Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are we becoming plunderers and cannibals?

Talk about being in a double bind!  We are told by the powers that be, to help the failing economy by being good little consumers. 

Spend.  Acquire.  Consume.  Indulge.  Enjoy.  You're entitled!  Consume or the economy will collapse.   "B-bb-b-b-but we are depleting the Earth's resources", you say.  What to do???   Our capitalistic system balances precariously on the point of a pin - ready to topple, needing to topple ... but wanting to persist in its cannibalistic ways.  Thus the double bind:  stop consuming and the economy will collapse and send us into a devastating depression, OR keep consuming and preserve the economic system but destroy our dear Planet.  And, as ever, it is very hard to buck the current system even though we know the ultimate cost. 

Ah, capitalism:  Goods are made from the resources of the earth.  Jobs are created to extract these resources and fashion them into 'goods' ('consumer goods' - where did that term come from?).  Profits are made from selling these goods.  Consumer 'needs' are met by making and selling these goods.  Capital ventures create wealth by consumers' obedient, dutiful spending. 

 We cannibalize, plunder and rape the Earth, and industry profits and creates jobs for supposedly needy consumers. 

And if consumer spending goes down?  Well, just create a demand - invent a need - use fear - use shame (you have to keep up with fashion and the neighbours!) - why let's create advertising/marketing agencies to study how to make people want to have and purchase more, and more, and more ...  (Capitalism = greed, identify a need, manufacture wants, produce, encourage consumption, create wealth, want more/greed.)

And how lucky we are to be able to exploit the seemingly limitless resources provided by Planet Earth to support our capitalistic endeavors.  Why didn't God tell Adam from day #1 to have dominion over the earth and the animals and the fishes?  It is our god-given right to use these resources!   And once we have the cycle in place, citizens (excuse me, we now call our citizens 'consumers') will earn, spend, consume just as we have trained them to do.

How many wake-up calls do we need?   Is not the catastrophe in the Gulf another frightful warning that  in our wanton pursuit of the contagious 'American dream' we are self-immolating?!!! 

What are we doing to our planet? 
What are we doing to our children and their future children?
What will it take for us to see we must cut back on our consumption of the earth's precious resources? 

We need a consumption moratorium, a consumer rebellion, a re-ordering of our values.  We have to question our assumptions and comfortable habits.  Our very survival depends on learning to conserve and create rather than consume. 

This sort of wanton consumption is surely a form of cannibalism.  We are cannibalizing ourselves and our planet.  We delude ourselves thinking we are so advanced, when in truth we are so very primitive.

Please, please let's conserve and create rather than consume!

con·sume [kuhn-soom] from Dictionary.com 
–verb (used with object)
1.to destroy or expend by use; use up.
2.to eat or drink up; devour.
3.to destroy, as by decomposition or burning: Fire consumed the forest.
4.to spend (money, time, etc.) wastefully.
5.to absorb; engross: consumed with curiosity.

–verb (used without object)
6.to undergo destruction; waste away.
7.to use or use up consumer goods.
con·sump·tion (kən-sŭmp'shən)
The act or process of consuming.
The state of being consumed.
An amount consumed.
A progressive wasting of body tissue.
Pulmonary tuberculosis. No longer in scientific use.

The using up of goods and services by consumer purchasing or in the production of other goods.

A progressive wasting of body tissue.
Pulmonary tuberculosis. No longer

1. exhaust, deplete. 4. squander, dissipate.

burning, consuming, damage, decay, decrease, depletion, desolation, destruction, devastation, diminution, dispersion, dissipation, drinking, eating, exhaustion, expenditure, loss, misuse, ruin, swallowing, using up, utilization, waste, wear and tear

Roget's International Thesaurus:
1.  NOUNS consumption, using or eating up; burning up; absorption, assimilation, digestion, ingestion, expenditure, expending, spending; squandering, wastefulness...finishing, depletion, drain, exhaustion, impoverishment, waste, wastage, wasting away, erosion, ablation, wearing down, wearing away, attrition.
2.  VERBS consume, spend, expend, use up; absorb, assimilate, digest, ingest, eat, eat up, swallow, swallow up, gobble, gobble up; burn up; finish, finish off; exhaust, deplete, impoverish, drain, drain of resources, suck dry, bleed white, suck one's blood, wear away, erode, ablate; waste away; raze; squander...
(The Globe and Mail)

4.  ADJS used up, consumed, eaten up, burnt up; finished, gone; spent, exhausted, effete, dissipated, depleted, impoverished, drained, worn-out; worn away, eroded, ablated, wasted....

