To post in our Book Club, please log in or sign up for an account here.

Author Message

Wendy Brown

I think the biggest obstacle to change that we will be facing in the future is the belief that our personal value comes from our earning potential. The idea that those with money are better people is pervasive in this country and is sadly obvious when one looks at how we treat the "less" privileged.

A video I watched some time ago pointed out several unfortunate truths. The first had to do with how our culture is too similar to games like Monopoly, where the goal is simply to acquire more and more and more, and the person who has it all at the end, wins (the game of "Life" is the same way with the winner being the one who has the most money at the end). The other point the video made was a lack of money creates a psychosocial stress, and it's not about "being poor", it's about "feeling poor", and in this country we'll have people who should be financially secure, but because they can't afford all of their little wants feel deprived.

The question is, how do we shift from a culture of "more" to a culture of "enough"?

Friday 10 June 2011 06:06:36 pm

EJ Hurst

Have you ever played the "Smartie Game"? At the start, the objective is stated very clearly that objective is for everyone is to have one of each colour smartie by the end of the game. But then, the conversation moves on and somehow, no one ever remembers that. I think a timed element is introduced where each person only gets so much time at the smartie plate. At any rate, no matter the group, it seems to work out that each person grabs as much as they can in their allotted time. This is a great introduction to a discussion about greed and motivation!

Monday 13 June 2011 03:15:03 pm

John Michael Greer

Wendy, that's a useful point. I don't know that any human culture has ever managed to do without some way for people to compete for status, but a great many human cultures have managed just fine without making status dependent on how much stuff you heap up. I'm thinking here particularly of the very wide range of cultures in which the key to status is generosity, and keeping up with the Joneses is a matter of giving away at least as much as they do.

How much of our current dysfunctional attitude toward heaping up wealth and the abstract symbols of wealth is simply a product of an age of extravagant energy supplies, and how much of it has other roots, is an interesting question. Still, I'd like to suggest that the only way to make change is to start where the rubber meets the road in our own everyday lives. By choosing to live with less and enjoy it, any one of us can undercut the assumption that more is always better!

Wednesday 15 June 2011 07:52:39 pm

Chuck Dorcey

I think many people find satisfaction not so much in wealth, but in a sense of having control. For some, that means having the power (wealth) to buy what they want, when they want it. For others, it means having free time to do what they want, when they want to. And for others, it means limiting their wants, having the discipline to live on much less money than they earn, and donating time and/or money generously to organizations which do things that they cannot do themselves. The first of these three choices is the one most commonly encouraged in the commercial market, so the first step to better choices is to Kill Your TV.

Thursday 21 July 2011 05:57:12 pm

John Michael Greer

Chuck, agreed! I haven't owned a TV in my adult life, and when people ask me how I find time to do all the things I do...well, you know the answer as well as I do. blunk

Friday 22 July 2011 11:08:06 am