As I am writing this, I’m having the rent on my small one bedroom apartment raised by $195 per month.
I’m not alone in this predicament in this town, state, country, or world.
Every year it seems that Westerners become more lost in the scramble for money. It’s never enough. There is never a point when someone has enough money.
Scarcity fears never stop.
Self-worth issues can’t ever have enough to feel enough.
With the cycle of rent raises and the usual bullshit of “market rates” and so forth (markets are made up by people’s choices), everyone will now have to get more money from some place else. That means raising prices on goods and services, which will drive up the cost of living further.
And around and around we go on this shit-show of suffering.
Because no one is happy in this situation.
Bend, OR has become a very wealthy town in recent years, yet I can see the lost-ness in the eyes of some very wealthy people who have more money than they know what to do with as they spend hours kayaking or coming back from their mountain biking tour.
They’re not happy. They got all the toys, but they haven’t been what they thought they would be.
The rich and powerful are trapped in this cycle of too.
Yet, we all have have choices. We all have choices about what we individually and collectively value. Right now, we collectively value money. It’s just a fact. There is so much emphasis on having money in this culture, so many get-rich-quick schemes, so many 6-figure conscious business promises.
Yeah. That is a thing.
“You can be conscious and have lots of money at the same time.”
“You can have it all.”
These are the messages our culture tells us, and there are more than a few “conscious” business people who have fallen for this lie hook, line, and sinker.
What Really Matters to a Human Being
I’ve been blogging for more than 12 years, and I’ve been seriously on the spiritual path for 16 years. When you flush out all the social programming and ego nonsense, there are really only two things that people want:
A healthy body
A community that cares about them and for whom they can care
If there’s something else you can think of, feel free to leave a comment.
When people feel physically healthy and feel they are connected in community, everything else drops away. Sure, money is useful as a way to trade for resources, but it’s just a tool. That’s all money was ever supposed to be.
But when people are miserable–and they are–they go looking for solutions, and Western Culture says, “Work more and make more money. That’ll fix ya.”
It’s been TNT, lighter fluid, and enriched uranium on an already massive, world-wide encompassing fire. And the greed continues to grow every year, leading to 2022 when 3 billionaires in the U.S. have more wealth than the bottom half of America–160 million people.
5 Things You Can Do to Turn the Tide
The spiritual path teaches us to surrender to what Is. So here’s a reality:
When people feel cared for, their behaviors shift from self-protection to openness.
Getting more stuff is a form of self-protection and self-soothing; we have been taught that having more will keep us safe.
One way to facilitate this shift out of this fear state is that we need to start caring for others. We need to stop seeing others as enemies and or people to use for whatever it is we think they can get us.
They’re human beings.
You’re a human being.
But people are massively suffering, and the struggle to “get more” is a reaction to suffering which is fueling even greater suffering.
Step 1 is to face your suffering.
If you don’t face your suffering, you’ll want to default to whatever your ego attachments are, which blind you to the reality in front of you and the many ways you can care for others.
The more work you work through your suffering, the more you become a role model to others through how you live your life.
Step 2 is to ask the people in your life if they need help and how you can help them.
Too often we assume what others need.
It’s better to ask.
You may be surprised at how simple it is to help others. Through this attitude of service, we are working to establish a new social norm.
Step 3 is to get active in meaningful social conversations.
Right now, a lot of very foolish people are having naive, useless, and detrimental conversations around costs of living and so forth. When you don’t get to the core issue, you will only have an issue arise some place else.
For example, you hear about 15/per hour wages and building more affordable housing, but these are bandages on heart attacks. So long as our culture says that “more is always better,” then everyone in society (not just a small rich elite–although their role is powerful) is contributing to the problem.
If you aren’t part of this conversation, then you are letting other people drive it and are now beholdened to their choices. Which is part of why we are where we are.
What does this mean?
- Write editorials
- Run for office
- Help a candidate run for office
- Donate to campaigns and causes
- Go to government council meetings
There’s plenty more ways to use your voice, your talents, and oh yeah, your money.
Because remember, money is just a tool.
In another way, I encourage you to work on having constructive conversations among friends and family. Talk about how all of you can better care for one another and support a larger sense of community in our culture instead of continuing the sense of isolation, loneliness and disconnect that is so prevalent in our cities.
Step 4 is to reduce your wants and focus on actual needs.
You don’t need another vacation across the globe. You don’t need another car when you have two. Your wardrobe is fine; don’t get the latest made-up fashions. You don’t need the latest cell phone, and you certainly don’t need five hundred content choices in your online streaming package–you don’t need the streaming package anyway.
The list of unnecessary things that are wasting resources and encouraging more waste is extensive.
I encourage you to write down a list of what you actually need and what you have been taught to want.
What do we really need?
Clean air. Clean water. Healthy food. Full-range of motion activity. Quality sleep. Supportive people in our lives.
When you focus on your actual needs, your money use will shift, and that’s a good thing. Your money is a vote in the direction of our culture. When you vote for next streaming package, you’re encouraging all kinds of wasted time, energy, and money. When you “vote” for healthy foods in a big meal with friends and family, you’re supporting different things.
What we support is what continues to exist in society.
What we do not support goes away.
Step 5 is to uplift the good while calling out the greed.
Today’s society is lost in polarity. That’s why I’m not writing a post decrying elite rich people or landlords. They’re still people. Their choice to get more money is more visible then someone else who found away to get twenty dollars more from a friend in a bet.
The mentality is the same.
“More is better.”
But it’s not. This mentality is creating so much suffering, pushing more and more people into poverty. In poverty, you actually do need more money, and this creates
The good news is that people at all levels of society are trying to help.
Call attention to that too.
We can’t let the greed go unchecked, but we also need to encourage the rich, the public servants, and the kind person who held the door for you when you were trying to get out of the rain and herd your three fighting kids into the building.
A kind word can go a long way in building a new culture.
A culture of caring.
Facing the Cynicism of the Day
People are jaded and beat down. Talking about caring has been turned into some kind of weakness by many in U.S. culture.
It shows you how sad and lost we are when caring about one another is demonized and denigrated as a form of weakness.
Meanwhile a made-up thing like money and made-up numbers like bank account balances are presented as Holy Grails of personal happiness.
You will have to learn how to develop the heart to face this cynicism to be kind anyway, to care for yourself, to care for others who need it, and to care for others who don’t know just how badly they need it.
Because it’s only from our hearts and souls are we going to collectively shift the tide of Western Culture away from the endlessly desire for more to the peace of being ourselves with the things and people we actually need.