A glass is a container, and lets face it, American culture says containers should be full. Be it a glass, a gas tank, a wallet, or a room in a house, we try to fill it. And not just fill it to what we think we need, but to fill it past overflowing no matter what.
For instance, have you ever ordered a beer at a bar and only to be insulted by being handed 15.5 ounces of that golden goodness instead of the 16 ounces you thought you ordered? I mean, you wouldn’t have noticed if the glass had been a bit smaller and consequently full, but there it is, that thin slice of worthless air sitting above your beer, but still within the confines of your pint glass. What did you do to piss of the waiter? Is this Karma? Do they really expect to run a business this way? I thought it was understood that every glass of beer should have a complimentary excess of foam to spill onto the table or bar when the waiter set it down. Don’t tell me this isn’t a big deal, because it is!
Okay, it isn’t. Or maybe it is, but probably not in the normal sense of things. Maybe there is a problem, a big problem, but it is not that half an once worth of beer has been stolen from you. The much more real problem is this: We all feel our containers should be full. So why is this a problem? Well, why do we feel this way? Lets get rid of the obvious — it is not because we need them full. It may have been a long stressful day, but no one needs that half once of beer. No one need their wallet stuffed full of hundreds or their refrigerator stuffed full of the most expensive food. No, but there is something appetizing about it anyways. Something that makes so many people see the above glass as not only half empty, but as an abomination to all glasses of any size. Why?
Clearly the glass is representative of something more, but the fundamentals of the problem are real. Why is it that we are disappointed with anything except “the most?” Is it a matter of fairness? Is it disappointing to get 15.5 ounces of beer when your friend got 16 for the same price? Is it a matter of convenience? Is it frustrating to know another beer order will be necessary half an once of beer drinking time earlier? Maybe it is just because we expect the system to work the way the system is supposed to work. $5.00 = 16 ounces of beer in a glass. Period. End of story.
Well ultimately, it is likely some combination of these things combined with a predetermined way of thinking resulting from the setup of our society. When filling a glass, the bottom of the glass is a starting point and the top an end. And when drinking, these points of interest reverse themselves. These goals define us. Having $0 is a starting point and $afreakinglot is an end point. Walking is a starting point and a Lamborghini is an end point. Few people seem to think of the points in between much. But, to continue the tackiness that is this beer example, isn’t it true that in between the top and bottom is what’s important? It is the enjoyment of the beer and the time to talk with friends that matters. That first delicious sip of a new beer is incredible and that doesn’t change if it is ounce 15.5 or 16. Getting to your family’s or friend’s house is what’s important, not that you broke 100 on the way.
And our habits of finding satisfaction only in full glasses are not only unnecessary, but destructive. Economists have plans to fill everyone’s glass. Why then, does it seem that NO ONE has a full glass? Three reasons.
One, infinite growth within our finite world is impossible and insane. Therefore, instead of filling glasses from a never ending faucet like we pretend exists, we are actually filling some glasses by emptying others. More specifically, we are emptying the economic glasses of many developing nations, our own working class, and ironically, our own environment. Our world is interconnected and there are dire consequences to emptying the resources of our environment to increase the balances of our bank accounts. Our world is very finite and when the resources run out, our full wallets won’t mean a thing.
Secondly, we are trying to fill our glasses with something imaginary. Someone with $10 wants $20. Someone with $100,000 wants $200,000. It is never ending because money is imaginary. It pops into existence at the click of a button and then vanishes in a catastrophic burst of an economic bubble. It has nothing to do with the real world. Yes, oil prices are dictated by what we find, but show no resemblance to the inventory of our earth or environmental effects. It is believed that we have already passed the maximum amount of oil that will ever be drawn from the earth. That is, there will be continuously less concentrated energy available in year to come. This might suggest that prices should be increasing, but as long as supply is meeting demand, they don’t. Everyone has been excited about the falling costs of gasoline recently, but this is insane! It is like withdrawing all the money from your bank account and saying, yea, lets use it all since I already have it out. We are saying, look how much oil we have out in barrels, lets sell it for wicked cheap. Well there is going to be hell to pay when we look at our oil bank account. And also when we look at our environmental one.
Finally, the root of the problem lies in the fact that we don’t need full glasses. We need happiness and we are looking for it in all the wrong places. Respect of others, friendship, family, and acceptance of facts are all key ingredients for happiness, yet many are prepared to sacrifice these for a few more dollars in the bank. A world where the environment and all of the people have enough in their glasses to find happiness is a sustainable and better world. And, contrary to popular belief, this world is within reaching distance. All it would take would be for people to accept they already have enough in the glass to be happy and share the excess. If we could stop destroying our world for a few years, take our excess energy to create a sustainable infrastructure, we could also find harmony with our environment. This beautiful world where everyone is happy is not out of reach, only out of our minds. We don’t see it. Well lets start.
Happy Wednesday everyone. Much love to all.