In these modern times of plenty there are indeed many things to be thankful for. Having been continually amazed by both my own and your existence throughout the years of my life- being alive has always seemed to me to be the essential starting point for Thankfulness.
But with the passing of time I see the ways in which modern life has provided an overabundance of material comfort to the point of becoming a detriment to both our individual health and the health of the planet. Never has human life come to us with some of the most basic struggles removed from our daily fare. Gone are the days in which we must learn and live by means of such basic skills as hunting, cooking, growing and storing food for barren times, or weaving fabric for sewing our own clothes, or building shelter- just to name a few.
With many of the basics provided to us through technological advances that remove us from the toil that human survival requires, we live in a world with even more security and abundance than that of royalty several hundred years ago. We in America, or any westernized country, especially know this in our modern age where the very technology that enriches us provides the awareness of how undeveloped countries live. Globally speaking, we Americans are the 1%.
It has also become apparent that we do not have enough resources given our current state of technology to sustain the 1%, let alone for raising the standard of living close to ours in developing countries. So, what are we to do? My guess is that we in the west will not give up our standard of living until we are forced to, however that may come about.
One of the reasons I admire the Austrian school of economics is that the practice of it will discourage credit bubbles which drive over consumption. If America can be said to be suffering from only one thing, that one thing would be the ever increasing rates of consumption. In the last 100 years we have solved so many basic problems of survival and traded them for problems created by our over consumption.
This is true whether it be the consumption of food, drugs or technology. But instead of a devotion to quality of craft or depth of relationship, we have settled for the myth that convenience will save us time and make us happy. This would be true were we to use the time savings for a devotion to a craft or increasing our capacity for relationship. Unfortunately for many of us, it is too easy to lose sight of why we want convenience. Convenience for its own sake becomes a way of life driving us to want everything Bigger, Better, Faster- which in turn increases our consumption.
There are many ways in which we justify our choices, including my favorite- the insistence that we have no choice. In the last few years my husband and I have decided to, as much as is possible, to eat real food. By real food we mean food that is as close to being in its natural state as is possible considering where we live and what resources we have available to us. It is often said that eating real food is more expensive than highly processed convenience foods. If eating real food can make us healthier and happier I would say that it’s priceless. Here is an article by Charles Hugh Smith on the myth of processed food being cheaper than whole foods:
“What it boils down to is convenience, marketing and engineering: processed food and fast-food are engineered to “taste good” (i.e. salty, fatty and sweet), marketing hypes them 24/7 and Americans have been brainwashed to worship convenience above all else.”
Thank you Brian Wilson for the theme song.