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Monday, November 11, 2013

Extreme focus on materialism

The extreme focus on materialism is having a disastrous effect on the environment and biodiversity, but it is also affecting our communities with lower levels of trust and a general lack of concern of the well-being of others. Something seems to rotten at the core. Our values, at both the collective and personal levels, are maligned with a sustainable future. Greed, conquest, acquisition, power, control are values that not only are prevalent but are also rewarded and valued throughout Western society. These values are reinforced through the media and pop culture with programming that essentially tells us we aren’t good enough, leading to an epidemic of apathy, despair, and depression. This hardened world compels many us to erect walls and barriers to protect our hurt feelings, most of us at a subconscious level.

When 7 billion people are encouraged to take and consume as much as possible (it’s good for the economy, after all) rather than just what one needs, it leads to infinite material demands. When the planet is finite, we have a problem. The question we must ask if we are serious about creating a sustainable society is, “what are the sustainable values that form the foundation of a society that can sustain itself over millions of years?” It obviously cannot be a society that predicates well-being on exponential growth of the economy, natural resource use, and pollution. So just what are sustainable values?

This pillar explores the concept of sustainable values – values such as empathy, compassion, kindness, trust, integrity, transparency, love, gifting, honesty. The one thing sustainable values share in common is their abundance. To be greedy and self-interested generates a mentality of scarcity. It turns everything into a zero sum game. More for you is less for me. But sustainable values are different. If I offer love, it grows. When I empathize with another and they feel the courage to reciprocate, both are better off. Sustainable values embrace Nature’s natural tendency towards abundance.

Inside each of our hearts, there is a knowing of a world the way it is supposed to be. Can we develop the courage, personally and collectively, to dare to live according to the values we know to be true?

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