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Posts Tagged ‘Supercapitalism’

Last night was Back to School night at my daughter’s high school. I got a chance to be impressed by all her teachers. Her dad and I thought of skipping the Living Skills presentation. It is not a ‘serious’ class. Not like Maths or Humanities, or Social Studies. It turns out I was very happy we went. Living Skills is the class where kids learn about ethics, and civics, and values, in addition to other important stuff like what it’s like to have a baby, how to say no to drugs, how to have safe sex, how to balance a checkbook, . . . This is a class that teaches them how to think about what it means to be a good citizen.

I am not sure what Catherine will take out of the class, but it surely made me think. Citizen is an old fashioned word, a remnant of the French revolution. Being a good citizen has never been something I cultivated consciously. I strive to be a good person, but a good citizen? ‘Instruction Civique’ was on the curriculum in my eigth grade class, back in France. My father was teaching it, and he was very bad at it. Boring . . .

What I need: Now that Robert Reich has put some new life into the word, I am looking at being a good citizen, as a moral duty of the highest order. Green citizen that is. And it strikes me that I could benefit from green living skills education. Not in the form of a lecture, but rather a structure for thinking about my role as consumer, and green citizen. And making informed choices about who I really want to be, a consumer, a green citizen, something else?

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Robert Reich’s ‘Divided Mind’

Robert Reich was the guest on NPR’s All Things Considered a few days ago. The occasion was the release of his new book, “Supercapitalism”. His point, about the divided mind of the consumer and citizen really caught my attention. We are all two people, according to him. A consumer at the mercy of capitalism, and a citizen at the service of democracy. The consumer has taken over, and the citizen is no longer doing its job. We need to reevaluate our priorities and work on strengthening our democracy.

The challenges of being a good green citizen

This whole business of consumer versus citizen takes a special significance in the current environmental battle. Robert Reich made the following argument. You may be willing to take all the steps to become a good green citizen, but how do you know that you are not going to be just one amongst a small minority? In which case, you run the risk of making all these sacrifices for nothing. In the absence of a federated effort amongst citizens, that lets you know that we are all in it together, nothing is going to change, you have very little incentive to take action. Point well taken, Mr Reich.

The power of green networks

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about the power of small acts and individual action. I even called Rosa Parks to the rescue. I was trying to convince myself that whatever I do, no matter how small, does matter. Robert Reich called my bluff. The real truth is, I am a consumer first, and something is going to have to happen at the collective level, in order for the green citizen in me to spring into real action. Maybe Karel Baloun‘s got something going after all? ‘I am Green’, his new application on Facebook is an attempt at using the power of social networks to bring together green minded folks, and inspire them to help each other become green citizens.

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