June 20, 2018 Common Good

Buying Satisfaction, And Ending Up Empty

In our effort to find satisfaction through consumption, we are converted from citizen to consumer….

One social cost of consumption is that the family has lost its function. It is no longer the primary unit that raises a child, sustains our health, cares for the vulnerable, and ensures economic security. The family, while romanticized and held as a cultural ideal, has been a casualty of the growth of consumption and therefore lost much of its purpose. Its usefulness has been compromised.

The second social cost is that, in too many cases, we are disconnected from our neighbors and isolated from our communities. Consequently, the community and neighborhood are no longer competent. When we use the term community competence, we mean the capacity of the place where we live to be useful to us, to support us in creating those things that can be produced only in the surroundings of a connected community.

When they are competent, communities operate as a supportive and mediating space central to the capacity of a family to fulfill its functions.

How is “where you live” useful to you? If you are struggling to answer, look for clues in where you buy things and who you trust to help you. Is there a service or good that you could buy from someone you know or live in proximity with? Is there something you pay someone to help you with that you could pay a neighbor or friend to do? Or, could maybe even ask someone to do as a friend, paying them or bartering in order to build the shared relationship with that person?

It’s easy to assume we buy our way to satisfaction, but generosity, trust, and vulnerability go a lot further in reaching satisfaction and security.



McKnight, John.The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (pp. 9-10). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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