Bill Mckibben’s book Deep Economy was a good take on many issues that we learned about in class.
In reality you often have to choose between “more” and “better”. That’s just the way it works for capitalism, too much needs to be done and not enough money to do it. This does bring up an interesting point, however about the relationship between “more” and
“better”. In our world “more” is almost always assumed to be “better”, but in reality it almost never works out that way. When you have more material possessions, you aren’t any more likely to be happy. In many cases it’s true otherwise, the more you have the more pained you are. I know this type of feeling from a book I read earlier this year: The hour of the star. In this book, a character inside it has almost nothing to her name, she is poor and dumb and lives simply; and yet it is shown time and time again that despite her life being bad she is happy. Why is this? Because she doesn’t know anything else. She knows no life outside of the life she lives. She is happy having little because she isn’t able to imagine anything more, but is it such a bad thing for her to be happy and poor? I don’t think so, even if it’s because of her own inability to lives consciously, she manages to live a happy life.
I think the more conscious we become of our lives, the less happy we become. This is why I’m not surprised to hear about happiness levels going down as technology increases. The more we understand the world around us, the more we realize how sad we are with the life we live. A worker happy to be with his wife, despite being poor, can become depressed when he realizes the same can be done with much more materials. This creates a generation of people who grew up when they got smartphones and learned about the world; and now they are filled with depression and anxiety because they know better.
The quote highlights beginning to realize that materialism doesn’t equal happiness. When one comes to terms with the fact that, despite having so much stuff, they aren’t any happier for it, they turn to charity and kindness to others. This is to fill that void that is left behind by those items they own. The more you have the less happy you become, in a way. So with that, the season where people give the most stuff, is also a time where people realize that they don’t want anymore stuff. At least, until the next big “thing” comes out, and they fall back into the cycle of materialism and despair.