Dust off Your Soapbox
While watching “The Cost of Cool: Finding Happiness in a Materialistic World” I could hardly help but imagine Sarah McLachlan soulfully moaning out “Angel.” The 2001 documentary was reminiscent of the ASPCA‘s heart-wrenching two minute videos of dirty kittens and limping puppies looking at the camera in pain.
Despite the inherent ‘cheese-factor,’ the little documentary was powerful and had a clear message that didn’t beat around the bush. As images of Canadian streams and forests flashed intermittently with information of their destruction and pictures of the dead wilderness. It showed pure, undeniable statistics illustrating just how materialistic and wasteful we, as a global civilization and as Americans, are. The statistics of destruction of natural resources and places had less an air of prevention as it did one of guilt, as if to say “See what you’ve done you consumerist pigs? We have no idea how we’re going to clean this up but you’d better feel obligated to help!” The effect was potent and true.
True as it was, there weren’t a lot of ideas for “fixing it” in the video, it was merely to get us to stop. The call was not to drop everything and help, but to simply stop making everything worse. Although these real-life Loraxes were speaking for the trees, they were also speaking for the people. They brought out the usual arguments for a better tomorrow, or even at least a tomorrow as good as today, but what was more interesting was when they talked of a better today. They took a nicer approach, not blaming the people but accepting our claim of temporary insanity, telling us that we had all been under the influence of marketing gone awry.
The documentary tells a different story, one seldom told
of good people getting carried away,
worsening the world, and gaining in gold,
refusing to turn it back good without pay.
The tale of big businesses, markets and minds ripe for buying,
These simple, rich people were easily swayed,
And didn’t know or care who was lying,
They bought what they wanted pros and cons un-weighed.
The greedy businessmen were happy to sell,
The consumers consumed,
The products were harmful and they knew all too well,
But the industry boomed.
The problems are real and the story is troubling,
from long, long ago we saw it over-bubbling.
But what does one do, when faced with a choice,
does he stand for what’s right and fight with his voice?
Should he defy society and shout condemnation
to the culture that controls the world and his nation?
The obvious answer is yes, we all should, and some part of us wants us to fight. To fight to save ourselves and our planet, but it doesn’t mean that anyone will.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.“