Consumer zombie- Artist Aeryn James Davies, Ravanna
Governments have built values around material wealth, not ecological wealth and the only way to save ourselves and the planet is by putting financial value on ecological wealth, as it is usually invisible or an abstract concept, in terms of human understanding of how much work and production goes on in nature, that we pay no attention to, let alone the way in which what we do affects the mechanisms of nature or ecosystems. Our anthropogenic impact, the effects of how we live, has deeply affected nature to a level where environmental scientists or ecologists have no time to measure our impact efficiently on each ecosystem or species that is being affected, though the signs that are appearing, point to warning signals for the future of all species on this unique planet.
The environmental crisis is a crisis of human understanding, the outer manifestation of this destruction is an indication that we need to change. We are living in a time where we need to re-establish our lost connection with the Earth.
"At a deep psychological level, convincing young people that they will get the respect, admiration, and love that they are looking for, through consumerism, is a manipulation of a deep human instinct to want to belong. Advertising and the media reinforce this message, in the process, destroying the community structures that provided people with the affirmation that they need. We have evolved in groups – deeply interdependent and connected – the separation and competition of the modern world is antithetical to our deepest needs." - Helena Norberg Hodge
Helena Norberg Hodge who is an ecological pioneer and author of Ancient Futures, studied with Noam Chomsky, Founder of the Society for Ecology and Culture and believes that those running the global economy are imposing structural violence on our world.
Over the last 50 years, an ecological imbalance has arisen from the monopolisation of natural resources and energy, a monopoly that overlooks a need to create a more sustainability based economy that is within the bounds of the Earth’s natural carrying capacity. Centralisation (control) of natural resources in the ‘free market’ causes imbalances such as socio-economic problems in the countries where these valuable natural resources are based. The result is deforestation, famine, debt, homelessness and problems for local food growers and indigenous producers, how is it justifiable that a wealthier country has helped itself to local resources leaving the natives with nothing? We need to focus on localised sustainability, basically going back to the traditional ways of farming and managing local agricultural practices. People in the west hold a lot of personal power by being ethical with the products they buy, if people were more aware that their consumerism perpetuates injustices around the world then everyone would be more conscious about what they buy and who they buy it from. However most people that live in priviledged countries rest on the poverty and injustice of slave continents such as Africa and parts of Asia for cheap clothes and electrical goods.
It is definitely a fundamental truth that ‘needing and having’ are the current basis of what drives Capitalism.
Our over-reliance on technology and machines is also driving this unfolding ecocide, with emphasis conveniently on emissions from cars and industry rather than consumption of oil which is at a record breaking high of around 96 to 100,000 barrels a day by 2016, there is no excuse now to keep ignoring the Water Fuel cell car which Honda and Genopax have already made available on the market but that the governments and corporations conveniently ignore.
The consumerism of electrical goods such as ipads, tablets and android phones is a highly unethical industry that relies on slave labour to mine and assemble electrical products in inhumane conditions in addition to driving the destruction of the last cloud forests home of the highly endangered Silverback Gorilla populations. This is well illustrated by the story of the Silverback Gorillas in the African Congo. The mining of Gold, Diamonds and Coltan, (geological name - Columbite Tantalite), a mineral used in the microchips of every single new electronic device, cell phone or tablet and laptop, comes from the African Congo, Virungas National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A biodiverse ecosystem where a small group of the world’s last remaining Silverback Gorillas are critically threatened with extinction from poaching and continually reduced habitat due to these existing ‘Conflict Minerals’ being extracted in the area, that the world is responsible for plundering.
Coltan can only be found in a few places in the world, one of which is in Australia, which was the world’s largest producer at Wodinga Tantalum mine in Western Australia, however they closed their mine in 2012 because it is cheaper to mine it using slave labour in inhumane conditions in Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo. To make matters worse for the Silverback Gorillas, the SOCO International energy company are pushing to extract gas and oil reserves from under Lake Edward in the National Park, all this, at the cost of one of the last greatest African forests and majestic Gorillas which have only been given an estimated 15 years of survival amidst the adversities they face and through our lack of global responsibility to better manage conservation of such situations, because minerals, gold, diamonds and oil are far more important than saving the Silverback Gorillas and their forest home.
The fact that a mining company can cut corners to make a bigger profit at the expense of an entire endangered species such as the Mountain Gorilla and at the expense of hard working African miners that are virtual slaves, shows that international environmental and human rights laws are far too flimsy and there is a lack of ethics in business that feeds and perpetuates slavery.
The current psychology behind what drives capitalism cultivates a certain emptiness and spiritual deficit that leads to severe depression and lack of self-worth, when people feel that they have failed society and in societies view have not achieved a desirable status. For some, this leads to severe depression. I have lost several good friends to suicide and there was an element of not feeling useful to society or community that made them feel that way. If we had stronger communities in the West, perhaps such severe depression could be reduced. I understand how it feels to be that despairing. Last year in the UK at least 12 men under the age of 45 committed suicide in the UK per day.
Depression is an indication that human consciousness needs to change, the current social environment does nothing to remedy depression, it does everything to cause mental illness and disfunction. We need to change our psychological and status values in Western society to values that have more depth and meaning for the human spirit. An ecological economy would influence and cultivate healthier values for individuals as well as stronger communities, people could cultivate a self-worth that can be attributed to feeling part of a community and caring for the environment, values not based on status, or on consumerist needs and wants that are never deeply fulfilling.
Being as honest with one's self and others as is possible is important, we are not robots, and we are not machines. Being in nature, being creative, painting, writing, singing, and making things; developing projects that could contribute to a better and more harmonious world, playing music or getting involved in a community project or doing something that aids deep relaxation, meditation or trance, all of these things can help bring feelings of deeper fulfilment and bring us more into the moment, reconnecting us with the joy that comes from just being and connecting with others on a deeper level. Reaching out as much as possible to friends and family, without feeling humiliated or the stigma that is carried with the label 'depression' and the negative stigma that go with it such as the words ‘mental illness or mental disease’. Inner work is really important for all of us, not just those of us suffering from depression, but those of us suffering from denial which seems to be the greater problem in human society.
William Manson explains that in 1968, Erich Fromm prophesied"The year 2000, might be the beginning of a period in which man ceases to be human and becomes transformed into an unthinking and unfeeling machine”. -In the context of a prevailing dehuman syndrome, spontaneous human expression becomes pathologised: Being open in speech; being unashamed of one’s body; relating to nature; hugging, touching, feeling and making love with other people; refusing to serve in the army and kill; and becoming less dependent on machines are generally considered ‘disturbed behaviour’ by a society of robopaths”. Of course, behavioural modification is facilitated through ideological training, expanding law enforcement, and emotional anaesthesia (psychopharmacology). In my view, revitalisation of one’s desiccated human-ness first and foremost requires a renewed contact with the web of evolved life, with Walt Whitman’s ‘primal sanity of nature’. Transcending the blinkered, bourgeois-utilitarian (mechanistic-industrial) world-view, one can embark on a purification of consciousness, a purging of the detritus of cultural pollution (and a recovery of emotional innocence). Withdrawing from the world of urban commerce (and its mind-numbing “messages”), one severs the flow of media propaganda and ceaseless “information” (relating to the ubiquitous ‘buying and selling’). Compulsive ‘having’ is the pathology of deficient ‘being.’ Aesthetic simplicity means disconnecting from repulsive superfluity. Seeking sanctuary in wilderness surroundings, one rediscovers the gentler rhythms of low-cost rural living: walking instead of driving, and prevention of disease through a style of living consonant with ecological wisdom.’’-William Manson.
by Carlita Shaw