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A Year of Living Positively -Day 33

Further to my commentary posted yesterday on Day 32, I want to talk about the problem of over-consumption. It is tied to the problems of desiring too much, conflict and malaise over wanting too much, and indebtedness and waste from using too much stuff or using it unwisely.

Here is a poem that I wrote and posted on another site on November 15, 2013, just around the time when the idea to do this blog project started to form a bud in my brain. It's about the changing values and standards of affluent societies over time, and the market driven culture that has been developing out of capitalist global market expansion.


In the sixties
Having a philodendron was something you ought
Tear off a stem, place it in a pot
Make sure the room is hotter than not
That's what the housewives all were taught
Make a room a li'l tropical paradise
Show off that your home is especially nice
Let the thing climb to the ceiling and then, splice by splice
A jungle evolves to the greatest of heights
Everything green, the flowers sprang forth
You enjoyed all the fruit shipped way up north
You consumed and consumed and got used to the pleasure
Until you'd work all week long just for weekend leisure
Soon you believed there could be nothing better
You took to worshipping excess to the letter
Fat gave such satisfaction, you confused it with love
Impassioned, you defended it with fist and glove
In fact, you followed the call of the nation
To look to the East for eternal salvation

In the seventies
Your tastes grew even more exotic
Curry, pan pipes and sitars were hypnotic
You wanted more. You craved cloth and beads
Trinkets made of everything from teak to seeds
Companies made the great leap abroad
And vacationers became entranced with the odd
Though the term "success" you met with a shrug
Its effects you soaked up like a seductive drug

In the eighties
The good gravy train hit a pothole 
Some accountants and investors took to the bottle
One black Monday revealed a lot of red
Then employees in the thousands were left for dead
Experts called for a policy shift
While critics claimed welfare adrift
Freidman said he'd save the day
"Just abandon welfare and sweep your trouble away.
Liberate the markets by keeping human rights at bay.
Increase third world debt and make them pay and pay."
Politicians rang a new freedom bell
Recruiting foreign puppets, democracies fell
Teflon Ron and Iron Lady voiced their malarky
And plotted the tyranny of a free trade oligarchy

In the nineties
We woke up and wondered
How charity and education'd been endeavours plundered
Reality hit like a hammer
Suddenly there arose quite a clamour
As young poets crooned to acoustic guitars
Thinkers felt spurned and examined the stars
Rapidly, our anger grew loud
Which They tried to muffle in a tear gas cloud
We learned of a monster called neo-liberal lust
Many youths vowed to see it bust
Shame 'bout sneakers, pop and pollution
Drove many to revive talk of a solution
Vocabulary resurrected includes justice and restraint
Share what's yours and lobby for what ain't
Unfortunately, those words bear double meaning
Media tricksters, experts at gleaning
Found new ways to label, distort and twist
Threats into truth and facts into mist

The new millenium came and brought great fear
Terror prevails and new enemies appear
Explorers lead armies to Islamic lands
To eke what they can out of alien sands
Bombs are exploded to clear the way
And usher in the prominent allies of the day

The pomegranate makes a healthy drink
As popular as ginko, aloe and zinc
Think of all the benefits we reap
While cultures and bodies lay in a heap

(end of poem)

Okay, so that is a bit of a gloomy message. The point is that wanting to much, having unrealistic self-images and goals, fighting over wanting more, spending too much, and so on causes a lot of problems, and the world is at a crisis. Not only would we feel better by seeing the joys and riches in our everyday lives and accepting the ordinary or seemingly banal and being satisfied with the ordinary or banal, it would be good for the health of the planet and human society too. There is no time to waste. The time to start was decades ago, but there is a good chance we can correct the path we’re on and change our course.

Think positively!

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