All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family, and each one of us is responsible for the misdeeds of all the others. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul. —Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi
It is true, we are all guilty. Industrialized nations on the whole have enjoyed an expansive (and ultimately, expensive) period of self-centeredness. Famed Victorian-era psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud would have diagnosed mankind as being severely orally fixated. Trapped in the earliest stages of child development, we’re stuffing ourselves with as much as our mouths can handle—we have been needy, fiscally greedy and most seriously focused on our own self-gratification, regardless of the cost to other beings or to Earth itself.
On some levels, the more advanced a nation is, the more it can set its sights toward environmental stewardship. It is a fact the European Union nations have been faster to employ globally sound eco-measures than the United States. But, then again, they were also slightly faster in industrializing than we were. So, while the United States may be wearing the biggest environmental dunce cap
today, contrary to popular international beliefs, Americans are not the sole perpetrators of crimes against the Earth or those against humanity which occur when a nation is still in the throes of post-industrial infancy. In terms of socially responsible practices in labor, through this special issue, I have come to understand the United States is actually ahead of the EU in putting standards in place.
History is showing us that, along with the newly gained economic freedom and prosperity of a burgeoning nation, also comes the irresponsible, “kid in a candy shop” mentality. New economies built on oil dependency, abusive labor practices and cheaply manufactured goods sacrifice quality and safety for increased profits. The situation quickly equals Freud’s dependency stage, a.k.a., an oral fixation.
Unfortunately, those nations that have reached this pinnacle of industrialization first (i.e. the U.S. and the EU) have ruined it for the younger economies. And now, there simply is no time for finger pointing. If we want to sustain life on this planet as we have come to know it, not only for ourselves but for our children’s children, we must collectively agree to live by a higher environmental standard and an ethical code of conduct that applies to every human being, regardless of economic standing or geography.
As the European Union and the United States continue to mature, our governments must make the commitment to become leaders on issues of environmental sustainability, social responsibility and product-safety. If we zero in on our industry, there is a great deal of progress that could be made. And while everyone is clamoring to decide who bears the brunt of responsibility regarding each one of these topics, it is my sincere hope that after thumbing through this issue, each reader comes to realize the burden of responsibility lies with every one of us. As individuals or corporate entities, it is no longer a choice to act responsibly—it is our duty, and in many cases, our legal obligation to do so.
It is time to grow up and get up off of the Freudian couch. The fixated kid in the candy shop—guzzling oil, ignoring
basic human rights for cheap labor and products—must grow up. Our future depends on it.