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Making the Change through Art and Culture

Related to my post from yesterday, and the idea that some people have turned away from the ecological problems we face, preferring to live in the moment, I’ve been meaning to talk more about the current state of the “public consciousness” so to speak. It seems to me, that even in this “turning away” there is a potentially very positive force, even if it’s not an active drive towards solutions. Getting people to realize how the world works and how that functioning and those processes diminish our quality of life and our communities is half the battle. Changing how people think, in other words, is a good starting point. I wouldn’t say it automatically results in change (for a deeper discussion of this, see Meyer’s Political Nature) or change in the “right” direction, but it seems ultimately very necessary to cause a change in worldviews to put into practice the vast lifestyle changes that are required to deal with the issues we’re facing.

Understanding the disconnect between what is good for the economy and what is good for humanity can be as simple as conveying the cycle of processed food and pharmaceuticals to bad health and more pharmaceuticals and treatments and therapies and products to improve appearance and so on. All this injects money into the economy, but you have to wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we kept most of that money in our pockets and ate healthier food, exercised and led less stressful lives. But imagine how the economy would contract in the pharmaceutical, processed food and beauty industries. There is a lot of money, and jobs, invested in the current system. The desire for change needs to reach far and wide, and also deep, if it’s to get us where we need to go.

On that note, this post signifies my vote of support for a new project, Dark Mountain, just lifting off to try to spur such a cultural change through art. It seems to me there’s already probably plenty of potential out there, along with art and cultural objects, tangible and intangible, for this kind of cultural shift. I was amused when I came across Tiesto’s Elements of Life tour videos and listened to the opening “message.” The crowd cheers after hearing how technology has reached the point where it’s causing people to “grow apart, rather than coming together.” The voice goes on, telling us that we must “traverse the force” to get back to the “essence of life.”All the while you see the crowd with their phones and cameras stretched out overhead to capture whatever is there to be captured in the dark crowd, overcast by lights, waiting for the DJ to come on stage and light the place up with music that is about as technological as it gets as far as its “elements.”

But look at the size of the crowd. The “environmentalist” in me imagines they left a lot of garbage behind, even as I’m sure there’s got to be a way to get from A – the message of coming together and “the true meaning of our existence” – to B: a better world. I think there’s a lot of support for something better, we just haven’t figured out how to get there yet, or what we’re trading all our “stuff” in for. People need to be convinced we’re getting something better, that’s worth the change, that it’s not really a “sacrifice.” I’m already convinced it’s not, but I’m realistic that it’s not going to be easy or straightforward to transition and that far more people need to see the benefits. I’m sure there’s a ton of this kind of expression of discontent in popular culture, if people look.

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