This piece is a lot of things, it’s about the power of the voice of people, it’s about social responsibility and planet responsibility, it’s also about questions and choices. I am exploring the concept here and hoping this will start a conversation in all our heads about what we can do for true impact that changes the way the world currently functions.
“The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.”
― Susan Sontag
My Grandpa would talk about consumer resistance all the time. He would say that if we refused and if we said we would not play into the hands of corporations; they would have to listen to us. He would talk about the power of a movement. If onion prices were super-high, he would say don’t buy onions and make do for a while without them, if a whole lot of consumers would do the same, the dynamics of demand and supply would shift, and the prices would come back to being normal again. When he told me about it back then, I didn’t understand it entirely, I just knew that if you wanted to change something, you would have to protest by refusal.
I did try it in some form with the CET or Common Entrance Test as it’s called which is the entrance into engineering colleges in this state. I refused to write it, so it was rebellion and dissent combined into one effort, to save myself the agony of a course I didn’t want to do. This at a time of growing up when there existed only two career options for us – Medicine or Engineering. I digress, so let me come back to the current context of dissent or protest and what we perceive of it.
Consumer Consciousness and Consumer Resistance are powerful tools that we have as people in this economy. We can change the direction and chart the course of the future of brands, businesses and the earth, that is, if we choose to. A lot of times, we are happy to let the world around us go on as we live in our bubbles and we continue walking our paths, without realising what impact we are creating or not and what influence we could establish if we spoke up for what’s right.
I have a whole range of questions, some of which I have answers, some which I am clueless about. And here they are:
What happened to protests?
Why aren’t more people out on the streets, raising awareness, getting action on ground going?
What stops us from demanding better?
What stops us from refusing what we are getting?
Why is resistance such a rarity today?
What happened to consciousness that drove behaviour?
Why are we happy with the way the planet has become?
Why aren’t we ringing the alarm bells and doing all we can?
The most inspiring person I have seen and follow in recent times is Greta Thunberg and she says she wants action; she doesn’t want to be called an inspiring leader, but she wants people to take notice and act on the science of climate change. This is crafting a movement, her ‘Fridays for Future’ strike is a classic example of mobilising people in a simple manner to speak up for what they want to see as a change. She has mobilised an entire world to sit up and take notice and has ensured that her voice is heard.
Leadership doesn’t need titles; it doesn’t have age or gender or race. Leadership is about doing the right thing and staying true to what you believe in. Building a strong consciousness and learning to stand up and refuse or dissent when the time arises is a crucial aspect of leadership and cannot be ignored.
So, consumer resistance and consciousness can be built and nurtured to set the direction right for the future of the world and we as people can be the leaders that drive it.