SPIRITUALITY, FAIR TRADE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
06
November
2013

Downward Mobility

Text 1: The first piece of text that really stuck out to me was "we take a long time to figure out who we are and what we believe."

This piece of text stood out because I think society places an emphasis on what we should be doing with our life. In order to achieve the American Dream we must receive a college education in order to get a good job and make money. However, different people have different dreams. Money and power do not equal success to all people and it is unfortunate that society has put this idea in our heads. We have this need to conform, and therefore some people spend 15 years in a job that they hate just because they make a lot of money like Janine Geske (supreme court judge). To find out who we are and what we believe we must step outside of whats society tells us to do and think for ourselves.

Text 2: The second piece of text that really stood out to me was "while we exercise some freedom in this, a society will tolerate only so much dissent. In short, our identity, self-esteem, and values depend decisively on social relations and institutions."

I think that this piece of text is important because in today's society we feel the need to think, act, and look like the image society portrays on us. If a model is considered overweight then she is an outcast. Even people who live in poor neighborhoods and cannot afford to get a college degree are seen as stupid and "a bad person." We have this fear instilled in us that if we do not go to college and have a good job then our life is meaningless, but that is not the case. It is easier said than done, but people need to be comfortable in their own skin because we cannot let society dictate our sense of self. This is hard to do when you see advertisements everyday telling you what kind of car to buy or what beauty product will make you look like celebrities. It is discouraging that we live in the kind of world that makes us feel about about ourselves when really we should be encouraging one another to be the best they can be.

Write comment now Authorin: Alexa Mancuso Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:42 am
06
November
2013

Downward Mobility

Text 1: “Upward Mobility gives people the hope that their dreams may someday come true.”

Response #1: I couldn't agree more with this statement. As a business student I have heard the word "incentive" countless times and I think that one word sums up all of Capitalism. Upward mobility is the incentive for people to do anything, if no one has a chance to improve in society there is no purpose and no hope for them. If you look at communist nations this is most certainly true, no upward mobility means no production. The idea of the American dream itself is the just the notion that upward mobility is accessible to everyone.

Text 2: "The richest 1% of Americans owns 40% of the nations wealth, which is more than what is owned by the bottom 95%"

Response #2: I've heard this before many times and I think it's become the battle cry of the 99 Percenters. In truth I think this makes sense and don't see why people are outraged by it. It illustrates the wealth desperity in the nation, but every capitalist nation has wealth desperity, it's inherent in the system. If this statement upsets you than you're upset about a core concept of capitalism. In fact 40% is a low number, it's less than half of the nations wealth. When you consider that the richest 1% include people who run the US and every major industry it's amazing they only own 40% of the wealth, I'm sure in the days before regulation they owned much more (Rockefeller himself is known to have controlled more than 4% of America's wealth in his time).

Write comment now Author: Jeff Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:33 am
06
November
2013

Downward Mobility

Text: “Upward Mobility gives people the hope that their dreams may someday come true.”

Response: The United States was built on the concept of the American Dream. I can strive to work hard and will ultimately climb the ranks to success. Rooted in this concept of the American Dream is also the concept of individualism. Do we climb societal ranks with the ending hope that we can help others? Or, do we climb the ranks in order to be at the top of the social ladder and bask in the social glory that is associated with the people at the top? The irony of upward mobility is that some can never rise high enough on the social ladder because the person below is always viewed as a competitor. Living in fear of defeat can lead people to put off their dreams all together, therefore crushing the concept of upward mobility as an achievable reality.

Text: “Our society mediates meaning and sense of self.”

Response: Upward mobility is rooted in individualistic tendencies. In our society, a person is defined by his or her successes, rather than their character. Social rivalry has also contributed one up our close friends in society, always striving to place ourselves before others. Society tells us who we are and where we fit in, and we place far too much emphasis on the opinions of others when looking at our own selves. Personal worth and value is no longer determined by our own happiness, but others’ perceptions of us. I am definitely guilty of this. I think we all are to some degree. It is nearly impossible to not care at least a little bit about what somebody else has to say regarding your appearance, accomplishments, or personality. We all want to feel important, and affirmation is one essential way that we “gain” importance, at least in our own eyes.

