Friday, August 29, 2008

A is for Affluence

Another carnival from the APLS blog: This month's carnival is about Affluence. What do you think of the term? Does it apply to you? Do you dislike the word? Feel uncomfortable with it? Are there certain responsibilities that come with accepting that term?

The short and sweet of it is, it does apply and it makes me totally uncomfortable.

Recently, it made me uncomfortable when someone shared that her parents are millionaires and she just found out. I felt embarrassed for her for having announced that, and then felt embarrassed for myself that I had that reaction. I think I made my friend uncomfortable when I offered to pay for her train ticket to come visit me. I don't want to know how much money my parents have and I certainly don't go around announcing how much money I have (which I suppose I should admit is a lot more than the average 23 year old, especially one on a teacher's salary). Actually, not only do I not announce this fact, I hide it. I love having a reason to be frugal and sharing how little I pay for electricity and how infrequently I purchase consumer goods.

Why is money such a touchy subject? For me, its like white guilt. I don't want to be seen as someone who is privileged. I want to fit in with everyone else, and not have anyone assume that I'm a spoiled brat. Honestly, I am spoiled, not just compared to someone in a third world country, but compared to my students and the average American. My definition of spoiled doesn't mean that I can afford an iPhone (which I can, but I won't buy one), it means that I have the choice between the cheap brand and the organic one. It means that I have the flexibility to make a strong statement with where I chose to spend my money and also to make a statement with whether I spend money at all. It is one thing for someone to choose not to take a plane because they can't afford to, but it says something completely different when someone who could fly quite easily chooses to vacation nearby. I hope that people consider this responsibility when they make purchases. With each purchase or donation I try to use my money to promote change and growth in the directions I believe we should be headed in. If I want other people to begin doing the same, I think I will need to stop hiding from my affluence and start sharing that I live my life the way I do, not because I need to save money, but purely and simply because I believe it is important.

Hello, my name is Tina. I am affluent and living sustainably.


  1. Wahoo! Great post. I love that you say so shortly and succinctly what I tried to say in five pages. Right on answer as to why I think A for Affluent needs to stay in APLS.

  2. I agree with a lot of what you said. I, too, am uncomfortable being labelled as affluent, but that's the reality. Taking that realization and making the best of it is the real challenge.


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