I’ve been thinking a bit about how our relationship with local and immediate things contrasts with the concept of greater good and universal ideas.
For example…televisions, websites, and magazines exhort us to do more/care more. There is a nobility to donating money to support charitable causes in Africa, or connecting with people across the world via a blog. They give us the ability to communicate and create and/or support our idea of ourselves as good, responsible humans. These are noble actions, but they are disconnected actions.
This is part of the complicated relationship I have with blogging, social media, and the web in general. There are examples of people launching start-ups that illustrate the amazing good that global connectedness can do. But many people are just spinning wheels, even when there is a noble end in mind. Think Stop Kony. Or on a lesser level, the vitriolic commentary found on almost any news story about the president or the upcoming elections.
The answer to whether or not globalization is good seems complicated. With any major shift in civilization there will always be challenges, but the building of a truly global society has created dynamics humans weren’t expecting, and don’t seem to know how to combat. Is the value outweighed by the negative effects?
A mirror for that question lies in the controversy around Monsanto, and the efforts of groups around the world to save seeds and preserve bio-diversity. As we become more connected we do not have to become more alike. Instead, we can appreciate differences and even foster them. Doing so is actually good for us. Globalization has lots of benefits, but the popular, economic expression isn’t so great.
My mom believed in bio-diversity and was passionate about saving seeds, and she was an ardent support of the idea of local action. I told a friend recently that I don’t do generalizations anymore. Of course that was a generalization=) but the larger theme in my life now is that while I understand and stay up to date with what’s happening globally, the things happening in my community matter more.
I’ve started shopping the co-op here, buying less processed foods that are mostly local in origin (especially grains and vegetables), and educating myself / becoming involved in things that matter and have effects here, in my city. I make a point of creating joy in my life and the life of those around me, whether that’s through music, writing, or the simple act of meeting for coffee or a meal. I still pay attention to the global, but I pay action to the local.
At times I catch myself in an internal dialogue about the irony of looking like a hippie, or chiding myself for being a technophobe or afraid of progress (I’m not, but if you don’t buy into globalization that’s one of the cultural assumptions that comes along with it). But typically, I feel more connected and responsible to my life and the lives of others around me when I’m not hopped up on the global/universal way of thinking about things.