'Buy Nothing Day' .
The idea of going twenty four hours without a purchase challenges us in the same way we might challenge a favourite uncle to give up smoking for the day. Who knows if he will eventually give up or cut down but at least this day can give him and us an opportunity to pause and reflect on our relative addictions. The whole notion also allows us to go further in our ideas of what is possible.
The other day, I was wringing my hands with frustration about climate change, when my occasional spiritual advisor, Sir Real, chipped in with, "It's easy to solve global warming, just stay at home." At first sight this might seem facetious and simplistic and our initial reaction might be... But wait! Hang on a minute... What was your initial reaction?
One reaction might be to justify our economic model or to worry where the next pay cheque would come from. Putting aside these concerns for a moment, let's just imagine what would happen if we did stay at home, not for a day, but forever. (I'm assuming that by 'stay at home', he didn't mean 'don't go out or a walk', or 'next door for a chat', but that he meant 'don't go to work').
First things first, our greenhouse gas emissions would plummet - hooray! -and secondly, I'd get to spend some more time with the kids, I could finish that thing that never got finished, sing some songs, practice some guitar, plant some roses...who knows, I might even have the chance to mull the meaning and purpose of life on Earth...
Back to 'reality'. Do I hear some clever dick mention essential services? Yes, I suppose that's right; we do need doctors and food and stuff like that, but do we really need everything that we have today? Does it come as a package deal, or can we pick and chose? Can we draw a line? If so where? Let's have a go.
So, 'let's all stay at home' is an interesting notion, but who in their right mind would vote for being made 'redundant' ?(what a horrible word). Nobody. In today's social and politcal climate it would be as unthinkable as asking people to starve themselves to death. Hang on a minute...Would it be like asking them to commit suicide? Why? Is it because we, as a society, no longer have the will to look out for one another? Because we'd rather be 'rich' and fritter our money on comforts and conveniences, or silly status symbols, than be kind and look after our fellow planetary citizens? I don't mean putting a couple of coins in the tramp's hat, I mean, let's vote for more taxes and more social welfare. But , Oh dear, won't that mean we won't have so much money and won't that make us sad? Hold that thought.
Let's poke some holes in our 'conventional wisdom' and let some light in. Why shouldn't we encourage people to become unemployed? What's wrong with not having a job? Does being unemployed mean that one can no longer be a useful member of society? Can we not find a way to look after the unemployed so that folks can turn down the job at the oilfield / mine / sawmill / office / hair salon / brothel / whatever, and not be stigmatised, starve or lose their homes? Isn't any non-vocational job just a waste of a life anyway?
How about we remodel both our society and our economy so every one can have whatever non-destructive occupation they want and get paid for it? Is that bonkers? It seems to me that at the moment the majority of humans get the basic necessities of life, if you evened things up and cut out out the silly non-essential commodities, we could all be adequately comfortable, we just need a better way of sharing it around that isn't based on how much money we earn.
Back to 'essential' and a note about 'being poor' and 'being sad'. Think about how much infrastucture, carbon-intensive infrastructure, exists to keep people at work, making things we don't even really need. Humans have spent the largest part of their time on Earth without flat screen TVs, mobile phones, expresso machines, hair dryers, cars, etc., etc., Saying these things are essential is silly.
Have a look at the various happiness indices that are knocking around on the web. It's not the industrialised 'haves' that feel the most happy...
I suppose what I'm trying to say, before this rant fizzles out, is that as long as we take no action, climate change will come and wreck our planet and our way of life. When that happens, it will be very hard to have any form of society at all. If we can remodel our society now, we can spare ourselves the worst of climate change and be happier to boot.
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