Monday, October 23, 2006


I Got the Consumption, Arrrrgh!

I posted my Noble Africa blog entry on because I thought it might be of interest to a general audience. I got one comment back through reddit and two (from the same person) to my blog. Here's what Cypherx had to say on reddit:

I agree with most of the post except this silly bit:

I'm not sure encouraging Americans to consume more is the best way to go about [fighting aids in Africa]

Leave the consumers alone! They get something they want, they contribute to something good. It's the best arrangement possible and well intended anti-consumerism can only muck things up.

In fact, I think the consumerism the author loathes is also the cure for his chief complaint. Africa can become the "equal" of the rich Northern countries...if it makes lots of products that appeal to our consumers (either by style, quality or price). Until then, most of the continent will remain a sad charity case.

It is not consumerism per se that I have a problem with. Every living thing on earth, humans, animals, plants, consume. That's part of life. It's consumption for the sake of consumption, rather than for need, that bothers me. It's George W. telling us to not worry our pretty heads and just go shopping after 9/11.

I came of age with Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. American consumption is ravenous and doesn't fit with the Reduce part of the equation. The more we (individually and as a country) ramp up our consumption, the more others feel they have to buy to keep up. When there are people in the world without a roof over their heads, how many immodest houses can some of us justify having? How many cars? How many baubles collecting dust in the backs of our closets? I'm as guilty as anyone in a well-off country of over-consumption. I try to curb it where I can, difficult as that is. I don't think I'll ever reach the point of owning only 55 personal items like Dan Ho.

Of course, Cypherx is right about Africa. The continent can become the equal of America through making appealing consumer products (if I need a T-shirt or tennies, I'll consider the attractive ones offered through the (RED) campaign), but a deeper, human equality does not rest on materialism. Does someone become less human because he doesn't have the proper clothing, the right car, impressive shelter? It's the inherent humanity, and the basic goodness housed within, that I wanted people to recognize about Africa.

Flightless posted two links showing another, more positive, side to Africa, specifically the country of South Africa:

A video on YouTube called Today I Woke Up in a Country. This gave me shivers. And, the website for the International Marketing Council of South Africa.

The question for today: Would you be willing to take less so that someone with less can have more?

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