Our freedom to choose

As I pushed my shopping trolley past a slightly bewildered-looking elderly gentleman in the middle of the aisle at the local supermarket, I paused to check if he was okay.

“It’s hard work, this shopping,” he said, as if in answer my question.

I nodded and said, “Yes, I agree.” And at the same time, I thought to myself, “how can it actually feel much more tiring shopping in the supermarket, than doing the physical work of growing and producing the food in the first place?”

As if in answer to my question, he said, “It’s the choice. Too much choice! It’s so hard to decide what to choose”.

I didn’t know this gentleman’s circumstances, whether he was choosing for himself or also for others, but as an older person myself, who had experienced life before supermarkets, I agreed it is hard work having all this freedom to choose from so many products, this brand or that, this price or that.

Like many older people, part of me would like to go back to the past, to aspects that have been lost with our fast paced globally-based information culture e.g. in the supermarket, seeing the global co-ordination of so many globally sourced products on the shelves.

With the Transition Monday project, we don’t expect change to come from people being individually responsible, doing the “hard work” of making individual choices about whether or not to consume this product or that one.

We expect change will come about with a wider cultural change, by remembering and retrieving what social theorist Scott Lash refers to as the lost ground – as place, community, belonging, sociality, tradition, and life-world or ecosystem.

Change isn’t easy, but we agree with Socrates,

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new “

For us, the building the new includes creating locally based, low energy life-styles; being able to retrieve and learn from the past and being open to new possibilities, especially as various current options diminish and disappear.

Let us know what you think?

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