It seems almost unbelievable that tens of millions of aboriginal people, around the globe, managed to live their lives in a sustainable manner for thousands of years. Although you may not have learned that in history class, it is true! But their core values were significantly different from ours today, and that's what made it possible. The foundation of these values started with "Respect"; Respect of the self, others and Nature.
It is this basic concept of "Respect" that was lost in the last 300 years and this "Respect" desperately needs to be restored now, and in our daily lives, if we are to turn things around.
300 years isn't that long ago! Yet, today's civilization, with all our accomplishments, forgot about the importance of "Respect" and in the process, managed to: Strip the majority our planets valuable resources, pollute our oceans, destroy our atmosphere, drive countless species into extinction, negatively affect our climate, and destroy the health of millions of people world wide!
But, what caused such a monumental shift in our thinking?
To many in both business and government, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power is truly moved into the hands of the people. Certainly the masses may feel they are in charge, but are they are not!
This four part BBC documentary series titled "The Century of the Self" by Adam Curtis; tells the untold and extremely controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society and the birth of Consumptionism.
The documentary tells us how the all-consuming self was created, by whom, and in whose interest?
The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud; Sigmund's devoted daughter; and present-day PR guru and Sigmund's great grandson, Matthew Freud. Sigmund Freud's work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal.
Part 1-Happiness Machines: Part one documents the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays who invented 'Public Relations' in the 1920s, being the first person to take Freud's ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn't need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.
Part 2: The Engineering of Consent: Part two explores how those in power in post-war America used Freud's ideas about the unconscious mind to try and control the masses. Politicians and planners came to believe Freud's underlying premise that deep within all human beings were dangerous and irrational desires. They were convinced that it was the unleashing of these instincts that had led to the barbarism of Nazi Germany, and in response to this, they set out to find ways to control the masses so as to manage the 'hidden enemy' within the human mind.
Part 3: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads, He Must Be Destroyed: In the 1960s, a radical group of psychotherapists challenged the influence of Freudian ideas, which lead to the creation of a new political movement that sought to create 'new people', free of the psychological conformity that had been implanted in people's minds by business and politics. This episode shows how this idea rapidly developed in America through "self-help movements", into the irresistible rise of the expressive self: the Me Generation.
Part 4: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering: This episode explains how politicians turned to the same techniques used by business in order to read and manipulate the inner desires of the masses. Both New Labor with Tony Blair and the Democrats led by Bill Clinton, used the focus group which had been invented by psychoanalysts in order to regain power. Both set out to mold their policies to manipulate people's innermost desires and feelings, just as capitalism had learned to do with products.
This 4 part documentary series done by the BBC is probably one of the most important documentaries ever produced! Although it was created in the 1990's "The Century of the Self" is even more important today, because history it seems, is repeating itself! The series truthfully reveals how self sufficient, independent people, and sustainable communities were taught to be consumers.
The documentary also explains that this consumer way of life was intentionally created and reveals how mass production and consumption of goods has led mankind down a very dark path. Not because we are all consuming, but because we were taught that our sense of worth is connected to a high level of consumption. It's this false concept that has led to the poor management of our resources, and this lack of respect that is responsible for a great deal of the problems we face today.
But is it too late to change our ways? Can we free ourselves from this consumer based lifestyle, and learn to act more responsible and implement a new system of business that is responsible, ethical and sustainable?
We must remember that we, as human beings have the capacity to adapt and create positive change; we have in the past, and we can now... through necessity! Currently, we are ruled by a system that promotes massive consumerism, but it wasn't always this way! This hyper consumptionism started in the 1920's and now in 2011 this way of life is coming to a crashing halt! The limit to growth isn't about our current population being 8 Billion or even 9 Billion, it has to do with doing away with the Greedy ways of doing business and the false concept of endless oceans, oil, fish, water, land, soil and oil. I believe that humanity is inherently Good, but we must learn to curb our Greed, and "Respect" must be part of our daily lives.
It may take another 5 generations to completely relearn accountable, responsible, ethical and sustainable ways of living. It may also take this long to undo the damage we have done to our planet, but it can be done!
We can do it by combining the knowledge of our ancestors with innovative new technology that works along side nature and not against nature. We can do it, by creating sustainable manufacturing, housing, agriculture and utilizing natural, renewable energy sources and means of anti-gravity and maglev transportation.
Change starts from each of us making a choice.
For instance, I do my best to live in a sustainable manner that is within my means, and respectful of nature and others, and I continue to improve. I am not alone, it's just not as prominent today, and with good reason!
Humanity as a whole had to adapt to survive, and we have, by conforming to a system, earn $$$$ and over-consume.
Luckily, over-consumption can be unlearned, and people are! Government and multinational corporations must do their part as well by acting responsibly, morally and with accountability. This is the trickiest part, But! If big business want to continue to do business, they will have to embrace change, or they will go out of business! In the meantime, a good way to help promote change, is to continue to "Vote with your Dollar" & buy from ethical, sustainable businesses, buy local, support local businesses and farmers! This will cut into the profits of Big Businesses that are behaving badly, and drive home the message.
Do the right thing!