Personal Responsibility and Causes for Consumerism

From a very early age in modern society we are taught that we are not responsible for things that happen to us. This article deals with how we can change that attitude.

From a very early age in modern society we are taught that we are not responsible for things that happen to us. In kindergarten and day care facilities, and even park playgrounds have to have a bouncy soft floor to minimise injury. The equipment has to have certain size restrictions and everything is made to ensure the kids can play without hurting themselves. Tree climbing is now forbidden. Children are not allowed to eat mud pies, crawl in dirt, play with sticks, insects, etc., or get into contact with any germs. Besides the fact that we now discourage kids from interactions with our natural environment (nature), we are wrapping our kids up in (synthetic) cotton wool, which is becoming detrimental to our society.

We also teach our kids that if something happens to them, it is somebody else’s fault. If they almost drown because they play in a stormwater drain when it is raining, it is the council’s fault, not theirs (in that particular case the parents actually sued the council for 5 million dollars, whereas it was their neglect of the responsibility to teach their kid some common sense and the kids’ own lack of responsibility for his actions that caused the near drowning…).

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We have become a society of finger pointers. It wasn’t my fault, it was his/hers/theirs. Some New Age therapies blame all the person’s problems on the parents. It was the parents fault that this person is depressed, on drugs and made a mess of himself…. Is it? I believe it is personal choice.

In this blaming society, we are desperate for choices to be made for us, which they amply are. We are unable to make choices for ourselves most of the time, because there are so many of them and we have never been taught how to make responsible choices. But there are so many advertisements around us in our modern world, that many decisions are made for us, whether blatantly obvious or subliminal. People feel terrible, they feel powerless because they do not know it is in their power to change their lives and make responsible decisions. So they look at consuming as a source of happiness.

Have you noticed that whenever you buy a new item, whatever it may be, you experience a bit of a rush, a flash of excitement, which elevates your mood (hence “retail therapy”)? Drugs (including alcohol) usually depress your mood (so you become somewhat numb to any issues that you may have), whereas retail therapy lifts you up. The only problem is, just as with drugs and alcohol, the rush is only temporary. It wears off. The exciting new dress is not so exciting after you have worn it once or twice. The new house is not as exciting as when you first moved in. The excitement of a new car wears off quickly. So then you need to buy something else to lift you up again, and so on.

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If people become responsible again for their own lives, for their own food source, their own shelter, their own water supply and their own happiness, it will change all that. We all know that consumerism is a dead end street and we are over halfway. But the only way we can change consumerism is by teaching people how to be personally responsible for their lives. It is illuminating when you have to fully provide for yourself and your family. And I do not mean earning money, I mean planning and designing where and how you will get your food, water and shelter. People all over the world have done that sort of thing for centuries (before the Industrial Revolution and cheap energy (oil)), and some are still doing it now. Those people are not depressed, they find joy in the simplest things. They do not need to go to a mall or supermarket, they go for a walk and feel blessed with what nature provides for them.

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Permaculture re-empowers people through taking personal responsibility for their lives. It teaches how we can become self reliant, responsible, respectful, social and happy by encouraging thoughtful design. And people who are responsible for their own food sources, water sources and shelter, are re-empowered, busy and happy people. They are people that have chosen personal responsibility and happiness. They are people that point the finger at themselves. They are people that will always be able to make a good situation out of a bad one. And they are people that do not need to go to a shop.

Zaia Kendall

Zaia grew up in a family of musicians in Holland, and has a background in top sport and web development and design. She co-founded the PRI Luganville and PRI Sunshine Coast Inc with Tom, and runs all the background stuff, like finances, business administration, website design and maintenance, writes articles, records and edits videos and also organises the cooking and the kitchen on site. She has been researching and studying nutrition and health for 20+ years, has a certificate in Nutrition and continues to study by research, reading and daily observation. She is a certified member of the International Institute of Complementary Therapists and is a holistic food, health and lifestyle coach. She is also an active member of several musical projects and bands, involved in community music and runs occasional percussion workshops. Visit Zaia's website at DIY Food and Health.


  1. Good article but I disagree with the paragraph about’parent blaming’ being a new Age Therapy. It shows that the writer does not have any experience of healing the psyche wounds of childhood. It is not part of the therapy to blame the parents but a stage you pass through where you release the anger held onto from childhood if you were raised by parents who were ‘unconscious’ of their own childhood conditioning and woundings. Once you come through the stage of anger you come to a place of forgiveness, understanding and acceptance. What personal choices can a two year old make if it is abused by a parent??? Personal choice can only happen with awareness and most people do not have this!!!
    Our governments are our fathers. Mother seems to be invisible! Most people are unaware of their dysfunctional relationship with that ‘greater’ parent and accept what that authority does. Becoming independent of government is similar to the process of a teenager separating from an authoritarian parent. If we were all making personal choices would we be in this powerless position? Accepting, like children, all the ‘caring’ they seem to be showing? Being aware of how we are controlled makes us lucky and able to change for others, who then can see what it takes to be free. But first we have to free ourselves from the yoke of human conditioning which has kept us separate from our own power.
    Understanding the human condition allows us to share our own journey to freedom.
    I do agree that permaculture teaches us more about personal responsibility which is a great thing. I live in Egypt and am trying to share my ideas with my husbands family who have done things their way for ever!!! Being a woman means that I am listened to less but when my ideas work then they take notice. They live in a very disempowered society. Survival, rather than responsibility, is the norm here, but I am trying to teach more about the latter and how to be independent of Government.
    here’s hoping.

  2. My childrens’ school is (according to the previous principal) the only public primary school in NSW that does NOT forbid playing with sticks. They have a forest that the kids are allowed to play in, there are free-ranging chooks wandering the playground, and there’s a lunchtime gardening club.

    Awesome for my kids and their friends, but a little sad for the rest of the state’s students.

  3. As an indigenous person brought up close to nature, with the joys of the natural environment, I decided to home school. We ignored many of the trappings of a modern society and concentrated on the joys of our traditional society. I educated him to learn about and experience the modern world also, but for him to see a life where nature is a good provider as a real alternative.

    He is 18 now and doing his A’levels. He wishes to contribute to preserving the natural environment. As people who see the value of living with the natural environment, I think it should be second nature for us to educate our children to be careful consumers.

  4. True!
    I’ve moved to Australia from Europe and was surprised how much child activities are protected. Everything is designed the way children don’t need to mind their actions at all. Even in high schools children are treated as if they are 3 years old, not as grown ups who are old enough to understand consequences of their actions themselves. As a result they behave as morons.
    However, some adults’ behaviour is the same. People leave their homes in the morning and do not take their heads with. The way how some of them drive or cycle or even walk demonstrate they do not think about their own safety: they could jump in front the moving car easily; they need to be aware of the wet floor with the special sign despite the fact of the obvious rain outside. People just forget the thinking process!

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