The Special Importance Of Space

Space is important as a source of information, not just in having a space to live. When we talk about scarcity, we usually talk about stuff. It could be important stuff like a roof over our heads, food, and other basic necessities or other kinds of stuff that are wants but not needs. Environmental challenges and an ever-growing population of consumers mean that when it comes to basic needs, we face real scarcity. This scarcity is not accidental, however. It is created. It changes what we and others have space for. and affects how priorities are determined.

Scarcity As A Form Of Space

We generally speak of scarcity as if it is one thing, but it is not. There are different kinds, and they are about different kinds of space.

The first type we have already mentioned is the material kind; there is also the social kind. They are connected. Let’s start with the material kind. 

We all know that the human journey has been filled with big challenges to having enough material support to support our lives adequately. These challenges have resulted in thousands of years of learning skills and developing tools to use natural resources to care for ourselves. Along the way, we have created various cultures to support the steps of this process. In essence, our learning has taken place through a variety of cultural systems that have supported that journey. 

One of the features of these cultural systems is the expectation that we sacrifice and even suffer to support our cultural system. That has been carried to an extreme degree by our current system, which creates highly complex business facilities to produce the goods we currently enjoy. When you think about what it takes to manufacture something like a washing machine, all of the parts, all of the steps in the process, building facilities, and also the resources that have to be obtained, processed and shared to make a part or a machine, all of the administrative aspects, as well as the marketing, shipping, and customer care, these enterprises that create the products we use, are highly complex and highly demanding. To succeed in creating these enterprises and sustain them in an uncertain world, companies have capped employee wages, sought a supply of natural resources from all over the globe, and a legal and social environment that supports them. Creating the structures and infrastructure that support our current reality has taken a lot. There is little space for mistakes and failure. One point to understand is that in order to handle uncertainty and sustain themselves, modern enterprises have sought to reduce costs, and that means they are always looking for the cheapest way of getting something done. The complexity, risks, and uncertainties, as well as perfectionism built into the consumer market, result in there being little space for error. Systems help. Minding the numbers helps, as does the government\’s support when there is a downturn. So, it is a high-demand, high-expectation system that feels very demanding and often low on reward for many people.

Acceptance: Social Space

There is also an issue with scarcity in the social area: in the area of acceptance. You may notice all the attention given to who is in and who is out, who is OK and who is not; you may have noticed the drumbeat for conformity and creating and supporting trends, and the rejection of those who do not fit in. These actions and attitudes are not new. Humans have been rejecting each other forever. However, it is essential to note that the rejection we\’re talking about here, for how the world works right now, is created to support the economic engine of consumerism. So, rejection is often tied to our ability to participate in and support this consumer system. 

There is another ancillary issue with acceptance, and that is around identity. The consumer culture continually seeks new products and markets in order to sustain itself. As a result, it has supported a more open attitude about our identities. We have developed a lot of tools to explore who we are: enneagrams, archetypes, and all sorts of systems have emerged to meet this need. Consumer culture has also allowed greater freedom of self-expression for those who have been historically marginalized, and that has served their markets as well. 

So, the issue of acceptance is an important one, and it is complex. On the one hand, the pressures of a complex consumer system have created many life improvements, but the downward pressure on salaries means that consumers are squeezed trying to make the complexities of this system work satisfactorily for them. The self-expression that the system allows has been freeing for some, but has also created social conflict with those who have less space for self-expression. 

When we discuss scarcity, we are talking about what our culture has space for, economically and socially. It is important to be aware of what there is space for in a culture and why what is accepted and allowed is the way it is. We can feel the space in a system, both economic and social. It is important information. What there is space for has a huge impact on our lives. Noticing the different things people and cultures have space for can tell you a lot and help you steer your life wisely. 

A Joy Practice Creates Space

This is where a joy practice helps enormously because it takes back control over the issue of space, so we get to have a say and more space for ourselves in our lives. We put basic needs met so we can thrive better. We do not have to allow our basic needs to go unmet when we put them first. We are the ones making space for what matters and what creates a thriving healthy life for ourselves and others. Right now, our social norms are not aligned with health and thriving. We can change how it affects us by directing our attention and intention to serve healthy joy-creating objectives. I help you give yourself that gift.

Photo by Stephen Ellis on Unsplash

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