5.  consumable, expendable, spendable; replaceable; disposable, throwaway, no-deposit, no-deposit-no-return.

ANTONYM:  conserve; conservation

Let's Conserve and
be Creative
rather than consume.


  1. Hi Bonnie-

    Perhaps YOU should be writing speeches for Obama!! Great post - you are SO informed and well stated.

    Love and respect

  2. You make consume a dirty word. What happens if a country's Gross National Product goes down?!!! Blasphemy.
    You're right. A paradigm shift is needed.

  3. so RIGHT ON, bonnie! we're certainly on the same wavelength today at my travel journal post - it is time for us to each one be accountable for the underlying tragedy we face!

  4. Excellent post. I agree whole-heartedly!

  5. I just saw on the very unreliable news last night that the nations debt is over 13 trilion dollars...I wish Obama meant what he said when talking about the oil spill "The BUCK stops here"!!! My days of consumerism have been over for quite some time....

  6. You're so right.. wonderful post. It's very frightening what we do to our home.

  7. Great Post! Our need for consumption is out of control. Today was garbage day in our household and I was shocked to find only 1 kitchen size garbage bag that needed to be taken out. Usually we have 2 and because of this I actually questioned why we only had 1. In fact, I should be celebrating it instead.

  8. Great post, I am so sad about all of this. What really gets to me is what Man has become. Nature, natural selection in all it's glory protected the earth. Now we are playing nature... BAD! Very BAD.

  9. Good Heavens, you must have seen the same discussion programme I saw on German TV on Sunday morning. I too am thinking of writing a post along these line, I must now let yours settle first. it is too good to be plagiarised.Besides, you have already said everything there is to say.

    In this programme various books were discussed; one "economic futurist"has set out clearly that continuing consumption at the pace we have done since WW II, exploiting our earth's resources and asking for 'growth, growth, growth' will indeed bring us to the end of available
    resources. What used to be called the developing world is already standing in line to take over from us and if the supply of goods is cut off at some time in the future, civil unrest is sure to follow.

  10. ooooh bonnie. good post. we need do need to change... and a few of us are. but from what i see in the world, there are MANY that don't recognize this, and i wonder what it is exactly that will finally cause the eyes to open.

  11. We need to learn how to reduce consumption - we really have been trained to consume. It will take more than talking - it will take examples and a learning curve - and what about Madison Av and the stock market where our retirement is invested? Its complex. The best example I have is remembering my grandparent's generation and their lessons learned in the Great Depression. They made due, repaired what was torn or broken, and did without. I don't know that many of us ecan do that these days. I can't repair electronic devices. Or much of anything.

  12. Great posting, Bonnie. I agree with everything you say. Maybe Pogo said it best: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

    My last posting for while. I'm off to England tomorrow for my coast-to-coast hike across the country. I look forward to reading your always creative postings when I return.

  13. I couldn't agree more and have done a couple of posts on the same topic. And you are so correct in quoting that part in the bible. It is one of the reasons I am against religion. But I think that one small sentence represents a 'paradigm' shift of mental thought processes dividing the east from the west. Or maybe ancient from modern, the shift from being a part of nature which is a more nurturing position to a part from nature which leads us to use and abuse.

  14. This is a very powerful post!

  15. As George Carlin said, "They call it the 'American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe in it."

    Capitalism follows the same moral code as cancer: grow, grow, grow. With the same result to the host.

  16. bonnie - excellent post! awareness is the first step towards anything of value. it's already there. what's next? well, acting on the awareness right?! i am optimistic that the processes by which lasting and effective change will take place are already in motion. you and i may not live to see that process completed but it will come. steven

  17. I agree with steven. We have done so much damage there will need to be a change. It will be forced upon us, but it will happen all the same. Call it a planet revolt.

    I am not a consumer of any notice. I spend time and money on my horses and my garden, but the visible declaration of prosperity and importance are lost to us. Expensive vehicles, clothes, electronics, stuff....we don't care. I live in a bubble.


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