Slaves to our wishes
We face an overwhelming variety of products. Everything we can buy, consume, consume and leave behind. Tragically, this does not make us free – on the contrary, it makes us slaves. Why?
We do not enjoy
We own more and more. We hardly have time to enjoy the things we have bought. We have apartments filled with objects that we rarely or never need.
Creativity is active – consumption is passive
With every thing we acquire, we have created one less thing ourselves. Much of what we buy takes away the opportunity to be creative. A lot of the things we buy we could make ourselves. Maybe we could even invent something useful?
Consumption condemns us to passivity. It deprives us of the possibility of creating things we need ourselves.
Of course not everyone can build their own tray. But do we really need the latest model? We produce everything that is possible – is it really better? Is it important?
Like thirsty people who drink seawater
The aim of production is not to satisfy the consumer. The aim is to create a new need with every product. Like the Hydra from Greek mythology – for every head cut off, two new heads grow back.
This lethargic consumption prevents us from becoming aware of our true needs.
The lost objectives of the Enlightenment
Autonomy and freedom are lost in the consumer performance society. Passive consumers, without goals – there is not even time left to use the products they buy. It is the economy, not the individual, that benefits from consumption.
Growth at any price
Economic growth and consumption are part of our culture. Even if we consciously plan to consume less, we usually do not: it is difficult to establish another in an existing culture.
Even in the Bundestag, the parties are sticking to their key objective of economic growth – including politicians who are committed to the environment. This can also be explained by the fact that numerous consultants from the business world are represented – the lobbyists. There are even more of them in the Bundestag than of the representatives of the people themselves.
So it is not surprising that contradictions are ignored and other concepts are not discussed.
If you think you are too small to make a difference, try to sleep when there is a mosquito in the room. (Dalai Lama)
Is there a way out of consumption without sense and reason?
Obviously a person is able to remain in a situation that is unfavourable to him. Why is that? It seems almost impossible for the individual consumer to counter this cultural guiding principle of our society.
Many people care about the environment, but it does not stop them from consuming in an environmentally harmful way. The habit and cultural environment of capitalism is too strong.
Hope from two sides
A countermovement comes from the consumers themselves. It is the emerging minimalism. Many people have understood that their influence can be quite great when they join a community. The opportunities that these people have today are much greater than, for example, the – albeit successful – anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s. Because today the Internet makes it possible to shape a counter-movement globally.
So it is not surprising that the minimalist movement is on the rise in all western industrial nations. This is mainly driven by bloggers, who give each other tips and hints for implementation.
A movement that brings joy and unites its members becomes a strong movement. I am absolutely convinced that minimalism will gain even more influence.
Another countermovement comes from research with the “Cradle to Cradle” principle, whose “pope” is Professor Braungart.
Here, products are designed in such a way that they never become waste, but instead become a resource themselves at the end of their life cycle. In this process, consumption and waste become something that creates new resources. Abundance through consumption is the motto for such products.
Ideals and responsibility
If you look at the eco-movement today, you will see that it goes round in circles and, apart from numerous admonitions, no longer produces any real ideals or goals.
Most people today have the feeling that they cannot change anything. Consequently, they do not feel motivated to act. Everyone is asked to consider alternatives to our system, which is tantamount to suicide by installments.
The Internet and social media provide the unprecedented opportunity to connect with other people – to exchange ideas and, depending on the wealth of ideas, to develop new concepts themselves.
Automation makes new solutions necessary
The world of work also demands a reorientation of our culture. In the future, many jobs will fall victim to automation. It is important that people redefine themselves and their social orientation.
We invent today the world we live in tomorrow.
In principle simple
Politics, as we have understood, will not provide us with solutions.
Politics is part of the system and therefore cannot develop an alternative. It is therefore not surprising that the climate summits that have been meeting since 2005, for example, have not been successful.
We can achieve more if we start to act and share our experiences. The Internet gives us the tools to change our entire economic system, away from industrial mass production to niches, manufactories and one-offs.
The throwaway society could soon be a thing of the past, because thanks to sites like eBay, Kleiderkreisel, DriveNow, TooGoodToGo, CallaBike and many other sharing concepts, we can now share just about anything and sell it again when we don’t want it anymore.
New lifestyles have to be tried out. We have the possibility to inform ourselves and to found communities of interest.
There are many of us and we have a huge creative potential. We have the power to move things – we are the power.
Let’s go! Together we can do better than we are now. And we will feel liberated.