Jan 15, 2007


"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

These words were spoken about the tremendous struggle of the nineteen sixties Civil Rights movement. Civil Rights were the pressing issue of their time in America. Martin Luther King, Jr. quickened the pace of change and demanded a response from the mass of American citizens that looked at the problem in apathetic annoyance or failed to see a problem at all. Still today, his words continue to change the minds of millions. He caused a ripple that raised a wave. There is still discrimination and segregation in this country, but Mr. King helped to get the wheels of change moving in the right direction.

Today, as I read about his fight, I could not help but think that the most pressing issue of our time is consumerism. Americans make up less than 5% of the worlds population and yet we consume 24% of its energy resources! We have entered a new era of slavery. Worst of all, we've walked into it willingly. Our struggle is becoming more deadly and dangerous every day.

I have been sharing a lot about this journey away from consumerism and toward contentment and sustainability with those in my sphere of influence. Many of the responses are frightening. I've been told that I am a Marxist, that I am acting un-American, that I am a hippy (as if that's something bad;)), and a host of other quizzical angry things. It seems that this way of thinking has really hit a nerve in those closest to me. Why is that? Why is there such fear of life outside of consuming?

What is the best way to get the wheels of change moving in the right direction? I am not content with making this journey a "family" thing. It needs to be bigger, to change more people's minds. It needs to be about change, real change. When Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize, he gave the money ($54,000, a very hefty sum in the 1960's) to the Civil Rights movement. What can I give to perpetuating the freedom of millions of consumer slaves?

More pressing, how can I help people to see consumerism for what it is?


Anonymous said...

I LOVE this blog. It is so inspirational. It's good to see other families that are striving to be more than just consumers in this world.

Carolyn said...

Awesome, Matt.:)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I like your blog, it's is indeed inspiring and I wish you luck! I was just curious when you stated that Americans make up less than 5% of the world's population but consume 95% of its resources. Can you quote a source for these facts? (I am not American btw LOL)If that is true, it's a very thought-provoking fact. I constantly feel that here in America all kinds of luxuries have become 'necessities' and people 'need' to own so much stuff. A friend of mine is preparing to have a baby and her need list is endless. I can understand a crib and a changing table (though personally I don't even need those), but an exersaucer, diaper genie, wipes warmer, vibrating musical bouncy chair, several carseats for different cars that they own etc etc??? Holy moly. I'd just like to (subtly) remind people that I meet about how we are using up resources for all these luxuries and how less can be more. So, I would love it if you could let me know where you got those figures, so I can use them! ;) Thanks, and again, good luck!!

Matt said...

Okay, I might have been over-stating. It is true that the US makes up between 5%and 7% of the world poulation (depending on which data you use) and that we consume 24% of the world's available energy. I belive that the 95% I speaking of was how much of the world GDP we consume, although I may be mistaken because I cannnot find the source I was thinking of. Either way, we consume way too much. Check out this link: http://www.mindfully.org/Sustainability/Americans-Consume-24percent.htm

Pea said...

I just lost my comment, I'll try again. You are already making an impact. I feel hopeful every time I find another person blogging about a journey toward a more simple lifestyle. You are a family of five enlighted, aware people, we are a family of three, together we are eight people who care about the earth. We can only influence those in our immediate sphere, but hopefully those people will go on to influence more. Thank you for your commitment to the earth and thank you for sharing your experiences.

Melissa said...

I agree with Pea. You are making a difference by being so open. Thank You!