The Culture of Consumption: Finding True Energy Independence

 We hear a lot of talk about becoming energy independent. That if we could just rely less on foreign oil, with that one fell swoop, we could boost our economy and secure our state. In truth, the United States is increasing its energy production, we have been meeting more of our energy needs, but at what cost? The reason for this increase in energy production is largely a result of shale gas production and what they call, Tight Oil. Both of these involve similar processes that require drilling deep into the earth at huge environmental cost. Is this the answer we are looking for? The question should not be how do we become more energy independent, but how do we become less dependent on energy?

Consumed with Consuming

There is little doubt that our energy needs are positively correlated with our lust for commercial goods. Our ability to produce cheap energy is large driver of our economics. When gas and oil prices go up, it affects every sector of the economy. Right now the wealthiest one fifth of the world consumes 76% of the world’s goods, while the poorest one fifth consumes just 1 %. Those are staggering numbers and it leads me to ask, why are we so consumed with consuming? The word consuming implies a very one side endeavor, it actually means to destroy, to expend, to use up. Now in a consumerist based economy, when exactly do we give back? At some point there needs to be some reciprocity. Even if we can develop technologies that can extract more of the world’s oil, does it seem like a good idea to use up the world's resources that took millions of years to develop in a few hundred years? When will the time come to acknowledge what our thirst for goods does not only to the earth, but also to the people on the other side of the planet?

The Paradox of the American Dream

It is not all of our fault, we are bombarded everyday with ads, images and the general message that consuming is our job; it is the basis of our day to day life. I remember after the attacks on September 11th , when President Bush told us it was our duty to go out and start shopping again. If you pair our duty to consume with our competitive, individualistic nature, this society does an amazing job of creating a need from a want. Why else would people stand in line over night to get the latest version of the IPhone or trample over other people just to get that amazing deal. It is an interesting paradox we have created, on one hand we promote this idea of the American dream. That anyone can be prosperous and abundant with a little hard work. That everyone has the opportunity to be more, do more and make more, but at the same time there is this underlying tone of urgency. Creating this level of scarcity and competition. That what we want is only available as a limited time offer; only achievable, while supplies last. All the while the impact of our consumerist lust is kept neatly away from our view, but what would happen if it wasn’t?

Building Bridges Instead of Dams

It is true that no renewable form of energy that is on the table is going to satisfy our energy needs. We will not maintain the status quo if what we want is the availability of more stuff. In Canada and the US, we built our cities around the availability of cheap oil. Ensuring that most of us need to depend on our vehicles to complete the tasks of our daily life. However, any time we talk about conservation, it is inevitably followed by the word sacrifice. Our attachment to material goods, not only changes the economy of the world, puts our earth in peril, but it creates suffering internally. The sacrificing has already begun.

According to Ancient Vedic philosophy, the heart chakra is the bridge between the material, physical world and the higher spiritual realms. It is the place where self love, connection, compassion and forgiveness reign. Our focus should be on upgrading the only energy technology that is truly renewable, life force energy. Instead what we are doing is degrading it. By becoming more aware of our oneness and connection, it can help us shift our idea of what is important and necessary. Our spirituality must begin to advance to the level of our technology. When this happens choosing less will be seen as a preference and not as a sacrifice.

A Heart-Based Economy

Are there other alternatives that take us closer to a heart-based economy? An economy that is less based on consumption and the exchange of money for material goods? An economy that ultimately will require less energy and where there is greater balance amongst its people. Where are energy needs are met in harmony with nature instead of an enemy of it. There are only a few alternative models that could even come close to replacing our consumerist-based economy, but shouldn’t we at least begin the dialogue? Perhaps humanity’s greatest folly is that we can’t see beyond the short term. We are wired to deal well with short-term emergencies and not long term ones. Anytime someone tries to point out our environmental crises’, for example, people bring up the economic costs and the burden on companies. It becomes an issue of political debate rather than a biological imperative. This is a symptom of our consumerist economy, one that thrives in competition, but carries no incentive towards cooperation.

Our energy woes will never be solved from one single technology, it will ultimately have to be a blend of many. Hopefully, ones that are more in balance with our natural world. However, if our thirst for material goods is not curbed we will always be slaves to technology and Band-Aid solutions. Making one short sighted decision after another in fear that we might lose our stuff. People need to expand their hearts and ask themselves, can they do with a little less? Does this stuff really bring me happiness? We have been blessed with so many gifts internally; we should look less to the external to derive our worth. If we valued inner peace as much as we value material wealth, what would our world look like? The world is energy, we are energetic beings and yet, we want energy independence, maybe if we opened our hearts we would understand that it is all one in the same.

Angela Levesque is an exercise physiologist, mind/body educator and energy healer. She hosts a weekly online radio show called On Health & Healing on a2zen.fm and teaches several classes on self care for chronic illness. Visit www.hestiahealth.com for more information. Follow her on https://twitter.com/HestiaHealth and http://www.facebook.com/hestiahealth.

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Comment by Angela Levesque on October 11, 2012 at 1:26pm
Thanks Dawn!

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