In the last few days my mind has moved on from a personal approach to consumerism to its broader aspect. I am thinking of our enormous (societal) ability to consume beyond the level of shopping.
I’ve been greatly privileged with being brought up in the countryside… in a village full of farms, orchards, green and golden fields. The images that I carry in my head are those of hard-working people, of people who care greatly and of people who produce and make every effort at creating quality foods for others. I’ve been observing people who dedicate their days, holidays and weekends to making sure that whatever piece of land they own will yield the desired crop… that they have something to offer to the world once the summer finishes. This isn’t done without sacrifice. It does take a lot out of them… but somehow I cannot imagine them doing anything else… they just grow up with that mindset… that mentality… that you are worth as much as you can offer to others.
This ability and eagerness to produce for others seems to have slipped out of the Western psyche. We’ve been too contented with being consumers for ourselves. It’s not only about the economical dimension but also about personal and social aspects. How much do we give from ourselves to others? How far are we able to extend ourselves? How creative and how hard-working are we?
I think that at least in our purchasing choices, if that is possible, we should not be driven by the price tag only. We ought to be more community-spirited when it comes to shopping. This is so important! To make the region that you live in a sustainable source of nourishment and growth. I stand for buying local. I try to support as many shops and farms in the area where I live as possible as I feel I am not entitled to complain about the economic situation in my local area if I don’t actively support its economy. I feel responsible for doing my share.
This countryside mindset also compels me to ask myself: To what extent am I a producer? What do I produce? What can I produce? With the abilities that I have been given, how can I support my family, society, friends and the environment? How can I be of value to the communities that I inhabit? Are there areas where I am only a consumer? Can I change it? Should I change it? Have I struck the right balance? So many questions to learn from..