Saturday, June 18, 2011

What we take as a given

I would like to continue some of my thoughts from a recent post on giving up, but from a different angle.

It is clear that we live in a culture, of wastefulness and violence. Our culture is wasteful of and violent towards what our Earth provides for us, and wasteful of the potential that lies within each one of us to take bolder actions, to move us away from the destruction and violence. Yet it seems that given all of the information we have, all the data we've gathered, there is still the belief that if we just continue what we've done so far for a little while longer, we'll be able to extricate ourselves from the mess we've created. If we turn the knobs just a little bit here, make oil extraction just a little bit more efficient there, and buy organic apples shipped half way across the world, we feel that this should suffice. Unfortunately, it will not suffice. Fortunately, we can do something about it. What we need to think about most importantly is what we take as a given, and what needs to be made obsolete, in society and culture, and in our individual lives.

What we take as a given deeply affects how we choose to address the problems that face us. If we take industrial capitalism as a given, that limits the solutions and options available to us in our decision-making. If we take coal-fired power plants as a given, we may be left only with efficiency options. However, among those making larger-scale decisions, what is debated is not a restructuring of society, of culture, but the tweaks that can be made such that we can stay the current course. It is evident to me that the severity of the issues hasn't be comprehended by those most powerful in our society. (Or maybe they choose to turn their backs on the issues because it is their choices that have caused these problems.) At the same time, many individuals feel that it is okay to use chemicals on our foods, and drink water laced with hormones. What does this mean for us, those that do not support what is going on, those that know that more needs to be done, yet are still affected by the negative outcomes?

I believe that we need to free our minds from what we've been taught to accept. We must question and view with skepticism everything that is thrown at us, because what is being thrown at us is disrespectful of our lives, our health, our world. Of course, this is easier said than done. Yet it is doable, possible, and necessary. While I hope that people can break from from anthropocentrism and extend the moral community to include the environment, even if you are anthropocentric, and don't even care about the environment, think about how you are feeding your very children food that is sprayed with chemicals (that don't necessarily wash off) that are potentially carcinogenic, that the air they are breathing can lead to asthma. Indeed, a simple thought like so can lead down a path of powerful introspection, the outcome of which is outward choices that can make a difference.

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