Write comment now Authorin: mmcguire Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:11 am
05
November
2013

Downward Mobility

Text 1: The principle life strategy is "upward mobility" toward the goal of "success."

Response 1: I always found the concept of success interesting. This concept is interesting because success to one person might mean something totally different to another. Here lies the true beauty of humanity - difference of opinion. All children are born into the world and given a perspective lens by their family. As the children grow up, they either maintain the same perspective lens that their family/friends have guided them towards, or they form their own, differing opinions. Upward mobility in America has always been to reach the top of the social/monetary ladder - "The American Dream." I urge people not to conform. I urge people to do what they love, not what they "feel" they should do in order to fit a certain standard. I believe true success is the ability to be honest with yourself concerning what you believe success is and to make this forever the primary step in any situation in life.

Text 2: One aspect of the way of Christ/Downward Mobility is indifference to honors. I believe to have indifference to honors is the crux of understanding the true meaning of the meaning of Downward Mobility.

Response 2: Indifference to honors says that "human dignity depends simply on being human, not on social status." This means that before we even begin living our lives, we have already succeeded. Life itself, alongside the talents we are given are true success stories. We become too engulfed in what society will tout us as, and not focused enough on the fact that we are actually here. We are quantified by salary, income, number of cars, GPA...etc. The fundamental aspect of human dignity id that all humans are equal in an unquantifiable phenomenon that is the miracle of life.

Write comment now Author: Rdoyle5 Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:50 pm
05
November
2013

Downward Mobility

“We have a deep need to belong, to feel that we are valuable and our lives are worthwhile”


I think that this need is inherent to us, and me being an unreligious person I have to agree. This need is something that is a part of human nature and is part of evolution. Our need to belong is caused by our survival instinct. We have a better chance of survival in a pack. This is similar to us wanting to find the best possible mate so that we can reproduce and pass on our genes that will have the best chance of surviving and passing on their genes. It is because of our survival instinct that we feel this need to belong, not that we feel valuable, though society makes us feel like the two are correlated.



“Our desires are stimulated and shaped by social rivalry.”


This is very similar to the one above, but I really like the point. However, I have some problems with it. What I stated above is that our major NEEDS, the need to belong, the need to reproduce, etc. are evolutionary. These needs are different from our desires, which are more likely to be material things. However, to fine the best possible mate as stated in #1, we must distinguish ourselves from everyone else. We do this by appearing prettier, skinnier, wealthier, cooler, etc. Businesses know this and create a need for specific “status” objects so that we will feel like we need them to prove ourselves and they will make more money. This is true with almost everything we buy, from designer purses to vintage comic books. It fits with every niche and socio-economic background. These become our desires. The material things but also the desire for wealth and self-improvement.

Write comment now Authorin: smurray Mon Dec 02, 2013 2:28 am
05
November
2013

Downward Mobility

Fact 1
"The richest 1% of Americans owns 40% of the nations wealth, which is more than what is owned by the bottom 95%"

Response 1
This is a fact that I first heard in the movie "Wall Street" staring Michael Douglas as a corporate raider, meaning he bought companies and took over and made money when he resold it and kicked out management. He, in one of the movies most famous scenes is explaining to his protege what it what his job really entailed. That scene inspired a generation of investment bankers to go into wall street and become part of that 1%. We heard this 1% again during the movement of Occupy. This was when Americans took to protesting the richest 1% and the perception that they were bailed out by the government. Not many people realize what the 1% owns, but it is truly remarkable what such a small group can control. It also reminds me of the story of stuff and if everyone had what they had the world would need to be X times bigger.

Fact 2
"Human dignity depends simply on being human, not on social status."

Response 2
This simple line means so much. The point of living as people together is not to see who ranks higher against who but rather to see who is going to be kind to another, be helpful to someone or be a friend to trust. These are human traits and we forget these things when we are surrounded all the time by greed and desire for a social status. It is important to remember that we are dealing with humans, and we should treat others that way as opposed to rungs on a ladder.

Write comment now Author: jtreseler1 Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:28 am
05
November
2013

Downward Mobility

Text 1: "We are insecure by constitution. We fear pain and rejection. We fear the collapse of meaning. Ultimately, we fear death. Contemporary society aggravates our fear and insecurity. We worry about crime, environmental disaster, and nuclear and industrial accident. September 11, 2001, marked the globalization of insecurity: a sensation of physical insecurity has now spread to people who once felt safe."

