Rivers are poisoned to manufacture talking fish. This is pathological consumption: a world-consuming epidemic of collective madness, rendered so normal by advertising and the media that we scarcely notice what has happened. In 2007, the journalist Adam Welz records, 13 rhinos were killed by poachers in south Africa. This year, so far, 585 have been shot( 4 ). No one is entirely sure why. But one answer is that very rich people in vietnam are now sprinkling ground rhino horn on their food or snorting it like cocaine to display their wealth. Its grotesque, but it scarcely differs from what almost everyone in industrialised nations is doing: trashing the living world through pointless consumption. This boom has not happened by accident.
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But many of the products we buy, especially for Christmas, cannot become obsolescent. The term implies a loss of utility, but they had no utility in the first place. An electronic drum-machine t-shirt; a darth Vader talking tongue piggy bank; an ear-shaped i-phone case; an individual beer can chiller; an electronic wine breather; a sonic screwdriver remote control; bacon toothpaste; a dancing dog: no one is expected to supervisor use them, or even look at them. They are designed to elicit thanks, perhaps a snigger or two, and then be thrown away. The fatuity of the products is matched by the profundity of the impacts. Rare materials, complex electronics, the energy needed for manufacture and transport are extracted and refined and combined into compounds of utter pointlessness. When you take account of the fossil fuels whose use we commission in other countries, manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of our carbon dioxide production( 2 ). We are screwing the planet to make solar-powered bath thermometers and desktop crazy golfers. People in eastern Congo are massacred to facilitate smart phone upgrades of ever diminishing marginal utility( 3 ). Forests are felled to make personalised heart-shaped wooden cheese board sets.
By george monbiot, published in the guardian 11th December 2012. Theres nothing they need, nothing they dont own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a hilarious inflatable zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or and somehow I find this significant a scratch Off World. They seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth theyre in landfill. For thirty seconds of dubious entertainment, or a hedonic stimulus that lasts no longer than a nicotine hit, we commission the use of materials whose impacts will ramify for generations. Researching her film The Story of Stuff, Annie leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1 remain in use six months after sale( 1 ). Even the goods we might have expected to hold onto are soon condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived report obsolesence (becoming unfashionable).
Later, in a book club, i would read. War Child by Emmanuel Jal, about child soldiers in Sudan. I couldnt believe how much that story felt like mine. War makes you warming do things you dont want to do, and prison makes you become things that youre not. I saw grown men commit suicide because they couldnt handle. If prison does that to an adult, what does it do to a child? The author, 27, who asked that his name not be used, returned home from prison in 2016 after serving 10 years of his 12-year sentence. He works as a behavioral aide to an autistic young adult, a clerk at a grocery store, and a writer and community outreach facilitator for the Free minds book club writing Workshop in Washington,. Pathological consumption has become so normalised that we scarcely notice.
Eventually i left that job, because i needed a certification I could use on the outside, and became a cook. Every once in awhile, id see ziggy rolling around in the hallway. When I told him that I was leaving the facility and being transferred to new Jersey — my first time back on the east coast in 8 years — he didnt really say much. He just told me to be safe out there, but I could see on his face that he was sad and didnt want me to leave. At least, after everything that had happened, ziggy was still capable of getting sad. The place hadnt taken that away from him yet. Everyone else around me acted as if it was all a normal thing — the dying we saw all too often, the abrupt transfers that take people away from friends and their community with little warning or care.
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One day, i walked into his room in a playful mood, but it became clear that he wasnt up for joking. He was sitting in his wheelchair with his head down and his back turned to the door. As I peeped around to look at him, he tried to use his hand to cover the tears rolling down his face. Homie, why you crying? I asked him, thinking someone had died.
Ziggy looked up at me, frustrated. Man I cant take this shit no more, he blurted out. He told me essay that a nurse had just told him that he should kill himself, and that he needed to stop being a bitch. Oh, shit, i told him. I didnt really know what else to say. In my time at the medical center, i saw mentally-ill inmates kept in a room all day, some strapped down on a sheetrock bed, nude with the ac on blast1. 1, the bop did not respond to a detailed request for comment on the allegations made in this article.
