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I definitely consider this a moral crisis of America's mindless consumerism and abandoning ethical and moral values for get-rich schemes. My strongest spiritual resource is this green earth and the web of life, and the movement of this country to encourage consumption that can't be sustained has outraged me for years.
The values I bring that keep me steady in this time are several. First, I have lived in third world countries, and am trained as an anthropologist. I know that it is possible to live with very little, but I also know that the consumption of America is directly linked to how little these people have. In the US, I have lived in poor rural areas, and similarly know how to live with very little. I have practiced voluntary simplicity for years and participate very little in the consumption economy.
Second, I am the director of a non-profit organization, and our little grassroots program has been hard-hit by this downturn. Foundations have cut grants and donations usual at this time of year haven't materialized. I have worked for several months to find additional resources, cut non-essentials, and cover payroll. I finally had to layoff staff, but I began with myself. I am paid for one day a week, and volunteer 3 or 4 other days. I cut the days of my admin assist. next and the program manager will be next since I consider the program the priority of the organization. I hope that we'll be able to survive the next year but I hope my own dedication lets other staff know that I value their work and will try to find the funds to keep them working.
I found the reflections of your panel very interesting, and I thank you for providing this way of thinking about the crisis. As a Buddhist, I see this as a way of moving another step away from materialism, and it brings my attachments into sharp focus.
Like many others, I hope that our new President can really help this country re-orient. I have learned to value the many strengths of the people around me, especially those who hold on to hope for their many different reasons. Some are young, and have the hope of innocence. Some are older and have learned to have something to hold to. I try to listen to them all.