Culture of Illusion

By | June 2, 2011

Last night I met with an old friend I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Over that time he has been one of the Teaching Drum Outdoor School’s primary benefactors, in addition to bringing me a wealth of inspiration.

In the middle of our conversation, he paused and gave me one of his classic penetrating stares, then asked, “Do you know what belief our system—our whole life-support system—is based on?”

Now, I likely didn’t, or he wouldn’t have asked. And even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have told him. It would have short-circuited what looked like the promising beginning of a lively discussion. So I gave him the answer he needed to keep going. He glanced to one side and then the other, leaned toward me, and whispered, “Scarcity.”

He continued, “Think about it—what power would politicians have if they couldn’t manipulate us with our belief in scarcity?”

I was delighted by this topic, as I’m currently working on a book to help people escape the rat race, or the belief that we never have enough, and we will never be content until we get more. “It’s not just politics,” I countered. “If we quit believing in scarcity, there go the underpinnings for religion—heaven, Nirvana, reincarnation—they have to be scarce commodities in order for us to covet them enough to toe the line and achieve them.”

“Remember what John Lennon said?” my friend added. “‘Imagine there is no heaven….’ He was more than a musician.”

“Agreed,” I said. “He was a visionary. I couldn’t believe ‘Imagine’ made the top of the charts. It must have hit a sympathetic chord with the population—which supports your premise that scarcity is what traps us in this insidious system, even though deep down we know better. Look at the military, our economic system, our educational system—even entertainment—all of them are based on scarcity.”

“No,” interjected my friend, “all of them are based on the belief of scarcity—that something is rare and precious, and that we have to support a hierarchical structure and obey its leaders to achieve it.”

I could only nod.


kendra on June 21, 2011 at 3:04 am.

wondering–it may not be found in dictionaries, yet i sense that
“scare” is the root of scare-city


Tamarack on July 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm.


I know you like playing with words, and whether or not you have the verifiable root word of scarcity, I think you have the functional root. Our economic system is scarcity based, which puts us in fear of not having enough and on an endless quest to get more. Nature’s economy encourages us to share the abundance, which may be one reason that hunter-gatherer peoples are largely non-materialistic and group-focused.


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