The wisdom of my grandfather has become more apparent to me as I grew older. He said that once you earned your first dollar, you always wanted more. As a child, you learn that money can buy pretty things or useful things. You can buy gadgets or gifts. The question I have come to as a more mature person, enriched by life's experiences, is: what is a good gift? Is it something small and expensive, is it something practical? Or is the best gift your time and energy?
In our world, where Covid-19 is noticeable in every corner of the earth, the consequences of lockdown is on every person's mind, and consumerism has to take a step back. Gone are the times when the desire for travel and experiences were easy to accommodate. Internationally tripping has come to a stop. National travel might be contemplated, but at what cost? Are we better to stay in our region?
The recent elections have given our Labour Party a mandate to continue. The reality is that no matter which party won, the economic crises that is anticipated due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, needs funding. The job losses, the uncertainty, the hopes and dreams of many are shattered. Maybe this is the right time to re-evaluate our hopes, dreams and spending. Perhaps this is a good time to look at saving the planet and our bank balances.
I am astonished to read that one of the major chains in New Zealand is closing branches due to under performing sales, and at the same time it is announced that the CEO is receiving a 1.4 million dollar bonus. To me, that is incomprehensible! I am well aware this is not unusual. There will be more stories like this. My grandfather was right. Once you have experienced the benefits of having money, you don't want to be without. There is a difference between need and greed. There is a difference between what you earn and what you are worth in an industrial setting.
The lofty ideological ideas of a variety of religious traditions describe detachment, or more to the point, non-attachment. Maybe it is a good practice for the world of today.
Attachment is seen as the main obstacle to a happy content life by Buddhists and Hindus alike. They practice letting go; letting go of desire; learning to let go takes time. Those who practise meditation know it takes hours and hours of self-discipline to practise the art of detachment. For some Buddhist, this means 'nekkhamma', renunciation, or giving up the desires of the world to lead a holy life.
For Zen practitioners, it is about giving up thoughts, and staying in the moment for it is all you have. Detachment of thoughts and opinions of others can lead to less suffering.
It is not just the Eastern Philosophies who encourage non-attachment. Christians have a similar thought. Not to store up riches on earth, but in heaven. According to the Hindu tradition that could relate to karma. Or in modern sayings, "What goes around, comes around'. In Ignatian Spirituality, the word is 'indifference'; this relates to letting go of personal stuff and being available to God and neighbour.
If you thought that minimising of desires is mainly a spiritual notion, think again. There is a raft of organisations focussing on less consumerism, less wastage, and on intentional living.
Change the world start with yourself, seems to be a realistic starting point!
Seek Peace. Find it within.