Along the lines of James Fallows’ subversive panda, consider the (still) evolving love affair between money and feeling. How we spend/invest is tied to our general mental well-being, and realizing this is simply a part of becoming cognizant about the world. This extends to how we feel about the world and what we are doing to it. Theodore Roszak’s The Voice of the Earth concerns the state of the psychology needed to support our mental-eco-state:
What the modern cultural environment has required of us is an enormous extroversion of attention and energy for the purpose of reshaping the Earth into a global industrial economy. For two centuries we have been subordinating the planet and our deepest personal needs to that project. This great act of collective alienation, I have suggested, lies at the root of both the environmental crisis and individual neurosis. In some way, at some point, a change of direction, a therapeutic turning inward, had to take place within a culture as maniacally driven as ours has been by the need to achieve and conquer.
Many artists and writers have touched on this, from Adorno to Tarkovsky, who was very explicit about how there is in fact no freedom except internal freedom – it’s just that no one is interested in that kind. We’ve gotten ourselves to a place where we lavish a string of empty experiences on ourselves and call them riches; then find ourselves foraging in the most unlikely places for some meaning beyond these so-called riches. Most fools could see that these aren’t riches at all. Poverty is not about what you have or do not have, but about social status. The lack of civilizing elements to our daily life is poverty that cannot be overcome with a million shopping sprees. Civilize your mind, find solace in the power of knowledge to liberate your impulses from feeding among the merest desires to soaring among the highest and most noble. You might notice that these will conform not to buying and excess but, oddly, a kind of conservation that can save more than just the planet.