Last week in my “better than your average conversation in Irkutsk” meet up, we watched the following video on ownership and social status:
I was pretty stoked that after watching the video and having a short discussion, everyone seemed to agree that this idea of owning something exists only in our imagination. You don’t really own anything. The only reason you think you own something is because you believe you own it and everybody else believes that too. But imagine telling an alien that this house is yours because you have a piece of paper that proves it’s yours. Surely the alien would tell you that your piece of paper means nothing :P. When you die, all the stuff you’ve acquired will remain on Earth and there is no cosmic law that can prove that you own anything.
One very important question from a newcomer: why is this important?
It’s important because this belief in ownership is at the core of the game that we all play here on planet Earth. Take a look at this book to understand what I’m talking about.
- We believe we own things (we all use imagination)
- Because of this we try to acquire things- phones, clothes, houses, cars, money etc.
- In order to acquire things, we need to play the TRADE game
- I trade my time/effort/skills (work) for money
- I trade money for food/cars/house/etc.
- There are many other types of trades- using money is just the most common way of trading. See “the origin of most problems” book above to learn about other kinds of trades
- In order for this whole thing to work, businesses engage in trades
- Farmer trades time and labor for money
- Result: cotton
- H&M needs cotton. H&M trades money for cotton
- Cotton is transported to a factory
- Factory workers trade time and labor for money
- Result: shirts
- H&M trades money for advertisement
- Advertising agency employee trades time and skills for money
- Result: ads to sell more shirts
- H&M trades shirts for money
- People trade money for shirts
- Doesn’t sound all that bad, right? Jobs! Stuff to do! And that’s just business as usual, right? …But here’s a list of crap that comes out as a side effect of such a trade (and mind you, if you look deeply into any trade, you will very likely find some list of crap)-
- The land is exploited– covered in harmful pesticides to meet the demand for cotton
- Farmer is exploited (exposed to pesticides, paid low wage, etc.)
- Transportation pollutes the environment
- Factory exploits workers (long hours, low wages, harmful working conditions)
- Factory/company pollutes the environment
- Advertising agency employee gets depression from spending most of her/his time on Earth doing something that’s just not all that important
- Clothes are low quality, high quantity
- Huge amount of waste is created from unnecessary, poor quality, well-advertised clothes. The textile industry, as an example, produces 15 million tons of waste in the US alone per year. 15 MILLION TONS just in the US. Now think about how valuable those “jobs! Stuff to do! And business as usual” really are.
These are all problems that are very real and I’m sure you are well aware of them. If not, I’ve included a short list of documentaries to watch about such crap that exists in our world (below**).
I am sure that there are some companies that try to minimize the crap they create, but mostly, when a company is driven by profit (when its primary aim is to acquire as much money as possible) you will see loads of crap.
So think about the bigger picture. The world as a whole. Almost every person on the planet plays this trade game. The trade game is dominated by big businesses*. The aim of the game is to acquire as much as possible- the purpose of business is to gain profit. The side effects are the crap we see in the world: inequality, poverty, pollution, environmental degradation, overconsumption, slavery, war, corruption, and much much more.
Random person: “Ok maybe I get it… But that’s just the way our world works, what could we possibly do about it?”
-Well first, understand the core problem: the trade game. Understanding is very important. Most people do not understand that trade itself is the problem.
Then we can work towards understanding (or creating) a solution. But don’t expect the solution to be quick and simple. You cannot find an easy answer to such a complicated problem, as the solution will require significant restructuring of both infrastructure (the society) and values (human mind)
*Actually, the entire world is basically owned by about 175 monopolies (from food to entertainment, to clothes, housing, healthcare, everything!). Tio made a search engine dedicated specifically to exposing just how big these giants really are. You can use it to look up almost any brand/artist/movie/company/etc. and see who it’s owned by. Check it out: www.tromsite.com/tbf/
**Documentaries recommended by Tio:
The Men Who Made Us Spend -to understand how this notion of “spending” got into our society and how easy people are to manipulate.
Merchants of Doubt -perhaps the best documentary that showcases how science can be corrupted. very mind opening.
Human Footprint -very interesting to see how much a human consumes in their lifetime.
The Traffickers -8 captivating parts that show in detail how there is a black market for basically everything.
Machines -it is hard to believe this documentary was filmed in 2018, it looks like it’s from 1918. Unique documentary showcasing slavery in India. Very sad.
Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion -working like slaves for H&M (second biggest clothing company in the world).
Britain’s Modern Slave Trade -workers being enslaved in the UK.
The Dark Side Of Chocolate enslaved children in the chocolate industry.
The Rich, The Poor and The Trash -documentary about people who work with and live off of trash.
The True Cost -enslaving workers in the fashion industry and overall about the fashion industry.
Poverty and Profit- the Business of Development Aid -this documentary analyses the political background behind public-private partnerships in development aid.
7-Eleven: The Price of Convenience -working like slaves for 7-eleven (largest supermarket chain in the world).
Slaving Away -working like slaves in the “fruit and vegetable” industry.
Sex Slavery – slaves in the sex industry.
Behind Closed Doors – maids being enslaved.
Migrant Dreams: Canada’s Broken Promise -workers exploited in Canada.
Trafficked in America -workers enslaved in US.
Myanmar’s Youngest Maids -maids exploited.
Apple’s Broken Promises -more apple slaves.
See more here!
And have a nice day :)