Abundance and Scarcity

Abundance means when everything is just too much, while scarcity is too little. It is about quantity.

Both phenomena have been shaping our civilization at some very special way. But, before digging about the implication of such concept, let us examine the underlying principle.

I personally think that there are only 2 rules in the world, it is either governed by nature (science for instance) or by us, human. One thing for sure, the law from nature is a fact and it has never been wrong since the very first day of universe was born. On the other hand, the rules created by human may go wrong and merely a simple perspective regarding how human as social creature works.

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman’s emperor said: “everything we hear is opinion, not a fact; everything we see is perspective, not a truth”- perhaps can describe how the world works, in the past, today, and in the future. Just one thing I want to add, which is the universal truth governed by nature.

Let’s talk about oil little bit. The science of oil in the world is ruled by nature, including its quantity (which we may refer to “reserve”), where it is located, how it was formed, how its “internal energy” can be extracted, etc. The rest of story depend on human. Here’s the concept of abundance and scarcity will play. From supply-demand theory, it is pretty much easy to agree on such statement “(1) when demand is high and supply is low, the price goes up; (2) when supply is high and demand is low, price goes down”. As we can see, abundance in supply leads to cheaper price, and scarcity in supply will be resulting higher price. Take another example: aluminium. Due to complexities of refining it from ore, aluminium was considered more rare and precious than gold or silver through most of the 19th century. Its scarcity effect that made it precious. Thanks to science discovery that found more cost-effective method to extract it, leads to abundant aluminium that actually made it cheaper than gold today. So, which one do we want?

Let’s talk about personal happiness little bit. We don’t really know if there is any science in explaining pursuit of happiness. But, the concept of abundance and scarcity may have a chance to stand. Again, the quantity matters. Not like an oil which is materialistic, no one knows their own “quantity of happiness”, in fact there is no such a number that can represent the happiness. Is it 10? 100? I don’t know. So, it is you who will define the number by yourself. Say the number is 10. Now, if we start with 0 as our starting point there must be a lot of things out there for us to achieve, to have, to get, to accomplished, etc before we reach that 10. The paradox lies in the context of final state. Even though one already have much, how someone knows that they have reach the finish line? Move from 0 to 10? We start with nothing and continue pursuing over and over again to find the so-what we called happiness. That is motivation coming from scarcity. But, there is another approach. What if we start with abundance motivation? What if our initial state is already 10? We don’t necessarily to do this kind of searching for happiness, do we? So, which one do we want?