Thursday, December 23, 2010

Advent: There Are Alternatives

Second in a series on the seasons

"There is no alternative" to globalization. It is inevitable. You may not like it, but there is nothing you can do about it. If you oppose globalization, you are opposed to human progress. All of these are common beliefs among those who track globalization. (See Thomas Friedman's books on globalization.) Bob Goudzwaard once lumped these beliefs together under the TINA (There Is No Alternative) label.

But one of the main lessons of Advent is that God breaks into human history to redeem His people in unexpected ways. We are not abandoned or alone. So we hope. We wait for the Lord. We know that someday the Kingdom will be fully and finally established on earth. Now, there is an alternative.

When I first started writing on globalization, I hadn't yet internalized this lesson of Advent. Nor had I read enough about hopeful practices that demonstrate practical alternatives to globalization. Instead, I tended to share the assumption that globalization was a juggernaut that operated whether or not we liked it.

Now, by Advent 2010, a number of authors have demonstrated the power of alternative practices in their own personal, individual journeys. They show us that even the individual alone can do things (not to mention whole communities).

There are authors who track down the laborers who toil to stitch our clothes:
There are authors who eat locally for a year:
There are authors who live with less technology or with minimal environmental impact:
There are authors who learn to minimize their consumption (in general or of "Made in China") for a year:
There are authors who investigate child labor and slave labor practices that go into making our stuff:
There are authors who practice nonviolent ways of reconciling differences in Iraq or Afghanitsan
I could go on, but hopefully the point is clear.

There Are Alternatives.

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