course meal!) “Just pop it on credit. Besides, it’s cheaper online”, is their catch phrase. Is that before or after they pay for postage and the 23% interest they’re accruing on that card? Credit seems to be one of the biggest offenders in the case of what I can only call our demise into craziness. Pay for it tomorrow. Or tomorrow. Or even tomorrow. Well someone has to pay for it somewhere and it would seem, at least to me, that we are already beginning to do this, just looking at the state of the global economy and financial systems. Isn’t it all this credit that has created this problem?
“Oh no! It’s them! They have caused it!” Always the other person. But all I see when I hear this is a three fingered indictment. You point the finger at someone else and there’s three fingers pointing back at you. We have a part to play whether directly as an individual or indirectly as a member of society.
But I mean who wouldn’t want this, right? Life is a blast revelling on Easy St. It must be the way forward. If not, why would every poor country on earth want to emulate us? And don’t be fooled. Even those countries who dislike the old US of A really want to be like it. Just ask that small child whose country is fighting against the superpower. Quietly, on his own, he’ll tell you his real dreams. And those dreams are to be like us in developed countries. Then the problem arises that for this to happen, those poorer nations must play catch up. Reach our standard of living in double time. That’s twice the destruction in half the time. And are we really better off in developed countries? No doubt in some ares we are. It would be foolish and dim minded to think otherwise. Good healthcare, no fear of having our limbs blown off by bombs or land mines or threat of kidnapping by some neighbouring despot who either wants to get his kicks or your connections’ money.
But take a close look. We all wake up together. All travel to the city on the same train together. All work at the same desks in front of the same computer screens. We all go to lunch together at the same take-outs whilst talking to each other on the same mobile phones. Then we all go to back to work together just to finish and catch the same train back home to go to bed and wake up, doing it all again. Isn’t it all a bit robotic? Where are the individual thought processes? Do we actually have any? Has conditioning seen all final traces of creativity snuffed out of us?
We have so many possibilities and opportunities open to us today. A chance to live our own story. A story very unique to us. It is a good thing to be inspired, but don’t forget to be inspiring yourself. We each have a unique gift to offer, as unique as our own fingerprints. I sense that there needs to be more stepping away from lattes and more contribution. I feel, we as a whole have become lazy and slothful, wasting our opportunities to be meaningful members of the planet. Don’t get me wrong, relaxation is good and necessary. Mindless craziness isn’t. Instead of buying that fifth pair of sunglasses, perhaps it would be better to work on ourselves to become more enlightened or find a way to help our neighbour out of a rut.
I have been to many countries, some very poor. Here I would see people who wanted desperately to change and better themselves but didn’t have the opportunities. I now find myself amongst people who have every opportunity but no will. It is easier for them just to numb themselves in front of uninspiring television. It makes me sad.
How can we rectify the balance? How can we use ourselves better? The answers are in all of us. Maybe we need to spend less time at the shopping mall and step into our own consciousness. We might be pleasantly surprised.