- I did a walking pilgrimage along the Narmada river for about 600 kilometers when I was completely dependent on others for offerings of food and shelter. I would walk around 30 kilometers everyday from village to village and then sleep in temples or tribal people’s homes. I was wearing a cotton top and one piece of cotton cloth wrapped around my waist.
- The shirt cost me 100 rs (2.3 dollars) and pants 70 rs ($1.7) and I was a real happy camper with it. It absorbed sweat well, since it was white it reflected most light and was cool, cloth was easy to remove if I needed to take it off and it was simple to wash.
- Suddenly on the 21st day or walking in nature, I had an epiphany and a sudden question. It is exactly like Archimedes jumping out of his bathtub in that ‘Eureka’ moment. ‘Why do I need my pants?’ or better question as to why I was wearing all these artificially dyed, complexly stitched and expensive.I thought about the zipper of my jeans that must have been produced by mining some metal by cutting a forest and using a production plant to melt metal.
- That zipper would likely have been produced by some little kid working in Malaysia or some poor woman who only job would be to attach zippers to jeans. I am directly contributing to encouraging this terribly uncreative and soul killing career, I must say! That chemicals from dye that was used to dye my pants with that ‘special effect wash’ would have been gone down the drain polluting some river.
- That machine that did the stitching for the lining of my designer jean consumed power.Power that was most likely produced from coal or nuclear energy. If it was coal, which is most likely from a third world country, it introduced more carbon pollution. If nuclear, than it added to the nuclear waste that is usually dumped at the bottom of oceans.
- Then, at last I thought about marketing and the supply chain that brought the pants in my hands. People took time out of their lives to design these jeans in a western country. This was produced in a third world country using cheap labor, lax environmental laws and killing the local artisan income. And it took tons of marketing dollars, MBA genius (supposedly the best minds in the world), a ship or a plane transporting it back to a central distribution center and then to a retail outlet, further polluting the air with smoke emissions and attaching a deep discount tag before it got it into my hands.
- Of course, this store further employed people doing grunt work and then further expenses to advertise this store, electricity to run this store, paper that cuts trees to print coupons and catalog.Is it really really worth for me to have these jeans or any piece of modern designer clothing? Should I spend my money, which of course, I exchanged my time to earn on this extremely bad investment? Is me looking ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ worth the environmental, social and monetary damage?
- I think NOT. The corporations think YES. Because it shatters their foundations of everything they sell to you.
- Fuck them. I don’t need my pants.
We collect all sorts of things. Computers, clothes, shoes, perfumes, DVD’s, books, cars so on and so on.. It is time to re-evaluate what we really, absolutely need. Time to question whether we really need that large flat screen TV, or that expensive BMW or the next pair of pants, specially after you have a lot of them already. Money is spent not only on buying that BMW, its spent on servicing it, maintaining it and feeding it that extra gas. Money is spent buying that pant, detergent and electricity that goes in cleaning it, time spent cleaning it, dry clean bills, carrying it while moving and time spent in getting rid of it when it gets older.
Even inexpensive items such as books don’t need to be bought. You can always try to get it from the library for free and return it when you are done.
The more we store, the less space we have for ourselves and bigger the houses we need. The more money you spend = more time you have to spend to earn it and the less time you have to live. So every piece of material that you acquire takes out time from your life, which of course- can never be replaced.
Why am I STILL living a life of material obesity? The answer is simple: socioeconomic privilege. Poeple RARELY relinquish any kind of privilege whether it is white, physical or socioeconomic. The Billionaire Who Wasn’t (Chuck) is an exception.
Let me dig deeper into my own socioeconmic privilege. I lived in the right area of town to get a good education, I had money to go to college, I had the tools and connections needed to have a relatively easy life….basically like Buffett says : I had the right DNA, by chance. I live a lifestyle that exploits others and luxuriously benefits me. I am ashamed of it. I feel guilty at times. I will admit that I enjoy my privilege most of the time. The cappuchino I had today used illegal labor in most every step of its production. The massage I had today was great but I had to use currency to pay. It would have been better to live in a barter system or moneyless system. Lets dig deeper….why did I get a massage? The community I live in is so caustic and lonely that people rarely engage in physical contact. We are relegated to outsource love and nurturing. We lead such stressful lives. Nurturing (massage) is something that we have to purchase. I get a massage once a month to help deal with stress and keep balanced. It is shameful that a stranger has to help me do that. If I lived in a community based on selfless love, I would not need a massage.
What I see in my life is a cycle…….privilege……material obesity……lack of community and lack of self……
How do I get out of it? Find a community that does not operate within the Capitalistic system. Live there. Live in Talmage or in Pondicherry.