February 18, 2010

A Few Have Too Much, Many Have Too Little - You Can Help

"There can be no peace as long as there is grinding poverty, social injustice, inequality, oppression, environmental degradation, and as long as the weak and small continue to be trodden by the mighty and powerful."

- 14th Dalai Lama

Some countries have too much money. Some countries don't have enough. Both are detrimental. The current gap between the rich and the poor is a bubble about to pop. How long can the richest 20% of the planet's people consume 76.6% of the world's resources while the poorest 20% consume a meagre 1.5%? This situation spawns poverty, despair, and terrorism.

The good news is that this was an improvement over 1995 when the richest 20% consumed 88% of the world's resources. Some one must pay for the rich lifestyles we live in industrialized, wasteful, consumer-oriented countries. Currently, the poor and the environment are paying our way, but this is likely to change soon. We are reaching several critical points, peak oil and climate change being two. More importantly, people are beginning to hop off the money train after finding it was not all it was cracked up to be.

You may wonder how one could have too much money. Our cultural credo is you can't have too much money, or fame, or thinness, or toys. It is wrong. Witness the Toilet Paper Abundance Syndrome, which I will use to illustrate my point.

When you have a closet full of toilet paper, a TP glut if you will, your tendency will be to use say, 7 to 25 or more squares. But make that the last roll of TP in the house and you will find that 3 to 5 squares may suffice.

When we have too much money we indulge in senseless waste, often as a way to feel and show our wealth. It is an evolutionary thing, so understandable, but now we know better. I would like to think our higher-order brain is in charge, not our emotions and base instincts. No, the conspicuous consumption beast is dead (2008 RIP), and you can help put the final nails in the lid the coffin.

How? By how you live. Waste not, want not. Don't make the environment and the poor pay for your extravagant lifestyle. Consume less. Save money. Share some of it. Use resources carefully - they are precious. Make demands of your politicians, and tell them you want a more equitable, sustainable community, and world.

Civil rights came about because the people demanded it. Universal suffrage happened because the people demanded it. When the people band together to right wrongs amazing things can happen. A better world is evolving, but ongoing improvement must continue to come from the people. We have the power.

A few have too much, and many have too little. You can help. Let us live simple, sustainable lives so that others may live at all. Let us mourn the consumeristic, planet-killing beast and move on. We already know what to do, and we have more than enough money. All we need is the will, and that begins within each one of us.

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