12 January 2012

Lost in Consumption (Part 1): The Eco-Dilemma of America

I keep mentioning this "America." But on the real, what is America?

Cliché but truth-bearing statement: America is a complex place.

While I hope that one day, America as it refers to the bicontintal island-landmass of Western hemispheric cultures, communities and nations, in common-speak, it often does not. Even in 2012. You know what I mean. No need to bring up the epithets associated with the "American." But what is an American when the United States of America is in majority a nation of immigrants?

What is America when the forefathers of the political identity of this young nation was founded by foreigners? In this continental terra, where an overwhemling percentage are not Native born, how else are residents, with no other cultural history to call their own, going to identify themselves?

Objects. Things. Consumption. When alone in the world, facing a culturally nomadic existence, the commercial object is a convenient way to anchor onto the ever so elusive self. With that hard earned, Horatio Alger-bootstrapping dollar, one can buy an object, an article of clothing, a house, 2 cars or a mule, a self help book, a facebook profile, a company, a stock, a sperm, a kid, a QUALQUER COISA! that will be a concrete way to express an identity that has a limited concrete history. That may be why the land of soul searching guised under the land of opportunity is really the land of consumption. That may be why, according to the Happy Planet Index, the United States, may have a historically relatively high GDP, but a blood red low HPI on happiness and planet impact.

So how can we, as conscious people in the AmericaS, counteract this dolla-dolla-based soul searching that is creating a country that is killing OUR planet? Perhaps, reminding ourselves and others that America is not some elusive epithet (Perhaps the United States of America should be renamed without the A?), but rather one national part of a trans-cultural narrative of Western hemispheric nations, where many are trying to define who they are in a landscape overtaken by hybridity, foreign identity and the shifting claims over "native."

We must find out and accept who we are, love who we are, so we can love others (planet included). Until then, the HPI of the US (of A) will continue to be blood red and our planet will continue to sing a sad, complicit song: "America, the beautiful (is killing me softly over burgers and pantyhose)".

There are too many of us who know the truth. So let's produce it or put our dolla-dollas into those people and companies who are. Production in consumerist products and shallow identity is so last season.

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