Following on from my Ethiopia experience, a recurrent question is ‘How much is enough?’
This already sounds really boring and worthy, but curiously, it is quite an interesting question. If I take ‘media/entertainment’ items and remember what we had in our family home (four people) 25 years ago and compare them to what is in a family home now, I end up with a couple of lists like this:
25 years ago
One television (in the living room)
A couple of radios (in the kitchen and in the bedroom)
A couple of Hi-Fi’s (one in the living room and the other in a bedroom)
A VHS player (in the living room)
Two telephones (one downstairs and one upstairs)
A Walkman (because I was really cool)
So about 9 items
Okay then, was that enough? Too much? Not enough? Does it matter?
Five televisions (living room, kitchen and three bedrooms)
Two landlines (downstairs and upstairs)
Five mobiles (one for everyone plus one more)
Three laptops (family one, one parent and one child)
Two games consoles (Wii and one more)
Two handheld (e.g. DS or PSP)
Sky/Digital TV box
One kindle or ipad
I make that 26
Okay then, is that enough? Is that too much? Not enough? Does it matter?
The number has grown two and half times in 25 years. If it grew by two and a half times in the next 25 years, that would make it about 70 items in a household.
Is that enough? Is that too much? Not enough? Does it matter?
(70 sounds ridiculous to me, but then I guess saying that everyone is going to have a TV, a phone and a personal music player would have sounded ridiculous 25 years ago.)
This is the bit where it does get annoying (if it hasn’t already) is if I ask if the ‘How much is enough?’ question in relation to other areas of my life and the lives I see of those around me?
One answer this is see how many self-storage places that have sprung up in recent years. Created to provide space for all the stuff that you don’t use. What a genius business.
But, more importantly, does anyone have an answer to ‘How much is enough?’ How much economic growth is enough? How much removal of the rainforest is enough? Perhaps even more importantly, is anyone even asking the question? All I know is that if you keep on with an unstoppable increase in what you do, it normally doesn’t have a happy ending.