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Unbridled Consumption Essay

1300 words - 5 pages

“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” That phrase seems to be made up of simple words with a simple meaning. The phrase does hold several assumptions to be true. The first assumption is assuming that violence is not an option. The second assumption is as important; it holds that the ego or individual’s self-worth has not usurped the rational thought process. Yong Huang, in his essay, points out that the Golden Rule does not differentiate between an individual’s idea of proper actions (395). For the sake of argument, the term “rational thought process” will be defined as thoughts where in the needs of others come first. If we were to all do onto others, as we would have them do onto us, this world would be a better place.
Putting the needs of others first would cause a great many of the world’s problems to go away. Sadly, idealistic thinking of that nature seems to run in the opposite direction to capitalistic values. Capitalism, for all of its faults, is providing a good way of life for many Americans and citizens of the other first world countries. Unfortunately, we are living in a global world; therefore, our consumption habits do have an effect on other cultures. Unbridled American capitalism is not without its relative faults. Writer Wendell Berry in his work In the Presence of Fear: Three Essays for a Changed World, is correct as he argues, “We cannot spend and consume endlessly” (9). He goes on to claim, “An economy based on waste is inherently and hopelessly violent, and war is its inevitable by product” (9). Perhaps war would not be the inevitable by product of an economy based on waste if humans managed their resources and showed concern for each other. John Ikerd, author of Sustainable Capitalism argues, “for a new type of capitalist economy modeled on living systems -- capable of regeneration and renewal and ecologically sound, socially just and economically sustainable” (Ikerd, 30).
Its important to explore the concept of warfare and the economy. Berry says, “We have an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the means of peaceable-ness, being cheap, or free, make no money” (7). Yes, a person can draw links to warfare and profit from arms sales. There is not a question that a national philosophic change of Berry’s magnitude would negate a necessity for large standing armies, in that our national identity would be aligned with peace. Harlod W. Bradley notes that that there is wisdom to first President George Washington’s prohibition to large armies. Bradley goes on to point out Washington was a very progressive thinker and felt the plague of war should be banished (483). If there is a standing army, the tendency is for the force to be implemented. No standing army would be a global signal of our worldwide commitment to treating others as we would have them treat us.
Washington also felt it was government’s responsibility to look after our aggregate happiness (Bradley...

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