I don't usually buy the idea that life was better in times past. There are technological innovations that I cannot imagine living without, there are medical advances that I would, most likely, not be alive without and there is social progress. While my own status in society (as a straight, white male) might not be too diminished, it is obvious to even the most casual observer that things are better today than they were even a decade or two ago for virtually every demographic. So when faced with the mindless question of what decade I feel that I should have been born in (a question generally intended to explore your fashion and architecture aesthetic) I have a difficult time answering anything but "now." In fact, if I weren't so nervous about global warming, environmental destruction or the still looming fear of nuclear war, I might even say that I'd like to live several decades in the future.
That said, I find myself longing for a time when accountability was easier to trace. I've written extensively on the subject of animal cruelty and how difficult it is to wash my hands of these crimes. But it goes beyond that. We learned this week that, thanks to the new ruling by the Supreme Court, Target's CEO donated $150,000 to a politician. The politician is a conservative republican who, among other things, favors tax breaks and is adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage and even civil unions. I can't imagine that Target's CEO donated the money on the basis of the anti-gay platform, but was most likely looking out for his own interests in regard to taxes. All of this resulted in a boycott and yielded an apology (although the money has been donated and the damage has been done). If I don't boycott Target, am I contributing to the discrimination of Minnesota homosexuals? In past decades, if a farmer were abusing his animals or a grocery store donated to an unsavory political cause, you could talk to the person responsible, or at least avoid their products until the situation has been resolved. But now everything is connected, we are all related and we are all responsible for each other.
I hate being responsible for the crimes of other people. I hate to put so much research into the politics and practices of every single product that I buy. I'm not a bad person, and I guess I just assume that everyone else is good too, but that trust is often betrayed and in order for me to keep my conscience clear, I have to avoid those who do things that I wouldn't. I have to question sources of clothing, sources of electronics and even the distributors of those products. The boycott of Target proved that it has an effect. I doubt that the Target corporation will donate any more funds to politicians, although it's possible that they will. This means that I should boycott products that I would otherwise like to purchase.
It's so complicated. Why can't everyone just be good?