“Media Consumption Crises”
by Robert JensenWhen we strive to achieve greater levels of social justice and ecological sustainability, it is important to begin with a realistic assessment of the state of the world, because reality matters. So, I begin with two questions.
On social justice: Are wealth and power currently distributed in ways that make it possible for all people to live a decent life? If not, how far from that goal are we, and are we heading in the right direction?
On ecological sustainability: Are current patterns of resource extraction, energy consumption, and waste disposal consistent with a long-term, large-scale human presence on the planet? If not, how far from that goal are we, and are we heading in the right direction?
Remember, we are going to be realistic, on the assumption that understanding reality matters. We are going to tell the truth about where we are at, the trajectory we currently are on, and the social forces that have put us on that trajectory.
Let those simple questions, and honest answers, sink in for a moment. If that’s unpleasant, you might be tempted to embrace either religious fundamentalist or technological fundamentalist worldviews, the two most common diversions from reality in this culture.
Perhaps these hard questions will be rendered irrelevant by divine intervention. Or perhaps we will invent our way out of our troubles. But remember, we agreed to be realistic. If we reject magical thinking, religious or technological, then we are stuck doing our best to fashion inadequate strategies based on imperfect information to respond to unending problems, the scope of which we find it hard to fully grasp.
That’s where I start, with what I understand to be reality. It can be frustrating, to focus on the inadequate/imperfect/unending nature of our efforts, but reality typically frustrates our attempts to tame the predatory global political/economic systems we have unleashed, which are responsible for the social injustice and ecological unsustainability we struggle to change.