December’s here! And it ushers in those winter chills and it also wraps up (no pun intended) the festive season with good old Christmas (HO HO HO..). Christmas has always held a very special place in my heart, maybe because of that special Christmas party that was held at school, or it could be that Christmas tree that we decorated, or it could be just be these feelings coursing through me, that I am having difficulty putting down on paper. It could also be that this was the longest stretch of holiday to look forward to until next summer.
In this year-end issue it would be a good idea to emphasise the fact that along with these rights, we as consumers also have certain responsibilities and duties; responsibilities we sometimes neglect while fighting for our rights. One must keep in mind that consumerism like any other successful movement may start out as a response to someone’s exploitation, but its sustenance hinges on the self actualisation and betterment of its participants. This change for the better can be brought about in oneself only by striking a balance between realising our duties and exercising our rights.
Our first and foremost responsibility as a consumer is to be informed. Information is power. It equips us with the tools and resources that we need in order to be real consumers. It helps us create a knowledge base that in turn helps us to make correct and informed choices. I believe that to be truly successful, this entire information gathering process must be a proactive one, and not just a reactive response to a certain act or circumstance. Our next responsibility as consumers is not to be afraid to act. In other words, we as consumers do not need to make any compromise whatsoever with our rights. If in any case we feel that our liberties are being encroached upon we must be able to assert ourselves and ensure that we get a fair deal in the least. We must also be aware of the fact that one’s responsibility as a consumer does not get over with just making sure that our individual rights are safeguarded. We live in a society; therefore it is our duty that we make sure that consumer awareness permeates through all of its layers. There are many disadvantaged and powerless consumers out there being ruthlessly exploited by market forces. We must try our level best to make ourselves their voice and aid them in combating and conquering this exploitation.
Last but certainly not the least, we must realise the impact that our consuming pattern has on the ecosystem. You may have noticed that December just doesn’t feel like December any more. The Decembers of old were cold but now December just feels cool and pleasant. This and more, are consequences that the world has to face because of global warming and other ecological problems. At first one may be inclined to think that the common man like you and me has little to do with such an environmental crisis that manifest itself on a global scale. Surely it is the fault of those huge industries and factories belching black smoke into the sky. But do we recognise that many of those factories are engaged in manufacturing goods that we consume in our day to day lives? History is filled with examples of entire species being driven to extinction because of man’s greed and his relentless pursuit to satisfy his desire and needs. There’s no running away from the fact that what we consume has an effect on the environment, and sustainable consumption and rediscovering that lost connect with nature is the need of the hour.
As a last thought, ponder on Earl W. Count’s views on Christmas "Shall we liken Christmas to the web in a loom? There are many weavers, who work into the pattern of the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something very beautiful, something which compels our understanding."
Here is wishing all consumers a Merry and sustainable Christmas!