In culture there are numerous aspects of existence. The family you are born into becomes an arena where you do things because your parents did. The land you are born on determines your experience of weather. I was born in England so the weather has been and always will be important to me. I do not possess an umbrella or wellington boots but I have a waterproof coat that doesn’t have a hood and my walking boots protect me from all weathers. There are “other” cultures in this world that won’t even have a word for objects such as an umbrella or wellingtons. Their way of life will allow the rain to fall onto their face, they will the feel coldness of the water as it falls from the sky. And as they run through the forest they will feel the mud squelch between their toes.
I love walking on the wet grass in the morning, word has that if you walk barefoot on the grass on the summer solstice you’ll see a faerie. Not everyone in my culture knows that. Not everyone in my culture knows how connected they are to the wildness of the trees around them or the air they breath, the water they drink. When bleach is poured down the toilet, after one flush it disappears, gone, out of sight. Do you ever think about the chemical composition and its potential affects on you and your family’s health? I know its a drastic thought but we live in drastic times. I refuse to scare people into changing their consumption habits but change needs to be on the horizon of the beautiful sunset you last saw. As trees sway gently through suburbia or along the country lane you find yourself on on your way home, think of those who allow the mud to squelch through their toes and think of their social status within the culture they live. Consumption in the culture I was born into plays a significant role in the hierarchy of society. Consumption has become a social norm and we need to begin to think about it differently if we are to rescue the clean air we breathe.
Edward Bernays, the pioneer of public relations used the work of Sigmund Freud to enhance our consumption habits in a post war world. He used the unconscious processes of the Self, using the individuals unaware inner world to ground capitalism into the culture of western civilisation. The consumers obsession to purchase “things”, allows the individual to attach a part of their Self, their inner world, to an external object that portrays a deeper meaning of being human. Our consumption habits don’t have any moral judgement attached to them, just a whirlpool of semiotics, signifiers and signified. The designer jeans you wear can say a lot about your social status, the car you drive, the watch you tell the time with, they are all signifiers for the image you want to portray about your inner world. All attached to the culture you was born into.
Whether the jeans you bought were £500, £50 or £15, in their production they have all used the same amount of water and CO2 emissions and they was probably all made in the same factory that exploited the workers who made them by paying them an exploitative salary. Progress is currently measured by going from being paid $2 a day to $3 a day. Capitalism is a global system that doesn’t operate within a global framework, there are no global rules, only consumption habits that don’t take morality into consideration. Whatever you paid for your jeans, you have taken something from the Earth and it’s now time consumers began thinking about how this may impact on the aesthetically pleasing aspects of planet Earth. My life is humble and I have many things to be grateful for. The clean air I breathe, the blue sky with the sun shining brightly through my window and the clean water I drink are the moments in life I have gratitude for. I hope these moments will continue to be there for my grand children and their children. There will be a shift in our consumption culture but it will take time to undo what capitalism has spent 400 years creating. Consumers will be forced to question the global market we currently live in and how sustainable it really is?
Change won’t happen over night and promoting a shift in our sense of Self from the external “things”we buy to an inner journey of self exploration will take some kind of esoteric transformation. Connecting with our higher self without consumption will take a spiritual shift in consciousness. Social status will no longer be determined by the car we drive or watch we purchase but by our connectedness to that which cannot be seen. Questioning our connection to that which is beyond this Earth will one day become a social norm. Accepting the interconnectedness between human and environment is essential to overcoming the chaos that planet Earth has found itself in. So, step back from consumerism, breathe and let go of everything material and see where your journey will take you.