Imagine how much more blessed life would be if we were less egocentric and more altruistic. If we showed more thought for others and loved unconditionally. If we saw each other’s problems as growth, and instead of fearing and judging, seeing challenges and evolving. What would happen if we created love and showed generosity and were not so caught up in ourselves?

For this to become a reality it would mean pooling all our resources together and gifting each other love. This would be the tool to end poverty, jealousy, wars, manipulation and greed. Sadly though, we have been bought up to focus more on ourselves as individuals and in being self-centered.

Companies have bought into the sham of “every man for himself” and have brainwashed us into purchasing their products and promising that we will be ‘happy’ when doing so. We are manipulated into dealing with our problems with the quick fix of buying stuff, such as a new sofa, a new wardrobe, or trip around the world, which may mean we go into debt as a result. They may claim that our pain can be transmuted by a product, but in reality, this cannot be washed away by owning things. Some of the wealthiest people in the world are unhappy. When we do not face our difficulties head on and instead try to mask them with possessions, our problems escalate.

The deceptive feeling that buying is fulfilling does not last long. Too many possessions can clutter-up our lives and sway us towards working long hours to pay off debts, then end up purchasing more to feel better, hoarding more and getting into even more debt. It becomes a vicious cycle. And we may then live in fear that our possessions could be stolen.

Ultimately, consumerism directs money out of our pockets and into the pockets of big businesses. The rich get richer and others get poorer. Moreover, managers of such businesses may control their staff by working them hard for long hours and for minimal wages to generate more money. Big companies have the power to do this because they are protected by laws and can regulate them if need be. Ironically, the little money the workers make is then underhandedly put back into rich pockets through marketing.

Along with adopting the attitude of “every man for himself” and hoarding stuff, goes envy. Green-eyed friends may begin to feel inadequate because you have hoarded more than them. This can cultivate resentment.

So, the question is “how did we get here?” and “how can we reverse this trend?”

We have been educated to become consumers. From a young age, we start taking in information in like a sponge and this contributes to our character development. When we do not learn in a particular way or do not follow the leader or the system, we get labelled as weak, or a difficult personality. Hence, we get marginalized and feelings of inadequacy appear. Our learned behaviour is to hide, because we feel we are “not enough or equal to others.” So, we look for external pleasures to bring us joy, hence the compulsive buying, or the resorting to other addictions.

Reflecting on my own academic under-achievement, I could not learn in the education system easily, I was labelled as weak. I felt ostracized. Some of my peers fell into this category and we were all put into a lower band and not allowed to do certain subjects. I hid and did not want to make friends because peers in higher classes would know what band I was in. I felt a sense of shame.

This made me try to find my ‘worth’ in other ways by buying Vogue magazines and clothes to live up to unrealistic role models. I thought that if I looked good maybe people would value me this way instead. However, it left me fragile, with no money and a cluttered wardrobe. When I revealed my dark feelings of inadequacy to my dear late sister, her response was to provide me with the tools to study differently. Then I started to achieve much more. Katy was my rock and led me to believe that I was not lacking in ability, and that it was just a matter of getting the proper education. She would say that “there is no such thing as an unteachable child, only children we fail to teach.” And this became my mantra in life and realised that was where my purpose lay. This new found ability to acquire knowledge excited me and directed me towards tertiary education. As a result, I became less interested in fashion and consumerism and concentrated more on becoming a teacher. I found it useful to use experiences of past failures to connect with the underachieving child.

This understanding gifted me with empathy and to spiritually evolve, in a similar way to my sister, who radiated light. She enlightened me with a purpose, to become an educator, and create new ways of learning for the child who does not learn in the same way that others do.

By using generosity and love as a tool, my role model, Katy, revolutionized my perception of who I am. Her unwavering compassion helped change my fears into love, for myself and for others. I did not see enemies anymore. Famously, Martin Luther King, Junior ended his life loving his enemies. He made the following speech just before he died. “So, morning, as I look into the eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and all over the world, I say to you, I love you. I would rather die than hate you.”

And in his passing, he left his legacy and changed the collective consciousness of many of his enemies. Where there was darkness, he bought light. Essentially, he sacrificed his life for the benefit of the future generations.

It only takes one determined committed person to revolutionize a whole system. We are not born with addictions such as uncontrollable consumerism. We have a choice. We can become creators. Our destiny awaits us to move through pain, fear and insecurity and to see, not problems, but challenges we can rise to, and through which we can grow.

No longer do I need to numb myself with material wealth or physical perfection to be accepted. In fact, I am now using those self-same academic insecurities as a tool to relate to the underachievers of the modern world. I believe that it is right here where new methods of education are born. Our vulnerabilities can end up being a tool to connect to others’ potential and to help nurture their creativity and shape their future success.

We must not be manipulated by making the greedy anymore. It is time to wake up, face their subliminal tactics and start to be of service and love ourselves and others more.