By Olivia Sprinkel.
Who are we?
Now, we are consumers. That is our role is in society. “Consumers” is the default word for people. The institutions that surround us—from schools to workplaces to government—are designed to make us consumers.
Being a consumer means accepting an essentially passive role in our life, one in which we seek fulfillment through the accumulation of stuff, whether it be material goods, a high status job, or even in terms of our relationships.
And yet, increasingly, we know that living our life as consumers is damaging us—damaging us as individuals and as a society, and damaging the earth that supports us. As consumers, we are left searching for that which will give meaning to our lives, as we fail to find lasting satisfaction in consumption.
So what is the alternative?
We protest. We propose modifications to capitalism, to make it more compassionate or more conscious. These are necessary actions. Yet, I believe we need to add an extra dimension to the conversation of change.
We need to recognize that the answer lies with us – and within us. The systems we live in are not something separate from us. They are created by us together. And it is by working together that we can create the future that we want.
But we can only achieve real change if we reject our identity as consumers. As consumers, we will only ever tinker around the edges of an existing model.
We need to reclaim our identities. We need to create a new narrative of what it means to be human.
Instead of seeing ourselves as consumers, I believe we need to see ourselves as Creativists.
A Creativist is a person who creates and connects and acts. Creativists are connected with who they are and are driven from the inside out, rather than being defined by a position as a consumer in society. Creativists fulfill their need to create which is part of all of us. Creativists use their gifts, and in doing so connect with others and in turn society benefits.
The distinction is clear. Consume versus Create. And the forces of consume versus create contain within them a series of choices that we make everyday in our lives—in our relationships, at work and in our communities.
Consume vs. Create.
Have vs. Be.
Alone vs. Together.
Fear vs. Faith.
Certainty vs. Uncertainty.
Movement vs. Stillness.
Decide vs. Choose.
Political vs. Personal.
Answers vs. Questions.
My view is not that one side of the column is all bad and the other side is all good. My argument is that we are out of balance, that we are too geared up to being consumers, rather than Creativists, and we need to restore the balance—for the sake of ourselves, our society and our planet.
I began by asking ‘Who are we?’
Beginning to think as Creativists rather than consumers also helps us to question who we are, and to begin to evolve towards answering that question, to uncovering our purpose, and to discovering how we can best actively contribute and participate in the journey of our lives in a different way.In this way, we become who we really are, rather than someone who is playing a role, which is a lot more fun and adventurous than pretending to be someone we are not.
There are countless examples of people living their lives creatively and authentically and transforming the part of society that they touch through their actions, yet the dominant story that is told is still that of the consumer.
Imagine what we could achieve if the Creativists of the world came together to proclaim, “This is the world that we want to and can create—in which to live and thrive.”
Over the coming weeks, I am going to take a look at each of the above choices we can make. I believe a shift is already starting to happen away from us accepting being defined as consumers.
I would love it if you would share your views on how we can come together and accelerate this transition, individually and collectively, and what it might means for us – and you.
“What is needed is something beyond existing traditions to bring us back to the most fundamental aspect of the human – giving shape to ourselves”. ~ Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future.
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