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Here, you'll find musings from our authors and staff. We don't promise daily updates. Just posts worth your time.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

How much stuff is enough?

This post from Gina Stoner - our resident lifestyle expert. Today she's exposing the time-trap of possessions - both personal and individual...

Collectors collect anything - from vintage cars to Murano glass - and their particular  obsession can be rationalised as a hobby or interest.

But  what about people who are not "collectors" but "unable to throw outers"?


While to have only what is necessary is the first rule of morality, most people surround themselves with a pile of unnecessary things. Forgivable if looking at them gives joy or if they are a back-up for some item that may break down. But despite all the excuses, we are still surrounded by unnecessary STUFF.

The problems with stuff are many:
  • It occupies needed space.
  • needs to be dusted.
  • needs to be protected and insured.
  • complicates life.
  • is a cause of dull care.
Stuff, in short, is a worry - and dispensing with it frees the psyche.  

For instance, is it necessary to keep all your dead mother's bibs and bobs - just because she cherished them?  And what about those fifteen albums of her overseas tours?  Can you bear to throw them out? They were, after all, her security blanket - not yours.

What about your late father's  rather bad attempts at oil paintings? You detest them but he did them and you want to be loyal to his memory don't you? As for their cherished dinosaur lounge suite and tizzy lamps!

We suffer from stuff. Reducing it to the simplest statement, freedom consists in having no more than you need.

And inner freedom?

The analogy continues....

The human plague - an invisible calamity

This from Jack Cross, author of our stunning near future SF saga, The Logos Probe:

As everyone from Dick Smith to David Attenborough will tell you (check eponential population growth is the fundamental cause of:
  • land degradation
  • depletion of finite resources
  • destruction of biodiversity
  • pollution
  • famine
  • lack of water
  • wars fought over territories and resources... 
At the rate we are going, humanity will be the last resource to exploit and the ramifications of that have medieval implications. 

But chances are, when the worst aspects of apocalyptic fiction confront us, we will be too  brutalised to notice. As we chew on the thighbones of our relatives, we'll congratulate ourselves on finding food.

Population growth - the invisible calamity? Why?

They used to say that the customer is king. 


The multinational is king and constantly requires more consumers. So multinationals bribe governments to foster immigration. Nothing consoles business more than the homeless tide now washing around the world.

As for the religions, life is conveniently seen as sacred - particularly if it increases congregations and influence. Religions with political agendas see propagation as the path to world dominance. Even the Bible tells us to go forth and multiply!

So both these vested interests have no wish to raise the population issue.

And where do governments fit into the debate?

The too-hard basket is suspiciously full in this area. Better to pretend to tackle the peripherals - deal with the symptoms, not the cause. Because people represent revenue, voters, units of consumption and business contributions to campaigns. And, not so long ago, the catchphrase was "populate or perish".

But surely China had the right idea?

As the most populous nation has an authoritarian system, it was able to institute a one child policy. Despite the inevitable unfortunate effects - corruption, murders, gender imbalance and so on - this was a brave attempt. So could it provide a pattern for a troubled, standing-room-only future?

Unfortunately, while commendable in concept, it hasn't had enough effect. As for India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and the rest, there are no initiatives there apart from the occasional covert sterilisation scheme - now consigned to history as far as I know. Though I'd be delighted to hear otherwise. If you have information on this, please provide it.

In the meantime - what can we do?

Will we permit the human plague to denude this once beautiful planet? Will future ecologists favour genocide to decrease the burden on the environment? However you examine the prospects, there are no particularly bright perspectives.

I talked to a friend the other day - a professional person with wide experience. He made one suggestion that could have a short term application at least.

He said that NGOs should only provide aid to countries that agree to permanent contraceptive measures. You can put your own interpretation on permanent but the male snip is simple enough.

Would any authority have the balls to tackle the balls?

Whatever you think of his idea, it has the ring of good practical advice. And it could be good to repeat such statements - to try and insinuate them into the collective consciousness. Then, eventually,  someone in the right situation might own the idea and run with it.

The Logos Probe is available on Buzzword for just $3.99