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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 4 page 14

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Even asceticism in old Syria created its own economic subsystem. Simeon Stylites had helpers on the ground who hoisted treats like nettle soup up to him, and presumably he sent a potty back down. (The other possibilities are too horrible to contemplate.) So where did these helpers come from? They were there because a whole community sprang up around Simeon's pillar to cater to the pilgrims that came to gawk at him. A whole stylite industry had developed. Simeon created a boom!

Now, I’m not backing down on my point that an economic slump provides a great opportunity to save big bucks and save the Earth at the same time by cutting back on consumerism. Let me emphasize, however, that I am not saying that we should become a bunch of misers. Miserliness is a sort of self‑induced poverty. Wealth is when you do not count your pennies. Matthew 10:8-9 says, “Freely you received, so freely give.”

Let’s direct our spending toward things of real value, toward collective necessities rather than individual indulgences. As a society we need massive investment in basic human needs — mostly housing and agriculture and natural conservation areas and clean‑ups. Plus we have to protect the earth from disasters including asteroids, and we need to build spaceships to send surplus population to other planets.

You’ve seen Star Trek and other sci-fi where even the high‑ranking officers dwell in minimalist quarters as simple as a monk’s cell. Those people of the future are so self‑assured about the big cosmic picture that they are not infected with any need to shop for fashions and nibble on snacks to compensate for the absence of love.

I predict that what will happen is that the human race will use its well‑honed marketing strategies to shake free of consumerism. Or at any rate this is my ultimate advice about what everyone should do: we have to cook up a new improved transcendental superbrand to fuel our spiritual engines. Call it: eGod+™. Promote it 24/7. It will be a big counterweight to any socio‑economic negativism. People will wear the ads on their foreheads. Am I right or am I right?