Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let the games begin!

What do you think about the question?  How does it make you feel?  Have you thought about it before?  "If all I have is all I need then why is all I ever want is more?"  Is it simply human nature that we can't overcome?  Or is our consumptive culture changing...


  1. Great question, I am on a path of simplification. Trying to get rid of what I don't need, find freedom without having to buy it! But still I have this need, this greed, this wanting of more. I am excited to see where this goes.

    But you can't forget Dan Millman's old adage your level of Wealth is = What you Have / What You Want

  2. Our society's measure of wealth in a global sense is based on GDP. This therefore directly influences the need for economies to grow, and growth depends on consumers wanting more. This reminds me of the Brave New World adage, "ending is better than mending", a hypnopaetic message delivered during sleep to children until it became a societal truism. While we don't grow babies in tubes, Huxley's vision of the future is not far off from our reality. It is strongly reflected in the way we manufacture, and get rid of, our goods.

    On the other hand, globalization has remarkably cheapened goods which allow us in the first world to enjoy consumer products for very little money. Maybe that is a good thing? Maybe we shouldn't have a knee-jerk reaction to globalization. For example, when Wal-Mart began selling organic fruits and vegetables in 2004 people had a backlash, simply refusing to buy Wal-Mart Organics. Why? Well, maybe b/c some of these environmental movements are really elitist activities in disguise, after all wider distribution of organic food sounds like a great idea! I don't think it was a coincidence that around the same time the local foods movement began to gain speed. But I Julien Simon might argue, it is the pursuit of individual wealth and consumer neediness that creates the economic engines which ultimately result in better ways of doing things. After all, pollution-mitigating technology is not cheap and a return to the pre-industrial age is simply naive.

    The problem, and the Bruntland Commission realised this in the 1980's, prompting the lingo and culture of '3-tiered sustainability', is that the pursuit of first world lifestyle by enormous third world countries is unsustainable environmentally. We simply don't have enough resources if every kid in China "needs" an iPod. Which brings us to another question, if we have developed and packaged the ideal North American dream as one worth pursuing by other nations, should we as North Americans bear the brunt of costs when it comes to global warming, etc? This is globalization in another context, that of shared-globe responsibility. As we know too well, pollutants don't respect borders.

  3. The GDP lets us down, we need to be uplifted, we need to start measuring with the HPI (Happy Planet Index). The measure we rate out growth and progress strives for us to want more stuff, this is another fundamental flaw in the system.

  4. I would like to point out that a musician's lyrics initially lit the spark for this discussion. Canadian songwriter Danny Michel is now listed under David Suzuki's playlist for the planet.

    In past centuries we might have looked to religious leaders and philosphers to inspire such reflective debates, while today we simply need to browse itunes for an endless supply of lyrically delivered theories and ideas.

    In Jack Johnson's popular song, Gone Going, the lyrics question our insatiable need to consume.

    "Cars and phones and diamond rings,
    Bling, bling, because those are only removable things.
    And what about your mind? Does it shine?
    Are there things that concern you, more than your time?"

    Like Danny Michel, this artist uses music and culture to reach an audience beyond the Church and classroom.

    While I am a huge fan of Happy Planet Index and of similar ideas posed in Mark Anielski's book, "The Economics of Happiness", I feel these ideas could best be spread through song, television and popular media.

    When our society becomes more excited about J-Lo carrying her Grandma's vintage purse over her new Louis Vitton bag, we'll know a BIG change has occured in our need to want and our desire to have.

    The first step to change....asking questions. I love this blog, thanks Curtis!

  5. I love the comments, everyone who has been sending me facebook and email and personal comment please join the discussion!

    Vanessa - thank you for using song, I will be coming back to lyrics and video again and again!!

  6. This just in!

    I asked my good friend what he'd like for his brithday and his reply was, "I have all I need". Brilliant.

  7. Two thoughts on that Vanessa, I just asked a close friend who recently had a birthday and she said Trust, she wanted to trust herself more.

    She asked me and I said "D'amour Et D'eau Fraiche", Love and Fresh Water or Love and Fresh Air!!