Tuesday, March 26, 2013

consumerism the disease...

Texture from original milling, natural shrinkage and weather.
During the 9-1-1 tragedy the Bush administration, fearing an economic collapse, informed us that our patriotic duty was to continue to consume like there was no tomorrow. Then, when we went to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we were assured that we were deserving of the small tax breaks, that we need not make any particular sacrifice because we were now at war. We were once again assured that by partaking of the vast, never ending supply of cheap consumer goods imported from other countries, and purchased with American indebtedness, we were doing our patriotic duty in a time of war. Even at a time in which most Americans wanted to do something more to help and would have sacrificed by paying higher taxes we were assured that we could let the troops fight it out as we were to be greeted as liberators.

And now we are celebrating? or at least marking the 10th anniversary of our voluntary, unnecessary war with Iraq. But that was not the start of consumerism as a disease. We know that the disease consumption is highly contagious. Consumerism is too. It feeds upon false pride. It weakens the body's defenses, and the character of its host. Consumers are dehumanized as statistics and numbers of folks, studied and analyzed to gain maximum return on investments in advertising and other attempts to manipulate us to buy products. We are made to feel insecure that our teeth aren't white enough, and stupid when the products they sell don't work. And our schools, by keeping our students under restraint and observation, are instrumental in raising whole new generations of hosts for consumerism the disease.

The hands actually touch every facet of human culture and relationship to the planet, and to connect us to each other. Encouragement of consumerism is only one effect of our failure to engage the hands in learning and making. There is a solution. Make certain that the things you buy are tools that enable your own creativity. If you are not ready for that, then at least invest your monetary resources in encouraging the growth and creativity of others. Those in your own community are best.

My friends Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski have a new book out, Leaving to Learn, which addresses the problem that once every 12 seconds a student drops out of high school. Leaving to Learn is built upon the authors' experiences with  Big Picture Schools which integrate on and off campus learning, thus engaging students in real world experiences, known to engage learners. I've been trying for years to get our local public school to offer a learning through internship program to our public school students.

Today the high school students at Clear Spring School put strings on their cigar box guitars. In case you missed yesterday's post, this link is to the video made by Murdo and Nancy  in which I give offer a glimpse into my work. Murdo is a former film maker who worked on several films with Francis Ford Coppola before moving to Eureka Springs.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Very well said. And as always an interesting and thought provoking post.

    I have actually tried to teach my children about commercial ads in magazines from they were maybe 4 or 5 years old.
    Just letting them know that someone puts a picture of a happy family in a magazine, all cooking and laughing, and everything perfect, because they want to sell an illusion.
    In my opinion, this is something that should be discussed with children, just like you are telling them not to accept candy from strangers. The PR companies are extremely efficient at doing their job, and if nobody tells you what they are trying to do, then a young brain is easily tricked into consumerism.

  2. The brains need not be young. Sadly, the same tools are used to sell candidates for office with alarming success.

    No , age is no barrier to, nor protection from the charlatans of the Ad Space.