Friday, February 12, 2010

Glass Half Empty


There has been an amazing and lively discussion happening on one of the Meet-up forums of which I am a member. It started when one of the members posted an article about the recent snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic area, which focused on how ill-prepared the average person is for emergencies.

Today, one of the members, who has had the privilege of actually interviewing people like James Kunstler and Howard Zinn, wanted to point out that, while there are plenty of people who are being incredibly pessimistic about our future, there are also that many more of us who are trying to come at the issue from the more positive angle. He said, the key to transforming the world is starting from a mental place of abundance, not scarcity and adds that even though we seem to be surrounded by so much, with the consumeristic mindset, we're actually in a scarcity model, in which we work at meaningless tasks so that we can earn, essentially, worthless currency to buy more stuff that we probably don't really need.

How much is enough? And don't most of us already have as much as we need? I mean, even those people who believe themselves very poor, usually have enough to eat, enough clothing to wear.

I've lived with the poorest of the poor here in the United States, where some people don't have running water inside their homes, and, almost literally, can be called dirt farmers.

Even they had enough.

They hauled water into their house from a well outside, which they warmed on the electric stove for cleaning and such; the kitchen was full of the week's tomato harvest, which they were canning; they had plenty of clothes, none of which were threadbare and all of which were clean; and they even had a television. These were the poorest of the poor, living in an uninsulated, rickety-looking, tin-roofed shack with tar paper for siding to keep the rain out.

And they'd been living that way for decades and had raised a handful of kids, who were my classmates.

They had plenty.

One might even say, their lives were full of abundance.

I talk a lot about preparing for a low-energy future, as I believe it will be. I believe we will have less money and less stuff, but never have I believed we will not have enough, because even if all importing of manufactured goods were to just **stop** tomorrow, there is enough stuff still available, both new and used, to take us into the next decade.

The other day I was chatting with my local librarian about people's attitudes and she asked if I was a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person. I told her I was a glass half empty ... but that meant that I still had half. I recognize the fact that half is gone, but I also see that half is still there.

I'm not an optimist (glass half full), but I'm not a pessimist, either (glass half empty). I said I was a pragmatist. She thought that was pretty cool.

My favorite part of the meet-up member's comment was this paragraph:

Rejecting the scarcity paradigm [is] a quiet revolution, but it is happening. Look at our shared interests in permaculture, working by hand, etc. These ideas make the frightened, mean spirited model of the Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin world look infantile and silly. Let them run around in the bushes with their machine guns and stockpiles of canned soup. When they're exhausted, they can join the rest of us, who will be outdoors, trading seeds, making love, and turning 20th Century trash into 21st Century treasures.

Indeed.

And I couldn't agree more. It really does look like a bright future, when one thinks of the glass as being half empty ... with the best half still there.

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