Wealth, Privilege, and First World Problems

However interesting I find the organizing industry, and however pressing I find the environmental and ethical issues around excess consumption, I keep coming back to the fact that garden variety clutter is a first world problem.  Only in the relative safety and wealth of countries like the US can people carelessly accumulate enough stuff to eventually bother them.

Photo courtesy of theatlantic.com (Picsfive/inchic/Skoda/Shutterstock /Zak Bickel) 

I was reminded of this again by Arielle Bernstein’s beautiful article for The Atlantic: Marie Kondo and the Privilege of Clutter.  She traces her family’s near-hoarding behavior to a traumatizing refugee past, and contrasts it sharply with her own very American middle class upbringing.

Bernstein’s writing causes me to once again reconsider the value of being organized.  In a world where so many are not safe, let alone secure in permanent homes, and many more struggle with inequality and discrimination, is organizing really so important?

I reflect a lot on the nature of my work, and whether or not it’s worthwhile.  My clients are all very different from each other, but they share in common safety, security, and relative wealth.  I do know that I help them change their lives for the better, and that brings me immense intrinsic satisfaction that keeps me building my business.  However, I’m not serving people who are truly in need, or in ways that make more than incremental improvements.

And perhaps that’s a first world problem in and of itself: worrying about whether the work I do is impactful enough.  Most people on this planet work to survive, doing whatever is available to them via skills, location, or pure serendipity.  I don’t think I appreciate enough how luxurious it is not only to choose my work, but also to fret about whether or not it’s good enough.

It’s because of this push-pull that I feel – loving my work, remaining fascinated by it, but knowing it is small – that you’ll see such a wide variety of content here on this blog.  Links to articles about difficult topics, ruminations on ethical issues, and insight into my professional quandries might seem out of place on an organizing blog, but to me omitting them would leave my writing uncomfortably fluffy.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of fluff in my life, but that isn’t the whole story!

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to change the world in some small way.  Here, you’ll see my continued journey towards figuring out how to do it.

LMW