08 June 2021
Can we build back better?
Chief Executive Christine Moore thinks that we need to live a simpler life and materialism is not the answer.
I have always been extremely optimistic - a definite glass half full person. However, as we are gradually coming out of lockdown, I have been wracking my brains to try and see how we can ‘Build back better’ as we have often seen quoted.
What does this really mean? It feels to me at the moment that it is just jargon used by politicians to sound as though they care about the inequalities in our society.
What is really happening is that we are being constantly urged to consume ever more ‘stuff’ to get the economy moving - that we can only spend our way out of another recession.
Apart from the fact that what we are increasingly spending our money on, are mostly things that are killing the planet and worsening the climate crisis. None of this is making us happier as individuals or as a society.
Every other car I see these days are those that are deemed aspirational purchases and are most likely purchased for image reasons or to keep up with everyone else. The increase in these gas guzzling cars means that our streets are no longer safe for our children to play out, and there is virtually no fresh air to play out in!
Mobiles and other devices are constantly being upgraded so we and our children can spend ever more time in front of a screen instead of socialising with our friends and family. Do we think this is making them happier by having what everyone else has, and more importantly should we be going into debt to keep up with all this consumption?
Why not take the kids to the park or the seaside on the train with a picnic so you don’t have to spend money when you get there? Talk to them instead of scrolling through your social media when you’re on your way there, and play I spy, instead of letting them watch cartoons or play games on their phone.
I realise I am very lucky in that the things that make me happy don’t cost the earth (literally). Just seeing a blue sky, being outside listening to bird song, or walking in the countryside or a park makes me feel so much better and able to cope with the stresses and strains of every-day life.
During this pandemic, more and more people have recognised that being outside helps to improve your mental health, even if it’s just in your local park or walking by a canal. You don’t have to go far to find somewhere - there are even places in the centre of Manchester, for example down by the wharf in Ancoats.
At the end of the day, the only people benefitting from all this spending are big businesses and we have been persuaded by these businesses with large marketing budgets that all this will make us happy. It seems to me that this attitude will only line the pockets of a tiny percentage of people, who don’t really care about our health or well-being.