On consuming and consumption
Coming home has been harder than I expected. As long as I continue to think of living in America as a short break from reality, I’m OK. The minute I remind myself that this is permanent, that even though we’ll be posted abroad, we’re back to living a life of comfort, consumption, and red-white-and-blue, I start to panic.
Yes, of course I’ll be fine. Yes, of course I’ll get used to it. Yes, I love Starbucks and being able to buy 5 different kinds of berries at the grocery store. Yes, I’ve done far harder things in my life. Yes, I’m still freaked out by all of the choices everywhere I go.
The difference between rich and poor is choices. I can choose to involve myself in my kid’s PTA. I can choose to pay for music lessons. I can choose to serve good cuts of meat. I can choose alternative sources of protein. I can choose organic. I can choose to take a day off of work. I can choose to pack up my family and leave for another country because an opportunity presented itself.
Bertrand and I were quite well to do in Benin, but that wealth doesn’t compare to what we have in the States, and I haven’t even started work yet. I hate those people who constantly harp on the ignorance and selfishness of Americans, and yet I can’t help contrasting how aware the rich in Benin are with how aware the rich in America aren’t.
Americans are so friendly and helpful and God it is amazing to be home. My discomfort with the wealth and conspicuous consumption around me is my own problem, not anyone else’s. I just don’t know if and how I’m going to solve it.