Both S and I are under mountains of debt and we have never been on more shaky professional ground, but yet I know, we both are looking at the recession and the swine flu and going "That might just be a good thing". The hamster was running so hard in the wheel that it was going to kill itself. Slowing the wheel down might just give the tired animal enough of chance to escape out without getting too hurt. Enough of the metaphor.
I believe that in our lifetimes materialism will become very uncool, probably even a taboo. Hoarding will too. I foresee my grandchild reading about Warren Buffett and asking "Really? Again, why did you guys celebrate him?". Changes like this work better when coerced by a benevolent dictator, but that can never happen at this stage in our civilization (and that's a good thing). Unfortunately, given our love of democracy and consensus, this change will happen when its rather late.
Lately I've surrounded myself with people who are considered freaks now, but I can see them clearly being the pioneers of a new set of socially enforced moral imperatives that will keep this planet usable for a few more generations. I've been influenced too. I've honestly stopped equating a comfortable life to a good life. I look at meat and I feel almost no temptation (I admit I still have a weakness for Koshy's beef burger). The other day my cab-mate was describing the new Honda Accord and I had zoned out. I almost felt a pity for him "The future will be hard on you, my friend". I cycle to work twice a week. I feel guilty almost every time I take my car out. My next vehicle will be on the other side of the oil economy upheaval.
And yet, I travel more than I should. In preparing for my retirement, I've contributed significantly to the real estate bubble. I still buy too many things that I don't need. I wrote this post on a piece of paper sitting at a coffee shop that sells at a ridiculous premium. When I pause my writing, I look at my Sheaffer admiringly. I have a long way to go.