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Values and goals: Can we intervene to reduce materialism?

Values and goals: Can we intervene to reduce materialism?

In order to live well within the earth’s limits we need to prioritise ways of living that enable us to have more fun with less stuff. This will inevitably require an end to the pursuit of ever more material possessions as a means of acquiring ‘the good life’. Given the fact that people who prioritise materialistic pursuits are consistently found to have lower wellbeing and higher ecological footprints, our research asked whether it is possible to intervene to reduce materialism?

CC.0 :: NeONBRAND Digital Marketing / Unsplash

Materialism can be conceived of as a value-orientation and a goal-orientation. Our values are our beliefs about what is important and what makes a good life. They act as guiding principles that influence our choices in all aspects of our lives. Someone with materialistic values might believe that the possessions they own are an important symbol of success and that life is better the more you can afford to buy. Materialism can also be conceived of as a goal-orientation. Whereas values can be relatively unconscious beliefs that guide our choices and behaviours, goals are more intentional. Goals involve setting a chosen direction for specific aspects of our lives and practical plans to achieve them. Having goals to strive for and making progress towards them is very important for our sense of wellbeing. They give us a sense of purpose and a reason for being, adding structure and meaning to our daily lives. But not all goals lead to better wellbeing. The achievement of materialistic goals tends to lead to a temporary, short lived boost in happiness that offers no real nourishment to long term wellbeing. Individuals who consistently prioritise materialistic goals are therefore more likely to display indicators of psychological ill-being such as loneliness, eating disorders, depression and anxiety.

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Spirits in the Material World


Image result for spirits in the material world

There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution 

The Police – Spirits in the Material World

As I was driving home from work last week, an almost forty-year-old song began emanating from my radio. I’ve always appreciated the music of The Police, but was never a huge fan. Spirits in the Material World was a relatively minor hit from their 1981 Ghost in the Machine multi-platinum album. I’ve probably heard it hundreds of times over the last four decades, but the lyrics struck me as particularly apropos at the end of a week where lunatic left-wing politicians staged a battle royale of ineptitude, invective, and idiotic solutions, in front of a perplexed public in a Vegas casino. Sting wrote the lyrics to this song in 1981 at the outset of the Reagan presidency. It is less than 3 minutes in length, but says much about humanity and the world we inhabit.

The interpretation of Sting’s (Gordon Sumner) lyrics depends upon your position in the generational kaleidoscope of history. As a boomer, Sting came of age during the 1960s and 70s. He was thirty years old in 1981 as the Second Turning (Awakening) was winding down and Reagan’s Morning in America was about to launch the Third Turning (Unraveling) in 1984.

His passionate idealism and search for spiritual solutions to the problems of the day had not been extinguished. The raging inflation of the 1970s had led to the worst recession since the Great Depression. The Cold War was at its coldest. Politicians had been discredited as criminal (Nixon) or incompetent (Carter). Sting and many others of his generation had lost faith in the political system. His viewpoint fit perfectly into the Strauss and Howe assessment of our last Awakening period (1964 – 1984).

Image result for awakening strauss and howe

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Mad World


And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world, mad world

Image result for the primal scream

The haunting Gary Jules version of the Tears for Fears’ Mad World speaks to me in these tumultuous mad times. It must speak to many others, as the music video has been viewed over 132 million times. The melancholy video is shot from the top of an urban school building in a decaying decrepit bleak neighborhood with school children creating various figures on the concrete pavement below. The camera pans slowly to Gary Jules singing on the rooftop and captures the concrete jungle of non-descript architecture, identical office towers, gray cookie cutter apartment complexes, and a world devoid of joy and vibrancy.

The song was influenced by Arthur Janov’s theories in his book The Primal Scream. The chorus above about his “dreams of dying were the best he ever had” is representative of letting go of this mad world and being free of the monotony and release from the insanity of this world. Our ego fools us into thinking the madness of this world is actually normal. Day after day we live lives of quiet desperation. Despite all evidence our world is spinning out of control and the madness of the crowds is visible in financial markets, housing markets, politics, social justice, and social media, the level of normalcy bias among the populace has reached astounding levels, as we desperately try to convince ourselves everything will be alright. But it won’t.

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So What?

Becoming intellectually, emotionally and spiritually independent is an act of power that instantly and irrevocably detaches one’s consciousness from channeling the unreality broadcast of the construct. It is a natural, beautiful and easy thing to do. So what stops so many intelligent people from doing it? There are many answers, but one that quickly rises to the surface is fear of material lack.

The need to pay the bills can keep people in a loop of self-limitation and psychic compromise. Even those apparently lucky few for whom money ceases to be a hindrance, often descend into whirlpools of egotism, self-destruction and bizarreness. If someone’s consciousness is lo-fi, wounded and cluttered – whatever they do will follow this pattern, with or without money.

