Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The System or the User?

I was in the car yesterday debating with my brother whether or not it was the user or the system that needs to change. I thought it would be interesting open this debate to all of you.

The system in which we live has shaped us all as user's to be, for the most part materialistic, consuming machines. We like fancy cars that go fast or haul large quantities of material; "gusseling" gas along the way. Practical, easy, efficient with our needs. We like television and clothes, fancy this, fancy that. It is all about convenience. Things we desire are at our fingertips if we so choose them and can afford them. We have grown attached to this lifestyle of ease. We have not been encouraged to think about an alternative way of living until just recently and even then it is not that big of a push. Only a fraction of the world is on the sustainability route. So many don't want to think about it because they "like their cars" or simply just don't want to give up what they have been doing and what they have had for years. 

So that leads me to the system. This system is what allows us to be the way we are. Everything we want is created by a system that is powered by oil and coal, wealth and capitalism. The "easiest" and "cheapest"  forms of fuel are powering most things in this country. Yet these are extremely unsustainable forms of energy. There is definitely a shift happening towards renewable energy but it is small in the scheme of things. 

So will it take the system to change for the user's to change or a revolution of users to change to change the system? They both cannot shift unless there is support from the other. If we as user's continue to desire the system to stay as it is, there is no hope for its transformation. Yet, if the system does not shift so that it allows us as user's to do things differently we will also not change. It's like the chicken or the egg. Which comes first? In this situation, it is a give and a take. They both must compliment each other along the path to sustainability.

They are both very daunting concepts. How are we going to change the system? How are we going to convince the user's they must make all the hard choices and leave their comfortable situations? There is a not a "quick and dirty" response. The biggest thing that needs to happen is we need to start as user's. We need to compound on the revolution that is forming and start making those difficult choices. While,  those in power need to make strides to start the shift of the system.

By Taylor Hughes

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