Simple changes sometimes take a deep change of perspective.
There’s a particular danger in drawing your head out of the sand, even for an instant. Once you’ve looked in the box, you can’t put any of it back in. Once you’ve recognised the problem, you only have two real choices: give up, or fight forever.
It’s much easier to make the first choice, the ‘world’ wants you to, and will help you find all the excuses you need to make it work.
What difference can one person make?
The bank account thing was one of my first steps. I didn’t know much about it, I just knew that there was a bank out there that had an ethical policy. My bank at the time just had terribly cheap looking adverts. It took a while to make the trip out. Closing one bank account, and walking one hundred metres down the road with all of my money in an envelope in my pocket. It was a small journey, but it was a step forward.
A small one, with a million impacts I’ll probably never see.
The society we live in is built to not let us see the consequences of our actions. The banking system is a clear demonstration of this. Economics itself is excruciatingly complicated, exactly so that we start seeing success in the bluntest measures. GDP is more important than happiness. Constant growth is more important than the lives of people, especially if you’ve never met them. Money doesn’t follow the laws of physics, so just leave it all to the professionals. They know what they’re doing.
But profit isn’t people.
Most banks will invest in anything that they can see money in. This is often war, genocide, the destruction of the environment, and exploitation.
Most of it happens on the other side of the world, and is a million miles away from the cashing of cheques and the manipulation of credit and savings and interest and all that incomprehensibly mundane jazz. Invisible infrastructure feeds your lifestyle, and you never see the sort of compost it grows from. This is modernity. This is consumerism. We eat, we eat, and we don’t ask where it cames from.
If you do ask, then you might start getting scared. It’s easier to bury your head, and bemoan the impossiblity of challenging a system so huge, than to argue with it. Than to research it and make choices based on what you believe is right.
That is how it all perpetuates. For the most part, I think it’s just people being overwhelmed. Cognitive dissonance does marvelous things for your world view. It will build your perspective around your behaviour. It will give you evidence and thought processes to protect what you want to do.
It’s easier that way.
But you can make differences, and you should try.
Read some of this. Think about what you believe in, and what your money is used for.
It’s a step.
And tiny steps take you miles.
Illustration by Jaime