I won't blether on about the environment, global warming, or war: we all know about these things, and we all know they're bad (and certainly not just hype as many extreme conservatives still vainly would have us believe). What truly is at the heart of our problems is our desire for constant growth. It stems from our religious beliefs and has been indoctrinated into us by every facit of our world since before the industrial revolution. We're expected to greedy heartless consumers that are doing our part for the nation's economy by purchasing ever more new and wonderful things to somehow make us happier, even if it's just for a few minutes.
Have any of you purchased a new car? I've done so once, many years ago. It was exciting for the minutes leading up to signing the deal, nerve wracking really. Then as soon as the ink was on the contract my heart dropped. Suddenly I was out thousands and thousands of dollars and all I had to show for it was a little imported hatchback. Hey I liked that car, but other than being a very useful tool, and it was, I never got excessive pleasure from it. It was a Suzuki Forsa, a 3 cylinder turbo charged 70 HP hatchback that got 56-60 miles to the gallon in 1988. (Thank you Oil industry for pressuring the car manufacturers of the world to decrease their fuel economy so that you could sustain your record profits for another nineteen years - greedy bastards... the SUV, unbelievable they pulled that one off!) Anyway I said I wasn't going to moan about the environment and I'll try not to. My point is simple really: the old adage that money can't buy you happiness is in fact true.
We have the perverse notion that the only way we can sustain our happiness is if we continue to grow. When Isabelle owned the Block clothing store the banks would look at their numbers, which would show profits year after year, but then state they hadn't achieved a significant enough profit margin... What? The store was profitable. As in it made more money than it spent. They employed several girls, all of whom payed their rents and bills with that income. The clothing was purchased by people who then wore it to their work and felt good about themselves for looking nice (I know that comes close to contradicting my previous paragraph but let's let it go for now). But somehow that's not good enough. You're expected to show an increase in profits every year. Why? An economist might be better able to answer that than I but let's take the old refrain: to match the inflation rate. Why is there inflation, because everyone is trying to increase their profit margins, year after year - a very basic interpretation that my brother would scold me for but really at the heart of it, it's true.
So we must always grow. More things, more money, more profits... more people... ulp. In 1950 there were 2.6 billion people on the planet. And that's after TWO world wars to lower the numbers significantly. 2.6 people. In 2007 I just read we are well above 6.6 billion! What the hell? It took us 40 000 years to build our tribes up to 2.6 and only 50 years to reach 6.6 Billion? Holy shit! But look at the earliest verses of the bible and you'll find the words "Go forth and multiply." Well we sure did. Great, now what? Keep going? Try for 12 Billion? Or are we only supposed to have one tribe grow and the rest are to be our slaves? And I ain't neccessarily talking about white folks neither. Growth. Dangerous.
We are taught to grow our economies, grow our population, grow more food, build more factories, more more more. When does it end?
How about instead of growth and averice, we shift our concepts towards fulfillment. Why not look at what it is in our lives that makes us happy and attempt to increase that? In other words instead of modeling our culture on consumerism, we try to be model citizens. Instead of working to buy a new humongous television, we work towards building a better communitee? Seek the things in life that actually give you joy. Is it dancing, writing, swimming, singing, painting, building houses, designing bridges, cooking, reading, conversing, teaching, learning, traveling, running a restaurant, DJing, acting, directing, healing, helping others, restoring, gardening? You get the idea. It means a monumental shift in our thinking and a complete restruturing away from the current economic model. It is a very disruptive way to reason if you're in favour of the status quo. As I jested in the intro this is a highly controversial topic, but look where the current system has left us? We live in fear of our neighbors, consider the outside world in all but the smallest of our cities to be dangerous, are suspicious of outsiders, and have our lives held in the ledgers of the banks that lend us credit to eek out an existance. A new television is manditory in this world, otherwise how will you recieve your daily dosage of despair?
Greed is tedious, it's predictable and negative. Peace isn't, but it is challenging. Most of us don't know what to do with our lives and having an enemy that's larger than ourselves to rally against is easy. It's also a simple way to control a civilization. Fear. Finding something to do with our lives is the greatest challenge of living in a peaceful world. Not everyone can do it. There are those of our society that are warriors - and not all of them play hockey! And while it all sounds very utopian and idealistic, it isn't as insane as those with all the money would have you believe. It would require a new currency though, and while I may be writing this I won't pretend to have the entire concept to give to you. Perhaps someone out there can reason their way through this mess and come up with a rational working model for us to adopt. I'll leave that to people with more smarts and vision than I have. After all, I'm just a musician, I write songs and perform them for people: but it makes them happy, and that gives me fulfillment.
Peace is challenging. Personal fulfillment is part of the equation. Love. Life.
Thanks for taking the time. Happy Sunday to you all.