I frequently wonder what people mean when they say something. For example, "I love you" is a common phrase, but its meaning runs the gamut from: a) I think you would make a jazzy Saturday night, to; z) I will marry you, live with you forever, and I always be faithful to you.
What does "I love you" mean? Both? Neither? Something in between? Or, "a" through "z", and everything in between?
I have the same confusion about the phrase "Think Globally, Act Locally." I understand the "buy local" part, but what does "think globally" mean?
Does it mean that green house gases originating in China is a problem for Green Forest, Arkansas--and that the people of Green Forest and the Chinese people should work together to solve it? I suppose so, but how? What does "working together" mean?
Or, does it mean that an American (or a British, French, or Russian) corporation should enter every market, secure every customer, and make every possible profit through a vigorous global strategy? A lot of businesses hold that aspiration; at least one of them is headquartered in Arkansas.
What I do know is that "Acting locally" often requires an exchange of comfort for personal responsibility. A good "local" example is the immense heat we invest national elections, while virtually ignoring local races and special elections.
Yet, being involved in local issues means showing up at meetings, knowing the positions of elected officials, and educating them when they are wrong. It means shutting off Dancing with the Stars, and going out to candidate forums, investing time and money, and organizing for or against certain positions. These are not comfortable activities, but they are the responsible thing to do.
We are more familiar with imprecations to "buy local," a notion I fully support. But what does that mean? I'd like to buy a pair of socks that doesn't come from a big box retailer, but where can I do that, locally? The truth of the matter is that we have allowed rural economies to become so stratified and fragile that we often have little or no choice in the matter of where we spend our money. What are we doing to make our local economy less fragile?
It's also great to buy food locally, and we can all feel good about shopping at farmers' markets and locally supplied grocery stores. But what are farmers doing to assure that we have adequate supplies of affordable, safe, local food? One big problem is that local production is insufficient to meet the potential of the market. Yet, farmers argue that consumers are so used to eating cheap, processed food that they won't step up to the plate and buy food that costs a little more and requires preparation.
The solution is entirely local. Small local farmers will produce more fresh local food for local consumers when local consumers step up to the plate in sufficient numbers to allow small local farmers to lower prices.
After you, Alphonse.