Beyond Zero Emission
TZM_Pearltrees
join the movement2
doing it ourselves glider
<< >>
The-Fairtrade-mark-003

Ethical Consumption Versus Ethical Production

by Shaun Baker

(1) Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind – driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?

It’s nearly an impossible task in the present day to develop immunity to the intrusive consumption-based campaigns which are waged against the public every minute of every day to propel our unethical profit-based socio-economic system.  The general public is in a world war and you are on the front lines, whether you know it or not. Each and every day we are fighting to hold onto the remains of our natural, organic and spiritual lives. Most are oblivious to the dark materialistic and consumerist culture which is forced into us from childhood. It has devoured the human soul like a virus spreading from corporations to the public, every country, every person and every land in its range.  We are made witness to an unrelenting marketing beast whose sole purpose is to make populations consume, whatever the cost to the environment and whatever the cost to the quality of a human life. A beast that tries to define you as a person, presenting you to other members of the population by dominating your choices in housing, clothes, car or lifestyle, and showing them how ‘normal’ you are. If someone asked you to define a ‘normal’ person most would come to the conclusion that the answer would be an individual who works well in the current socio-economic system. A ‘normal’ person’s life could be defined as living the American Dream, so to speak, keeping up with the Joneses, having the 2.5 children, paying the mortgage, holding down a steady job, buying the new model of car every couple of years, being up to date with the latest in fashion and music, basically just keeping in line with the demands of consumer market forces. So the definition of a ‘normal’ person could be attributed to the massive worldwide advertising machine. A machine which tells us what a ‘normal’ consumer should think, how they should think and act, what they should buy and at what rate they should buy it.

Considering that we all are guilty of yearning to fit into the system as a ‘normal’ person in some, if not all, of our lives through this indoctrination of social status, what chance then do we stand of making informed and ethical decisions in our consumption habits?

(1)”You don’t understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged and many of them are so injured, so hopelessly dependant on the system that they will fight to protect it.’’ 

A small few individuals have been able to unplug themselves from our current economic Matrix and are spreading warning throughout the mindless hoards which roam from shopping mall to shopping mall. Quite simply, after a century of exponential growth of population and consumerism the human race needs to start questioning the nature of modern culture and life.

(1)”I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet, you’re a plague…”

There is not just the detrimental psychological cost of modern culture there is also a huge environmental cost. Behavioural scientist Warren Hern described the human race as acting like a cancer on the planet, displaying all the four major characteristics of a malignant process, and ultimately, cancer will kill the organism that supports it. (2) The only way we are different from other animals on this planet is in the type of consciousness we have developed. Consider that we have only been walking around on this earth as homo sapiens for around 200 000 years, which is nothing in geological terms. We are basically just babies on this planet, so, like it or not, this present day we are on a very steep learning curve.  It has become increasingly clear that the kind of population growth rates around the world in the last century cannot be sustained alongside the rapid rate that we are consuming the earth’s resources and materials, most of which are finite. Without a doubt it is clear that the human race cannot continue with this current day to day socio economic system that centres itself on continual growth as well as keep the hope that our planet will be as liveable for our children and our children’s children.

The blatant statistics of consumption activity throughout the world is evidence enough that we need a new social system which works in harmony with the planet as well as reaching the needs of each individual of the human race as a whole. (3) Over the next forty years, nearly all (97%) of the 2.3 billion projected increase in population will be in the less developed regions, with nearly half (49%) in Africa. By contrast, the populations of more developed countries will remain flat, but will age, with fewer working-age adults to support retirees living on social pensions. Although the issues immediately confronting developing countries are different from those facing the rich countries, in a globalized world demographic challenges anywhere are demographic challenges everywhere.  The world’s population has grown slowly for most of human history. It took until 1800 for the population to hit 1 billion. However, in the past half-century, population jumped from 3 to 7 billion. In 2011, approximately 135 million people were born and 57 million died, a net increase of 78 million people.  So is overpopulation the human race’s main problem? Well, let’s see, the entire population of the world is now over 7 billion. Queensland, a state in Australia, has a square footage of about 19941672522233.9. Divide the square footage of Queensland into the current world population and you will find each individual in the world would have 2848 square feet to himself or herself in Queensland alone.  Considering in most countries the average size of a 3 bedroom house is 1500 square feet, every person in the world would not only have a spacious three bedroom house to themselves but a decent size backyard to match.

Ok so obviously the world is absolutely nowhere near over populated, yet with our current economic system we have been forced to reach consumption rates of our planet’s limited resources which will, in the near future, most certainly destroy our ecosystem as well as leave us with serious psychological effects due to scarcity, from the wealthiest individual to the poorest.  But if tomorrow the human race decided to work in cooperation with each other, within a couple of years every person on the planet could have limitless clean, renewable and sustainable energy, food, water, medical care and education.  All we need to do is embrace technology, discard the current economic system and be conscious of the welfare of your fellow human.  Hmm… you could ask: What the hell are we all doing here? Why haven’t we tried to solve this terminal illness already?  It’s like before you leave work one day your boss says, ‘’Ill give you a big, fat, juicy cash bonus if when you go home tonight you smash you place to pieces, cut down all the trees in your back yard, poison your food, your pet dog and cat and then come back and work some overtime so you end up neglecting your family members and personal life because remember, you can’t get anywhere without money.’’  The main issue we face is changing our level of consciousness to allow for moral distribution of earth’s resources to all its inhabitants, as we are all one on this planet and all have the right to the resources the earth provides for us.

When I started writing this article I decided to focus on the issue of ethical consumption.  An economist or politician would argue that the consumer has the ability to demand ethical production from corporations through their buying habits. I would agree with that statement to a degree, but the result of this attitude, by looking at the present state of things, it seems the reality is that the bottom line and profitability of a corporation is much more important than the environment or workers’ rights.  So that leaves the question, what is the main cause of this immense mess the human race has woken up to?  Is it mainly our lack of ethical consumption or the lack of ethical production?  Coming from a person trying to solve a problem I usually try and tackle the source of the problem first, this is usually a very effective strategy. Somehow I believe the phrase ‘passing the buck’ could be used in this instance, metaphorically of course.

Previous generations in the past century have feasted at the table of limitless growth with a side dish of middle class prosperity. We have now reached the time in which current and future generations have to stand up and say, ‘’Check please’’ and pay the bill. We will need to do this through civil disobedience and revolutions.  We all have a wired mental illness called consumerism; we have all gone collectively psychotic. We chase status in public, we don’t really care about how products are made and at what costs, all the while neglecting things that matter most, our loved ones, our friends, neighbours and kids.  We have the delusion that we really have deep insight into ourselves already, that we’re all very sophisticated now in the 21st century, but we’re going to seem incredibly naive in another 100 years.  Our grandchildren will think what in the world were they on about, why did they care about brands when $20 jeans are made exactly the same way and in the same sweatshop as $500 jeans, or why were we hiding away in a six bedroom house if there is only two parents and one child, why did they care about that?

To summarise our modern world and culture in one sentence…

People are made to be loved and things are made to be used, the reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.

References:

1.  The Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/quotes

2.  Alastair McIntosh, Professor of Human Ecology

3.  Phys.Org , David Bloom, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Economics, Harvard School of Public Health