Is it possible to change our behavior in a way that can overcome our reliance on goods and services that are the product of injustice? In class we discussed how our everyday lives are lived through the menial labor of underprivileged people around the world and the abuse of our planet’s resources. How we justify these things is a matter discussed at length by Albert Bandura in his article on Moral Disengagement. Of course the work of the poor and disenfranchised people of the world has always allowed the posh lives of the nobility of their time to exist. In modern times however we have seen in America, Europe and other developed areas a new rank of citizens in the middle class.
Unlike the relatively small merchant classes of feudal times this group of people is much larger and much more demanding. As Heinberg stated at the beginning of The Party’s Over this group of people is relatively rich when compared to the majority of people in the world. Now, if were you to take a look at yourself would you consider your situation in life as highly desirable? Most would say no. In fact most would give you numerous reasons for why their lives are not any sort of pinnacle to be sought after by anyone in their right mind. I for one could list how many things I still desire to do or to have and almost all would require a better occupation than the one I currently have or, to be more direct, more money.
Bandura would have us believe that our greatest hindrances to ecological sustainability lie in our inability to see the moral wrongs we have committed through our displacement of responsibility for them. I on the other hand believe that we have seen these wrongs and we know them very well. The naivety of the populace in their own wrong doing is a nice way to explain why people act the way they do yet moral justification also has another well known cause and it’s the ugly truth that we try to keep hidden.
For the younger generation our lifestyles are all that we have ever known. In addition our sense of ownership for our own destiny has been ingrained in all of us since we heard in grade school that old line of rhetoric, “anyone can be president”. This privilege has continued to be nurtured in every movie where the hero wins fame and fortune or in the novel that ends in true love. We have been a very greedy species. The avarice of the nobles has been passed down and treasured by our middle classes and we are loathe to relinquish our grasp on our relatively lavish lifestyles when given a glimpse of the poverty experienced throughout the world by others.