Reclaiming Our Sense of Self in a Globalized World

June 12, 2011
Shelley A. Lewis
Publication: 
Huffington Post

The word "globalization" rings in most people's ears as a signal of our advancement, the recognition of our limitless ability to create and have -- beyond measure -- anything we want.

A Delta advert on the subway reads, "A larger network makes a smaller world." So our world appears smaller, and not only does it fill us with a feeling of extended opportunity, but we assume that it is in our best interests.

But is it really in our best interests? What are the true impacts of globalization, from an ecological, economic and, more importantly, psychological perspective? In short, what is the psychological impact of globalization on our sense of self?

Helena Norberg Hodge explores this beautifully in her recently released film, "The Economics of Happiness," in which she calls for a return to localization.

"We have created a system that could not be more wasteful," Zac Goldsmith states in the introduction to the film. "You have tuna fish caught on the east coast of America, flown to Japan to be processed, shipped back to America to be sold to consumers. You have English apples picked in England, flown to South America to be waxed, flown back again to be sold to consumers."

I have read that sentence 50 times since I typed it, and I still can't get my head around it. The prominent policymakers' belief that economic growth can solve everything has created a system so wasteful and inefficient that now it seems that the only hope we have is in those grassroots organizations that a decade ago we were laughing at but that today, in a very different world, we are starting to eulogize. Goldsmith's comment, displayed for more to see, would at least give us a clearer picture of the systemic problem we are facing.

As the ecological impact is acknowledged but poorly understood, the economic impact is far clearer.

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