Can we create a world of abundance without making it a world of excess? The boosters of a consumer economy rightly point out that poverty is not a virtue. (Of course, poverty might be a means to a virtue. This is how ascetics use poverty, not as the end but as a means.) Yet quite a few people who experience the riches of a consumer economy also feel the burdens of its wastes. Let me suggest two definitions that might help sort out the question.

Excess more than is healthy for individuals and communities.

Abundance enough for individuals and communities to flourish.

I ran these definitions of excess and abundance through a number of thought experiments. Can we reasonably apply these definitions of excess and abundance to things like: entertainment, food, clothing, travel, exercise, etc.? In my mind, in my personal experience, and in my observations of others, these definition seem to hold up pretty good when applied to these kinds of things.

Trickier would be to apply these definitions of excess and abundance to things like: knowledge, government, health care, waste, security, etc. Here too the definitions hold up, I think. But it requires more nuance to apply the definitions to something like health care. No one would resist abundant health care if that meant enough health care to flourish. Yet perhaps some people would think there can never been an excess of health care. Excess health care is not necessarily an intuitive concept.

Assuming we can safely apply these definitions of excess and abundance to the first type of things and probably also apply these definitions to the second type of things, how might we do so practically? At some point a thought experiment needs to get out of realm of ideas.

I am never short on ideas, so I could suggest some ways to get practical. And I will in subsequent blog posts, categorized as ExcessVsAbundance. But for now, what do you think? How can we create a world of abundance without making it a world of excess?

Posted by David Bruno

simplifier | entrepreneur | instructor | author | I light up when I can inspire human flourishing