This weekend, I went to the store to buy one book and left with another. Leaving a store with an item that I didn’t enter with the intention to purchase is not the “news story” here. If you’re anything like me, it probably happens to you all the time.
However, it’s the subject of one particular book which has me sheepishly explaining the incredibly obvious contradiction of the two books that I’m about to pay for at the check-out counter. Their titles are…”The Middle-Class Millionaire; The Rise of the New Rich and How They Are Changing America….and the book that somehow gripped me while browsing through the aisles. It is entitled…”Affluenza; The All-Consuming Epidemic.”
The clerk glances at the two titles and then struck by the polar opposite nature of the purchases, picks them up and examines them more thoroughly. Finally he offers this explanation…”Well, M’am…when you’re rich, you’ll know how to avoid Affluenza.” I nod in muted agreement…doubtful.
However, it is this book…the one I didn’t go to the store to buy that consumes my attention throughout the weekend. Affluenza is defined as:
n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.
1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Jones.
2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness causedÂ by the dogged pursuit of the American Dream.
The book Affluenza is like a spirited conversation. An engaging and convicting look at what has transpired to us (and within us ) as we have doggedly pursued the American Dream…of more, more & more. It’s a wake-up call that brings into sharp focus the manner in which excessive consumerism has created a nightmare in which most of us are still sleepwalking.
Written with a wry wit and clear eyed analysis, this book offers a comprehensive diagnosis: Starting with Shopping Fever, the Rash of Bankruptcies, Swollen Expectation, Chronic Congestion, the Stress of Excess, Community Chills, An Ache for Meaning, Resource Exhaustion, Industrial Diarrhea and eventually Dissatisfaction Guaranteed, it gently prods us to see our over-drive efforts for improvement at all costs in an entirely new light.
I admit to being mesmerized and at the same time somewhat disheartened. Perhaps it is the sinking realization that one can be on the right path, yet in so many ways miss the reason for the journey in the first place. It is a sobering thing to recognize that the clothes we wear may have cost someone their life. Or that the fruit that is available all year round in the grocery store is cheap and plentiful because of exploitative labor.
As a real estate agent, our growing data-bank of millions of homes which remain unsold and are in foreclosure or shortsale remind us that this disease plays for keeps….Affluenza has real implications and disastrous results if left unchecked. It is literally destroying the financial welfare of millions of Americans even as it consumes their savings and now their personal homes.
But, the book is not a treatise on hopelessness. It seems that many of us are “waking up” to the fact that our priorities are out of whack. We’ve been focusing on the wrong things. In fact, things in and of themselves do not have the ability to provide meaning.
Many “rat-race” refugees are seeking refuge through a different route in life. An empowered path which starts by acknowledging that we’ve been living with a skewed framework of values. A path which seeks restoration within and revitalization in relationship without. An understanding which knows that when I am my brother’s keeper, I have not only gained a brother…I have indeed found myself again.
If you’d like to explore this condition further, check out this site where you can diagnosis, understand and find some proven methods to combat the disease. It’s guaranteed to change your perspective!
To Learn more about the Story of Stuff, click on the link or on the picture. It’s an incredible story!
Picture is courtesy of: debaird’s photostream