I came upon the word ‘dystopian’ this morning as I am getting ready to start my day. It means…
“relating to or denoting an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
“the dystopian future of a society bereft of reason”
I am taken by it and plan to write something that draws on this predicament.
Just before I read this article introducing me to the word and leading me off to the dictionary, I had just finished looking at short video clip of a British couple opening a food shop where no packaging is used. Linking a ‘commercial’ undertaking to sustainable living by removing harmful packaging from the world that has devastated the natural environment for ages. Yes. Everyone one agrees. The video is viral. The idea is a no brainer. People loved it.
But I have questions. The feel good factor only lasted a few seconds for me. When the glossy clip finished I shook my head…this is normal it seems, to see a plethora of these types of initiatives. First world initiatives undertaken by people, in the very societies that cumulatively for decades, caused these and other problems, not just for themselves but for the rest of the world, and now they are poised to reap the benefits, from us, for cleaning up their mess. And the irony of it is this: they now have access to resources to markets, to sell, and make a good living by telling the rest of the world how not to do what they (ie their societies) have done and benefitted from for decades. They are the ones with resources – and I speak of financial, technical, economic – to ‘package’ and sell back to us, what a sustainable lifestyle is. They sell back to the very places, communities all over the planet, the receivers of the debris from the word go. It is irony to me. And us, non-first worlders, non-whites, languishing out of the orbit of first world white privilege, lap it up. We once again will drink their kool-aid. Am I saying that they are not environmentally aware? No. I’m saying why are they always in charge when they themselves, ie the consumerist-led societies they come from, are the problem or have been the problem for decades? Yes. It is capitalist consumerism to sell but who cleans up their mess? Where are the resources for that? Many little satellite countries are either battling to keep abreast of their own generated debris as well as mind the cumulative build up of cultural consumption that encouraged lifestyles of waste and neglect. There are not enough resources for smaller countries/societies to do both. So the developing, emerging, non-first world countries steam ahead whilst we play catch up. Some things never change.
Just to expand on my point. I am sent links, video clips, imagery, beautifully taken photos, life-coaching gems from young, white Caucasians re-colonising the web space to tell us, billions out in the hinterlands, how to live and think beautifully. And it bothers me that the people who send me these links etc, are lapping up posts like these like there is no tomorrow. Both young and old people of colour. People like me. Well travelled, aware of the imbalance in the world order. How could this mundane, white girl have such resonance in your life? Do blacks or ‘others’ resonate in their lives apart from Obama?! Is there not an obligation for those of us who understand the subtleties of racial dominance, not thrive to discover and seek out the voices on and off the internet for those ‘others’ who speak for us? Why would I want to endorse wholesale, the legions from the very same groups (different generations albeit), that come from the long, long line of overt and covert expansionist type first world societies that has had one mantra for centuries: conquer, exploit, expand. Why are their voices being heard more in the din, than the many non-whites? Why are younger people of colour, blacks and browns becoming so neutralised that the writings of bland white perspectives resonate so much? Is the world equal? Is meritocracy just an idea or a legitimate fact? Why would young black, browns, etc not aggressively seek out the voices of people that speak for them instead of surrendering to the DIY philosophers of this and that which addresses nothing about the imbalance of the very societies that they live in and presumably benefit from? Why? Don’t we want more?
I know that I tend to sermonise when I write about the real things that affect my sense of well being in this world. When I look around me and see new generations of non-whites, lapping up the candied floss outlooks of life and love and success and empowerment, I am saddened. How easy it has become to slot into first world, bland thinking (that is white saturated) when the evidence of ongoing racism and inequity, exploitation and mayhem is everywhere around you. So what if @beyoubeautiful posts about ‘loving yourself’ and ‘forgiving yourself’ with her long, blond hair flowing around her as she poses in iconic places, like the mountains in Peru? Does she draw inspiration from the pen of an awkward black woman who lives her life with grit every day? Why give your time, your thoughts, your energy, your support, your ‘likes’ to ideas you know only pertain to the privilege of some of these posters? These are people who ultimately are here to promote an idea of good living that has nothing to do with real humanity, justice and freedom? That means, my friends, they are not writing for you and me.