I thought I’d reblog an excerpt of the book I’m currently reading that summarizes best how Americans need to change in order to maintain some level of the environmental ecosystem.
“We need to shift from an ethic of growth to an ethic of sustainability, which will certainly require each one of us to transform our relationship with money and the material world. Transforming our relationship with money and reevaluating our earning and spending activity could put us and the global commons back on track. We need to learn from our past, determine our present reality and create a new, reality-based relationship with money, discarding assumptions and myths that don’t work.”
These myths that the author speaks of is our denial that the status quo of consuming consuming consuming isn’t hurting the environment. We ignore the fact that the resources we consume are finite on earth.
Aside from the environmental detriment, I think it’s a huge myth that is currently being taught in every university to young economic students is that growth is good. What the neoclassical school of thought doesn’t talk about is what happens when people die of lung disease in cities like Beijing from the factory-induced smog, or we don’t have anymore seafood, because we are hunting them for restaurants faster than they regenerate. This capitalist idea of growth is so myopic, it worries me.
On top of that, it’s devastating when Americans go from childhood, being exposed to countless television/online advertisements, to adulthood thinking that the key to happiness is material wealth. It’s a trap that has caught a lot of people I know, and I don’t mean to sound judgmental, but it’s hard to be truly free. Free of debt, or the obligation to keep on going to a job that they don’t like, so that they can keep receiving a paycheck, and maintain their level of spending.
To me, freedom is financial independence. One where you aren’t tied to a life just because you have no other option. That just feels like prison.