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Personal Action in Corporate America

Please Notice This

Reprinted from the Nov/Dec 1994 issue of Essential Living, this condensed version of an article by Robert Gotcher is even more relevant today. It was originally printed in an Ecology Action's Newsletter more than ten years ago.

We live in a very complex world of high technology, multinational corporations, high finance, high pressure, and social isolation. We are enmeshed in a vast web of institutions and structures over which no one appears to have control but which control almost every aspect of our lives. The vast majority of people who are attached to the alternatives find themselves paralyzed when they try to put their program into effect. Part of the problem is isolation. An alternative economy cannot be embraced except in the context of a well-developed and comprehensive community. Many of us do not know where to turn to find such a community, nor do we possess the leadership gifts to create one ourselves.

We need to see that a slow, gradual transition is perfectly acceptable. We can begin right now to take small steps toward economic and cultural transformation. It may be impossible (and undesirable) for us to withdraw completely from society and commerce. It is possible, however, to reduce the controlling influence of a world economy on our lives and at the same time promote smaller, more human-scale practices. The key principle is that the more an action shows respect for an individual as a person, the more just it is. This requires scaling down. We have to create an economy based on the integrity of individuals and the intrinsic interaction of human communities. It also requires an emphasis on human participation in productivity and an essential connection between a person and the fruits of their labor.

Here are several principles that can be adopted:

  • Buy locally instead of nationally or internationally, to reduce dependence on the vast transportation and communication infrastructure that drains our energy resources.
  • Buy directly from the producer instead of the distributor. This reduces costly advertising and environmentally costly packaging. When possible, buy from small businesses rather than large.
  • Buy natural materials instead of artificial ones, hand-made instead of machine-made. Working and living with natural materials promotes a sense of symbiotic relationship with creation and reduces alienation. Handwork also reduces dependency on high technology and consumption of environmentally damaging energy sources.
  • Buy raw materials instead of processed or prefabricated materials.

The solutions often come with an initially higher price tag and require more personal effort. The rewards, however, are great: a sense of community, unity with nature and possibly a sense of spiritual well-being as we return to a more natural and human rhythm of life.

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