Are we lost in Abundance?

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Recently I was asked by the organizational committee of the Veerstichting to talk in front of 700 students, politicians, scientists, business leaders and other influentials from all levels of Society to talk at their conference.

The theme of the conference was “Are we lost in excess?”. I was gladly to do so. But how could we ever answer, or better yet, experience the answer to this question when a two day conference with all different speakers portraying their vision on this question  in itself is an excess.

The answer? Stillness. To experience what disturbances in our consciousness have lead us to create a world in which we have to question if we are lost in its excesses.

Enjoy (in Dutch only, unfortunately. Silence however is understood across the globe).

Lost in Abundance
More than 8 billion webpages, 10 different types of peanut butter, 80 whatsapp messages, 431 different degrees, 4 holidays a year, 300 tv channels and 20 different pairs of shoes. We are living in times of excess. Should we treasure this climate of excess, or is it simply true that less is more. How do we navigate in times of excess? Is it time to take a step backwards and reflect on our current situation?

 Although excess and scarcity are certainly not new phenomena, technological advancements have exposed them more than ever before. Due to an overload of information, the exposures of differences have had a worldwide effect. Although these differences motivate us, they simultaneously sow the seeds for fear, conflict and unrest. 

 The access to ‘excess’ is changing, new economic powers arise and the political tide is shifting. As the world population steadily grows, it drastically increases the pressure on our planet. In the Netherlands, the fear of less is increasing, leading to a negative outlook upon the future, and thus leading to insular politics. People are becoming more and more critical towards organizations, governments and ideologies. The consequences of our constant striving for more become increasingly apparent as the desire for change increases. The current climate stimulates reflections; what do we want? What do we find important? When is something a necessity and when do we have enough?

Our actions are influenced by our desire for excess, but what impact does this excessiveness have on our society? Does it make us helpless and indifferent? Or does increase our creativity, sociability and happiness? Are our minds destabilised by the vast excess of stimuli? Do we lose ourselves completely in the abundance of choices, or conversely, does it give us the impetus to thrive?