Confronting Western Greed
I’m really starting to get annoyed by all this nonsense that’s going around about how Climate Camp is interfering with people’s right to take a holiday in peace. What right? Rights should either be universal, or for the protection of a weak minority. Where did we, the rich folks in the west, get this right from?
Worse than this, it seems some people have so immunized themselves against the reality of the world that they only compare their ability to get away on holiday to that of the people shown in the media: the rich and the famous (who are also, generally, rich). What about all those people working in sweatshops with zero days holiday and upwards of 60 hour weeks. Perhaps we should take the ability to simply get out of our own town or city for a couple of weeks at a time without being fired as a miracle in itself.
As to business flights, so many could just as easily be taken by train anyhow, and then we might have enough money to build faster rail lines with bigger capacity. Obviously, we can do ourselves a favor and reassess why we’re doing business in a way which requires those sorts of distances in traveling: is it perhaps because our business models are based on the normalisation of greed. By that I mean that our culture tells us we have a right to expand our business at the expense of others, and lets face it, its rare we can expand business without harming either others or the environment, which comes to about the same thing.
I was somewhat impressed by the shop owners I met in Palestine, many of whom seemed to feel that the important thing in life was to hand over a business that paid for itself and for their upkeep to the next generation. The idea of expanding and opening other stores and employing vast numbers of people was not there. To many in the west this would seem like a sort of laziness, a stupid attitude when clearly these businesses should learn to compete.
Its only when confronted by this alternative, by some kind of system that values cooperation and contentment above greed that we can see our own system, our own culture for what it really is. I was noticing recently how that old phrase “we should live simply that others might simply live” has started doing the rounds in some churches again. How we square that in a world where the simple living of many is back-breaking hours and no holidays, and yet we ourselves are used to having free time, is perhaps a little difficult.