The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.


on February 26, 2012


In the context of describing a school teacher, I once coined a new word. I thought it was pretty clever and patted myself on the back. She called her students alphamorinic.  Then along came a friend who suddenly popped up with ‘Usians.’  “Excuse me,” I said. “What are Usians?”  A log discussion ensued.

He was referring to the population of theU.S.as being one of consumers.  He called us selfish. One does not usually think of the U .S. as selfish. We do, after all, assist other countries, grant loans, subsidize them.  He said that despite the fact that we grow enough wheat to provide every person on the planet with several loaves of bread, the wheat doesn’t make it to areas suffering from famine.   That may be true but I don’t think it’s a matter of selfishness. Certainly politics, tribal warfare, governmental policies come into play. However, I had to agree we are Usians.  Much to the delight of manufacturers, We do buy too much; often too much of what we don’t need.

I often drive on an expressway with an exit leading to an upscale sopping mall. Invariably there is a back-up on the exit ramp of Ferraris, jaguars, etc. driven by women who will buy another pair of shoes to add to the 50 pairs they already own.  Nobody ever taught them that happiness is when what you have is all you need.

When I drive though certain neighborhoods during a holiday season I am astonished by the amount of money people spend to decorate their homes. Inflated giant sized ghosts and witches at Halloween; elaborate crèches and Santa with all twelve of his reindeer at Christmas and dozens of bunnies and eggs at Easter all point to an owner who is a Usian.  I find it pitiful that the dollars spent for that sort of thing could have been used to feed someone who is hungry or buy books for dozens of kids.  That, I think, is selfishness indeed.

I think the user mentality is related to the “I” generation – those who operate on the principle that everyone is entitled to everything by virtue of being alive. And so, the “I” generation is a generation of consumers who buy and buy some more.   Here’s an illustrative true story that exemplifies the mentality of the “I” generation.  One day I passed a magazine rack and the lead article in one publication was “PENIS SIZES OF THE STARS.”  I walked away snickering. Are we talking length or circumference? Who measured them and why?  And who the hell cares?

I’m happy to report that I am not a Usian.  I am frugal but not cheap.  Though there are things I would like to have, I don’t buy them.  I have given my china and silver to my children and there are times when I miss having them.  I used to take great delight in setting a beautiful table.  Now I am content with a minimum of dishes and, if necessary,  plastic silverware. Just this week I decided my fifteen year old winter jacket should be replaced. I did not run to a shopping mall and search for a new jacket among half a dozen stores where I would have found one for far more than the five dollars I spent at a resale shop. What I have is all I need.

Since being introduced to the concept of Usians I often wonder how much different society would be without them.

What do you think?

Julie Rose


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