image taken from: http://bibledude.net
As a reminder about how far I let myself stray from where I should be, I play "Between Angels and Insects" regularly. It helps to remind me of all the bargaining and compromising that I engage in on a daily basis.
I like stuff too much. Yet, when I lived in the Philippines, I realized that I could get by with very little in the way of possessions and not mind at all. Once I returned to the U.S. the hunger returned and it keeps growing. In the Philippines, my children lived for 4 years without ever really knowing want or envy of other's possessions. Now, having arrived a year after me, their appetites grow steadily. I'm not going to blame any of this on anyone but myself, and I'm the only one who can get myself out of it.
For all of the hate and derision that Karl Marx gets from people who have no idea what he thought or wrote, he made some pretty powerful observations and predictions about what all of the stuff we started making would do to us. We're alienated from what we make, what we consume, what we love, and each other. And what did we get for it? Not happiness, that much is sure.
I was in the Philippines from 2007 until 2011. I missed the downturn (my investments didn't miss it, only my physical presence was missing) in the American economy and the beginning of the excuse to destroy what's left of the middle class. I couldn't understand how things could change so much in a short time. When I repatriated, I saw and felt what I had missed. In my lifetime, there have been some major economic crises and scares, but something just felt different this time. People were nastier about it. Everyone knows that everyone else is responsible for the problems because of their laziness, sense of entitlement, and bad attitudes. Yet, I've heard very few people take credit for their own role in creating the current conditions. Teachers, police officers, fire fighters, tradespeople, and regular workers are demonized while politicians, bankers, reformers, lobbyists, and consultants play us against each other and get rich while doing it.
I'm tired of being blamed, and I'm tired of blaming without taking action, or at least righting my own actions. If things stay the way that they are, I'll be explaining to my children when they are 25 how i missed most of the only thing that has amy real value to me--their lives--just so that I could play this bullshit game.
I'm not going to do it anymore. I won't play. I won't make that trade. It won't happen overnight, but I'm going to change. Once I'm done with the addictions and obsessions, I'll be ready to really fight back.