April 27, 2009

Lower Your Expectations

Could you be happy with less? Content with a reasonable amount of nutritious food, a warm, dry, secure place to dwell, a small set of clothes, and supportive relationships in your immediate community? Would a simple life be enough?

If developed nations could get a handle on their desires the world would be a better place. We do not need any technological solution to lower our expectations. It costs no money. It saves money and resources. Money and resources that other parts of the world sorely need.

Thousands of children die every day due to not having enough. A fairly recent historical development is that now we also have thousands of people that die as a result of having too much. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, and stress-related illnesses all plague our cushy lifestyles of excess.

A leading causes of teen death in Africa is pregnancy and childbirth. The leading cause of death for North American teens is traffic accidents, while drunk or otherwise. For these teens, suicide is a leading cause of death as well. When we wanted our kids to have better lives than we had, this is not what we had in mind.

Developed nations suffer from a corporate-induced sickness that causes us to always want more. To get more we are driven to move faster, and to make more sacrifices, personally and environmentally.

We want more square feet, more stainless steel, more cars, more toys, more trips to Mexico, more fast food, more clothes, more booze, more, more, more. But the only answer now is to want less. The "more" thing is dead, buried in its own massive pile of putrid refuse.

In my own life lowering my expectations has freed me. I am free to live life at a slow, peaceful pace. I am free to appreciate the simple things in my life. My mind is becoming free of the corporate world's agenda, along with their slick visuals and sound bites. In the wreckage of capitalism all of that has lost its lustre.

More is the buzzword of those who live in a world of infinite resources. Less is the lesson for those of us who don't.

Making do with less in developed nations will allow those in third-world nations to have enough. Today we are constantly told that the only way out of our troubles is to spend more. More credit, more stuff. Never do you hear about more debt, more work, more cardiovascular disease, more stress, more death by too much. Will life with less really wreck our economy?

If the only way to save our economy is by constant spending and growth, and the wrecking of all natural systems life depends on, than let us let it fail. The sooner the better. Let us put the nails in the coffin and inter this burdensome, deadly plague once and for all.

We will experience benefits in all ways as soon as we give up our endless desire and replace it with lowered material expectations. We live in a finite system, and should operate on that truth.

This may be the first generation in North America that would benefit from having less. Our children should not be condemned to die from having too much, just as children in the third world should not be condemned to die from a lack of basic human needs.

Free yourself, heal your planet, help your 4 billion brothers and sisters that struggle to meet basic needs.

Lower your expectations.

April 17, 2009

This Just In - The Rat Race Has Been Cancelled

For longer than I have been alive the pace of life in the west has been ramping up dramatically. "The Rat Race", it came to be known. We have been running faster and faster for fewer returns in terms of personal happiness.

At the same time Big Corp. took over, using enticing messages in the new media of radio and TV to lure us into their trap. Soon we were moving to the city in record numbers, giving up our self-sufficient, simple lives for massively complicated, dependent ones. We all willingly stepped onto the treadmill, and haven't looked back since.

We sold out to Big Corp. We work for them longer and harder than ever before. We buy their stuff, and sacrifice our lives for the privilege . The Rat Race is a pressure cooker of stress as shown by our collective ill health. After 50 or so years of work most of us, if we even live long enough to retire, are too tired and unhealthy to enjoy our freedom.

Surrounded by all our neat stuff, we have become sick and unhappy. At the same time Big Corp. has been paying CEO's thousands of times what the average worker made.

What if we limited ourselves to our fair share of the world's resources? How much would that cost in western countries? Would it let us gain our freedom sooner?

I figure that our fair share (whatever scary, tiny amount that may be) would cost in Canada roughly 8 - 18 thousand dollars per year. How long would the average person have to work to make that much? Assuming a wage of 20 dollars an hour (average for Canadian workers in 2008), it would take approximately 10 to 23 weeks per year to earn the small pile of the earth's resources allocated to you.

You would not have much stuff, but think of all the time off you would have. Think of how uncomplicated your life might be. How much time you would have to reconnect with friends and family. To get healthy. To eat better. To help out in your community. To do things that benefit you and those around you, such as healing the environment.

Besides, when we have passed laws to limit consumption what use will we have for huge amounts of extra money? Conspicuous consumption is on the way out. On a planet where 27 000 children die every day due to preventable diseases, it seems a crime for us to be living the lives of luxury and excess that we do.

Thinking only about "Me, and All My Great Stuff" will soon be as socially unacceptable as smoking in public places is becoming. Think Gandhi and his little box of simple possessions, not Imelda Marcos, the world's best known shoe-collector.

Since The Great Recession began in 2007 the Rat Race Treadmill has been slowing. Our rickety system has been grinding to a halt. My recommendation is that you bail while you can, because everyone is trying to crank it all up again, even though we know that if we continue business as usual we will kill ourselves and everything else on the planet.

We can all become winners once again by abandoning this doomed race and taking back our lives for ourselves, our local community, and the environment.

Jump! jump! jump! before they get this damned treadmill cranked again.