I have a question for all of you:  If you were a country, what would be your primary export?  Most of us have no answer; we export nothing.  We are perfectly defined by our stereotype of "consumer" because that is what we do.  We produce nothing, but consume at a magnum scale.  I fall into this category and it troubles me.  If my body were indeed a country I would have a massive trade deficit.  Some people, such as teachers, doctors and artists, work in a profession that provides some useful export to society, but most of us do not. I write software, the net result of which is to make other people in the world bigger consumers.

Why is being a consumer bad?  It goes against the laws of nature.  Every creature on this planet with the exception of humans, gives back something.  Most give back themselves in the form of food for other animals.  Some provide a needed benefit for the ecosystem, such as bacteria that breaks down waste or plants that provide oxygen.  Being defined as a consumer also makes me feel incredibly selfish.  I take and take, but give nothing.  What's more, any trivial attempts to give something back through society through art feel like masqueraded excuses to become a bigger consumer.  To paint I need the latest brushes, paints and easel.  To try my hand at photography I need the latest and greatest camera.  Art comes from within if you are an artist.  If you are a consumer like me, art comes through the filtered eye of purchased goods.  It is distorted, without true feeling.  

But breaking the habit is hard, especially in America where true happiness is wrapped in a box somewhere in suburbia that contains a house, two kids and a SUV in the driveway.  The lesson that self-fulfillment cannot be purchased at a store is difficult to learn.  It is engrained in our culture and I have been immersed in it for most of my life.  I will start tomorrow, enhancing my creativity through my heart instead of my wallet.  After I get back from the computer store, of course...