Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Scarcity Assumption

There are unspoken concepts which influence behaviour. Looking at the drive to acquire 'stuff', to own places and to be the first to have a new thing, one might assume that we need to beat others to it. That there is not enough to go around.

We get impatient when we have to wait in line. We preorder to make sure we don't miss out. Or we line up outside ALDI on a Thursday morning (read also Target/KMart/Big W toysale and layby counter if you live around here) to get this week's catalogue bargains.

Observers of these actions might assume that there is not enough stuff to go around. Last time I checked, however, there are shops filled with stuff in shopping centres all over Australia. Since the GFC most of it is on sale. We are not running out of 'STUFF' any time soon. We have been fooled into thinking that, not only do we need more stuff to survive, but stuff is scarce and we daren't miss out on it.

To quote Veggie Tales (Madame Blueberry), "Happiness lives at the Stuff-Mart, all you need is lots more ... stuff!"

Parker Palmer* talks about the 'assumption of scarcity' driving our behaviour. Believing that good things are scarce drive us to greed, to impatience, to envy and to hate. And the result of our greed and fear driven behaviour is that scarcity becomes reality for the people in society who already lack resources. Eg. People living in famine cannot get food because the world economy is driven by the scarcity assumption.

The paradox he highlights is that the things that really matter in life are actually abundant. God's creation is in fact abundant in beauty and the abundance of creation is always being renewed. God's love and mercy are not limited in availability.

"The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease."
Lamentations 3:22

The world actually has enough resources to provide adequate food, shelter, education and healthcare for people around the globe, if we could overcome greed, oppression and fear.

If we could begin to see the abundance around us, we might be freed from our slavery to envy, greed and the fear of missing out. It is a conscious mindshift, a decision to look for abundance, rather than be driven by the ethos of scarcity. It will encourage thankfulness, generosity and enjoyment. It will loosen the grip of consumerism and greed on our hearts and minds.

Most of all, it will lead us to appreciate the character of God more, God who delights in abundance. Who finds great joy in giving to us, his dearly loved children. God, whose abundance of mercy and grace overcomes our narrowness, our fear and our brokenness.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else? Romans 8:31-32

*Parker J. Palmer, The Promise of Paradox

Images from stock.xchng

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