Desires Into Flesh

So what if material lack was removed from the equation? If you could materialize any object into your hands at will, from a perfect juicy clementine, to a crisp $100 bill, the pursuit of material security and comfort would quickly decline. You could ‘image’ whatever house, car, bank balance and objects you wanted, no questions asked. It would be the things that are not material that would become most significant: the quality of your experiences; the depth of your consciousness; your relationships with people; insight, generosity, conduct, healing, creativity, love, humor, transformation. The grace and integrity of your movement through life would be the only things that mattered. Now imagine that not only you, but everyone could do this same materialization trick. Anyone could conjure up anything they wanted, anytime, over and over. What would happen if this became an actual reality right now? Absolute chaos. Supreme weird darkness.

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Would the Steady-State Economy Be a Miracle?

Would the Steady-State Economy Be a Miracle?

Many people think that advocating a steady-state economy is like wishing for a miracle. I understand their reasoning and take their point—in the present era of growthism it does seem rather like advocating a miracle. But that raises the question: exactly what is a miracle? And how many other miracles are we wishing for these days? Of course science, by definition of its method, rules out the existence of miracles, if by miracle we mean either something not explainable physically in terms of efficient causation, or else overwhelmingly improbable. Consequently, if a miracle did exist science could not see it. Looking for a miracle with science is like looking for darkness in the narrow beam of a flashlight.

Consciousness, reason, and good and evil are undeniably real, yet we have no convincing explanation for them in terms of efficient causation or biophysical evolution. And the origin of first life (as opposed to its subsequent evolution into different forms) also qualifies as a miracle by the above definition. Sir Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, thinks the origin of life on earth is so physically improbable (miraculous) that it must have arrived here from space—”directed panspermia” is the elegant name for this miraculous sidereal ejaculation. Science considers the whole amazing experience of life on earth as just a cosmic accident.

Given that life on earth is, according to science, eventually going to end, why make extraordinary efforts to prolong it, especially if, as the modern intelligentsia assures us, the universe and all life are just temporary accidents? We, as non-miraculous random events, can have no objective idea of what a good life is. Therefore we cannot know how much per capita consumption is sufficient for a good life. Instead of a steady-state economy the default economic rule of scientific materialism seems to be, “more and more (especially for me) while things last.”

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We need a map out of the nightmare of consumerism

We need a map out of the nightmare of consumerism

One of the most harrowing challenges of modern American life is navigating through the massive desert of our mindless, materialistic consumerism. It is within this landscape that a soul can become lost and drenched in despair.

From the endless stream of vacant-eyed wraiths who glide down catwalks, to the pervasive advertising that never ceases to demean the values of empathy and compassion and hollow out any meaning associated with human connection, to the entertainment industry which revels in the depths of cruelty it can sink to, the onslaught on the psyche is both constant and merciless.

Seductions subtle and not

The American shopping mall is a reflection of this nightmare of ravenous cupidity and a message of stark disenfranchisement to the ever growing underclass.

Its glossy finishes and plastic displays erect a wall of defense against anything remotely human or sacred. It entices the youngest of our society with the promise of fulfillment and social status through the acquisition of objects, the alteration of their faces and bodies, and the tacit abandonment of any connection with the natural world and all the beings that inhabit it. Concrete and glass monoliths of corporatism drive home the deepest sense of alienation and desolation by design.

It is a fantasy land of the cruelest fakery, replacing the lively, chaotic and thoroughly interactive marketplace with the impersonal, the absurd, and the surreal. Exported around the world to some of the most impoverished nations on the planet, it is a unique, exclusionary and effective form of imperialism.

– See more at: http://transitionvoice.com/2015/04/we-need-a-map-out-of-the-nightmare-of-consumerism/#sthash.IY9p7ArX.dpuf


Living Minimally | Sierra Club

Living Minimally | Sierra Club.

‘Tis the season for sales. We’ve got Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday — days designated for buying more stuff. Yet most of us have spent the better part of a Sunday afternoon decluttering our homes and unloading bags full of unwanted goods at our local thrift store. Do we really need to buy all of those things in the first place? Living minimally makes way for more time, money, and opportunity in our lives.

“We all have limited time, energy, and money. The world by itself has limited life, and if we are using those resources for manufacturing things that don’t enhance our lives then it is a waste of our resources,” said minimalist Joshua Becker, author of Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life, and BecomingMinimalist.com.

Living minimally is about detaching ourselves from material things and connecting ourselves instead to people and the invaluable experiences life can provide –putting our money instead toward our futures and/or to those in need.

The minimalist lifestyle becomes appealing when it becomes necessary.  In June 2001, Time magazine writer Janice Castro termed the movement “the humble makings of a revolution,” in which Americans were slowly trading in consumerism for contentment and finding joy in everyday moments rather than attaching themselves to status symbols. This movement was mostly tied to the economy, and it seems that today it is tied to the environment.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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