Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Week in Thoughtful Consumerism, Vol. 5


On Christmas Eve Day, I confess to you that I am waiting for more gifts to arrive at our doorstep.  I feel like one of those people.  Friends, this is what happens when you don’t start thinking about Christmas until the middle of December.

But today, in lieu of links or deep thoughts of my own, I want to share an excerpt from the book I’m reading now, Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein.  It is the sister book to Saved by Ben Hewitt; indeed, much of Hewitt’s writing in Saved is inspired by ideas from Sacred Economics.  My friends and I are having an unofficial book club for this book, which is the best kind of book club in my opinion.

I’m going to take some liberties with this excerpt by changing the order a bit.  So here we go: a few thoughts on abundance and scarcity, on Christmas Eve, from Sacred Economics.

Economics, it says on page one of textbooks, is the study of human behavior under conditions of scarcity.  The expansion of the economic realm is therefore the expansion of scarcity, its incursion into areas of life once characterized by abundance.  Economic behavior, particularly the exchange of money for goods, extends today into realms that were never before the subject of money exchanges.  [Here, Eisenstein offers two examples: bottled water and childcare, both of which are commodified forms of things that have been abundant in human societies in the recent past.]

* * *

Amidst superabundance, even we in rich countries live in omnipresent anxiety, craving “financial security” as we try to keep scarcity at bay.  We make choices (even those having nothing to do with money) according to what we can “afford,” and we commonly associate freedom with wealth.  But when we pursue it, we find that the paradise of financial freedom is a mirage, receding as we approach it, and that the chase itself enslaves.  The anxiety is always there, the scarcity always just one disaster away.  We call that chase greed.  Truly, it is a response to the perception of scarcity.

For me thus far, reading Sacred Economics is Charles Eisenstein attaching words to feelings that have haunted me for much of my life.  He takes the ideas of abundance and gratitude to new heights.  Even just thinking of your life as being full of abundance has the power to shift attitudes, to change hearts and minds.  Monetary abundance is but the lowest form of it.

In keeping with the ideas in Sacred Economics, Eisenstein has made the book available on his website.  It’s a full-length version!  I highly encourage you to check it out.

May your holidays be filled with joy and an abundance of all the best things this life has to offer.

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