Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Declaring Interdependence

In declaring independence, I have had to make some big life style changes. I decided that what was important to me was spending time with people I care about, and chipping away at my ignorance about the world I live in. I no longer earn a salary. I live off a modest notional salary that I think my long term savings can sustainably support. My money is the breadwinner, I am the homemaker. 'Modest' in terms of what I was earning, not in terms of what most people in the world earn. I am incredibly privileged. The global median household income is about $10,000 (£7,000 or R160,000).  That is for a family! So about $3,000 each. So 3.7 billion people survive on less than that. In the UK, the median household income (and this is a wealthy country) is about £24,000. That, especially in London, feels modest but is relatively decadent in global terms. Nearly 2.8 billion people live on less than $2 a day.

One of the things that gets more difficult is socialising. Given how secretive we are about what we earn (and how tied into pride etc. it is as a signal of success), even going out for a bite to eat can get problematic. Sustainable doesn't include regular meals at restaurants I would have previously considered ordinary. The average pint of beer costs £3.60. So two Londoners who earned the household median and spent all their money on beer (no food, clothes or any thing else) would still 'only' get 9 pints a day.

The irony, is that if you are time rich, and can learn to cook, you can make fantastic food yourself at home. Last night I made an incredibly yummy, very easy, tomato soupThe challenge is shifting the places you meet people to your home or theirs. As things stand, people end up socialising with others who can 'afford to keep up'. It isn't much fun constantly being sponsored by other people, or being punched in the stomach every time you strive to keep up.

We spend most of our time working with a subset of people who share relatively similar world views. If we throw in financial constraints on the little bit of social time we allow ourselves, our bubbles are likely to get reinforced with steel.

How often do people end up spending time getting to know people outside their bubbles? How can we possibly start to understand the way they see the world if we don't? A lot of our belief in building a society that works has come from groups being fairly represented. I am not convinced that that is the answer. We build a society that works by getting to know each other. We don't build partisan ideologies that support our world view. We spend time with each other. We listen to each other. We build our views out to incorporate others so they become a part of who we are.

Declaring Independence is less important than Declaring Interdependence
Post a Comment