Friday, January 7, 2011

Corporations Are Not the Problem - We Are

I like to think of myself as committed to social change, and very concerned about what I see as a consumer driven society hurtling virtually out of control down a dead end track to environmental disaster. I know there are many around the world who share my concerns. What I often hear are screams of outrage against one corporation or another that is characterized as poluting the planet in its relentless search for profit while constantly urging us to buy things we do not need with money we do not have.

Yes, that rings a chord in the hearts of so many who are despairing at the plight of the world. We love to bleat about the horror of the oilsands, resource depletion or any other short term profit seeking corporate practice. But, when we start to dig a little deeper, are the actions of these corporations the root cause of this destruction? I don't think so. We are taking the easy "let's find someone to blame" route. Let's be clear, corporations can only sell something if someone else buys it, and we keep buying boatloads of the stuff. From Ipods to flatscreens to sushi to constant jet travel to cut roses in winter we the consumer keep lining the pockets of corporations with the proceeds of our insatiable desires. The planet is littered with the detritus of our consumption.

Rather than stamping our feet, going to protests and writing letters about these "terrible corporations" and the "capitalist footprint" on the planet, we need to be holding up a mirror to ourselves and our neighbours about how we are behaving. I don't like what I see.

If we want corporations to stop sucking the planet dry, we have to stop giving them the money to do it. Unfortunately, it seems that most of us are too addicted to consuming to really make this happen.

And yes, I am looking in the mirror as I say this.

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