Inequality and consumption

True Power

Momentum’s a bitch, particularly when it’s taking you in a direction you don’t want to go. So many eventualities can be explained by inertia alone. I think we (Americans) like to believe we’re in control of things, that we’re independent actors on a stage, free to choose, in control of our destiny. And I actually agree. The problem is that we don’t exercise that freedom, that choice. We don’t take responsibility for the control we have.

I suppose that’s a human condition, not just an American one. But regardless, I don’t think it was inevitable, and I certainly don’t think it’s something we can’t change. To do so, though, will require a shift, and not an easy one to make.

Right now, the vast majority of power, income and wealth is controlled by corporate and government leaders. Tiny percentages of the population. It didn’t happen by chance, of course, and this is the important thing to remember. We - the vast majority of people (hundreds of millions of us in the US) - unwittingly gave up our power to those who were intent on having it. In my view, this inequality is rooted in our dependency on consumption. Our need/choice to purchase, as opposed to produce (or, better yet, recognize that we’re fine with what we already have), our every want and need.

Houses, cars, dinner, gadgets, groceries, clothes, toys, computers, makeup…the list is infinite it seems. The only way we’ll begin to regain control is if we reject consumption as the solution to our every need/want/problem. Tough stuff, for sure, because the tiny percentages are strong and loud and determined to keep what they have. And convincing you to consume more and more is their weapon of choice.

But all good things require effort, and this kind of important change - within the context of a great country, a cherished democracy - will only come about if we all begin to accept responsibility for not only our individual well-being, but the collective good as well.

Greed is a powerful force, and it’s an ally to those in power. Participation, fueled by compassion, charity and idealism, will be required to overcome it.

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