We always talk up the benefits of the way of life we preach, our economy - people will become richer, they will lead lives with more choice, they will grow the economy, they will make our country strong and powerful. Wonderful. That sounds hunky dory. Sign me up. What isn't said much, or what end up being treated as anomalies, are the costs of this way of life. We always act surprised when something goes wrong egregiously - "A massive oil spill happened?! Oh, my gosh!" "Sweatshops in Indonesia?! Oh, my gosh!" "Millions of people displaced because of the damming of a river?! Oh, my gosh!" (While massive and tremendous, climate change maybe doesn't count as something egregious.)
This has been going on for a while now, while all along there has been a continual, and exponentially rising degradation of our environment, and a continued and exponential rising of the injustices that come along with such behaviour. It seems that we have now accumulated enough data now that we can be honest to ourselves, and to others about what our way of life entails.
But we have blinders on our eyes and our psyches. We are still bound by our immediacy.
There is a lack of honesty about how we conduct ourselves. And so when we export our way of life to other places, our rhetoric is mired in dishonesty. We are dishonest about what it actually means to continually extract from the environment, and what this means for lives and communities of people that have survived without this way of life that we are imposing on them. But what does this dishonesty mean for those who are being dishonest? It means that we think that this is the only way things can be, this is the only way things should be. And so the bounds of our imagination are fixed on the status quo.
I propose something simple, yet powerful. The next time we make a choice in our lives, the next time we tell someone else to make a choice for themselves, or the next time we try to sell someone on an idea, be honest about the outcomes of those choices. If I decide to buy another computer, will it help me now? Yup. Will it help me grow my business? Totally. What will it mean to where the computer came from? Hard labour conditions and strip mining? Hmmm...okay. On the other hand, what does it mean to love and care for the environment? It will mean a preservation of what sustains us. Are we doing that now? Not really. What will that entail for you, me, our families, our communities? It will mean an upheaval, a change in our attitudes, and it will be difficult. To be honest seems to more difficult than being dishonest, then. But anything of true import is always difficult.