Response 1: This was a pretty loaded paragraph but it had a lot of thought-provoking and interesting ideas that I agreed with. The one that first caught my attention was "we fear pain and rejection", because this is one that I can best resonate with. As a perfectionist and over-thinker, I can completely agree that one of the things I fear most is rejection. While many people won't want to admit that they are constantly seeking approval from others, it is only in human nature to want to feel a sense of accomplishment.


Actual Text 2: The idea that some are important while others don't count explains how public policy and institutions work. "Unimportant" people are nameless and two-dimensional for "important" people who do not identify with them and feel no obligation to do unto them as they would have others do unto themselves.

Response 2: I think this is one of the truest statements in the article, let alone we have read in the class. There is a small minority of "important" people that make all of the decisions and are considered the elite. It's a frustrating, never-edning vicious cycle because those who have the opportunity and power to make change are a part of the elite and therefore would not do anything to jeopardize their status or money. I feel it is very true that those said elite people have a hard time sympathizing, or even attempting to sympathize, with the "unimportant" vast majority because they have an undeniable sense of entitlement.

Write comment now Authorin: lmcgowan2 Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:55 am
05
November
2013

Downward Mobility/ The Essential

“Upward mobility can be a real good, or a god.”
I feel like this is a most important statement from the article “Upward Mobility.” The idea of trying to ‘move up’ in the world is not necessarily as negative as this article portrays it. Moving up allows people to support their families and be educated. With education, we may be able to solve some of society’s biggest problems; the issues of fair trade, a cure for cancer, or the latest breakthrough in medical technology. There is no shame in wanting a better life to help make yourself more useful to society as a whole. The issue in wanting a better life is when you sacrifice others. You begin to put possessions and money above caring for others and building healthy, loving relationships. This is when upward mobility becomes a god or something with idol; in summary, a major issue.
“I used to be shy. You made me sing. I used to refuse things at table. Now I shout for more wine.”
I feel this line really encompasses a lot of the students in our class who have been able to take action in their weekly tasks. We began this semester with a class where not many students were even aware of the definition of Fair Trade and now more than half way through there is consistent selling at the cart of a daily basis and students around campus are even beginning to gather some insight on Fair Trade. Just a few weeks ago, I put on a program in my building for Fair Trade Month and provided sample of Fair Trade chocolate. A lot of students commented “oh that’s the cart that’s always in Hughes and those students are in a class.” I have to say that it is a pleasure being part of such a wonderful group of students who have really taken initiative and shown they are truly passionate about fulfilling the Jesuit mission of being men and women for others.

Write comment now Authorin: Shannon McKenna Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:29 am
26
October
2013

The Story of Stuff

Text 1:
“The US has 5% of worlds population but we are using 35% of natural resources and creating more than 30% of the worlds waste. If everyone consumed like the US did we would need 3-5 planets."

Response 1:
This statistic did not surprise me, rather it just put a number to a fact I already knew. The US does consume too many resources. As the speaker suggested, I believe we should begin working on new methods of going green and recycling in order to cut down the number of limited resources we use. This seems completely unfair to the rest of the world, but as everyday consumers we hardly notice the amount of resources we use to create products that are disposed of in a few months. We need to become more conscious and aware of what we are doing as consumers. I do not think it is very likely that our consumer-crazed economic style is going to change, but we can change the parts within it.

Text 2:
The video in general

Response 2:
I felt that the speaker was speaking in a cynical tone throughout the video. I understand that she was pointing out the harmful flaws in the American production/consumption system and that this entails a sense of cynicism. However, it seemed to me that she was implying that certain manufacturers purposefully put harmful chemicals in their products. I also had a sense that some of the statistics provided were skewed. For example, she said that 99% of things we buy end up in dump in 6 months, but what percentage of these items are disposable and meant to be thrown away? I enjoyed the topics that the video was trying to bring to the public eye, but I just didn't enjoy the overlying tone of the video.

