“Less is more”. Or so goes a demotivational poster that became an Internet sensation a while back, adding bitingly: “Unless you’re standing next to the one with more. Then less just looks pathetic”.

Demotivational or simply tongue-in-cheek, such statements ring true nowadays (although perception is inherently subjective; for all we know, things might have been like this since the beginning of time). It is like having more is becoming an unwritten, albeit dramatic synonym of being more. In other words, it is like stating your superiority against a resource-deprived fellow. Or, as that famous line from Orwell puts it, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Economics – the supreme barometer of everyday life – supports the theory with foolproof (or so they say) statistics: companies boasting a larger human resource than their competition prove their vitality by flexing their numerical muscle, consequently performing better by virtue of their superior appeal in recruiting matters. On social media, brands with a multi-million following are also the ones calling the shots in respect to cultural and social trends. They also hold magnet-like value for the new generations of consumers: success, of course, begets success. In football and similar sports, clubs with “unlimited” budgets and armies of socios are competing year in, year out on all fronts, be it domestic titles or European trophies. “Whoever has will be given more”, says the Bible. “Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Mark 4, 25).

More has come to be – uncritically and subconsciously, gaining synaptic value in the collective mind through sheer, brute repetition – identified with better.

Less is more. Or isn’t it?

Less is more. Or isn’t it? Photo: despair.com

In this paradigm of glorified abundance as a (rather dangerous) symbol of capacity, not being oblivious of the virtues and role of scarcity can be a blessing. And maybe the stage director Maria Miu is right, when remarking for TVR: “Back in the day, we made a lot out of nothing. Now there’s money everywhere, but ideas are lacking.”

Hardship of circumstance can be a filter against arbitrariness

It is a haunting thought since the beginning of the year, when I found myself coming across two absolutely moving sentences by Chilean architect Alejando Aravena, winner of the 2016 edition of the Pritzker Prize (a Nobel of the field): “The toughness of the circumstances can work as a useful filter against arbitrariness,” he says. “This environment of scarcity stops you from doing things that are not strictly necessary – whereas abundance can sometimes lead to a culture of doing things just because you can.”

Aravena, a visionary and pioneer of revolutionary housing projects that make use of scarcity, turning it into a strength, speaks with authority.

He is by no means an original, however. Many centuries ago, in the 4th century A.D., Saint John Chrysostom observed that “it is not scarcity but abundance that causes the greatest harm”.

Romanians, subjected to scarcity and hardships almost continuously throughout their history, are well aware of this moral lesson. Not everything rests in owning much. It is sometimes preferable to own little, and gain the world against all odds, by multiplying your telents.

Just ask our champions of CSM Bucharest, winners of the Champions League trophy in women’s handball in the spring of 2016, without having a proper venue for their training and playing needs.

Teodor Burnar

Teodor Burnar

The Matrix’s Editor-in-Chief. An experienced writer with 11 years in Romanian media and 3 books under his belt
Teodor Burnar

Ultimele postari ale lui Teodor Burnar (vezi toate)

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