Dark Forces are Gathering

Eric Karjaluoto with a poignant piece on the urgent imperative to reassess how we live our lives on this planet.

I’d argue that we’re in just this sort of a “pickle”: as individuals, as nations, and as a society. We treat profit as our sole measure of economic health. We’ve bought into the myth that our excessive wealth doesn’t come at any cost to others. We have also held fast to the notion that the next thing (be it: car, house, suit, promotion, or raise) will somehow be the one that finally makes us happy. This last example seems to be the most odd of the lot: underscoring our inability to actually learn very much from our actions. We repeat this behavior ad infinitum, even in spite of the constant reminder that few material or monetary gains ever fill the voids we sometimes feel.

We continue in this ‘pickle’, he says, because we would otherwise have to confront all the flawed choices we have made so far. It’s just easier not to.

We’re running out of clean water, experiencing mass extinctions, have massive islands of plastic floating in our oceans, and (when I last checked), BP had barfed something like 4.1 million barrels of oil into our oceans. This is really just the tip of the iceberg—but all relatively good indications that we must take some kind of drastic action. Still, we sit, silently, tossing about phrases like “sustainability,” “social responsibility,” and “doing good,” as though uttering these words might somehow affect sufficient change.

Meanwhile, our behaviour has only left more to be desired.

We have “retail therapy,” an increasing list of things we “deserve,” and maybe even a little extra “me time” at the mall. And of course we do… because it’s easier to talk about the iPhone 4 and its lovely new display, than it is to ask whether our lust for new gadgets needs to be rethought in light of the conflict minerals they are most likely reliant upon. Similarly, it’s easier to point the finger at BP for their blunders, than it is for us to actually park our cars and instead sit on the bus next to “Mr. Stinky,” who perhaps treats baths as a “quarterly affair.” Fairness is inconvenient, so, we cast it aside and order another Big Mac (pity they don’t come in those neat styrofoam containers any longer).

The core problems: laziness, greed and stupidity.

My deep worry is that forces have in fact aligned, but instead of being comprised of “Disney-esque” villains, these forces are ones of laziness, greed, and stupidity. When we occasionally look past this thin illusion of “everything being OK,” that we’ve grown so accustomed to, we’re left facing a situation that is difficult to pawn off on anyone else. We’ve sown seeds with perilous consequences. Sadly, we’re too busy tweeting, obsessing over the amount of froth in our lattes, and asking whether we’ve “found ourselves,” to stop for a moment and ask, “is this all really worth the cost?”