Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Panic on the Streets!

I recently watched a TV programmes, one that ‘deals with the issues affecting us all!’ This one was the first part of a new series, offering advice and tips on how to survive the the impact of the financial crisis. I began watching with keen interest, wondering if this would be a programme offering the viewer ways to lessen the dependency on consumerism, that so many people are stuck in. However after ten minutes or so, the realisation dawned, that yet again, the producers were passing the buck. The bulk of the programme consisted of the usual gush, available on a thousand web sites; ways to earn extra money, tips on changing to cheaper credit cards, and so on. What was missing entirely was any discussion of our addition to consumerism and ways out of this malaise! It seems so simple - Stop consuming so much!

No one in this country, is seriously going to find themselves in a life or death situation becuase of a lowered income! Yet, there seems to be almost a mass panic out there. I drone on at times, maybe too many times, about attachment to materialism, but it is worth repeating once again, that old Buddhist nugget of wisdom; “we need clothes to keep us warm, a roof over our head to keep us dry and food in our belly to nourish us, the rest is desire!”

I expect too much from the media, after all they are a very large part of the complicity that keeps many of us, slaves to commerce. The programme didn’t consider alternative options, such as learning to wean ourselves off our addition to mass consumption. An approach, which seems to me, to be a more eminently sensible option. Just say no to the beguiling and slick sales prater of the advertising industry, and realise that contentment can be had by living, on little. I suppose that option is far too simplistic for the most of the media to get its head around though!

There was a most revealing moment, when, after a discussion about which section of society would suffer the most from the forthcoming government cuts, i.e. those receiving state benefits, the presenter went off to interview one of the big players of the business world. This guy runs a company with a turnover in excess of £20 billion; his personal salary alone is some £17 million or so, per year! When he asked how he could justify receiving such an astounding amount, he ducked the question, and rambled on about employing hundreds of people, creating wealth, blah, blah. I have no bones to pick with anyone deluded enough to think they need to receive such stupid amounts of money. But all talk about making those who caused the financial melt down, in the first place, pay something back, now seems to be nothing more than hot air, it has vanished into the stratosphere!

The Buddha pointed out that all of the riches of jewels, diamonds, gold and silver, were as specks of dust upon the wind; meaningless, and that true liberation from our suffering, only comes through the realisation that attachment is the root cause of our pain and frustrations.

We place great values on such things as paintings, jewellery, fashion or the latest technological gizbo's, we’re seduced by the emotions these items produce in desire; greed and us. Anyone who has ever watched an auction in progress will cannot but bee amused by the absurdity of the whole farce. People fighting to own ‘valuable’s, never, realising that those items have no real intrinsic value. In our blindness, we continue accumulating riches, in the mistaken belief that these possessions give us security.

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