We, the 99%, are as much a part of the problem as the 1%. Let's not forget that the debt of the 99% are the assets of the 1%. Wanna make a difference? NEED LESS! People need to stop living outside their means.Need. Less. I'm on it.
This is going to be multi-post idea because there's a lot to it, but the first thing it got me thinking about was how credit has allowed me to believe we're a lot richer than we are. And every time we buy what we can not afford by using a credit card, not only do we lie to ourselves, we send our resources over to the very structures that are the problem.
The lie is the biggest problem for me. The lie that I am rich. It's a problem because I'm not as rich as a lot of people I'm buying like, and it's a problem because it alienates me from the ones I should be living like. For a person of faith, there is no avoiding the hard truth that Jesus thought that the Least and the Last were where it's at, and that the Kingdom of God was for them. When I align myself with the Most and the First, I step away from where my hope lies and that is soul crushing.
It also allows me to start believing that somehow I am an improvement on them, whoever they are. That maybe it's because of my own wonderfulness that I can have all these markers of Most and First, instead of just because of some odd combination of fate and happenstance. And if it's my goodness that has landed me here, it becomes possible to believe that it is their badness that has landed them where they are. And if it's their fault, then there really isn't much I can do to help them until they help themselves.
But if I feel the edges of my resources, if I bump into my Not Enough more often, if I reject the cushion of cheap credit and have to say no to things because I can't afford it - if I face my own poverty, then suddenly I am them too, and if I'm them then maybe I'm a bit more willing to help them. Because helping them is helping me. And we can be as warm-hearted as we want to be, but most of us do good best when we're doing it for ourselves.
So our family.... our family is going to try living within our means. We have to talk about it, but I think it will look like moving to cash. Cards not only allow the lie, but they also take money out of the hands of the merchants I am trying to support by charging them huge fees for accepting my Lie Payment. If I pay with cash I not only know what I can afford but I land an extra 4 - 6% in the hands of my neighbours. One action, two good outcomes. I like this kind of math.
I'm not sure how this will go. We already feel the edges of our resources too keenly. Even though globally we are the richest, in our world we feel like we're barely making it. I'm not sure we can do it, to be honest. And it's not like we're in a lot of debt. If you don't count our massive mortgage, that is. But we use credit to ease cash flow and justify things that we can't afford in the moment because we may be able to afford them later.
This one's going to sting I think.
IDEA #2 Response:
What are other ways of moving to life within our means?