Introduction to Global Justice and Change
In dominant Western narratives, modern day life is often presented as highly globalized. Humanity is connected by international commerce, by migration and movement, by air travel and tourism. Culturally, the idea that the world is yours to explore is prevalent. However, this world of ease and movement is only accessible to a global wealthy elite. It ignores the fact that, in order to sustain such a world for a limited few, millions of people are exploited for their labour and the earth and non-human life are placed in peril.
The idea that some are more connected, more global, than others; the idea that wealth and privilege are created or accrued through individual worth and merit; among many other foundational notions of modern Western culture; are based on the notion that we (as people) are disconnected from one another to begin with. Our dominant global systems are sustained by the illusion that humans can own and consume the world as if we are separate from it. As if the comforts and securities enjoyed by a few, and the very ability to survive, do not depend on the labour and care of others and on non-human life and lands.
Modern day cultures of accumulation and consumption–despite what dominant capitalistic and colonial narratives may say–attempt to sustain an illusion of separation. They are based on a distorted claim that “globalization” has brought the world together–which presupposes a separation to begin with–when in fact “globalization” is based on racial capitalism and colonialism. These systems depend on socially constructed notions of worth, and have imposed a false sense of independence over the reality of interdependence.
On a practical level, we (here we are referring to the “we” of the global north, the “we” living in so-called Canada) eat food, wear clothes, and use the technologies produced by so-called “resources” extracted from the earth and processed and assembled by poor Black and Brown people around the world (Indigenous peoples whose land has been stolen and livelihoods denied to advance the global economy). It is simply impossible to access wealth and live a life of luxury without depending upon millions of other people and life forms. The production of cheap consumer goods that sustain an accumulation based society means we are directly implicated in the harm and violence caused by the dispossession and exploitation of the people and places that sustain our comforts and securities.
On a broader level, the world and all life on this planet is connected. All humans, all creatures and plant life, and the very earth itself, are bound together by a shared atmosphere, a shared metabolism. We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and depend on the same regenerative processes to feed and sustain ourselves. Interdependence is the tangible reality of life on this planet and of human existence. And interdependence requires balance. Human history has demonstrated over and over again what happens when the axis tilts. When equilibrium is lost.
We, all humans and life on this planet, find ourselves at a pivotal juncture.
We (in particular the “we” who are benefitting) can continue advancing ways of being in this world that are based on antiquated logics. We can choose to fight to sustain our current way of life. To maintain the inequitable structures that provide security and comfort for some, while producing precarity and harm for others. We can choose to believe that it is “normal” to consume in excess, to ignore the violence that we perpetuate and enact, in order to extend the balancing act for just a little longer.
Or we can choose another path, as many communities and nations within so-called Canada and around the world are doing and have done since time immemorial. We can choose a way of existing on this planet that is led by Indigenous Nations and Black and Brown communities. A way that is based on maintaining equitable and caring relationships, centred on shared accountability and responsibility. To believe the lie that this is not possible is self-destructive and cannibalistic.
This introduction aims to situate the perspective and intention of this resource and project. The purpose is to open dialogue and incite reflection so that we as humans (wherever you exist in the hierarchies of worth that capitalism and colonialism have produced) can face hard truths to create space for other possibilities. This is about facing the reality that we are all implicated in this mess, and that to find our way out, we must get dirty.
This resource offers a door to many different paths. It does not claim to be the definitive source of information and knowledge. It is one among many and one that will constantly evolve and adapt. Our hope is that it will bring people together, for however brief a moment, to spark the possibility of change, to develop the stamina to face the storm together. This will look and feel different for everyone. But it is important to be aware that we are talking about you. You as an individual and as a member of a broader collective, a member of your family, your community, as a human and life form on this planet.
This resource and program may ask of you things that you are not used to being asked. To start with, we simply ask that you let your guard down a little or as much as you are able. To stop that inner voice that may already be saying: what is this bullshit? This is not what I signed up for! Try to thank that voice for its critical thinking, for its discernment and its mistrust, because it is necessary. But try not to allow it to stop you from being vulnerable. From being radically honest with yourself. From moving forward not only from a place of thought and critical thinking, but also from a place of feeling and heart.
This is an invitation to engage as your full self. You don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations or demands, only your own. You don’t have to prove yourself as a “valuable” or “knowledgeable” student. You will be called on to reflect deeply about the world in which we live and how that world is embedded within ourselves, within our psyches and within our bodies. This is no small task, but we hope that you are surprised by how you may come to this with a sense of ease and openness, if you can find a way to allow yourself.