It’s official – I’m suffering from
affluenza and regular bouts of temporary amnesia. I say this as I find myself
in an ever increasing consumeristic mind-set. The particular strain of
affluenza I have succumbed to is aspirational. I can’t afford full blown
affluence yet and I sometimes forget that I have a lot of good stuff that makes
for a comfortable life. But I want more….more goods, gadgets and toys to come
into my life but, right at this moment, it’s not an option and cannot be for a
long time…..at least until I achieve full solvency and rehabilitate my debt
The easy methods of racking up debt is
a sign of a deep, societal malady. Easy credit means we spend, spend, spend.
Affluenza is a socially transmitted disease and we wouldn’t suffer as
much if we were hermits living in caves. It’s like an air-borne virus and
anyone with a nose for hunting down the best bargains will sooner or later catch
it. It’s only when governments apply austerity measures that we remember to
slow down. Cutting back is a cruel reminder that we have over-consumed and now
have to pay for it.
Economists and psychologists advise
that the rise of materialism leads to greater inequality resulting in
unhappiness. In addition, overwork, stress and anxiety aggravates the
condition until affluenza is like the common cold. My question is…. when has
society ever been equal? I’m far above and far below some of my planet sharers
in terms of income and influence.
Keeping up with the Jones’ is becoming
a thing of the past. Firstly, we don’t really know who lives in our
neighborhood anymore and, whatever they have, we only wonder if it was acquired
by legitimate means. I don’t think we covet our neighbours’ goods since we
don’t have enough time for gossiping at the garden gate. Desperate housewives
are the paragons of affluenza: idle, rich, married and dysfunctional –
that’s the 21st century Mrs Jones and she’s finding that the
neighbours are keeping up nicely – thank you!
Affluence provides opportunities,
freedom and visible signs of economic progress though satisfaction is not part
of the package. We’re still not happy bunnies as we strive for more and we
rarely feel that we have enough. In truth, we probably have a lot more than we need
or want but the affluenza bug weakens the will.
Less is definitely not more if you’ve ever
travelled to impoverished places where vulnerable familiies live in a shack with
poor sanitation, well below the breadline, ekeing out a living on rubbish
dumps. However, you’ll have noticed that their social exchanges are rich. They
care about each other. They share whatever they have and that includes a smile.
They may be down trodden but they are not down hearted. Their life force is
strong as they battle through adversity. Though many will always be victims of
circumstance they believe in God and future prosperity.
We’ve never had to so good and that’s
the main cause of our collective amnesia. We just don’t remember what it’s like
not to have a job, money, enough food, car, insurance, mobile phone, PC or
plain-old fashioned boredom. That’s what you call lucky and I guess we live in
a paradise of sorts.
Affluence provides an elite membership
to the “haves” club. Our forefathers paved the way for a brave new world
of riches and the least we can do is enjoy it. Western civilization has become
a little sick at heart. We want progress but when it comes it feels like millstone
around our necks. We have dual incomes/ cars, multiple cells, homes, condos,
domestic help, foreign travel, eating out, shopping, nail art, tattoos
but there’s a hole inside of us. Within, we’re unfulfilled but for our dream
and desires to be curbed or realised it can take a few lifetimes.
Overthinking is also a sign of excess. We
plan, prepare, prioritise, organize, evaluate, discuss (endlessly) until we hit
burn-out. As we breakdown we get full-blown amnesia and stare at our credit
statement in disbelief when it arrives. We drown in whirlpools of guilt as we
ruminate on those”little things” that have cost us dear.
Insecurity is a constant inner driver
and he /she is a workaholic! Affluence has not provided us with a good night’s
sleep or the ability to enjoy one day at a time. Still, we can’t go backwards
and the only thing ahead of us is the open road.
I’ll take the high road, no matter the
challenges, but I’ll bless the low road so that I can still be humbled by
life’s largesse. For now, I’ll protect myself against the bitter backlash of
affluenza with a large dose of daily gratitude. It’ll take a ton of conscious
effort (and energy) to stop the onslaught of taking-it-for-granteditis but I
know I can do it – atishoo!
Labels: World view