Can Our Consumerism Help to Counter-Terrorism?
2015 was a horrible year for humanity. Across our planet, human beings were under attack from despicable and often deadly acts of violence. Brotherly love turned to hate and kindness to killing. The predators, who represented the smallest of minorities, commanded the majority of our focus when their actions were amplified via mass and social media and the authenticity of citizen journalism.
Each day we fed at the trough, and although each of these acts deserved our individual attention, action and compassion we became increasingly desensitized, even immune to the reality of our planet spinning out of control.
Out of this slop, a new political force emerged. One that began as a sideshow but quickly earned the main tent as his audience responded to his aesthetic of romantic symbolism, ultra-nationalism, anti-liberalism, anti-Mexican, and anti-Muslim.
Was 2015 an anomaly or the new normal? I have no idea. My common sense tells me that building walls, segregating passports by race or continuing to sell assault weapons won't work. Nor will borrowing on the backs of future generations to pay for the entitlements of today have a happy ending.
My belief is that the root of much of the world's violence stems from the fact that there is not enough employment. Idle minds are in fact the Devil's Workshop. Even in the wealthiest countries; we are marginalizing our workforce by replacing humans with technology, and converting fulfilling jobs into empty ones. In the less fortunate nations, without the benefit of a strong social net, the situation is much worse. Many people are in a constant and bitter struggle to secure the basic necessities of life.
What would you do if your children were starving or living in constant fear? How would you react to the vast and widening divide between the rich and poor? How vulnerable would you be to becoming radicalized if you were approached by an organization, armed with superior, tested and proven recruiting techniques, who offered you purpose, an outlet for your anger or a sustainable foundation for your family? Would your compass shift from rational to irrational from moral to immoral?
Some will dispute my theory on how a lack of jobs is the root of much evil. They will point out how many terrorist groups are led by and even populated by those who are "really, really, rich." My counterargument draws on a universal and historical truth; the higher the rate of unemployment and the higher the number of people living below the poverty line, the greater the level of civil unrest. Anarchy rarely occurs over a four-course dinner.
My New Years' Resolution? Do My Part To Stimulate Job Creation
I can't change the world, but I can make a dent in my backyard.
I plan to use my power as a consumer and stand in the face of the strain of capitalism that is consumed solely by cost-cutting. Wherever possible I will favour businesses that are local versus global, that hire versus fire, and that care about people and the country they operate in.
Imagine our collective power if we all act in the same manner. Think of the jobs we could protect and create by buying and banding together. Small and often subtle changes can have such a profound impact on our world.
It's a Small World. What if we favoured small businesses who invest in our communities versus global organizations who mostly draw from them? Look into their eyes. Even if it cost us a few dollars more or extra time we said no to Amazon. We shopped at stores where they hire shopkeepers, window dressers, and cashiers and keep our main street vibrant. We boycotted online retailers who use pick & ship warehouses with fulfillment managed by robots.
Self-serve to full serve. Even if it cost us a few minutes more we turned our carts away from the self-serve cashiers instead gave our business to cashiers. Or there was an app so that we could favour parking lots staffed by attendants versus machines?
Locally grown and sown. We drank beer crafted and owned by individuals and ate locally grown food. We supported local artists and festivals.
Soap is soap. So what if someone developed an app to measure what an international company is doing in our country regarding employment, research and development, taxes and hiring local suppliers and whether they or their competitors deserved our loyalty?
Invented here. Did we support homegrown entrepreneurs by buying their products and investing in their growth?
Rights to Buy. What if we showed our support to developing nations that supported the legal rights of workers, and we bought their Fair Trade products or looked there first as a destination for our international travels?
Less is More. Did we stand for our planet by rewarding organizations that are environmentally conscious?
I am the first to admit that full compliance with my New Years' resolution is a fantasy, as it is hard to stand in the way of progress when the consumer benefit is less hassle, a better choice or price, or the organization benefits from having lower costs.
I also know that focusing most of my attention on my backyard does little to counter civil unrest and radicalization abroad.
The reality is that it is a start. We can make a difference by using our consumer power to protect and grow jobs, to improve the vibrancy of Main Street, the vitality of our entrepreneurs charged with building a new economy, and the security, spirit and purpose of all of our citizens. From this position of strength, we can grow our tax base and increase the dollars available to enable other countries to follow a similar path.
So this year, wherever possible, let's avoid that self-serve checkout, favour local over global, bricks over click, and organizations committed to bettering our backyard, our community, our country and our planet.
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