Walking the desert in gold. Photo by Alexandra Nitsche

Being part of the solution is easier than we think.

But the first step in solving any problem is admitting you have it.  

Here’s one of ours: we spend more time focused on being consumers than on being citizens engaged in building a better society.

We want the new car, fancy new clothes. Not because we really need them but because there’s something embedded in us that says if I have more, the latest, the greatest, the newest, the fastest that somehow it will give us happiness; the happiness that nothing else can. That it can make us safe, secure and connected.

We only have to look at images in magazines, on billboards, on TV to see this promise. And when that doesn’t happen we think: Oh it’s because I don’t have that skirt. That thick hair, that dewy skin, so we look to buy other things that will make us feel better.

I’m not against trade or capitalism in general. I know they create prosperity and choices but what I am against is the brainwashing and addictive hold of consumerism. Clever marketing, lobbying by special interests at the highest level of government, and a derailed sense of self-worth entices us into thinking that this is THE way  to happiness and fulfilment overriding common sense, logic, and even religious or spiritual beliefs and values.

It says: If you want to feel successful then you need to buy this, look like that, have this lifestyle and because we are making it so affordable and convenient how can you possibly say no?

That is what I am rejecting. Not the product. Not the industry that made it. Not the system that produces tangible, physical products. Just the system that produces our view of that product and manipulates our view of ourselves in order to make us believe that we need that product.

Recently, I have been thinking about Timothy Leary’s galvanising call to action in the 60s: Turn on. Tune in. Drop Out. Here is how he defined what it means to “turn on, tune in, drop out” in his book, Flashbacks.

“Turn on –   go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them.” Wake up. Meditate. Become mindful. Listen to your inner voice.

“Tune in –  interact harmoniously with the world around you – externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives.”  Integrate your deepest wisdom. Walk your talk.

“Drop out –  an active, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. “Drop Out” meant self-reliance, a discovery of one’s singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change.” Conscious actions,  transforming stagnant hierarchical systems in the home and society.

I know it’s challenging to transform old hierarchical systems. I can be just as brainwashed as the next person when it comes to being a consumer. Powerless in the face of marketing behemoths and propaganda poised to hit my subconscious need to fit in and be part of the herd.

I see something nice, I want it. I think to myself: I deserve it. The marketing program running within me doesn’t include me asking myself why do I want that thing?

That takes awareness.

Let me break it down. I have a 10-year-old car that works perfectly well. It has some dents and I have been thinking about getting a new car. Why do I want a new car? Am I afraid that people are going to equate that because I have a 10-year-old car that I mustn’t be successful? That I’m not good enough? Am I worried that because I have boots and shoes that are 10 or 20 years old that people are going to say: “Oh my god she wore those last year!”?

I want to challenge those thoughts within me. I want all of us to challenge thoughts and behaviours, by enquiring about their purpose and usefulness for us.

It was by turning on, tuning in, and dropping out that a previous generation fought their rapacious nature. What solutions do you see rising to the surface to help us become conscious consumers of products, information, and news? To be engaged as true citizens building a better society together?

Speak to us. We are here to listen and help you find your way to the best you.

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