Love your stuff!

Material possessions are not (necessarily) evil

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I said that material possessions are not (necessarily) evil and it is a little bit like money. Often it is said that “money is the root of all evil” but that is a misquote, and I think often made thus deliberately, of the term “the love of money is the root of all evil” and similar could be with possessions. Possessions can posses the possessor.

On the other hand though, possessions are not evil, per se.

I have been, like many, I should think, doing some thinking about the things that we own and what they mean.

From Buy Nothing Day to Freecycle to The Story of Stuff, rethinking our relationship to money and material possessions is a central theme within the sustainability debate and many greens believe that we have become way too wrapped up in our love of stuff. I wonder, however, if we may have go this completely the wrong way round. Maybe we do not love our stuff that we have enough.

The problem is not that we love stuff too much; rather that we do not love what we have enough. Why else do people swoon over the next tech gadget; the next McMansion; or the next over sized car, before becoming bored and moving on to another obsession? That is not love, it is lust, pure and simple, and it is a promiscuous lust at that.

What if we rejected these consumer equivalents of a one night stand? What if we committed to our stuff instead? What if we settled into deep and meaningful, if somewhat polygamous, relationships with our possessions? Once we make the commitment to fall in love all over again with our houses, with our clothes, with our furniture, we start looking for qualities of durability, reliability, craftsmanship, beauty and sustainability, instead of cheap thrills and shallow gimmicks. We start nurturing, nourishing and maintaining what we have, rather than looking for something new. In short, we learn to live with less.

It is time to spread the love. Embrace your dining room table. Love your bicycle. Swoon over your spoons. And look forward to sharing your life with them for years to come.

This is a way that we can live a much more sustainable life. One doe not really have to have the latest gadget and latest computer, although I got new ones late last year; computers that is. In that case a new laptop (never had a new one before) because my desktop PC was starting to wobble, and also an ASUS 900 netbook. The latter to have a computer that is really portable.

On the other hand, however, personally, I try to make do with what I have got for as long as I can and in fact still have some old computers about that I had hoped too resurrect. The latter, however, is not really an option with some of them, at second thoughts.

Hen buying anything, nowadays, I look for quality and I also look at making things for myself rather than buying, as and where this is possible, and ideally from what others would regard to be “waste”.

As said earlier in this article, we need to rediscover our love for the things that we have. That way we will not all the time desire new for if you are “in love” with your computer, your cell phone, your clothes, your bicycle or whatever other possession then you will not be looking to get new but to care for what you have already got.

However, too many people do not love their possessions. They will throw a bicycle simply because it has a puncture in a tire and they cannot be bothered to repair it. Instead they go to the shop and buy a new one.

Anyone who works in the waste management field or in the field of management of parks and open spaces sure can tell a story of the bikes that have been abandoned, often for no other reason than the tires having been punctured or some other repairable damage.

This is something that is entirely beyond me as to why and how people can do such things and afford to do such things. But then, that is consumerism; the religion of the great majority.

However, if we learn to love what we have we will be able to get away from the permanent lusting for new this and new that and we will learn to live a life that will be much more content.

© 2009