Archive for the ‘materialism’ Tag

Water and wealth

The news today says 75% of Americans are depressed, stressed, and angry.  Money bubbles are bursting everywhere and we’re panicking like the sheep we are.  We feel victimized, and are hot to pinpoint the culprit, the thief who caused this horrific injustice. 

Yet modern psychology knows that we are never victims without consenting to it.  We are always in control of our reactions, and while we can’t change others, we can always modify our responses.  Rather than copping the attitude of victims at this point, we could study the situation for ways we’ve perpetuated the crisis and ways we can live and work with greater awareness in the future.

Consider water.  I was reading an article yesterday about the dire lack of potable water in many of the poorest areas of our globe, and it occurred to me that we can profitably compare water and money.

Though most of us pay for the water we use, it’s one of those things that is “too cheap to matter, though not too cheap to meter.”  We take clean and plentiful water for granted.  In Southeast Asia and Africa, though, millions die annually from drinking and bathing in toxic water because the infrastructure to provide decent sanitation is nonexistent.  And theorists claim that the day will come when there is not enough water for our exploded population, when the distribution of water will wield much greater power than that of gasoline today.

So it makes sense to respect water, and to conserve it at every opportunity.  It also makes sense to value the world’s water supply in even greater measure than we value money.  If we persist with this thought only a little further, we begin to see that respect and conservation of natural resources is the true source of lasting wealth.  Wealth, like clean water, should be equally available to all.  But not wealth that’s grounded in money; I’m talking about a new definition of wealth.  We need to leave the wealth of materialism behind and mature into a species that understands wealth as profound appreciation for creation and the natural gifts of the Earth.

In praise of monopolies

Thinking about internet research, and the awesome power of Google, and wondering if competing search engines will hold their own or buckle before this leader’s magnitude.  Will it happen that Google will emerge the single depository of knowledge online?  And what is the difference between a monopoly and a cultural phenomenon?  Private ownership, I suspect, but I also suspect that monopoly on the global scale soon morphs into at least quasi-public ownership because power can’t be sustained on that level without comprehensive responsiveness to demand.

So this thought leads me to Wal-Mart.  Some people love to shop.  Others happily do it when necessary. Still others, like me, abhor the very thought of it and would rather wear rags, eat canned beans, and limp by with broken tools than endure shopping.  Politically incorrect as it may be, the truth is that I would have no problem at all with Wal-Mart becoming the one major resource for all everyday needs.  I like going to one store for everything.  I am bored and frustrated by too much material choice; I’d so much rather just buy what the store offers than spend precious time and thought on the relative merits of this product vs. that.  Big ticket items may be another story, but for the mundane necessities, Wal-Mart is fine by me.

Is this dangerous thinking?  Will the monopolies suck up all the little guy’s opportunities?  Not in the least.  They will force the little guy to articulate a convincing USP, however.  The specialization, quirky character, or lavish service of the small or medium-sized business attracts its clientele – not the convenience of its location or the availability of name-brands it carries. 

Business monopolies cause us to search for deeper meaning, because they take care of superficialities.  When everyday needs are cheap and easily available, we’re freed up to take our individual lives to a higher level.  Google and Wal-Mart provide certain assumptions in my life that liberate my time and allow the possibility of a more enlightened existence.

Should any kind reader take exception to these bold and perhaps foolhardy comments, do tell!