Globalism is a word that I’ve never been comfortable with. Like the new age term “holism” it seems to be an umbrella term for unproven methods and wishful thinking. In the end, globalism becomes meaningless as well as dangerous because it can be defined and used as justification for anything and everything. We cannot be individuals in such a context, but must give ourselves over to the whole, and we do so at our own peril.
For most of us, life comes in bits and pieces, but we are told that we live in global communities and are a part of a global economy. Paradoxically, we have come to rely upon a global network to define us as individuals through paradigms such as Facebook, Twitter and a host of other virtual, global “communities”. We act globally while believing that we are part of individual communities. We have come to understand the whole in the contexts in which we live, but the context in which we live is defined by the whole. We cannot continue thinking locally while acting globally. We must do the opposite: think globally and act locally.
Communities that are defined by global economies seem separate from one another, but are in fact a part of a holistic phenomenon; they have a global effect. The consequent of realizing that our actions as a community have direct consequences on the communities that surround us and eventually on those that only seem disconnected from our own will eventually force us to act locally. Oddly enough, I do not believe that there is disconnect between the idea of a global community and individual support of our own communities. We must act on a local level for the sake of global health of the planet.
The irony of this of course is that the continued globalization of our individual communities is the very thing that keeps us from supporting those individual communities. There is an understanding between two people that barter, buy or support each other’s community, that eat food grown or raised locally, that is not only missing but is utterly destroyed when bartering and buying and eating on a global scale. Globalization of these traditionally local and often intimate acts has the detrimental consequence of disassociating us from the tools we use, the homes we live in, the economies we support, the food we eat and the communities that we are all a part of. The relationship between these things, the people who make them, and those who we buy them from is a necessary and important one that define who we are as individuals; it gives us purpose and meaning outside of simply pure consumption.
The cost of globalization has been studied and analyzed from many different angles, but I believe that one angle is oddly missing: does the globalization of our lives and the communities that we live in make us happier? I would argue that globalization most certainly makes our lives easier, but happier? Perhaps the highest cost of thinking and acting globally has not been the quantity of our happiness (the ease of living life), but the quality of our happiness (living life). The globalization of our communities continues to take a toll on our planet, our food and our communities but perhaps the greatest toll for humanity is the universal loss of understanding that there is a difference between the quantity of happiness that we have and the quality of happiness that we all desire as individuals.