From a scarcity problem to an abundance problem

For thousands of years, the number one killer for human beings wasn’t plagues or natural disasters, it was scarcity. Scarcity from essential resources to sustain life has been the crux of every generation before us.

That all changed in 1804, when a man named Meriwether Lewis was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson to lead a team across the Americas to figure out what type of resources were available.

The Corps of Discovery, also known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition, would go on to reach the Pacific ocean. But what they didn’t realize at the time, was that their biggest discovery would be the soil conditions in the midwest. Lewis and Clark paved the way for droves of immigrants to settle and pioneer the area and lay the foundation of the mass production of corn.

Fast forward to today, the US is now the largest corn producer in the world. With over 96,000,000 acres of corn being produced every year.

That is absolutely incredible to think about. Over the last few generations, we have figured out how to feed the world twice over from a small corner of the world.

And over the last two hundred years, we have finally solved this problem of scarcity. The industrial economy has created more wealth than any previous generation combined.

So, what’s the problem now?

The problem and challenge we face today is abundance. What do you do with all this stuff?

Deep inside our brain, are two small almond size nuclei called the amygdala. The amygdala, where our fight, flight and freeze reactions originate, functions to chase passions, desires and appetites.

Left uncheck to our carnal selves, it can betray us in a culture where scarcity is no longer an issue.

Because stocking up for a long winter is no longer a necessity with a McDonald’s around every corner. In that case, we have to be smarter in how we approach and design our lives. Our very nature, the chemicals in our brain, still operate as if resources are depleting. Hence, why we are facing the challenges we face: heart disease, obesity, addiction, depression…

Corporatism has turned our needs (not wants) into commodities, and now, those needs are being leveraged by the selfish marketer or CEO for personal gain.

Pornography taps into our needs for procreation and is exploited to the thousandth degree to keep us on the hook.

Social media does the same thing. Facebook leverages and misuses our need for connection, our desire to be seen and heard.

And so does fast-food, sugar, drugs, alcohol. How does big tobacco continue to market poison to the masses year after year?

Why do we allow products to continue to be marketed to us like this? How come it is easier to get a cheese burger than an apple?

The answer is, we still believe that this abundance won’t last forever. Deep down, our brains don’t understand the door that the industrial economy has opened.

Difficult problem to solve. Different challenge than we ever faced in history.