Dismantling Fear And The Dangerous Myths Embedded Inside Global Capitalism
Are you tired of the evening news too? Or am I the only one who is feeling like I’ve listened to the depressing “problems” long enough? How about a focus on what we can do to fix the problems that are bombarding our psyche every day? How about some news on how we can actually re-empower ourselves and begin to work on solutions.
I’m tired of feeling powerless and too small to make a difference in the world. I’m tired of being told there is nothing I can do to fix the “problems” our news broadcasts tell us about night after night.
I don’t know about you, but the more I listen to the evening news, the more I find myself moving into a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness. Everything in the world seems to be broken. The world is falling apart, and there is nothing that we can do to fix the problems whether it’s politics, global warming, the suffering of immigrants, the rise of crime and poverty, or the fear that some person or group of people are going to bring some new terror to our shores. Every couple of days there is another big story about who we bombed today or one more dire warning of another pending threat.
We are being manipulated by fear. Fear of the food we eat, fear of terrorists, fear of immigrants, fear of ISIS, fear of airbags in our cars, fear of retirement, fear of dying, fear of offending others if we speak clearly about our beliefs, fear of global warming, and fear of living. In a nutshell, we are consumed with input and information about things we should be afraid of.
And we wonder why we are feeling overwhelmed, hopeless and powerless.
It’s Time For Change
It’s time we shifted our focus toward those things we can do. To look for solutions that we can implement as individuals. To begin changing the way live and what we value in our own personal lives. The last time I looked, the statistics said the probability that we will die is now at 100%. We need to be more concerned about whether we are embracing life and living full, meaningful lives before that day arrives.
If we wait for change from our politicians or do nothing in the belief that our scientists will come up with a miracle fix for global warming, we are giving up our power to force change on the world.
Yes, force. We need to take back our power. History is clear, when enough voters begin to demand change, the politicians have no choice. If they want to stay in office, they have to embrace the changes that the commons are demanding. It’s called democracy. We are not powerless. We can take action. And when we do, the politicians will recognize it’s in their own best interest to listen.
For example, we are being manipulated by corporate media to consume more, to believe that growth is progress, and the false belief that endless growth is actually possible. It’s time to tell them that we see through their rhetoric of greed and consumption. The myth of endless growth is not true. Wendell Berry in his book The Unsettling Of America: Culture and Agriculture described endless growth as the most dangerous myth ever created by humans.
The Story Of The King And The Wise Peasant
We all know the story of the peasant who was about to be rewarded by the king. The king told the peasant that he would grant him one wish. The peasant put down a chess board and asked the king to give him one grain of wheat on the first square, and then double it for each of the other squares. The King chuckled to himself thinking the peasant was squandering a powerful wish, but he agreed. He put one grain of wheat on the first square, two grains of wheat on the second square, four on the third, 8 one the fourth, 16 on the fifth, and so forth.
By the time the king got to the last or 64th square on the chess board, the number of grains of wheat had grown to 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains. It weighed roughly 461,168,602,000 metric tons. And the pile was larger than Mt Everest. The kingdom went into bankruptcy. The moral of the story is the fact that the king did not understand the power of exponential growth. The concept that endless growth quickly heads toward infinity.
And apparently, neither does our global economic system.
Our global economic system is obviously broken, and no one seems to be talking about it. Greed, profit, competition, and grasping for power through endless growth in wealth are clearly not working. The endless exponential growth of global capitalism is responsible for:
- creating enormous growth in wealth inequality,
- promoting endless growth in consumption,
- creating endless growth in waste and pollution to support that consumption,
- creating endless growth in the consumption of our planet’s resources, and
- endless growth is creating the environmental crisis and global climate change already destabilizing human cultures around the planet.
Endless growth is clearly not progress. It is a dangerous myth.
Taking Back Our Power
The environmental crises we are experiencing around the world are already impacting the poor and powerless. It’s only a matter of time before the impact of global climate intensification begins to more directly create pain and suffering for those of us in the developed world.
The growing forest fires and food shortages caused by droughts, and the intensification of storms in the mid-west and east coast are examples of nature’s climate feedback systems kicking in.
So what can you and I do as individuals? The answer is simple. We can begin to embrace, and then demand, a new global ethic and value system that focuses on the well-being of other life forms and less developed cultures. A value system that puts more emphasis on others, and less on ourselves. And we can take steps to green up our lives.
We can simplify our lives. We can localize our food sources. We can embrace the concept of sharing our planet’s resources for the benefit of all people on the planet. We can remove outside money in the financing of our elections and rely instead on public financing. But most importantly, we can stop our blind, endless consuming. That new car, bigger home, newest phone, fastest computer, and a biggest bank account…..will not make us happier despite what corporate advertising would have us believe.
Happiness comes from healthy relationships, shutting down our endless “wants” that we call “needs”, and discovering a life purpose that adds value to both the world and to the lives of people around us. But most of all, happiness is a choice. Stated another way, we can choose simplicity and happiness, or we can listen to the corporate advertising that tells us we “need” to consume more and more because it will help us to “be” happier after we buy that new car; the belief that consumption will increase our happiness.
I am discovering that the less I own, the less I purchase and consume, the happier I am. The less I own, the less I have to take care of and fix. The less I consume, the less I have to work to own the next “thing” that will somehow make me happy. The less I own, the more time I have to hike, read, play my guitar and mandolin, listen to music, and sit on the front porch at the end of my work day and chat with my neighbors.
It’s About Our Values
Change will come when we, the grass roots of our nation, shift our values and learn to embrace a simpler lifestyle. Change will come when we, the grass roots of our nation, go back to growing our own food and tending our own gardens. Change will come as we learn to slow down and create space and silence in our lives so we can listen to our own heart and soul when they speak to us. Change will come when we return to a more self-sufficient, self-reliant life and recognize that we need to awaken our consciousness from the never-ending, mind-numbing corporate advertising that has convinced us that more is better.
Change will come when we recognize that we are being manipulated by fear and the false belief that consuming more is a drug that will somehow make us happier.