Write comment now Author: Pat.Alicki Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:46 am
23
October
2013

The Story of Stuff

Actual Text: I'd like to comment on the video as a whole

Response: I saw this video in high school. The class was about sustainability so there was a different discussion following it, but I think that both discussions are important to have. Leonard's argument brings about an alarming point. As always with our readings, I'm struck with the concern: what do I do about it? I really enjoy it because it is simple to understand and makes anyone see that the system is flawed. My favorite part of the video was the focus on the SYSTEM as a whole that needs to change, rather than the margins which is generally the focus of fair trade. I like that we are starting to look at the bigger picture.

Actual text: Our consumer ways are cyclical.

Response: This is very true in terms of the culture of the United States. I think this was my favorite point. Talking about the culture of the new generation is a favorite past time, but we have to take a look at what we are doing with are lives. I believe that our consumerism is a result of greed and boredom. We don't need to focus on basic necessities, so we focus on making everything easier for ourselves with STUFF. But also with art, and fashion, and food, and music, etc. etc. etc. It's not all bad, but we have the ability to focus on these things because everything else is taken care of for the most part. But we should also be focusing on the people that don't have their basic needs taken care of.

Write comment now Authorin: smurray Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:57 am
23
October
2013

The Story of Stuff

Actual #1: The US outputs 4 billion pounds of toxic chemical waste every year.

Response #1: The video contained a great deal of facts; however, this fact in particular really stood out to me. Often, when we talk about sustainability in class, we discuss poor wages and working conditions for people. We rarely discuss environmental sustainability. The United States government implements standards for fair wages and working conditions for the people of the workforce in order to sustain the people of the country. The government lacks in its environmental sustainability efforts. Environmental toxins affect the people when people breath in polluted air. These pollutions can have long term effects on the body. One mentioned in the video is that pollution negatively affects breast milk. Although the United States outputs a very large amount of waste, other, more industrial countries such as China or India likely output far more than the United States.

Actual #2: The video portrays a "Whole Paycheck"

Response #2: Whole Foods is a grocery store that sells organic, natural and sustainable groceries. There are few companies, such as this one, that dedicate their mission to providing natural, sustainable, and fairly traded choices to the public. In order to do so, Whole Foods charges high prices. This is largely because purchasing organic and sustainable is more expensive to begin with, and to remain profitable organic sellers must charge higher prices. The video mocks the high prices at Whole Foods by suggesting that it uses one's "whole paycheck" to shop at the store. I think it is really unfortunate that more people cannot live and eat sustainably simply because doing this is out of their budget. As organic farming methods continue to improve, prices of organic and natural goods may decrease.

Write comment now Authorin: hshort2 Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:21 am
23
October
2013

The Story Of Stuff

Actual Text: "40% of the waterways have become undrinkable"

Response: This is so scary to think about. Not only in the sense of lack of drinking water but what does this do to water life? How can we let 40% become undrinkable when every human being is dependent on water. What is going to happen when this percentage increases? How will we get water to drink? There is no substitute so therefore our waterways should be one of the most protected aspects of the planet!

Actual Text:"The food at the top of the food chain with the highest level of many toxic contaminants human breast milk.That means the smallest members are getting the highest lifetime dose of toxic chemicals from their mothers. Breast feeding is still best and mothers should definitely keep breast feeding"

Response: This caught my ear because umm its like an oxymoron! How can this woman go on and on about the contaminants in breast milk but then say its "still the best". I'm sorry I get her point here but this aspect made no sense to me. She just defeated her own argument. Why would a mother knowing this factoid she just shared with us ever think about breast feeding again? That would be like poisoning your baby and knowing about it.

Write comment now Authorin: JBlasl Wed Oct 23, 2013 3:00 am
23
October
2013

The Story of Stuff and The Story of Change Post

“The Story of Stuff” Actual Text:
Annie Leonard’s differentiation between planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence was very eye-opening to me. The significant distinction between the two, yet the same underlying goal is an important concept to be aware of as consumers in a materialistic society.

Response to the “The Story of Stuff”
Planned obsolescence is stuff that is intrinsically designed for the dump. The products are made to be useless within a short amount of time so that consumers can throw it out and buy a new product, so as to stimulate the economy. Perceived obsolescence is the notion that people throw away products that are still useful. This occurs because people are tricked into thinking that products are outdated and useless because new models are rapidly coming out, so people are under the impression that they need to buy the latest and greatest product. Annie Leonard also presented the statistic that 1% of most products are still in use, 6 months after they have been purchased. This means that 99% of these products are trashed within 6 months, and the cycle continues. I think that this is a crime to produce products with such low lifecycles, and also to produce so many products that are not intrinsically different from a previous edition. This is deceptive and focuses on the bottom line. A sustainable method of business would focus on people, the planet, and profit.

