This morning I arrived back in Melbourne from Tasmania where I spent an enjoyable few days at a family wedding. I got the boat back over the Bass Strait because I like slow travel – that old-fashioned idea that it takes actual time to get from one place to another, and that as well as physical time, it takes psychological time to get from one place to another. For this reason it’s nice if we can to take the slow option – allowing our psyches that transition time between two places so they are better able to process the change.
When I arrived in Melbourne, I was waiting at the tram stop, and while I waited I was shown (without my permission) about eight different ads on the rotating billboards in the tram stop, telling me why I need to buy different things. This was in the space of about 5 minutes. If I remember rightly the things included health insurance, travel, shoes, a new chocolate bar, and I don’t remember the rest.
Is it any wonder, when, without our consent, we are advertised to from our public streets at 7am in the morning, we might sometimes feel a little overwhelmed and a little distanced from our true selves in our modern societies?
I think the answer clearly is that this would be a natural reaction, and in fact – these ads are designed to grab your attention and make you think about what you might be lacking and what you need to do to address that lack.
Our essential basic human needs are for love and connection, feeling that you are supported by others, feeling that you are making a contribution to the world in some way, feeling that you own your own power and are able to chart your life direction, being able to creatively express yourself and feeling that your sexuality is welcomed and met. None of those core needs include health insurance, shoes, chocolate or travel. So if you are not getting some of those core needs met, and you are assailed at 7am after a difficult nights sleep – with all of these messages about what you should buy, is it any wonder that we might be confused enough to buy things thinking that they will meet some of these needs?
What if instead of these scrolling tram stop ads, we saw the following ‘reminders’:
- Remember that you are love in motion, even if right now you may not feel it
- Remember you are here to give and receive love and to express yourself
- You have the answers inside of you…. BUT
- You need other people, you can’t do this alone
- So if you are struggling in any way then reach out to a friend, family member or colleague for help (remember vulnerability = strength).
What if we read those while waiting for our tram?
What if our societies and our governments started to recognise that we all need these kind of messages? And that the constant asking us to spend our money on things we don’t need is damaging?
I am hoping that together we can create this new society. One where our core needs are understood, and one where we collectively all help each other to meet those core needs.