The myth of ‘scarcity’

scarcity

“2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’” 4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.” When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate. Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.” (Genesis 3:2-7)

“took and ate”, could this possibly be the first act of human consumerism?  To me, this is a picture of what you and I still do today.  But the question is why?  What is it within us that says that what we have is not enough?  Where do the fears come from that speak to us and say that someone/something is taking things away from us and in the end there won’t be enough for me?  The myth is that the thing I put my security in is a scarce thing, there isn’t enough of it, so I will consume it and hoard it if need be so that I am self-sufficient and not vulnerable to the reality of being left without.  It is a fear-based way of thinking, I don’t think it’s how we were originally designed.  The moment the original humans tried to ‘make it on their own’, it didn’t work out for them.  What they felt was fear, shame, competition and a loss of peace.  All that was right, now was wrong and they came to that realization, the game changed.

We do this on many levels in western culture.  Physically, popular reality shows on hoarding and apocalypse preparation are extreme examples of the idea that if we don’t grab for more and the fleeting security of self-sufficiency, there won’t be enough for me.  We do this on our over-filled closets, basements, garages, dressers, attics, crawl-spaces etc. of stuff we hardly use, don’t really need but we acquire because we must not have enough and want the security of more.  We do this with the promise of retirement savings, that we can save up enough to live comfortably into our aging years because of what we have stockpiled throughout life.  Consumer goods aren’t evil, it’s our attachments to them that expose the sickness.  Saving money is a wise habit/strategy, but as a source of security for what really sustains us, it will fall woefully short.

From a spiritual perspective, it seems to me that the original humans no longer trusted that God would provide for them, that there wouldn’t always be enough.  So they began to take mastery of their world, enforce a dominion over Creation and grab for what they could instead of living and trusting in the promises given to them and the balance of harmony they were set in.  Take, acquire, master, consume . . . these are the verbs of the myth of ‘scarcity’.  The opposite verb is simply ‘trust’.

So what is the antidote to the myth of ‘scarcity’?  I think it is a simple yet profound trust in the One who made us, who cares for us, who will do what He promises to do.  I think it is also a trust in one another.  My favorite definition of community is ‘there’s enough for everyone’.  That we make ourselves vulnerable to one another in the reality that we need each other, that we are designed to live in community with others so that as we each contribute, all our needs are met.  This is how Creation operates, no one part has all it needs to survive, we live as a part of a connected whole sourcing one another.  The myth of ‘scarcity’ begins when we stop trusting these basic truths and in our vulnerability grab for more.

I’m seeing some parts within me recently that I’ve bought into this lie of scarcity and it’s exposing my lack of trust in the One who made me. I find myself going back to a primary place within, perhaps circling back to that Garden and asking myself what do I really believe and trust in about God and His Creation and my part in it?  I’m coming to a new realization that there are some really good answers to that question, and plenty of them.  Scarcity be gone.

 

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