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The Stuff Generation

Shelly Atkinson | Pine Needles

Cartoon John Dempsey


He Who Will Not Economize Will Have to Agonize. ...Confucius

I ran across this quote soon after I attended a recent budget meeting at my son’s elementary school. As I sat in the school’s near-vacant tech lab – replete with rows and rows of gleaming white, oversized Mac monitors – it struck me that maybe just aren’t getting it.

I’m new to town. But I am fascinated by schoolgate: The east-west divide. The Hills perception of the The Heights and vice-versa. The cut Music camp. The Save PE contingent. The Foundation factions. The “OK, close a school, but don’t overcrowd MY school” mentality. Since I am not entrenched, it’s easy to see some of this as petty. But I fear it really is.

Our financial system – globally, nationally, locally -- is in an absolute freefall. And we’re in denial. Over the past decade, we’ve lived large. We’ve erected drywall palaces. We’ve planned exotic vacations as though they were bus trips. We get rubbed, buffed and manicured on a regular basis. We make reservations for yoga classes. Heck, we’ve even grown accustomed to $4 lattes and $3 cupcakes. (Note: the author is not judging. The author is currently in luxury rehab.)

Anthropologists will know us as the stuff generation; the people who worshipped the master bath. Or even worse, the people who worshipped stainless steel.
Sadly, the reset button has been pushed for us. And whether we overextended to achieve this lifestyle or merely flexed, it’s over. We can no longer take our many gifts for granted.

More important, the school we dropped our children off at today will not be the same in a year’s time. Wouldn’t we rather be known as the people who weathered the greatest financial storm in history? And what if we could be known as the people who mobilized to save an amazing education system. I’d take that over stainless steel.


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