(This is a cross post.)
What we are experiencing here in America, and the world over for that matter, is the inevitable collapse of the consumerist culture. For years we have gorged ourselves on the upside of consumerism but now we all must suffer the downside of this system. The consumerism system relies on three things. The first is that the system must be in a constant state of economic expansion. The second is that the planet must have an infinite supply of resources to supply the ever expanding amount of goods needed to support the ever expanding economy. The third is that the people must be trained to live in a state of constant consumption. See The Story of Stuff to learn more about that and watch Money as Debt for an explanation of how the ever expanding wad of credit that fuels the consumerist economy has no real value.
The world has more or less lived on a credit card for decades. This willingness to spend imaginary money has bankrolled the creation of a wide variety of material goods and services which has in turn afforded us all an unprecedented degree of physical comfort. Unfortunately, we do have to eventually pay the credit card bill although there is not enough money in existence to pay off the world’s collective debt. Nor do we have the ability to replace the world’s finite resources which we have already used up. These resources for the most part have been turned into a variety of toxic materials that are now polluting the environment and making it that much harder to grow food and so forth.
It is, however, not the system that is of the most concern about our situation. It is our reaction to our situation that is what is most disturbing. We have overwhelming evidence that our economic system is destroying our planet, yet we continue on while running away from our collective problems. We are all on borrowed time living irresponsibly, making more and more mistakes, to keep from facing the consequences of our original mistakes such as borrowing more money and using up more resources to cover the loans and interest we already cannot pay. We are living way beyond our means and yet instead of facing up to the debt and changing our lifestyle, we create more debt and live even more lavishly. All the while we are inventing ever new addictions and distractions so that we can avoid doing what we know we have to do. The capitalist, consumerist system has always been deeply flawed and was always going to fail eventually. It doesn’t work; it isn’t sustainable. The system is so bad that if it lasted too long the earth would become uninhabitable. Taking good, wholesome natural resources and turning them into toxic garbage is a horrible system and can never be made to work.
Unfortunately, most if not all of the solutions that are being proposed by both the right and the left, by both political parties, by major corporations and by the mainstream media still involve us all living with a consumerist orientation towards life. The solutions seem to be along the line that our system just has to be a little greener, a little smarter, a little better but we can still keep our stuff while our personalities and consumer orientation towards life can remain unchanged. Our stuff just has to be a bit more organic but we don’t have to change at all. Our attachment to the lifestyle, comforts and gadgets that only a consumerist system can produce for us has clouded our vision to the palpable reality that this system does not work and is not appropriate.
This of course makes sense as we have been trained all our lives to operate as relative gluttons. We have been taught through a bombardment of advertisements and interlocking social structures to obtain our self-worth by what we possess and by our standing within our consumerist system. And we are completely dependent on this system to deliver to us all of our goods and services. We are used to the comforts and lifestyle this system has delivered to us all of these years. We are totally dependent on it to provide us work, bring us food, power, clothing and water. Because of our dependence we lack any and all training necessary to live more self-sufficient agrarian type lifestyles and we don’t have communities within which we can effectively barter and trade to obtain what we need. Also we are addicted to a wide variety of stimuli that we can only obtain through our current system. If we all had a more balanced approach to life and we collectivity shunned credit, abuse and the shortcuts necessary to maintain our standard of living then we would have less of the stuff that makes up the center pieces of our lives. So of course we would try desperately to find a way to fix our broken system but we all know that it cannot be fixed. Deep down we know that the system has made us worse as a species and we have to make wholesale changes to ourselves. We have to adjust ourselves so we can live without many of the comforts, addictions and materials that will no longer exist when our system collapses.
We humans have great difficulty changing and the kind of changes that are being demanded of us are in some ways almost impossible. We have to retrain how we think and how we perceive the world. We have to retrain our bodies too in terms of routines, hot water usage, the food we are able to eat, pretty much all of our habits. We have to retrain our goals and what we can expect to get out of the world and our lives. We also and most importantly have to retrain our orientation of looking to the material world alone to make us feel good about ourselves.
For years and years we have focused on our lavish material existence with very little of our attention going inward. As our material world collapses and we are faced with a much harsher and all around more difficult existence, our only choice will be to be nurtured from within. All of us, especially our children, will have to internalize ourselves to a large extent as the pleasures, comforts and overall abundance that has propped us up will be a distant memory. A world of vibrant colors, abundant tastes and fragrances, rich sounds and a host of multi-media distractions may become a gray desert world where even a bland meal will be hard to come by. Therefore people of the future will have to nurture themselves from within. They will have to have a rich inner world where they can escape from the external nightmare of pain, deprivation and suffering. They will have to be internally strong so that they can make their weakened, malnourished bodies do the hard labor it will take to survive. The people of the future will need strong characters and good hearts to endure the mess that we are about to leave them.
We can of course began this process ourselves by starting to internalize our own existences and live more simple and natural lives. Unfortunately a life of dependence on an arrogant system has left our minds and personalities rigid with entitlement and with little experience or training in connecting with our inner resources. In fact our system does everything in its power to dissuade a more internal spiritual existence. We have even externalized God to such an extent that we are trained to believe that to obtain divinity we must first transcend into another plane of existence. The idea that God is already within us is quite foreign and we have little to no ability to make this inner connection.
Adults cannot be counted on to make these internal adjustments but we can prepare and train our children to live a more balanced existence. In fact, it is our duty to do so. Our children will need different training than the training we received. In many cases they will need the opposite training than the training we received. Instead of gorging themselves on the material world, they will need rich inner lives from which they can draw forth their internal wealth. They will need to develop their hidden abilities of connecting inwardly to the divinity that resides within all of us. And they will also need to refocus to see this same divinity within others and within everything for that matter.
Because of these beliefs, my wife and I have over the years initiated some training for our children designed to turn some of their attention inward. Along with a natural based homeschooling program and a homesteading environment, some of their education and training is about connecting with the divinity within. We have developed a spiritually based homeschooling curriculum and written a couple of children’s books for it. We have now set up our own publishing company and have released for the general public our first book entitled My Friend Within. It is a spiritually based picture book for young children.
The book comes with a free 29 page pdf file lesson plan that is designed to help children connect with the divinity that is inside of them. We think that this type of training is essential for all children and we hope that all parents and caretakers will buy this book and do the lesson plan with their children as a start. I think we all can agree that something in our world needs to change and that something is us, is humanity. Children are always the answer when it comes to change so training our children to live in a world that will no longer exist is not only wasteful but irresponsible. Whatever course parents and caretakers now take in educating their charges, they must realistically assess our current state and pray for guidance in leading these children in the right direction. The next few generations will be transitional ones and they will need all the help they can get. That is the least we all can do for them considering we have wasted so many of their resources and left behind for them so much toxic garbage.
I hope that all of you will agree that there is at least a partial chance that our system will collapse in the near future. If the system that we are 100% dependent upon for all of our needs does collapse then we are all in big trouble. It makes sense then to prepare ourselves and, more importantly, to prepare our children for that possibility. Our children don’t need training in how to indulge themselves on the world’s resources as that isn’t exactly difficult. Rather they need training in surviving in a radically changed world. They need a new training. They need to build new skills and a new and improved character. That is where our duty resides as adults - preparing our children for a worst possible situation that has all but become a certainty. Our duty is towards the future.