Dimitri Vervitsiotis/Getty Images


Recently on my blog, the regular visitors (a.k.a. Expendables) shared their thoughts about the many ways language is used to shape our perceptions and thus, our behavior. Here are two examples:

My wife and I drink a bit of fair trade coffee, and I always wonder about the alternative. If this is "fair trade", is everything else "unfair" trade?


[In a local supermarket], I walked through what felt like acres of what could only honestly be called poison packaged in toxins until I found the tiny "Natural Foods" section. Which had me wondering: why not just call the rest "Unnatural Foods"?

I could go on but I think you get the idea. We are so inundated with corporate propaganda on a minute-to-minute basis that we rarely even stop to consider what a word like "natural" means. After all, arsenic is natural, isn't it? So are uranium and E. coli, for that matter.

Each day—many, many times a day—our view of the world is being honed and refined into what can only be labeled a consumer mentality. What Ralph Nader calls, "growing up corporate."

"We grow up looking at the world the way the corporations want us to perceive it," says Nader. "Style in cars, instead of safety. Junk food instead of nutrition. Look at the ads to the kids on kiddie-TV: Junk food. Junk drinks. We grow up thinking, 'Well, that's the way things are' ... Growing up corporate means we curtail our imagination. We don't even dream of what is possible, never mind impossible."

Hmm...maybe ol' Ralph is going Zen on us. After all, as Shunryu Suzuki once said: "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

3 Ways to Maintain a Beginner's Mind and Be Green, Not Corporate

1. See things as they are, not as you wish they were. If you told a child about how bad climate change is, that child would likely ask, "What causes climate change?" You might answer, "Many things, especially the meat-based diet and petroleum-based industry." The odds are that kid would promptly deliver the obvious, baggage-free, beginner's mind question: "So, why doesn't everyone just stop eating meat and using oil?"

2. [url='http://planetgreen.discovery.com/work-connect/ways-green-mind.html']Green your mind on a daily basis. Question what is accepted as normal.

3. Try Zen and the Art of Nader:

Once we stop growing up corporate and grow up civic, we will be much more focused on nutritious food, rather than junk food; we will be much more inquiring about different kinds of products; we will look at pollution as a form of violence, not just something that is nasty and dirty; we will demand the mechanism so we can control what we own and use these great resources for an enlightened, just, prosperous, happy society where the pursuit of justice is filled with such joy it itself becomes the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of happiness becomes the pursuit of justice.