Don’t just accept what is presented – choose your culture carefully. A lot of our Western civilization has become toxic. It is mainly constructed around consumption in the past 100 years, with devastating effects on our environment, natural world, and even our health.
You can decide for yourself if this was all pre-planned evil conspiracy, but personally I think it was just average human short-sightedness and our common desire for comfort, combined with human ingenuity. The second industrial revolution fueled by oil has spanned into the first truly global empire – powered by cheap labor and ruthless exploration of resources. As we find ourselves in the age of information it is very easy to get overwhelmed. In fact, keeping the population overwhelmed serves as a goal in itself because then you don’t have time to contemplate the fundamental things – such as why am I being bombarded with all this junk? (See Step 1) Shouldn’t our goal be to leave this planet in better shape than we found it; more beautiful, in better health, a thriving place for our children?
Culture is a difficult concept because it is so ingrained with who we are as a people. I grew up in a society where women and men are as good as equal, so I don’t consider myself a feminist – to me, female equality is just considered “normal”. A lot of people have difficulties accepting homosexuality, again, I grew up with no such stigmas so to me it is just “normal”. But normal varies from person to person. I think a good rule of thumb is to do what is right for you, but don’t try to decide for anyone else unless a third party is actively being harmed by that choice. (See why the abortion debate is so difficult? It’s our politicians favorite way to distract us.)
Choose what you surround yourself with – make it a conscious choice. It’s ok to love trashy reality TV (the reason it is addictive is because the producers behind it are masters of what they do and good work should be complimented, although sometimes I wish they would use their powers for good…) but if you find yourself watching more reality TV than talking to the most important people in your life, maybe you should reevaluate your priorities.
Media is everything that influences our minds and shapes our worldview. There are more books, magazines, blogs, videos, TV and music out there than can be enjoyed in a lifetime so be critical of what you devote your time and energy to. If you have the luxury of enjoying all these things, you are more fortunate than most human beings on this planet. Most of them work long hours (up to 18 hour days) for very little pay and don’t have access to such luxuries. Some don’t even have access to work and spend their time scavenging for food. Whatever culture you choose, you should never choose to ignore suffering.
To those whom much is given, much is expected – JFK