Saturday, November 28, 2009


Black Friday... I awoke... as if it were any other day. This day in the US has become a consumers day. The first day of the Christmas season. Got to start shopping for presents!

This past year, I've been searching for meaning in life. One aspect I've spent much time contemplating is my own consumer lifestyle. I've changed it, minimized my desire for material objects, focused my energy on becoming more efficient. I've slowly recognized my past and still lingering desire for a nice car, electronics, fancy name brand clothes, subtlety distinct black leather shoes.... they have all been arbitrarily assigned meaning by myself. It disgusts me to think how masses have been influenced to accept this consumer lifestyle.
So this afternoon I decided to visit Ala Moana center, one of the world's largest open air mall, not to shop but to observe. I wanted to see the chaos of Black Friday. Instead, I see a calm crowd of shoppers, busily walking, traveling on escalators, resting on benches.... reflecting how accepted and encouraged this behavior is.

I leaned against the edge of the 3rd floor rail, peering into the population around me. I noted in my phone: 


Our greatest innovation as humans is our ability to find meaning in all that surround us. to find happiness in family, a smile in a dog lying belly up or even a pink baby seal stuffed animal, a gift whose value is derived from some subtle comments in passing conversation. Though it can be manipulated to such a degree where masses assign meaning to matters, which in essence have no values. Our greatest ability turns a sunder, poisons our lifestream, and threatens our natural lives.

Something seemed clearly wrong with our society where so many flee to shopping for comfort. Consumers spending their time and money on such nonsense... designer bags... fancy jewelry... four dollar lattes... twenty dollar tshirts (at least)... Though kindness may fuel this seasonal gift giving habit, we have placed value in these objects and faithfully believe that they are valuable. So why do I have a problem with this sort of consumption? It's due to it's wasteful and inefficient nature. Each material object has expended so many natural resources, workers' time, money, thought, and overall energy to be created. For what? To produce objects to the public and to cushion a bottom line. All this while the world has so many different issues. In the end, I see a spiraling rate of consumption and resources that will inevitably lead to our species destruction and along the way affect all other organisms on the earth.

As from an individual perspective, I have this inner desire to find something beyond what is presented to me, to find something that will give me a more profound sense of happiness.. like gazing out into the ocean or being on top of a mountain or watching a monk seal rest on a rocky shore. A sense of individuality has allowed me to question that which surrounds me.

Getting back to consumption, I'm reminded of Tyler Durden from Flight Club, "Things you own end up owning you."

I noted again:

I see this futile struggle to change the masses, open their eyes, minds, and hearts. Everything we value needs to stripped and destroyed in a cataclysmic fashion, resetting our values so that we may understand a greater emotion.

I quickly noted some flaws in this thought. The problem with this mentality is the expectation of sudden change. Any destruction can be rebuilt and materials replaced unless it is a major irreversible change on the scale of the world's population. It has to transition and it must start with individuals' mentalities. The individual must have a desire to consume less and an understanding the benefits of this change. I thought what had led this. My general thought is the huge corporations that financial prosper due to the consumption. They themselves may be deluded by the luxury that money has provided, thinking that they are providing a service that is helping everyone. There is a mass exposure of advertisements in everyone's lives that propagate these desires for products and perpetuate the consumer lifestyle. At first, I defended them in saying that it is up to the individual to choose. However, there are those who know no other way, may not have the free time to think and debate of such issues. These corporations may not be directly forcing a choice but they are certainly not providing alternatives. I noted again:

People still have a choice but when bombarded with so many different notions, it's difficult to see what choice is most beneficial to themselves and people around them.

More importantly, I turn to some basic notions that often hold true. Naturally, organisms will follow the path of least resistance. As does inanimate forces such as electricity. We are no exception. We do the least we can to reap the most benefits. We utilize technology and innovation in this matter so that we can reach goals quicker and more efficiently. The system has been manipulated though, to put products in arms reach, food that we do not have to harvest, clothes that we do not have to sew, the only resistance we see is the financial cost. There is a hidden "resistance" in its production from natural resource to its consumable product. If these were abundantly clear, more people would start seeing that it is not the least we can do and that we as a society are not gaining much benefit. However, it is difficult to see past one's individual scope though and we continue to satisfy our individual desires.

On another note, a major issue we face is that people have become dependent on such conveniences. We can no longer provide for ourselves without the system.

I am slowly realizing that my individual perspective of life is slowly coinciding with the idea of a sustainable world. My thoughts have always been centered about enjoying my own life despite what any one else has to say. I find myself puzzlingly conflicted that my thoughts are promoting the long term well being of everyone else that requires individuals to abandon their desires for a greater good. Perhaps because I do not believe that the current society is deserving or perhaps my mentality that each person must be self reliant and independent and free to make their own conclusions. Now I find myself propagating. It is new ground for me and still unsteady. I continue to exhibit the consumer lifestyle while searching for a way out.

All this from a desire to return to a more natural state of being.

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