“We abuse the land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see the land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold
If, as Krishnamurti said, “It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society,” then it stands to reason that remaining “well adjusted” has kept us in a perpetual state of ecocide.
Our society poisons the air it breathes, the water it drinks, and the food it eats. And then it has the audacity to poison the minds of its citizens by convincing them that this is somehow “progress”.
The problem is that we don’t have a healthy sense of community. What little sense of community we do have is wrapped up in the unhealthy society that we were born into. It’s caught up in the nine-to-five daily grind and the rat-in-a-cage drudgery of a fear-based lifestyle that’s codependent upon a corrupt state. And this is happening on a global scale. You would be hard-pressed to find a healthy society: that is, a society that does not poison its air, water, food, and minds.
It all comes down to perspective—or the lack thereof. We have been conditioned by a sick society to perceive the world as a commodity that belongs to us. In order to cure ourselves, in order to no longer be sick, we must find a way to flip our perspective into perceiving the world as a community to which we belong.
It will require unlearning what we have learned from the profoundly sick society. It will require unwashing the brainwash and reconditioning the cultural conditioning. It will require living a courage-based lifestyle despite the fear-based lifestyle that surrounds us. It will require becoming interdependent from, rather than codependent on, the profoundly sick society. It will require obtaining an eco-centric perspective while rejecting the egocentric perspective that got us into this mess.
This will be an arduously Herculean task. But no battle is more important for the continued survival of our species.
World as commodity:
“Do not become one of those who only has the courage of other people’s convictions.” ~A. Bartlett Giamatti
What makes it so difficult to flip our perspective? It’s the fact that the sick society keeps us comfortable, safe, and secure while at the same time that it keeps us unhealthy and codependent. The other reason is that it is so much easier to use the world as a commodity.
And that’s the rub. Nobody wants to take responsibility. Nobody wants to be uncomfortable, unsafe, or insecure. Everybody wants to take the easy road. And so the profoundly sick society just keeps on getting sicker.
It’s all too easy to simply rely upon unsustainable corporations that pollute the air and poison the water. In order to keep up with the rat race and keep food on the table, we are forced to rely on corrupt corporations and bureaucratic governments that are dead set on using the world as a commodity while calling it progress. After all, even unhealthy food is better than no food at all. Right?
And even when we do try to become independent and grow our own food or catch our own rainwater, we have overreaching governments with the monopoly on violence coming down on us and slapping us with fines or threatening us with jail time.
The ‘world as commodity’ is an unhealthy snake eating its own tail. Even worse, it gives birth to citizens that are codependent sheep grazing on the unhealthy snake shit and somehow managing to convince themselves it’s food. “Hell! If it’s cheap and easy and keeps me comfortable and safe from government oppression, I might as well eat it. Ignorance is bliss, right?” Right.
And that’s the real kicker. Any awareness of living in a sick society is easily pushed to the side and repressed through the psychosocial convenience of cognitive dissonance. Which usually sounds a little something like this: “It’s uncomfortable for me to believe that I live in a profoundly sick society, even though the evidence is overwhelming. So, rather than think about it, I’ll simply ignore it. After all, there are bills to pay. My kids need to eat (probably McDonald’s or Roundup-laced vegetables). Who do you think I am? Captain Fantastic?”
Satire aside, comfort and convenience are the front lines in the battle against the world as a commodity. If we have any chance of winning this battle, every single one of us will have to win that war at the front line. Which will mean a lot of discomfort and inconvenience.
World as Community:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle
The solution to winning the war against perceiving the world as a commodity is flipping our perspective and perceiving it as a community. Unfortunately, this will require discomfort and inconvenience.
This will require peeling away layer upon layer of cultural conditioning. The first layer is fear of the unknown. It’s the fear of trying something new, of making a healthy lifestyle change. It’s the fear of being ostracized or left out. It’s the fear of some arbitrary authority coming in with some arbitrary power and fining us with some arbitrary law.
So, the first thing we’ll need is courage. But not just any kind of courage. We’ll need a particular flavor of courage that is willing to be “the bad guy,” the maverick, the martyr. It will require the kind of courage that can stand up to codependent peer pressure and take independent leaps of courage, despite goodie-two-shoe conformists and weak-kneed milquetoasts.
The kind of courage that will make the sick society hate you for being healthy; when, really, it just hates itself for remaining sick. It’s the kind of courage that eco-centrically crushes out into healthy interdependence with cosmos, despite the sick society that egocentrically flushes everything away in codependent excess and greed.
The second thing we’ll need is the ability to question the sick society to the nth degree. But not just any kind of questioning. No. We need a particular flavor of questioning that is ruthless, penetrating, interrogating—no-holds-barred.
The kind of questioning that puts unsustainable corporations on blast. The kind of questioning that’s civilly disobedient. The kind of questioning that tears apart the outdated, xenophobic reasoning of the sick society; that reveals the chain-of-command as nothing more than an up-jumped human centipede, blind and poisonous to reason. Indeed. The kind of questioning that has shock value; that won’t allow the sick society to fall back into pretending it’s asleep.
Most of all, it will require us all to practice self-interrogation, self-improvement, and self-overcoming—all of which are exceedingly uncomfortable and inconvenient. Oh well.
When it comes down to it, things will probably get worse before they get better. Transitioning from a sick society that treats the world as a commodity to a healthy society that treats the world as a community will not be an easy task. Things may even slip into anarchy (no masters, no rulers). But even uncomfortable anarchy is healthier than comfortable tyranny, or convenient sickness. Especially when the tyranny and the sickness are ecocidal. Without a healthy planet there can be no healthy people. It really is that critical. Indeed. We may need to sow a little strategic disorder to reap a higher order.
The world can be a community to which we belong, full of compassion, respect, love, and tolerance. But only if we let it. And not if we continue to treat the world like a commodity that belongs to us.
Our tolerance of a ‘profoundly sick society’ can only go so far. Lest we inadvertently end up on the side of the executioners, we must draw the line somewhere. It must be drawn at sickness, at excess, at violence, at greed, and at ecocide. And only free, healthy, courageous individuals will have the wherewithal to draw it.
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (Commodity Versus Community: The Hidden Battle That Affects Us All) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.