How bad for us is our time of plenty?

We’ve got too much.  Our children are being brought up in a world of plenty.  It’s really difficult to stop the house getting piled up with mounds of plastic toys and games.  They’re getting spoilt; we’re getting spoilt.  I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else.
Spoiled child
All of this convenience is false.  It is by using the energy trapped in fossil fuels, built up over millions of years, and on the backs of the poorest, most destitute people in the world that our luxurious, care-free lives are built.  We’re merely using up our natural reserves, not really generating much that is new.

It is bad for us now; it is sickening for the poor and terrible for the future of the planet.  We have to stop.

And as we get more unused to the real effort of staying alive, we will find it more and more difficult to be able to cope if we stop using this natural capital and the poor of the world stop doing our dirty work.

To really understand what we are doing to ourselves and our children, I looked up the medical definition of what it is to be spoilt.  Spoiled Child Syndrome means indulging in excessive, self-centred and immature behaviour.

This can be a problem into adulthood.  People might have trouble waiting for that thing that they want now, such as a snack, new gadget or clothes.  They might have trouble coping with criticism, controlling their temper, maintaining professionalism and personal relationships.

But hang on, doesn’t that characterise western society?  Divorce rates are increasing, although they have dropped off since 2000 due to people marrying later and co-habiting more before marriage and the number of people getting married in the first place has been dropping off.  Obesity and fatness is rising across the population.

I find it difficult to stop myself gorging on all of the biscuits in the tin.  It is always tempting to just sit in front of the telly and eat.  People complain at the price of food, but it’s never been lower.  We do everything we can to avoid expending any effort, such as by driving round the corner for a pizza or ordering one in.  We can get any thrill at the touch of a button.  It takes more and more to get us excited, which leads us to create and watch sickening violence in films such as Saw just to keep an inane smile on our faces.

To get out of this cycle has to start with number one.  I’ve got to train myself to recognise the indulgent cravings and lead by example, particularly for the sake of my children who copy everything I do.  I can spot the greed in the small things, when I quicken slightly and fumble when making a cup of tea, with the biscuit tin in the back of my mind.  It’s at these points that I need to intervene in my curtailed freedom of will, and deliberately slow myself down and ration myself.  I can slowly start to gain control of my life.

I’ll need to put more effort into really growing my own food and getting connected with where it comes from.  I’ll continue to get around by using my body walking and cycling, rather than driving, where I can.

As I persevere I hope it will rub off on my children, and allow them to be free and balanced.  If I am successful at it, maybe others watching on will be able to break free as well.

Does this strike a chord?  Or does it not make sense to you?  What are you going to do about it?

John Bell,

Ordinary bloke


6 thoughts on “How bad for us is our time of plenty?

    • I have read it as it happens, although I’m a lot more positive about the future than he is! Very short book – read it in 30 mins on the train – mainly I guess because I’d heard most of it before.

      • Big print and empty pages is another ironic factor. Mind you, the point of population growth continuing without sufficient food and water is really quite valid.

        In my view the lack of available clean water is going to be one of the biggest concerns of the future, no so bad in the UK but if you look at China there could be a real disaster. The Chinese government know this, that’s one reason why they are spending $70billion on re-routing the Yangtze river up north.

      • And buying up swathes of Africa in a land-grab, to secure food & water supplies. When it comes to crunch time, will we be able to compete on the global market for our food?

  1. Not just China buying up Africa – all developed countries are trying to buy as much as possible.
    Worth noting though that it’s Latin American that has the most land available to land grabbers – 48% officially, compared to 12% of African land. However, Hedge Funds are buying up stuff everywhere unofficially.

  2. … and to reply to your food question. I suspect the best solution will be the genetic engineering of food to ensure a plentiful amount. That’s just my opinion though. The bigger issue I’m sure is the lack of clean water.

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