Austerity… Part 1

My parents were born in the 1920’s. They lived through the war. They understood real austerity, austerity because of practical circumstance. What we are living through is NOT austerity for any practical reason, but a form of desertification imposed by those who already have far, far more than they need.

Children are dying from malnutrition in Western Industrialised societies in a time of plenty. It is a time of plenty for those who have decent, well paid, long term employment. In that group I would include the mainstream media, upper echelons of corporations, and politicians.

People who have never been without have no understanding of what it is like to have the washing machine break down just before christmas, and then having to choose between the washing machine and christmas presents for family.

They have no understanding that visiting relatives for a few days has to stand in for a holiday because there is no way you could afford to pay for any kind of real holiday.

And it very easy to sit in judgement of those who have less than you do for the “bad” choices they make. It is very hard to understand why people buy things instead of healthy food; why the very poorest drink, smoke, dye their hair, take drugs. But the stereotype is not accurate, and there are reasons for those decisions.

When you are frightened and feel insecure what do you do? You get a blanket and some cushions and make a nest. When that is how your life is, all the time, you buy things, more things, things to try to make a nest that makes you feel secure. And because the food you eat is inadequate, you never quite grasp that it is your mind set that you need to change, because your brain chemistry makes it very difficult to think clearly.

When your reality is awful and you can see no hope of changing it, you feel the need to blot it out, at least for an hour or two. So you drink, you take drugs. You can’t really afford them, so that makes you feel worse, and, for some, the spiral begins.

The more desperate you feel the more you need to do something to lift yourself, the less it works, the more desperate you feel. And some just give in. Others finally hit a bottom that is so low they can start a new journey, to a different reality. A different way of looking at the world. Rejecting the pressures imposed by wider society to conform to the materialistic claptrap of the TV and papers… the very media people who have that decent income.

And so we live with this artificial austerity, knowing that some are not effected by it. And resentment grows. Do they not realise that they are creating a tinderbox? Or is that what they want, to give them an excuse in the eyes of their believers to “crackdown” on the very poorest and most vulnerable?

And what do you want? Do you want to live in this tinderbox? Do you want to be part of, and party to, this insanity? We cannot avoid being involved to a certain extent, we need food, we need clothes, but I think we need to look back to the realities that my parents knew, before the coming of the supermarkets (who have created some of the problem). It seems to me we need to think once again of both community and self-reliance. We need to be building an alternative, kinder, more local society, either to avoid the explosion, or to be there to support us when the explosion happens.

For help with that


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