Image by kevindean via Flickr
I have been thinking on writing this post for a while now. It is an immensely complicated theme that I make no assumption of understanding, but it is also a theme that affects each and every one of us. And because of this I feel an obligation to share my thoughts and questions on this theme.
There is no doubt in my mind that we live in a consumerist society. We are incited every day to consume, by adds, commercials, peers and even our government. And even though I have no proof of this I feel that our economy and our countries would fall apart if we stopped consuming.
I’m from Portugal and we are currently crossing a financial crises, one that has been hatching for decades and one that has spread to all (or most of) the “developed” countries in the world. We are buried in debts and as I watch our elected leaders cut back on Christmas bonuses, social support and termination compensations, I hear those same leaders telling us that we must consume, and consume more, so that the economy doesn’t die, so that the have enough income from taxes to pay the debt. So I find myself asking how? How are we supposed to keep consuming when the money is less by every month? Why are we being asked to turn ourselves into mindless robots that do nothing more that to buy something new every week? Is that our purpose?
They proudly state that the raise in taxes will only affect 20% of the population. They forget to say, however, that the reason it is so, is that the other 80% survive with low incomes. The great majority of my countries population survives with a 480 Euro minimal wage and many more with a retirement as low as 200 Euro. While most rent round the 200 Euro and the government plans to raise the cost of water and electricity.
They tell us that to overcome this crises we must help strengthen the economy. And they go about doing this by taking actions that make the rich richer, facilitate firing people and that give more power to the same people that brought on this crises in the first place.
I know it may seem as if I am desperate, but that’s not it. I’m revolted! When did the most important thing in our society become money? Because it seems to me that nowadays having money is more important than having a healthy and happy people. That money is more relevant than employment rates and living conditions. That if having 10% of the population rich is enough to keep the country afloat then the other 80% are irrelevant.
I watch as Europe and soon the U.S.A walk back in time to the dark ages, to the time of slaves and poverty. To a time when governments cared only for the strong. Are we so lost that we would let this happen without even an objection? I feel powerless, I do not know how to make a difference. And it is not due to lack of will. I feel that this society has became so complicated that the people have lost their voice, and they don’t even see it.
I think the true problem isn’t the government….
I think the true problem is greed!
But that’s a hole other story….