Tag Archives: scarcity

Good humans are not a scarcity

A rather toxic idea I’ve encountered recently is the notion that good humans are in short supply. Which leads to the idea that as good humans are in short supply, we should cling tightly to any half-way decent humans who cross our path. Even if we don’t really get on that well. Even if we’ve uncovered massive differences. Even if one of us has serious doubts that the other one even is a particularly good person.

If you accept the idea that good people are scarce, life is scarier. You may be more persuaded to stick with the people who you already have, regardless of how good they are for you.

It is a standard issue trick from bullies and abusers, to encourage the victim to think that they can’t do any better. No one else would put up with them, or understand them better, or care for them more than the bully does. Good people are in short supply – if I tell you this and I tell you that I am ‘good people’ and I encourage you to be afraid that without me, you will feel even more sad and alone… I am not your friend.

At the same time, we can on the whole afford to think better of the people around us. The haters, trolls and Nazis may be loud right now, and they may drown out quieter voices, but they are not as numerous as they want us to think. Most of the people around you are probably more decent than not, kinder than not. If we can’t believe in the goodness of each other, we become more vulnerable to the minority of people who peddle hate.

Good people are everywhere. Most of them don’t go round advertising themselves as ‘good people’. Many are quiet about the good they do, or under-estimate its worth. There are also a lot of people who would be good if they had any idea what to do, what to trust or believe in, how to navigate in these strange times… if we look after each other and put faith in each other’s goodness, we can collectively overcome this, and make more good happen between us.


Scarcity, abundance and sufficiency

We live in an age that creates an impression of scarcity and often creates a reality of scarcity, to keep us hooked on buying more stuff and working more hours. We don’t have enough time. There’s not enough money to take care of our homeless or help refugees from war zones (there is money for weapons). We are encouraged to fear others, who may use resources, we are encouraged to accept environmental degradation for the sake of there being ‘more’.

The truth is that many of us have an abundance of good things, some of us have excess, but we can’t always see it. I blame the corrosive effect of advertising. The best way to deal with the issues of scarcity in your life, is to look for abundance, and practice gratitude. Let me be clear, if you do not have enough food, if you can’t heat your home, this is not going to be of much direct help to you. But, having been through some harsh times myself, I do think that recognising whatever you have, however small it is, helps with dignity and a sense of wellbeing. Poverty causes considerable stress, alleviating the stress will help you.

It’s easy to get trapped in obsessing over what we haven’t got. If you are missing essential things, this is an issue that can never be that far from your mind. However, for many people, the sense of scarcity and threat has more to do with fear than it does with life. Take the time to find whatever small goods there are in your life. What makes you happy? What do you have enough of? More than enough? What can you share?

If you are keeping things for the sake of it, give some of it away. It’s a liberating feeling, but nothing will help you feel abundant more than recognising that you had something you didn’t need, and passing it along to someone who could use it. Whatever time off you get, look at how you use it, for your own sense of wellbeing and to contribute to other people’s. You might have little money, but a time rich person has all kinds of opportunities. It may be that you are a compassionate person, and that care is the abundance you can share with others. If you have a car, your abundance might mean giving lifts to those who don’t. You might give away excess produce. Write a blog and share your ideas. There are many other ways of doing this, too.

A person doesn’t have to go a long way out of their way to feel a bit abundant, a bit generous. Of course, in sharing your abundance, however small, you are making life better for someone else. You are alleviating their sense of scarcity and showing them how to share whatever abundance they can find. Imagine the possible knock-on effects. Imagine what could be alleviated.

We can use our feelings of abundance to tackle feelings of scarcity, and by doing this, we can move towards a sense of sufficiency, of recognising when we have enough. This in turn would reduce overall consumption. We can help reduce the scarcity experienced by others. If abundance means sharing, then hording would be less acceptable. It would be a hefty cultural revolution, but it is thinkable.