Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Recession, Swine flu and other inconveniences

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.


Unknown said...

i agree that such situations bring about 'change' faster. but i am not sure if renouncing 'objects' is the solution. the way forward is not to ask everyone to get on their cycles or to stop flying aircrafts.
the way forward to be 'responsible' and honestly so. push the boundaries to produce things in an ecological manner and push the boundaries further to make these produce economically viable for mass consumption.

currently 'ecological' products tend to be elitist. that has to change.

Deepak said...

I agree (mostly). I was intentionally oversimplifying.

The trouble is everybody is waiting for somebody else to solve the problem, right? TECHNOLOGY will come up with something. Maybe OBAMA will. I'm saying that too. Maybe RECESSION or swine flu will!

The solution is also in not renouncing 'objects'. The solution is in replacing that with something else too. Right now, I don't think there's pressure on anybody to look for that. There won't be. Not until we are 8 billion people on the planet.

Unknown said...

I agree that everyone is waiting for somebody else to solve the problem. However we cannot argue that such things cannot work ONLY bottoms up. It has to work both ways. So while the grassroots level organizations try to make themselves heard it needs very strong support and backing with 'governance' and 'regulatory authorities.'

Basically there is a lack of 'incentive' to get such tasks. Why should I buy something which is ecologically produced? Despite it being more expensive?
It is still largely, 'philanthropic'.
Give me some other practical incentives and I may switch.

I think there is pressure but its too less. I also percieve that the pressure currently is being felt mostly by the so called 'developed' and first world countries (maybe cos it hurts them more)so it will take a while untill the pressure is felt by our country for example.
Unfortunate that it is so 'reactive' than the other way around...and unfortunately nobody learns from the mistakes of another.

Deepak said...

Every policy or law is a result of enough people believing that it should be. The American Civil War was a result of enough people believing that slavery was wrong. Our independence was a result of enough people (on both sides) believing that imperialism was outmoded. (I know I'm oversimplifying again...)

In order to have laws for sustainability enough people have to believe that they need it and create that ecosystem for law-makers to put those into action. That probably explains why Europe is greener than the US. My point over here, is that we are still obsessed by consumption and 'improving' our lifestyles. I'm saying before enough people reverse that , it's gonna be too late. For Independence and Slavery there was no such thing as "too late", but for ecological capacity there definitely is.

Unknown said...

I agree about the 'people movement'. Undoubtedly a a very strong one. With respect to ecological aspects, I see two issues in our country.
1. Unlinke independence and slavery, the results of ecological donwfall is not as strongly "felt" and "experienced." Yes everyone complains about the weather changed. But there is a very low level of awareness, consciousness about these issues.

I have witnessed laws coming out of a result of people movement - and also coming from the government and the people just have to live with it. (especially here in Europe) So it works both ways.

2. Unfortunately our country is largely moving in the capitalism direction. The media, the leaders, the corporates - everybody walks this talk. The youngest, largest democracy of the world, believes its the way to go. I sometimes wonder if the word "socialist" should be removed from our preamble.

Ironically, for many of the ecological issues, we already have an amazing treasure trunk of traditional lifestyles and ancient wisdom. But all buried and archived as we stride towards being a capitalist nation - following footsteps of US in many ways. For so many, everything about US is STILL so ideal!!! Sad!

(you can tell I can go on and on about this...)

Deepak said...

now I miss you sats :)