“The Story of Change” Actual Text
The statistic that 74% of Americans support tougher laws on toxic chemicals in products is an overwhelming amount of people who demand change for the betterment of the planet.

Response to “The Story of Change”
This movie focuses on changing policies that are the sources of the problems. The changes to these policies cannot happen at the supermarket. Rules that work require real change from the source, and often by identifying the heart of the problem. The problem needs to be changed so that the right thing becomes the easiest thing to do. Everyone must work together until the problem is solved. Like leaders before us such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., we must take a big idea and blend it together with our commitment to change, and then take action that is unwavering. This percentage of Americans who want change is very impressive and I am confident that if these people worked together for real, committed change, this problem with sustainability and wastefulness can be overcome.

Write comment now Authorin: mmcguire Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:58 am
23
October
2013

The Story of Stuff

Actual Text 1: “The US has 5% of worlds population but we are using 35% of natural resources and creating more than 30% of the worlds waste. If everyone consumed like the US did we would need 3-5 planets.”

Response 1: After hearing this part of the clip I immediately went back and had to re-watch it in order to fully absorb the information. These numbers are absolutely mind-boggling. Considering the US populates only 5% of the entire world but are using 35% of natural resources just begins to exemplify how much people consume. The waste here is another issue entirely. We are accountable for much more waste compared to the amount of people that are producing the trash. If we continue to consume the way we do and start consuming that much as well (which is not very likely in third world nations) we would need many more planets than we have available to have the space to put all our “things”. Yet we are told by President Eisenhower in the 1950’s and early 60’s says later in the movie “Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at the ever-accelerating rate.” Once again I am perplexed at why we are still being told to consume. How is this valuable advice?

Actual Text 2: “Make things right by just going shopping…!”

Response 2: This part of the clip was right after the transformation of heal size varies from season to season was discussed. This very unnecessary phenomenon is due to marketing techniques of various advertisement agencies trying to get people to feel as if their current heal is “out of season”. The solution that is given to us is to go buy the new collection for the fall season instead of the out of date summer heals. This is ridiculous how marketing has control of so many sectors of our lives; it is honestly scary to think about. The clip discusses how this is a type of perceived obedience where the consumer is convinced to throw away the stuff that is no longer useful, or in other words, old. Commercials now tell us “YOU SUCK!” and make us feel almost ashamed of the “old stuff” and in a way force us to buy the next new thing, which only keeps this constant demand and supply an endless extraneous loop.

Write comment now Authorin: Alyssa Mattocks Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:46 am
23
October
2013

The Story of Stuff

1. Running out of resources- we need to deal with it. 200,000 people a day are moving into cities to work factory jobs. Their health and the environment are at risk. The government supports these corporations because they are the ones making the money and improving the economy.

2. Our value is measured by how much we consumer. We are constantly being told to buy and shop more, even though we really don't need products. We are spending more money, but our happiness is not improving. Corporations make us purchase more and items and throw out perfectly good materials because they are looking to make higher profits.

Reactions:

1. In a couple of my classes this year I have been studying the problem of the lack of resources and our overindulgence. Firstly it frightened me because it was something that up until this year I was blissfully unaware of the threat. Within the next 20 years the demand for water will surpass the supply of it. This is an issue that is going to need to be dealt with immediately, and also something that so many people are unaware of. As the demand goes up and supply goes down we are allowing this natural resource to be held as this incredibly powerful weapon. By promoting the use of water in ways that aren't necessary we are taking away the natural use of water for so many individuals in countries with insufficient governments.

2. I never realized this until now, but it seems like the Government is constantly encouraging us consumers to buy more to keep the cash flow up. This does make sense, but by doing so they encourage corporations to take advantage of consumers. Corporation are constantly screwing consumers over for their advantage. Its a scary thought how selfish these groups are. Not only are we spending unnecessary money on unnecessary products, but we are taking advantage of workers rights in other countries. The worst part is that we look to materials to validate ourselves and we allow them to.

Write comment now Authorin: Madeline McGinley Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:14 am
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