The silver lining of the recession

Even in bleak economic times, important lessons can be learned.
There are many unfounded criticisms that Western culture receives from the rest of the world and from self-serving “open-minded” intellectuals who criticise the West because it is the chic thing to do.

However, one criticism that many cite is definitely true – that Western culture is far too materialistic. People define their lives around what they consume. “To be” is not the defining verb of many people’s existence so much as “to have”.

It is possible that the economic recession may somewhat change this, and although a lot of people feel that Canada is only being minimally affected compared to the United States, which is true to a degree, we have still received plenty of fallout.

However, for those of us not getting totally pulverised by the recession, but merely inconvenienced, perhaps there is a good lesson to be learned – a lesson about priorities in life, and that materialism shouldn’t be nearly as high as many of us place it.

Many of the more extravagant and useless luxuries we indulge ourselves in will have to be sacrificed if we want to be able to maintain our otherwise comfortable lifestyles.
One would think that people would become more frugal as a result of the recession, but that is not necessarily the case.

Cutting down spending too much would put the economy in an even worse state than it is in already as many industries are suffering from the recession, so practicing moderate frugality is advisable.

But there are certain industries that wouldn’t suffer from a little consumer moderation, because people are already over-indulging in their products.

After all, do you really need that extra-sparkly lip gloss or brand name shirt?

There is nothing inherently detrimental about spending lavishly on such things, except for the fact that it plunges people into debt and thins their pockets.

However, when materialistic things become too important they often become the basis of harsh standards of judgment.

The recession, for all the adversity it will put many through, may at least have the positive side-effect of realigning people’s values.

Truth be told, a comfortable lifestyle in and of itself is nothing to feel guilty about.
Materialism is not necessarily destroying our lives either, and can be virtually harmless – in moderation at least; but moderation is a word that many people know absolutely nothing about.

Many seek happiness through purchasing products that ironically lull people in by appealing to their desire for individuality, even though what mindless consumerism represents is as about as far from individuality as possible.
People are falsely persuaded into believing that they can define themselves through the products they purchase.

It is an easy mistake to make – the corporate world loves to play upon people’s desires and insecurities.

It creates a vicious cycle through which people are compelled to buy products for “self improvement” and are criticised and judged by others if they fail to do so.
There is a lesson to be learned from this bad situation. Moving away from excessive materialism will give us a chance to breathe free.

Everyone’s collective financial cutbacks will hopefully encourage people to cut back on materialistic judgments.

Only then will we be free of the pressure of needing to wear the hottest, most expensive fashion, or to have the spiffiest car – as hardly anyone else will feel the pressure either.

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