I re-read my last post and to me it really felt like I was so stressed and anxious about the future. And, I am in some ways...but, in others I am not. There is a part of me that actually feels that a recession that makes the majority of consumers in our culture re-examine the important things in life is a good thing. What makes me the most angry about the whole thing are the economist who are so unattached to 'normal' life that they can go on and on about how things are not that bad.
I pulled back out my copy of Crunchy Cons, by Rod Dreher, for a little bedtime reading last night. And, again I came across a passage I had underlined in an earlier reading that just makes so much sense:
"The tragic flaw of Western economics is that it is based on exploiting and encouraging greed and envy. Schumacher gave the devil his due, though, admitting that these "are not accidental features, but the very cause of its expansionist success." Why a tragic flaw? Because an economy grown from these poisonous seeds is bound to destroy the community of which it is a part.
Our liberty and prosperity have made us feeble, because the things we've forgotten to conserve in the rush to riches were the very virtues necessary to build a stable society. Does anyone really believe that we can grow our way out of our problem? Is another tax cut, gimmicky educational scheme, or entitlement reform - or whatever glorious program the Republican Party promises will call down the New Jerusalem - going to save marriages, restore children to their parents, heal the land, renew the commonweal? Come on."
If people could really see beyond the media and government cover-up of what is going on in our economy. If people (and I am using a very broad sense of people here as I do know there are those who get it) could accept that our culture is sitting at a crossroads and we need to decide which path we are going to tread. Then I believe that our culture and economy and people (worldwide) could come through with so much more. In the late '70s, during the last energy crisis, President Jimmy Carter stood up and basically told the nation that WE needed to take responsibility and change our ways. Unfortunately, that wasn't what the nation wanted to hear then and I am guessing that there are people who don't want to acknowledge that it is up to us. Not the Government, not the United Nations and really not even big business.
Other people in the world march and demand changes on so much less. They are willing to stand up against the threat of death for what they believe. And, by and large, our countrymen and women won't even vote with their wallet. Instead, we shrug our shoulders and believe we can't do anything about it.
I chose not to work. I could probably walk out the door today and find a full-time job doubling our income. But with that comes a lot of other expenses and a loss of our family unity. So instead I work at finding how I can affect changes and save money within our household. The gas prices have gone up obscenely. Since I can't make the oil producers and refineries change their prices I have to look in other ways to save. I only drive three days a week if I can help it and combine errands while I am already out for activities, this is hard because we live in suburbia with non-existent public transportation and limited sidewalks. We've started getting exercise walking to the grocery store, dollar store, and library (each about a mile each way). I've scouted out a new dentist I want to try that is also in walking distance. These walks have been wonderfully refreshing and a great joy with the children. It stops being about the errand we are running, but more about the journey to get there.
I could go hog wild with Christmas and birthdays. But, I like the challenge of only giving the children a few things. Instead I am looking for tradition/activity ideas to give them instead. Memories to hang on to. And, I am not a 'holiday' person so this is hard for me. But I feel that it is more important than any sort of singing Elmo I could buy.
Not working, limited driving and avoiding consumerism are financial considerations, but the results of doing them really take us back to the center of life. Imagine if only 50% of our population jumped off the hamster wheel of 'life' to explore other options.