In the world where consumerism is the order of the day, it comes as no surprise that Simon Benlow argues in his essay “Apology to Future Generations” that present generations should offer more than an apology to future generations for depleting natural resources beyond their requirements. In fact, according to Benlow (413), the present generation is keen on pointing fingers at previous generations for the economic and environmental problems in the contemporary societies. However, by looking at the lives and activities of the present generation, one cannot help but notice different consumerist tendencies such as extravagance, luxury and materialism. Furthermore, despite that scientists have warned that the aforementioned behavior and way of life would have serious consequences now and in the future, no one is willing to listen to the scientific community. Therefore, this essay explores a number of specific consumer lifestyle examples in the contemporary society, which show support for Simon Benlow’s argument that the present hyper-consumptive lifestyles will harm the future generations.
First and foremost, it is important to note that Benlow (414) suggests that present generations do not have the interests of the society at heart. This is very true considering that every individual in the contemporary society is living life full of selfish desires and instant satisfaction. For instance, many people have built large houses for their small families on large tracts of land only to leave some unoccupied rooms in these houses. To make matters worse, some families are holding on to large pieces of idle land, which they cannot cultivate or develop at present. Furthermore, an equally large number of people do not have sufficient land to build houses or cultivate. Moreover, access to clean and safe drinking water is major challenge in most parts of the world while other people are spending lots of money on bottled water production and consumption of which threatens the environment in many ways. Generally, the present generation of consumers does not consider social concern as a consumer responsibility.
Social concern is critical consumer responsibility, which ensures that people are aware of the effects of their consumption patterns and way of life on other people and the environment at large. Most importantly, consumers should be aware of the needs of the powerless consumers who bear the greatest burden as a result of other people’s hyper-consumptive and wasteful lifestyles. This implies that with social concern consumers would be aware of the consequences of their consumption patterns, which are promoted by various international corporations, international policies and politics. Therefore, according to Benlow (415), members of the present generation are all guilty of the future consequences of their consumption patterns and lifestyles.
Another important argument in Benlow’s essay is that everyone in the current generation starting with leaders and to parents and children lacks discipline and foresight as far as consumption is concerned. This is the fact considering that current consumption patterns and lifestyles have been handed down from previous generations, and now the consumerist tendencies have spread all around the world. Yet, no one is bold enough to stand up for the interests of children of tomorrow, but instead, people are keen on criticizing the activities of generations gone while overlooking the fact that present generations are also following the same practices. For instance, the scramble for natural resources in Africa and Asia started way back during the colonial era; however, several decades later, most western countries are still exploiting these resources for their own selfish interests.
In conclusion, Simon Benlow’s essay explores a number of issues, particularly the negative effects of the current generation’s consumption patterns and lifestyles. From this essay, it is important to note that the author finds everyone in the current generation including leaders, parents and children guilty of the environmental and economic consequences awaiting the children of the future. In the same way, everyone has a responsibility to ensure that interests of the future generations govern and direct the present consumption patterns and lifestyles. This can be achieved by simply following and embracing the most basic consumer responsibilities including critical awareness, social actions, social concern, environmental awareness and solidarity. Ultimately, if everyone was aware of these consumer responsibilities, then there would be no need for an apology to the future generations.