Voting as a Mindful Consumer
By Sarah Sheen
The power of the consumer is undeniable. Our choices shape our standards of living and during this election season, I think it is worth exploring the impact our choices make and the variables that shape those choices!
Is it possible that we are experiencing a Second Industrial Revolution with all the corresponding technology booms and health crises that came with the first? Wikipedia defines The Industrial Revolution as: a period from 1750 to 1850 where changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times. Sound familiar, anyone?
A helpful visualization created by Goswami Kriyananda goes something like this: You are in a rowboat with the option of anchoring on one of two lands: the shore of Exploitation or the shore of Compassion. Exploitation has some murky, leech-filled water on the beach and the sky is filled with noxious fumes. Compassion has a crystal clear coral reef bordering a land filled with wildlife. We know both exist: the key is where we choose to anchor our rowboats.
Michael Pollan has advised us, as consumers, to vote with our dollars. Each of us spends money on food, clothing, transportation, media, housing and personal care. To ensure that our money is spent toward a sustainable society and healthy planet, investigate the following:
The poetry of the situation is, when a product is created without compassion, our consumption of it is likely to expose us to various pathogens. If exploitation is a vicious cycle, compassion is like a drop in a powerful body of water. To quote Frances Moore Lappé:
“We’re just a drop in the bucket, and that’s meaningless. But we say: No, wait a minute. If you have a bucket, those raindrops fill it up very fast. Being a drop in the bucket is magnificent! The problem is we cannot see the bucket. Our work is helping people see that there is a bucket. There are all these people all over the world who are creating this bucket of hope. And so our drops are incredibly significant.”
A trip to the Mütter Museum of Medical Oddities in Philadelphia is enough to convince one of the toll taken on people's health by the First Industrial Revolution. Various asylums such as the Salpêtrière in Paris and Bedlam outside London sprang up in this era. Exploitation may take slightly different forms today, but history does repeat itself. Some of the profound mutations we face today are at the cellular level, such as GMOs damaging our DNA strands.
As a consumer, it is possible to be part of an exciting agricultural reformation, simply through mindfully choosing where our dollars go. While it is depressing to know that exploitation exists, it is productive and empowering to add little drops to compassionate movements which are certainly on the rise. Some movements which continuously inspire and educate include:
Earth Democracy (Vandana Shiva) navdanya.org
Food Revolution Network (John & Ocean Robbins) foodrevolution.org
Institute for Responsible Technology (Jeffrey Smith) responsibletechnology.org
Slow Food International (Carlo Petrini) slowfood.com
Small Planet Institute (Frances Moore Lappé) smallplanet.org
Whole Life Nutrition (Ali Segersten & Tom Malterre) nourishingmeals.com
-Sarah Sheen is a guest blogger for Fed By Threads and is a natural health adviser and yoga teacher in Tucson, AZ.
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