November 21, 2010

Resistance Through Not Buying Anything

Gated communities are becoming more popular around the world
 Living a small footprint, more sustainable life can be a form of resistance, as well as a preparation for an uncertain future. It is a resistance to the profligate waste and greed surrounding us in the brutally competitive world of economic winners and losers. At the same time, learning to live with less prepares us for what will certainly be a more thrifty future.

Life is changing faster and more dramatically than ever before. Peak oil, global financial collapse, climate change, the still growing gap between rich and poor, and the destruction of the middle class are all pressing and urgent challenges. It is making previous challenges and changes like the Cold War, or puberty, look pretty mild in comparison.

Chris Hedges, in an April, 2009 article called "Resist or Become Serfs" paints this grim picture:
"America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite’s rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs." 
Hedges is writing about the U.S., but the infection is global. These global challenges require a global response. Simplifying our lives (in industrialized countries) and reducing our consumption will be inevitable. Even if we could afford to continue our 5-earth lifestyles, the earth can't.

This is our chance to shift to a better, less resource-intensive way of life. We will be happier in the end, but there are powerful forces working against us. The Good Life illusion, formulated when greed was supposedly good, has mesmerized us for decades. But forcing ourselves to act solely in our own best interest in the name of profit, has only brought misery and destruction. Resisting the lies is difficult, but resist we must.

Not buying anything is my form of resistance. If we are to do the least amount of harm while here on this funny little planet, then we can not participate in the harmful activities of our misguided system. And it has proven to be harmful.

Although living simply is an age-old tried and true form of resistance, I am also open to protesting in the streets. It is our responsibility as citizens to disrupt rotten systems, and demonstrate for positive change.

Together we will foster a humane response to human and environmental suffering, which is cooperation and solidarity.

Not competition, self interest, and gated communities.

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