Life is about choices. No matter what the situation there is always some sort of choice. We don't always enjoy the choices we have and doing the right thing can sometimes come at a cost to us. It's easy to believe that we have no control over events in our life - it's easy to give responsibility for problems and the fixing of them to someone else.
For example: Person X may hate their job. They may have to travel an hour in traffic each way, each day. They feel they don't have a choice because, they 'need the job' to pay for their home and provide their children with schooling, music lessons, i-pods and a Wii. They spend their life working so they can earn enough money to stop working one day. To support this busy lifestyle they purchase ready meals and mass produced food items. They genuinely don't have the time to do anything different, their busy life leaves them no choice. The reality is they do have a choice. Find a new job, train in a different industry, move to a country town where housing prices and cost of living are lower. Quitting a job or moving to a different town are very difficult choices, but they are choices none the less. Who is brave enough to make a choice that has the appearance of 'lowering' their standard of living?
Having said that, let's look now at current world events: Climate change, Resource Shortages, Food Shortages, Economic crisis. We need our world leaders to shape and enact policies to fix the problems, don't we? These events are at a point that are out of our individual control - right? Wrong! Every single one of these things has been caused or contributed to by our increasing demand for non essential items. In order for change to happen, we essentially have to change the way we are living. That means taking personal responsibility for creating the demand that is causing these problems.
If enough people made a fundamental change in their living choices the world would start to change. During the World Wars people were encouraged to become Victory Gardeners. In the United States 20 million Americans planted gardens and supplied around 40% of all vegetable produce being consumed nationally. Amazing!
What would happen if:
- We began only purchasing local in-season produce?
- 40% of us began producing at least some of our own food again, and sold surplus at markets or to a food bank?
- We all demanded and were willing to pay for humanely raised and cared for animals?
- We ceased making purchases of goods that supported environmentally unsustainable manufacturing processes
- We prepared our meals from raw ingredients - no preservatives, no colourings or artificial flavourings
- We were all responsible for collecting at least some of our water
- We were all responsible for generating at least some of our power
How would a mass change in our demand change the way things happened in the world? In the US city of Detroit, the closing of car manufacturing plants left the city with high unemployment, financial crisis and food shortages. This city took responsibility for their future and initiated urban farming on a large scale. See the Garden Resource Program Collaborative, or search on YouTube for Detroit Agriculture for a range of inspiring clips. The program has resulted in better use of city land, production of food resources for the people, social benefits such as a reduction in crime & prostitution and an increase in community spirit and a healthier lifestyle for many people. I can only imagine the difference it will make for children to grow up working in a community garden project rather than hanging around the mall or in bored groups.
This type of action can take place now. We don't need to wait for our politicians to fix things for us. Deep down we know this won't work. Think about this, Governments also make choices. Over time we can see that those choices have supported and encouraged demand (chicken or the egg?) and have lead us to our current situation. We are living in a society with increasing health issues, rising crime, food shortages, environmental degradation, resource shortages / dependency and economic instability. Isn’t this enough to indicate that we’ve been getting it wrong for a long time to end up in this place?
To help you think about your choices and understand how our governments are not helping us, here are some interesting resources we feel are a MUST.
- Chris Martenson - The Crash Course
This will help you understand the relationship between the economy, peak oil and resource shortages. Excellent viewing.
- Immigration by the Numbers
This series of videos will change the way you think. Starts off like a lecture, but please persevere - this is very important.
Our political leaders are only human, and are operating on systems and principles that do not meet the current and future needs of our planet. The choices we make now as individuals can be used to help shape and change the world for the future. We can’t change the world overnight, but we can begin to make choices that make a difference and influence others.
It's all about choice, and taking responsibility for our place in the world today. What have you done to make a difference?
Postscript: Thinking about your choices and the effect they have is highlighted in this wonderful article The 7 Laws of Inconspicous Consumption by Perry Garfinkle. You will note that point #5 mentions the issue of food miles.