So now we hear that Facebook is making us lonelier.
Bummer. Well, it was worth a shot.
Of course, the struggle between materialism/technology and spirituality isn’t new.
Just read your Transcendentalists or if you’re really desperate, the Bible, where in 1 Timothy 6:10 we read that “love of money” – not “money” – is the root of evil (a subtle, yet not insignificant, semantic difference.)
But more than any other country, the idea of materialism is firmly entrenched at the center of American life: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is codified in our founding document, and like or not, happiness, over time, has come to mean “stuff.”
And the core of the conflict doesn’t change; it is simply revisited as we come in contact with new waves of wealth, be it, say, during the Gold Rush or the post-WW2 party times, or that 80s Gordon Gekko-stuff, or the dot.com boom.
Old problem, new money.
Ultimately, despite our incredible wealth, a booming pharmaceutical industry, and proliferation of churches to handle our spiritual needs, Americans are less happy than those in “third-world” countries like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Guatemala, and Colombia.*
In fact, if you want to believe it, we’re the 114th happiest country, just ahead of Nigeria and right after Madagascar.
Wassup up with that?
(Looks into audience) John? You there? Stand up. Yeah, there he is…hey John!
John’s written a lot of great books, including the Food Revolution (which we sell), an extremely prescient treatise on how we eat and how it affects our minds and bodies.
His most recent book is “The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less.” It addresses critical questions like happiness and fulfillment in a world where the “good life” is too frequently measured by financial wealth.
And by reassessing our collective lives and values, he made lemonade out of lemons that, if you look at them under a certain light, resemble the facial profile of Bernie Madoff.
He’ll be here to discuss the book and his experience, for free, at the Library today, Sunday, at 3 pm.
The book provides “a philosophical and prescriptive path from conspicuous consumption to conscious consumption,” because consumption and health and happiness can all co-exist. Consumption itself isn’t bad. You have to consume.
I just consumed two super-soft Snickerdoodles from Whole Foods and it ruled. My tummy hurts a little, but whatever.
* The Happy Planet Index stupidly ignores issues like political freedom, human rights and labor rights!