Home > Opinion > Sifting wants from needs

Sifting wants from needs

WE'RE all in it together, human nature being what it is: the compulsion to consume and the belief that bigger, and more, is better.

We know that we are looking in the wrong places for what will truly satisfy us when we over-accumulate, overeat, overspend and overleverage – and then complain about the service.

In her story on page 9, Journey writer Tara Burton explores the health problems of the developing world, and shares a link to a video called First World Problems.

It's hard to watch without feeling spoiled by privilege as a series of trivial but uncomfortably familiar complaints are voiced by people whose problems are truly worthy of the word.

This week I read some reporting of the US presidential campaign that described a hotdog-eating competition in New Jersey.

I also read that one in five children in developing countries is underweight, prompting Millennium Development Goal (MDG) no. 1, to eradicate hunger by reducing by half the tens of millions of people affected.

As Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute, comments on page 16, Australians enthusiastically committed to the MDGs but have less enthusiasm for the sacrifices required to reach them.

But I may not be the only one detecting some sense of change.

Alongside signs like the government figures showing household deleveraging in the few years since the GFC are the people and communities, such as the one Paul Moore describes on the Sunshine Coast on page 10, who are committing to sustainability in ever-deeper ways.

Many of us, like Journey writer Dianne Jensen on page 7, have found liberation and even a sense of accomplishment in trimming our lives of an excess of possessions.

And there are signs of change, too, in the development of the Australian National Development Index (ANDI) project, which seeks to put an index of wellbeing and true quality of life alongside existing measurements of economic production and transaction.

UnitingJustice Director Rev Elenie Poulos shares some news about ANDI on page 8, including its long-term goals of community participation and public policy-making that better serves the common good.

Together, we can make a difference. Let's be on our way.