It was the usual comfortable validation of everything that could be (and hopefully will be) in our better than now future. The people were friendly, the ideas on display were everything from well worn to wacky and the goodwill flowed as freely as the warm June wind over the sunny park. Presently, after browsing the stalls of some of the small traders of hand-made and home-grown goods and occasionally stopping to chat to some of the community projects showcased, my attention was caught by a couple of speakers addressing a loosely assembled crowd.
Leading a discussion on How we can tie up all the community groups into a unified whole, I recognised the speakers as regulars on this circuit. They talked sense, were well intentioned and had obvious knowledge of their respective environmental specialities, but I couldnt help thinking the session was just more preaching to another eager choir. The intention is a good one, and god knows good intentions seem to be in short shrift these days, but surely time should have been called on just another talk shop at this stage of the increasingly bizarre game we know as society?
I have to ask, would most of the people present in the park, much less those talking, actually be willing to participate in the kind of action that we need, right now, and actually change step on the crazy doom dance were stepping out to? Would they stop using any of the huge supermarkets that crush their suppliers and draw down our future in the name of cost cutting? Will they change their accounts from banks that are known to invest in all manner of planet thrashing activities? Will they turn off the TV that wants to endlessly flog them the same exploitative products and celeb meltdowns? Will they stop using cosmetics manufactured from animal testing? Probably not if it suits them to do so today.
After all, by now, who hasnt been washed in a tide of exposes and reports, headlines and media leaks about any of the above? Who by now can claim to be ignorant of the consequences of their actions? Who hasnt heard of PCBs, damaged ozone, rainforests in peril, over fished seas? If the average high street is anything to go by, it appears that no one gives a damn. So whats going on? Are we seriously stuck in the groove that changing tack is out of the question?
Well the biggest challenge that everyone can pretty much agree on is changing the consensus. Its the consensus that ties everyone to the same course: youre born, schooled, educated (remember the difference) and thrust into the work place to contribute and pay taxes that contribute to society and the social good. All sounds good but really youre just a prop to the same old wheeze which makes a few rich and many poor as resources become scarcer and scarcer. Capitalism is a sound system in principle but it has been tampered with beyond repair this time around anyway, back to the consensus.
It occurred to me, as I sat there listening to the conversation from the stage, that most people are probably well intentioned but all of this intent is diluted, indeed bulldozed, through the massive influence of the opinion makers, PR manipulators and mass media. Daily.
Its as if you were standing on the shore in the dark facing a huge tsunami coming your way whilst someone is pointing a searchlight directly into your face. You know something big is coming, you feel it, you can even smell it, yet you see nothing but glare! You have no idea of what the true scenario is because your senses are over-loaded by irrelevant information.
Who could be blamed for being confused?
So many of us have internalised the reality that spending life in a state of addled flux is a normal state to be in; thinking straight on certain issues (where vested interests lie) is scorned upon whilst economics is the orthodoxy upon which everything rests. This paradigm is what sets the tone and volume on what we do and do not, or should not, know and even leaks and shock revelations comprise part of the controlled flow.
I suddenly realised that every talk shop, every meeting of converts, every article serves naught if it fails to dim this beam of overwhelming persuasive power. The is no chance for any alternative agenda to come through under this glare that we allow into our lives through the box in the corner of our rooms, the papers that come through our letterboxes and the magazines to which we subscribe. Those that count themselves as discerning are as powerless as the rest to alter peoples adherence to the damaging norms of our society.
If youre going to see and think your way clearly youre going to have to switch the view. If you want illumination as to true events its better to plug into a thousand sources, than be fed by one where the content must needs be skewed to suit the investments of the owners. A thousand candles will better illustrate the angles, ditches and sheer drops in the road ahead rather than the bleaching strains of the caffeine media flow. Seems to be nature calibrated all our perspectives differently and gave us the faculty to tell differing stories about the same things just so wed enjoy this advantage. Now were set on boiling all of that down to information from increasingly similar and singular sources (even though we may give it different brands).
We should be demanding a totally free and unbiased media free from the copy and paste of lobbyists and errant PR embargoed releases palmed of by the owners of production. But we dont need to wait for these big boys to fall into line. We should be formulating their replacement. As was the case with the car replacing the carriage and the telephone replacing the telegraph, no one went to the street with a placard, they just replaced the less efficient old, with an easier to use new solution that suited peoples needs at the time.
Social media is already hacking away at the corporate edifice but they have many minds working to defend themselves- usually by appropriating elements of the oppositions best argument.
A line needs to be drawn. Youre the one who buys this stuff so how about:
- Stop buying newspaper and watching TV news completely (get your fix from a hundred blogs or so)?
- Re-invigorating the local paper that serves your community by suggesting the writers acknowledge larger world issues and write articles detailing how they will impact the street in which you live.
- Co authoring street sheets to share with your friends and acquaintances?
- Using your existing networks to author an independent journal and using it as a way to reach out to existing groups and for them to share their news with you breaking up any workload into smaller pieces.
Over to you
Dan O’Neill runs independent online store