Affluenza : The All Consuming Epidemic
One of two books I've read with this title, Affluenza (Affluence + Influenza) takes the point of view that ever increasing consumption is a disease, caused by greed, spread by advertising, it's symptoms are ever increasing piles of stuff we never use, and it's logical end is the destruction of the natural world in which we live.
On average we have twice as much 'stuff' now as we did fifty years ago, yet studies show we are no happier now than we were then. Perhaps if we were to give away half of our 'stuff', we wouldn't need to work as many hours, we could spend more time pursuing beauty within our own lives, we could be happier and living more sustainably in a more beautiful world.
Our lifestyles should reflect an achievable model for all peoples, however if all the worlds peoples were to live as we do in Western culture, we would destroy the world in a few years. Morally it should be up to those who have the most to show the way for those whose actions are limited by their present fear of destitute poverty. We need to simplify our lives, working out what is really important to us, be scientific about how we can achieve the best quality of life whilst not consuming as if we existed in a moral vacuum.
Our current measurements of national progress are purely financial, smokers purchase cigarettes, doctors are required to treat their lung cancer etc...this is a net gain to the financial system, but what gain is it to our quality of life? We need to start looking at real indicators of the health and happiness of our community, rather than delusional financial ones.
Affluenza looks at this disease from a number of different angles, packed full of great information, it might just be a survivial guide for the modern soul.