Imagining a sustainable future

Tags: Culture, Events

Notes from our meeting with Siiri Enoranta, writer, awarded with the Junior Finlandia Prize in 2018 - Amanda Pokki (Jan. 2020).

We discussed many topics during the evening, but I will only focus on a few of them. We discussed Western guilt and gratitude. I had not heard of the phrase “Western guilt” before. I know I am very lucky to have been born in Finland, with equal rights, the freedom to express my opinions, the freedom to travel, and access to free education and medical care. However, I have not experienced much guilt over these matters, mostly because people don’t get to choose their home country and so why should I feel guilt over it? I don’t think feeling guilty is very useful. One of our club members said that instead of guilt he feels gratitude for his privileged position and upon reflection I realized that though I have not experienced guilt due to my own privilege, I also have not practiced enough gratitude. That is something that I now realize.

Another topic that we discussed which is of interest to me was about capitalism. Our world relies on it, the consumption of things in an unsustainable way, where we take resources out of nature, make a product and then throw it away into a landfill. Luckily landfilling is very strict now in Finland, but in most of the world it is a typical way of disposing of used items. Companies have made billions by making us, the consumers, believe that in order to be happy we must buy the latest, coolest, most expensive things. We have been brainwashed by companies to think that in order for us to have value we must own many things, when in reality this is not true at all. In our discussion I wondered how can sustainability and the economy, which relies on the unsustainable consumption of materials, work together? Changing from our current “take-make-waste” linear economy to a circular economy model is the only feasible option.

We discussed if art could be the remedy to the materialistic world. In my view art can be one remedy to mindless consumerism. It can be very eye opening and making art, whether that is painting or writing a novel or any other form of art, can be very liberating. Art done with others can be even more so. I have experienced this during choir practice, when we would all sing together and create something beautiful with nothing but our voices. Art is a form of escapism as well, another topic that we discussed briefly during the evening. It can be a door to escape the real world and all it’s problems and, in that way, can help calm the mind from all worries. It can be a way to feel empowered in the face of a problem, regardless of what kind of problem it is because it is a way for self-expression, a way to reflect on the issue and this can be very therapeutic. Perhaps art could also be a way to find a solution, through reflection on the issue.