What is “relevant”?
>The mantra of the United States feminist movement, “the personal is the political”, began to surface around the 1960’s. While the origins of the phrase are irrelevant to my next points, the concept is very real. It is difficult to discuss or write about the stress and challenges of my daily life in a blog without sounding as though I am narcissistically blinded by the devastation I momentarily feel in the moment. But the empowerment in the slogan “the personal is the political” clarifies that issues in foreign affairs, the trillians-of-dollars national deficit, a poorly structured and deregulated healthcare system and the 2008 economic crisis are not encompassing of what politics are. In this statement, we remember that our challenges and successes are due to what we have normalized as a highly controlled government system.
Basically, I dont want to feel like a miserable teenage girl who is petty and distracted from the real issues. I try to remember that what I am experiencing personally is not something that should be hidden, it is related to my level of privilege, my ancestory, citizenship, socio-economic class and many other variables that code who I am and what I should be doing with my life. Lately, I have been remembering my last trip to the Middle East this February. I remember waking up every morning with my Aunt, running upstairs to my neighbors house…. drinking Nescafe and tea until her children woke up, while knitting, crocheting and watching a cooking channel – Fatafeat. It felt so simple, yet I was so content. Every once in awhile I had an interest in leaving the house, but the culture allowed me to relax and stay home. It was okay. I felt that this simple activity in my life was a privilege, but on the contrary, the way I was conducting my life in America proved that I was living a life of privilege and access.
“Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege… Privilege does not have to be negative, but we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.”
— bell hooks (Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism)
My life in America had been wasted in shopping malls, in the car commuting to work and going to any place I wanted and on-line. I was doing whatever I wanted, because I was fortunate enough to have the money to make it happen. The “privilege” I thought I was feeling in the Middle East was actually what life is when you dont spend your time in stores or at cash registers…. this is kind of what my life was created to be – organic in the way I chose to spend my time , because shopping and being in my car and surfing the net all day put me in a cave where I was too distracted and greedy to move forward with my passion to make a positive impact on the world.
As I struggle in America to maintain a more organic and relaxing life with a focus on being with people that make me feel good, I am slowly identifying values that I would like to align more with my actions. So that I can honor my inner desire to live this organic life with a focus on the people… not things, I am choosing to begin an anti-consumerism diet. The idea is that I stop buying clothes, jewelry, make up, perfume, accessories, furniture, kitchen appliances….. anything that is not in my bills, on my grocery store list or a requirement to keep my job (drop dead requirement, like gas, for instance). I started on March 14. I would like to try this diet for 30 days, and measure my success and how far I can take this. I am interested in what my perspective on anti-consumerism will be in 30 days. If I can, I will go longer. For now, I am taking a little test.