Scarcity

one dollar bill american currency

Scarcity is defined as insufficiency or shortness of supply. I looked up the definition because I wanted to frame up a hypothesis I had; that in America the vast majority of people experience scarcity in one of two (and usually not both) categories, money and time. As I explored the word further I learned that its origin is an Old French adaptation of a Latin word, escarpsus, meaning to “pluck out.” Therefore if you extrapolate this further scarcity essentially means something has been plucked out.

I think a lot of us wouldn’t have difficulty acknowledging that at times it feels as though time or money have been “plucked out” of our lives. We can pretty easily point to something else as the reason why we don’t have enough time or money.

Now, it’s important to acknowledge that scarcity can often be framed in multiple ways. You can overstate it’s significance in your life. Ex) The young professional who laments spending too much money after being peer pressured into a night out drinking with college friends. You can choose to ignore it. Ex) The person who goes on making commitments to do things that are impossible based on their current schedule. You can attribute it to situations. Ex) The person whose car broke down and spent a large amount of money to fix it. These are just a few of the many ways we can analyze scarcity and attribute it to something else.

I don’t want to diminish the realities of experiencing scarcity in one’s life either. It can be very real. All of us have experienced real scarcity in some from in our past. Time or money have in fact been plucked from our lives at one point or another. It’s part of life. However, I wonder what would happen to scarcity if we were to acknowledge that we can stop looking at time or money as if we had no ability to stop the plucking.

We could ask questions like this:

What if we added more margin in to our schedules or bank accounts?

What if we consumed less in the way of commitments or possessions?

What if we recognized the responsibility we have in fighting off scarcity?

In going through this exercise I think that while we might still lack in time or money, at least these things might not feel “plucked away.”

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