The pictures often looked awful, showing men with sunken, hollow eyes. One of the first inmates I treated was called Ziggy, and he was from the same neighborhood as me. C., facing life in prison. He loved to sing, and had been part of a go-go band before his arrest. At 35 years old, he was dark-skinned, with his hair cropped close to his head like mine, and he weighed 230 pounds. He said hed gained weight because, in his wheelchair, he didnt get much exercise.
Ziggy was paralyzed from the waist down and struggled to move both his arms. He told me hed gotten into a conflict with a prison guard and was beaten by several of them. At first he couldnt move his hands at all, but with physical therapy, he could use them some. Until he regained his ability to walk, though, i helped give him showers, changed his diapers, and fed him many of his meals. As much as he loved to sing, he joked even more. Since his arms werent strong, hed creep up on me real slow in his wheelchair, and when he was right behind me, hed scream, ha, caught ya! He also used humor to hide his embarrassment. Sometimes when I was carrying him to the shower or changing him, hed say, i know you like what youre looking at, but you know I dont go like that!
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After working there for awhile, i started to realize i was doing the majority of the nurses work, even though I was only supposed to assist them. Every time someone asked for help, theyd call for a nurse attendant. They had us do everything except pass out medicine. I gave men showers, changed their diapers, and essay wiped their asses. I made a connection with the sick inmates, and they appreciated me, offering to buy me commissary or pay me every month to keep helping them out. Still a kid, i witnessed many inmates die during my stay, from four to 10 every month. Pictures hung on the wall of the ones who had recently lost their lives — not sweet remembrances or anything like that, just photos from when they had first come to missouri, with the date they arrived and the date they passed.
The place looked like a hospital, with green and white tiled floors and white walls. Even though it was kept clean, it smelled awful, like urine and feces. There was a psych-ward block, which housed mentally-ill inmates, as well as those who couldnt handle the business prison environment and had broken down. There was also a block for inmates who needed surgery; a block for inmates with chronic and terminal conditions; and a block for inmates in the work cadre unit, meaning those who were sent to this place to work and help run the building, like. On the work unit, we had all sorts of different jobs (housekeeper, medical-records clerk, dialysis attendant, and more and i applied to be a nurse attendant, because that paid the most. I wasnt licensed for it or certified in any way. I was trained by another inmate and got paid 71 cents an hour. For other teens, McDonalds is their first job.
seattle, wash., for six months. Then, soon after I turned 18, i was transferred to an adult federal prison in Springfield, missouri. On the plane to Springfield, everyone was herded together like cattle, both males and females. They looked confused when they saw a baby-faced kid walk down the aisle in shackles and an orange jumpsuit. You sure you on the right plane? One of the marshals said, trying to crack a joke as he asked for the last four digits of my social Security number. But soon he saw that I had just come of age. Id been sent to Springfield to work in a medical prison.
All you could smell was manure—very strong. Cows used to step right up to the fence. I was the only black person, period. There were no black inmates, no black cos. For my birthday, my mother mailed me some sneakers. I had just put them on when this guy came up, picked his nose, and wiped it on my shoe. Before i resume could react, he ran and told an officer that Id threatened him. There was no questioning; I was immediately sent to the hole.
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By anonymous, perspectives from those who work and live in umum the criminal justice system. This article was published in collaboration with. Born and raised in Washington,. C., i spent part of my childhood in foster care, as my mother struggled with drug addiction. Without support or guidance, i turned to the streets for belonging; I looked up to a lot of the older guys and wanted to fit. When I was 16, a group of us took part in an armed carjacking, and I was tried and sentenced as an adult and sentenced to 12 years in prison. But because the district has no prisons of its own, they could send me to any federal penitentiary in the United States. I was transferred to a bureau of Prisons-contracted juvenile facility in Montana. Outside, through my small, cloudy window, there was nothing but mountains, and 18-wheelers driving.