We feel like crap no matter how much we consume
This is a cultural article which is part of Aftonbladet’s opinion journalism.
We live in a contradictory time. On the one hand, we are expected to change. Refrain from air travel, driving, new clothes. But at the same time we live in a society that says we should travel, drive a car, buy new clothes. We have to work more to buy more, if we don’t strive upwards we are considered failures.
To choose a simpler life in a society where consumption is religion, is to make oneself a heathen. And pagans tend to be displaced. It is still shameful not to participate in the circus of consumption. Otherwise, probably more of us would have liked to live outside the norm, but it is difficult.
Then there is all those who already today do not consume because they are poor. But they don’t get a pat on the back. Certainly there is growing reverse shame, for example flight shame. But the only thing that happens is that people with money buy “finer” so-called climate-conscious trips. The consumption shame is still stronger than the flight shame.
Feelings of shame are something that the climate debate has unfortunately overlooked. Until now. In the latest reports from the UN climate panel, the need for “internal adjustment” to cope with the climate crisis was highlighted. Much is taken from Christine Wamslerprofessor of sustainability science at Lund University who has been training students for a number of years now in exactly how psychology interacts with climate work.
Put simply, an inner adjustment can mean practicing being content with what you have, finding community and creating a sense of belonging with people outside your sphere. But also to find contact with nature. Remember that we belong together with the trees, the air and the earth.
An inner journey is something that everyone, even the rich, benefits from. Because even though we in the western world are drowning in material things, we feel like crap. Although we live longer, we are sick with stress-related diseases. And then it kind of doesn’t matter that you have a pool and a lot of money in the bank. Man is not created for the life we live today.
The contemporary world would benefit from more people who stand out, who make it less embarrassing to live with less. Right now the documentary “Aldrig mer kebab” is on SVT. In it we get to follow Gurgin Bakircioglu who sold his apartment and everything he had, quit his job and moved into a mobile home for the sake of the climate. You can think what you want about his various choices, but it probably makes it easier for the rest of us to see examples of people who go against the grain.
At the same time, for so long there are rich, it will be unreasonable to expect the poor to forgo luxuries. Why should the poor live hard while the rich just drive on? In the climate scientist Johan Rockström latest book “An earth for all”, economic inequality is one of the primary problems that must be solved. The conclusion is that we will never succeed in getting everyone involved in climate change as long as some live the good life while others are forced to live in poverty.