Will it Become Fashionable to Sacrifice?

12 Mar 2010|Kelli Peterson

Most of us have come of age in a time of great prosperity. Our muscles of self-restraint are nearly non-existent. Across all economic classes, we have been cultivated to believe we can have and do anything at any cost. In fact, cost has been a non-issue and we have taken great pains to push aside the notion that compromise of any sort was undertaken to achieve social status, professional success or our material possessions.

Yet there seems to be at least a slight wind in the air directing our attention to the fact that this pervasive attitude should be or is changing.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, Newsweek and others have published many points of view across the business, government and consumer spectrum calling out that it might be time to take responsibility for curbing our grandiose ways.

Julia Reed, dubbed “the soul of extravagance” by her Father, shared with us in “Budget Gourmet” the tale of her bet with her husband that they could dine pretty well on a meager $50/week.

Politically, Evan Thomas pointed out in “We the Problem” that it’s not Washington that’s broken, it’s us. We have been a society of entitlement for so long that making a claim to give up something in the pursuit of justice or equality is passé. Our politicians therefore can not be blamed for never committing to sacrifice as mechanism of exemplary leadership. We don’t find it admirable.

And yet in a story of corporate restraint, on Slate.com Daniel Gross shared with us how Vail Resorts – yes they too are feeling the pinch, are changing back end operations in a visionary effort to institute change themselves without sacrifice to their guests. They are greening up operations in ways that don’t touch their customers at the realization that they will ultimately lose at the hands of global warming if they don’t participate in the solution.

Are these disparate stories a tale of things to come?

America is indeed a land of opportunity and our voracious appetite for shiny new things, combined with access, previously cheap credit and half a century of unbridled opportunity has us unrealistic in our appetite for consumption and expansion.

Solutions for our own economic bailout are painful mostly because they indicate no return to our free-spending ways. America, land of the cheap, home of the homeowner and desire to find a “way” must begin to belt tighten and demonstrate uncomfortable restraint.

But we made consumption fashionable. Is there a new values shift afoot?

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