Have we learned nothing?

7 04 2011

Have we learned nothing?

We are in the midst of cuts to our public services, falling standards of living and increases in unemployment thanks to the massive recession caused not by ordinary folk like you and me  but, primarily, caused by the greed of bankers.

In all likelihood, they didn’t intend to cause such damage. In fact there was probably no thought for the consequences to anyone other than themselves at all. Their single focus on making money for themselves, earning huge bonuses from taking risks with other peoples money, was what drove them on.

So where did this greed come from?

I’m a child of the eighties. I grew up at a time when Margaret Thatcher had us believe that there was no such thing as society. We were encouraged to earn more and to look out for ourselves, first and foremost. I was not immune and was as guilty as anyone of chasing the extra pound in my pay packet.

Over the years I have come to realise that there is more to life than fast cars but, as a society, we do not appear to have learned that lesson.

I can’t imagine that anyone viewing the car advert, above, would be anything other than disgusted. In a year that has already seen natural disasters, wars, uprisings and conflict across the world we do all know that there is more to life than sexy cars, don’t we?  Yet Volvo, a huge multinational company with a marketing department staffed with highly skilled personell and with a massive advertising budget at their disposal came up with this advertising strategy. They wouldn’t have done so unless they thought that this message would sell them cars. They are certain that enough of us are not disgusted by this call to put cars above all else.

So while most of us do know that there is more to life than cars we just don’t care. Or rather that we don’t care enough.

When I saw the Volvo ad in Waverley Station I was so angry that ……. what? So angry that I took the photograph and wrote this article.

When we read about bankers bonuses and hear their complete indifference to the plight of the rest of the country we are so angry that   ….. what? Why aren’t more of us on the streets to protest about bankers bonuses or the closure of libraries? We do care ….. but not enough.

Despite David Cameron’s assertions to the contrary, we are not all in this together. But we should be. We are all connected. It is very difficult to continue to support the idea that we can have more without someone else having less. At the risk of over-simplifying, cheap chicken comes at the cost of poor animal welfare and cheap trainers come at the cost of child labour.

We know these things but do we care enough to do anything about it?

This month we have asked our regular columnists to look at Women in the Wider World. Read their articles. Read the story of the inspirational Dr Beryl D’souza who is leading the campaign to improve the lives of India’s Dalit population. Find out what is going on in your community and get involved.

At the very least, don’t buy a Volvo.

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One response

15 04 2011
Jessica Chivers

Great points Karen. Advertisers have to maintain the gloss of their products to stay in business and sady it’s a well known fact in the world of psychology that bombarding us with these images and messages does rub of – ergo sales are maintained. My good friend Prof Karen Pine gave a talk a while back about how we’re hard wired for luxury. I agree that the ad stinks and hope that only the people who have cash in the bank are spending it on things like this. The last thing this country needs is more people in debt. I shan’t even begin to go into the world of positive psychology and what it tells us about material stuff not making us happy….

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