A disconnect between We “the Political Beings” and We “The Consumers” is not Good. It puts us at big disadvantage, if not in the short run, then surely in the long run.
From the past few years I’ve perceived a very visible disconnect between We “the Consumers” and we “the individuals with distinct political ideologies & leanings”. A disconnect which encourages us to become apathetic or vicious (depending on the degree of our disconnect) about the troubles of producers of goods and services, with one plain logic : Why should I care? I’m not part of that industry.
To help us understand it better, let’s retell a story:
One day the hands, the legs and the head become envious of the stomach.
They form a group and start an all out war against the Stomach. The core philosophy of the group was simple: We do all the work while the stomach sits idle (does no work).
The group decides to teach stomach a lesson. They decide to starve the stomach, so that it gets a sense of their contribution and tolerance towards it.
They stop feeding stomach. Initially, while the stomach experienced some hunger pangs, the group felt great joy. But after a few days, the group also started experiencing a lack of energy. But they ignored it. They tried to derive some pleasure from the misery of the stomach.
As more days passed, the group members found themselves in a situation where experiencing even some satisfaction from the plight of stomach became difficult. Finally came a point where every member in the group came to a standstill. No activity, no energy and no pleasure.
To bring things back to normal, the group decided to feed the stomach. The legs walked a distance to bring some food. With whatever energy the hands could muster, they put a couple of morsels down the stomach. And Eureka (discovery moment!), the hands, the legs and the head started feeling better!
What happened? Then came the realization, the stomach was not sitting idle, it was actually feeding everyone!
The group silently got disbanded and apologized to the stomach.
They have now realized that their individual survival depends on the contribution of the others. They contribute in their own ways, some visibly, others invisibly. Hence they are a part of a unit. The absence or struggle of one part affects every component of the unit.
I hope all of us know what the story wants to convey.
If someone still has doubts, then the moral of the story is: Our day to day lives as human beings is connected to the survival, growth and prosperity of other human beings. We cannot afford to derive sadist pleasure from the struggle of a fellow human being. If we do derive sadist pleasure from the struggle of a fellow human being then we put ourselves at big disadvantage, if not in the short run, then surely in the long run.
That’s why a very visible disconnect between We “the Political Beings” and We “The Consumers” is not Good.
I’m limiting this to only one aspect of our lives because in the age of consumerism, this is the one thing which when pointed to, can most easily resonate with us.
We’re able to buy something with money, only because we have access to it it. Imagine, what will happen if you have money, but the product you want to buy is absent!
Thus as a consumer, we need to know how a product we consume, finally reaches us. We need to know the entire trail of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the goods we use. We need to know everything. Right from — who produces the basic raw material, who transports it, who warehouses it, who value adds it, who packages it, who puts it on the shelves, who sells it etc.
Only when we make ourselves aware of this trail, we will appreciate the value and essence of a fellow human being in our lives. While doing so, it will be no surprise that we find many unsung heroes.
Take for instance, the silver foil (chandi ka varak). It’s made by skilled craftsmen by beating tiny silver pieces placed inside leader casings with wooden hammers for hours on end.
This is just an example, try to find the trail behind how products with most aesthetically done wood and stone carvings reach a consumer. Try to find out how the simplest of products we buy, take that form and reach us. It can even be the wheat or the rice you will have in your upcoming meal.
Do this, and we will find ourselves more open-hearted.
To conclude, any disconnect between what we consume and what political ideologies we follow is not good. The need of the hour is that we not only buy and consume things; we also need to appreciate or simply acknowledge the hard work put to make them self ready. As said, we’re not talking about money here; but even if we do, then we will find that to our individual existence is dependable on other human beings. If not for him/her, many people would had been jobless. If not of them, the owner of a business would not run it for a single day.
Remember, a tiny match box, becomes a big thing, the moment you start thinking about the people who contributed in some way to bring it to its current form. If a match box is removed from the world today, then majority of us would either be scouting for fire or for the information one how to alight one.
I agree, we cannot research every product we buy and use. But we can surely do this for those products which are being used for momentary political gains. At present we can do that for the Leather industry. It will be no surprise, if we find multitudes of products relying on the existence of the Leather industry.