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Scarcity Thinking

Scarcity is a term/principle that drives capitalism, wherein it is believed that there are seemingly unlimited human wants and needs in a world of limited resources. Theory goes: that society has insufficient productive resources to fulfill all human wants and needs alternatively so we must compete for these limited resources. In short: there isn’t enough of everything for everyone. It's dangerous thinking, and it works against us when we begin to consider more abstract things such as "compassion" and "care" and even "rights", because we have been trained to believed that there isn't 'enough to go around'. However, because these -rights; compassion, care, and respect for others- are things which we construct within our hearts and minds (and sometimes through subsequent) policy and law), we are able to manifest them in endless supply.

@lavernecox at the @womensmarch last month spoke these words about scarcity, specifically related to social justice and issues of discrimination in our society. More than a just a speech, her words offered a much-needed perspective on how we, as a society, both perceive and respond to threat, or fear of threat.

There is another important concept to point out here, which derives from psychology, and that is 'jealousy'. Jealousy is defined as "mental uneasiness from suspicion or fear of rivalry; vigilance in maintaining or guarding something". Feeling jealous -a widely experienced human emotion- is an indicator that we may be sensing a perceived threat. So, when suspicion or fear or an unexamined guarded-ness emerges within us, it's a really good opportunity to ask, "What am I feeling and why? “Is this a real or imagined threat?" “What exactly is being threatened?” Asking these questions are good ways to bring self-awareness to our lives, and more compassion to ourselves and others. They can also lead to bigger, more productive answers that we all really need in order come together and feel more connected. Dismantling the paradigm of scarcity -even by just considering how it might impact our day-to-day thinking- can emancipate us from the larger institutional power dynamic, allowing for increased personal agency and control. It isn’t necessary that we all see eye to eye. There is room for multiple perspectives and experiences and -if we can sit with that understanding without succumbing to fear (…of losing out on something, …of not having our needs met, …of not belonging)- we may all soon realize that there is plenty of everything for everyone.


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