Civilization along with our natural world have serious problems.
Planet and social deterioration have accelerated in recent times, fueled by expanding commerce and over consumption. Driven by commerce's need for increased earnings, expansion marches on, sputtering from time to time. The predicament worsens as the buying frenzy spreads into every aspect of our lives.
To what end, our insatiable binge? A generation from now will cars be as big as rooms? Houses as big as castles? Will people act as programmed robots? If the mammoth enterprise machine is derailed will there be widespread social unrest?
Perhaps we will have had enough somewhere along the way and begin living more natural, simpler, and happier lives. But the chances for a peaceful and kinder humanity do not appear to be coming anytime soon.
An addictive 'buy' disease has mutated throughout many cultures orchestrated by creative, forceful and protracted corporate encouragements. There is over-consumption and great waste in one half of the world even while billions do without or are living in desperation elsewhere. Social stress continues to increase as marketing efforts intensify and push us onwards - to desire and acquire yet more - for the good of commerce.
One of the many adverse effects of our lifestyles is that the environment is deteriorating at an ever increasing rate. Unreasonable and expanding consumption of unneeded goods and services is a social affliction that is destroying the planet. This needs correcting before it is too late, and in a sensible and peaceful manner.
The rising emerging economies are increasing the environmental problems but mostly are playing catch-up towards a basic standard of living. While they need to do this in a more sustainable manner than we have demonstrated, better living conditions are long overdue.
Some of the negative consequences of our 'progressive' commerce-consumption social expansion have been increases in corporate crime, family anxieties, consumer mistrust, pollution and a lowering of social values.
The prosperous nations have set the stage for the present scene and they should now set an example with strong commitments to solving these problems. But it will be tough going as companies will always need to maximize profit and need to sell more, not less to do so. How do we get detached from this entrenched lifestyle of always striving to accumulate things, so much of which is wasteful, when we are effectively and strongly persuade to keep it up?
This free enterprise system needs a redesign.
The cure that is in order will eventually occur because there are so many things that we can do as long as we retain and improve on our democratic society. But we must not be complacent and expect positive change to take place on its own.
We need to educate ourselves and be more aware of these existing conditions and the changes that are needed, and to take some positive action. Complaining when things are wrong and discussing them is a basic requirement, and that is easy because there is much to complain about in the increasingly aggressive ways of business. We can talk consumerism with our family and friends and set an example by buying those things that we need, not what we are persuaded to need. Let's express to the corporate world and to our politicians that marketing practices that are harmful to us or our planet are no longer acceptable.
The internet can be a big help in achieving a more just and satisfying society for all citizens of the world, if that does not also come under tight corporate control. Fixing these problems will have great benefits in the end, such as more family and leisure time, happier lifestyles and a preservation of nature.
Of great concern are the reduced manufacturing, marketing, distribution, retailing, and employment if change is not made slowly and is not very carefully thought out. We have dug ourselves into a deep pit.
Yet is there a choice? One way or another, gentler and kinder lifestyles are in the future and will someday be the new trend. If left to run untouched the huge profit-consumption engine will run out of gas and eventually break up. Environmental problems will have grown too huge to fix.
What about ideas?
New paths must be taken under a government that is disconnected from corporate influence.
Legislation to restrict advertising to an ethical and basic form to be used for the introduction of new or truly improved products and services could be a great start. With word of mouth providing the influence for purchases there would be much less consumption of unneeded, unhealthy and anti-environment merchandise.
An active government complaints department would work wonders, not only to accept citizens' input but to actively encourage it, with newsletter, website, and yes - marketing.
I can hear accusations about restricting freedoms coming from those enjoying their benefits from commerce. But free enterprise should not allow the harming of planet and citizens for profit. Immoral methods such as the programming of kids and so many other disgraceful merchandising methods cannot be part of a just society. Unrestricted, corporations will find new ways to capture the minds of citizens for a life of consuming their wares.
A dilemma of our times.
At some time in the future people of the world will live more wisely, happily and justly. But will the change will be harsh or gradual? Business and government are so intertwined it's hard to imagine much improvement at this time. It is only by a swelling of citizens' demand for a better society will this begin in earnest.
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