I recently read an article in the Tribune about our mindless consumption. We consume without much regard as to where the stuff comes from and/or who makes it. We do not think about workers in China and about the horrible conditions in which these people live and work. How ready we are to close our eyes and our minds in blissful ignorance. How ready we are to buy, consume, use, throw out and repeat that cycle.
After all, we do this not just for ourselves, but to help the economy. We want these things; we want new gadgets. We yearn for the latest and the greatest IPhone, IPads, Nikes, and so on. We want new clothes because we “have” to wear something different every day. The ads distributed by the mass media program us. We become unknowing consuming robots. We do not want to know; we do not want to think about those Chinese workers; we need to be happy in order to enjoy these new things.
Do we truly need all these things? Maybe not. Even though we can have them, maybe we do not need them.
While I was reading the Tribune article a comparison came to mind: Suzanne Collins in her book, “The Hunger Games” describes a fancy dinner in the Presidential Palace. Among a huge selection of delicacies, there were special drinks on the table – which, when consumed, allowed the diner to empty his belly and consume more delicacies while the rest of the country is starving.
It seems an outrageous piece of fiction, but there are disturbing similarities to the real world. We live on a planet with limited resources, and yet we mindlessly consume, oblivious to the consequences. We are blind to the looming environmental disasters. We are oblivious to the sweat and blood and of exploited workers who produce this stuff. We avoid thinking about the the toxins spread when we discard our “old” gadgets.
We talk about the economy and its the growth. And we always check those “consumer confidence” numbers. Why? Because consumption makes up 70% of the economy. We are delighted when people are buying more crap. Because when when we buy more, the economy responds by producing even more stuff.
We talk about the Chinese economy growing 9% per year, but we ignore the reality that this growth is built on the misery of millions of people and is depleting our planet’s resources. The Chinese economy reminds me of a huge poisonous mushroom that will soon explode casting its poisonous toxins everywhere.
I read that the Chinese Government wants to increase itsown people’s rate of of consumption. There are 1.5 billion people in China; that’s a lot of consuming. One can only imagine the consquences of 1.5 billion more humans consuming at a rate equal to that of the Americans. The consequences of that consumption will be unavoidable – the reality of those consequences will be here whether we admit it or not; it will makes it unwanted appearnance without invitation. I just hope it is not too late for our planet and for our survival.