Year of Questions: Is globalization good?

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.

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3 thoughts on “Year of Questions: Is globalization good?”

  1. It is hard for me to accept the general consensus that globalization is the way of the future, when in every developing country, local populations are under stress because of its effect. Sure, everyone has more information but what are we doing with it?
    In Europe, where I live, folks are scared of emigration from Africa which seems unstoppable. People move in mass when they can no longer live where they were born; if their means of support, be it water, land, seeds or local work, is taken away they will move. First they will move to the big city close by in search of work, then they will believe that their El Dorado is somewhere north of where they are and spend untold amounts of resources trying to get there while multinational corporations continue to bring us cheap food, cheap toys, cheap oil and drive us collectively into sameness. Are we not already wearing the same uniform: jeans, Tees, sneaks, and baseball caps?
    I think globalization is enriching a few and pauperizing the many. You are right, support your local business and farmers they want to see you come back, it is in their interest to give you the best product they can, not to make as much money as they can right now, this quarter and run off.
    Sorry, I guess I have an opinion, huh?

    1. No apologies. Individual opinion is the hallmark of real, honest freedom and always welcome here

      I think part of what you’re saying is, how can we be hopeful? There are many downsides to globalization. I see possibilities for change but I also see the crushing of individual and collective souls, irrespective of ethnicity, creed, national borders, and so on.

      I think we can be hopeful if we are first honest. As an artist, writer, and musician I think about my responsibility all the time to not only reflect truths for myself as a person, but to also help do the same for others. Truth is what spurs us to change, individually and collectively. Are you familiar with the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei? I saw a documentary about him called “Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry” and recommend it highly

      1. Actually, I am hopeful because I see a lot of young people, questioning the status quo and rethinking the questions ( like you for instance). Interesting studies on millennials’ approach to information for instance show that they tend to check the sources of info much more than previous generations. Thinking outside the box is hopeful. Seeking truth is hopeful… What I do rail about is the thoughtlessness pursuit of profits that, as you wrote so eloquently, crushes the spirit and is killing us in more ways than one,..for now. But it will change.. I will check into your reco. Thanks

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