||[Dec. 30th, 2004|10:56 am]
|||||R.E.M. - Feeling Gravity's Pull||]|
There is no line between need and want. Such a line may or may not have ever existed. Supposedly, “need” means only those things that fulfill our requirements to physical functioning. I, for one, do not live based on need. My needs have been unquestioningly fulfilled since I had an extravagantly warm blanket wrapped around me following my exit from the womb. Today, there are a host of enticing temptations to continue the leap beyond the line of need. We all just accept that we sit above that line by default. Yet there are many mechanisms in place to assure that Americans collectively surpass the lines of necessity to a continually unprecedented degree.
Take the entire retail market as an example of a facade made to serve the purpose of superfluous consumption of material goods. Somehow, it took me eighteen years to realize that the entire concept of “retail” and “discount” is a brilliant fabrication by America’s most keen entrepreneurs. Retail price is an incentive. We are so easily tricked by the lure of large, flashy decimal numbers that the deliberate reduction of these numbers to satisfy our self-indoctrinated shopper savvy is an apt justification to buy unneeded items. Consumerism in America is a drama acted out on the fine stages of store floors across the nation. Profit margin and intense cost management studies indicate to companies how to set the ridiculous retail prices so we can get a “deal” and feel okay raping the earth and wasting what we have. It is all such an insipid game of desire and guilt, justification and greed.
Despite the continued diminished state of natural environments, the ever menacing advance of pollution, and the continued alienation of people unable to participate in excessive consumer spending, we condone and embrace our consumer ideologies with zeal and dedication. How many times have we justified a purchase “just too good to pass up” for an item that was totally unnecessary? The idea is ludicrous. Every irrational purchase we make is another step to our demise as a global community. Our astounding rate of consumption is simply not maintainable, and we pay dearly for it.
Americans suffer by sacrificing national integrity to maintain an insatiable habit of acquisition of goods. While others starve and suffer abroad, sometimes laboring intensely to produce our futile exploits, we continue to ignore their plight. We are not a compassionate nation. Instead, we behave with belligerence and an air of entitled right to determine the course of history for the world. Other voices are not respected and heard and people are frustrated. Internally, we live in a judgmental community that pressures people into irrational spending in order to fit into ever changing trends. Each year, companies rigorously revise style while leaving function untouched. In order to keep with this calculated redefinition of the acceptable good, we waste items whose value often exceeds the annual income of a great deal of the world’s inhabitants.
A nation titled as a global leader ought to lead with compassion and responsibility. In the end, the remedy to our outrageous consumption lies with the individual, as does the remedy to every social ill. People need to think about the consequences of completely unjustified consumption of energy, resources, and life of those who labor to make our lives possible. America is fixated on money. Everything is too easily justified by saving money. People in other nations suffer while we throw billions of dollars into a fifth pair of sneakers or into weapons to destroy others. We drown out other views and tell the world we do not need their support to act militarily and lay destruction on regions of Earth. This issue is escalating, as evidence by the now front-and-center acts of terrorism against us. In an age where the effects of our actions stretch thousands of miles beyond our borders, we need to be able to involve those affected by such actions in our decision-making process. We need to be responsible and compassionate. The time to reevaluate our national behavior in an effort to create a healthy global community of participation and cooperation is now.