living in a global economic system whose main guiding principles are
based on competition, greed and gambling.
However efficient this predominantly capitalist 'free' market system
may be at maximising the exploitation of natural resources, it does
not appear to offer any effective solutions to a growing number of social
and environmental crises set to impinge on the lives of everyone.
Future in Our Hands is a movement throwing down a challenge to young
people to first study closely these global systems which are increasingly
dominating all our lives and question whether the direction in which
we are being led is either sensible, prudent or fair.
Although FIOH accepts that competitiveness and selfishness are characteristics
which have helped humans gain their dominant position over other life
forms in the course of evolution, it suggests that they have become
far too influential in the systems that determine how wealth is distributed.
The movement suggests a different approach by encouraging an appropriately
simple lifestyle guided by values such as co-operation, sharing, fellowship,
compassion and truth.
The pursuit of
young or old, will probably wish to engage in activities which make
them feel happy or are directed towards the achievement of that goal
at some point in the near future. But the pursuit of happiness for one
person may involve a far from happy outcome for someone else. For example,
the bully may gain great pleasure from seeing his or her victim suffer.
On the other hand, the person who stands up to the bully will probably
gain much satisfaction and happiness from this action and feel that
the pain involved has been worthwhile. The pursuit of happiness may
be expressed in many different forms and will often involve much hard
work, pain and even sacrifice.
Often it is the pursuit of instant gratification, without regard for
the feelings of others, that lies at the heart of many of the severe
social problems increasingly apparent in the affluent society - 'Let
me do what I like when I like and to hell with the consequences!' For
example, the increases in sexually transmitted diseases, alcoholism,
drug addiction and lung cancer are disturbing trends in many societies
and can in large part be attributed to this desire for instant gratification.
Obesity in the young is a growing problem in affluent societies that
will, in many cases, lead to heart disease and diabetes in later life.
Excessive smoking and the over-consumption of alcohol, processed foods
and soft drinks will, in many cases, cause severe future health problems.
Cigarettes, proscriptive drugs and alcohol can be addictive and recent
research indicates that the same is true for 'fast foods'.
of youth - the influence of multinational companies
people, whose nature is often to challenge the ideas and advice of older
people, would probably be horrified at the suggestion that they were
being manipulated and programmed to behave in certain ways according
to the dictates of advertisers and marketing companies serving the interests
of large corporations. If you think you are not one of them then you
might first like to consider the following questions:
1. Do you wear Nike trainers?
2. Do you wear clothes with the producer's brand name printed on the
outside? Had you considered that the producer should in fact be paying
you for advertising his product?
3. Do you buy Coca Cola or other soft drinks? Many of these are nutritionally
deficient and contain excessive amounts of sugar?. In fact one of the
healthiest drinks is clean water.
4. Do you eat large amounts of crisps or other processed foods which
have excessive salt and saturated fat contents?
5. Do you buy the latest top of the pop chart music without even considering
its musical quality?
6. Do you buy chocolate products without considering if they have been
fairly traded or have not involved the use of slave labour?
are increasingly using schools to influence the consumer habits of young
people through a subtle form of bribery involving the free supply of
computers and other educational equipment.
But it is not only
the young who are being duped!
inequality and poverty
considering the problems associated with economic growth, it is first
necessary to ask what it is anyway and how it is measured?
The measure of a country's economy is called its Gross National Product
(GNP) and is the sum of the cost of all economic activities irrespective
of whether those activities are socially or environmentally damaging.
The GNP does not provide any indication as to whether those activities
have involved extreme exploitation and the abuse of human rights or
excessive energy use, pollution, health risks and destruction of the
natural environment. Although these negative outcomes are sometimes
economic considerations usually override those of the environment and
human rights. Political and business leaders will even contend that
economic growth in all countries must be a prerequisite for sustainable
development (development which is supposed to safeguard the natural
environment and human rights for all). This contention is made in the
opening clauses of the United Nations Commission on Environment and
Development 1992 and Agenda 21. This contention flies in the face of
simple logic and common sense.