Heavy load? Or not heavy enough?

I had my first chance to spend some time with Andres Dussan from Ashoka here in Canada. Just an introductory meeting from some mutual friends and it’s been a conversation that’s stuck with me a few days… deeper than I originally realized.

Andres talked passionately about the power of media in shifting the cultural mindset to place where balance between people and the planet can re-emerge. I’ve had this conversation a number of times over the past year but something in it reminded me of the responsibility I have as white guy with upper-middle class roots, living in an affluent city within Canada. This is something that I was really first awakened to when I met my wife Shawna years ago but somehow since getting married, having our two kids and moving into a comfortable house with a big yard and lots of family support around I’ve conveniently put that responsibility aside.

When I stop to think about the pervasiveness and persistence of messages that reinforce our society’s image of success (pick whichever one you want) and how that subtly makes it into my own images of what I want/need/should be it gets alarming. I know how it has impacted me in the past as one of those with the greatest of privilege and can only imagine the impact on those who do not fit the images we are constantly fed. And now extend that to the impact of extending those messages globally.

I’ve heard, and used at one time, all sorts of justifications for the messages are delivered and how marketers really care for their customers and those they want to be their customers, but when I now watch the green-wash frenzy marketers are gorging on I don’t really have much hope that the images will ever truly get past that which will sell more product. And that’s not to say this is the marketers responsibility to bear alone, or that it is the product manufacturers, or that it is anyone’s alone…

I’ve just really been reminded that it is everyone’s… starting with mine.