“It’s easier to learn to do without some of the things that money can buy than to earn the money to buy them.” ~ Dolly Freed
It isn’t that we buy stuff. Or that that there’s stuff to buy.
No the answer is both simple and complex, though the question is being asked more and more since the protests such as those outside Wall Street and St Paul’s continue to rise and fall in the media spotlight.
We recognise the legitimacy of this process, however to the average person in the street can still seem like a pointless thing; both the protest and what people are protesting about. It’s all very well to say capitalism and consumerism is wrong, but where did that tent come from? Where did your food or sleeping bag come from? They can’t see a way of replacing the current financial system and still have the lifestyle they are accustomed to.
And that’s the root of the problem. Lifestyles.
People no longer want to think for themselves. People no longer want to learn new skills. The Renaissance man is dead. It has become easier to buy a product to solve a problem than it is to learn to solve the problem outright. For example rather than have a set of rods to clean a drain just buy drain unblocker, rather than walk or bike to work buy a car and then pay someone to fix it.
And so we end up with house’s full of stuff we don’t need and then we complain we no longer have room and so buy a bigger house to fill with more stuff. And end up deeper in debt. Debt is indeed, as Jack Spirko says, a cancer.
So learn to do more with less. Learn to cook, concentrating more on techniques rather than recipes. Move to a smaller house closer to work and walk or bike there. Or, and this isn’t easy these days, move your job closer to home. Commit to learning a new skill each month. As a bush-crafter and martial artist I can assure you this technique works. Each year the boss over in Japan sets a theme for the year, in bush-craft terms I set my self a goal to learn a new plant each month, learn a new weaving pattern or use one plant only, till all its uses have been explored.
This month now the nights are drawing in I’m learning to knit (might not fit with everyone’s image of a martial artist, but I for one would rather be warm and active than macho and hypothermic).
So that’s the answer to consumerism. Learn to do more with less, learn to improvise. And whilst it might cost more to learn to sew than going to Primark, in the long run it does work out cheaper once you have a stock of material.
Learn the value of time. Learn the value of the Renaissance man.
Let’s see if we can bring him back from the dead.