university education are not addressing. As more people become marginalized by the
introduction of labor-saving technologies, their self-image is undermined as is their
mental health and self-satisfaction. While these changes are systemic and beyond the
control of individuals, being unemployed is now being judged as the result of personal
failures. The educational challenge is partly one of helping people understand a different
form of wealth; that is the wealth or gift economy found by participating in the local
cultural commons.
The entitlement associated with the Western view of individualism is also the
source of another double bind. The rights of individuals to pursue material products at the
expense of the environment is being justified and reinforced through nearly all means of
communication. This form of individualism is manifested in the right to produce, buy
and sell without regard for the environment and/or the needs of others. As the dominant
culture drives the individual to satisfy self-interest through consumerism the knowledge
and skills that represent the cultural commons-centered alternatives to a consumer-
dependent lifestyle are being lost.
The Metaphorical Nature of Language
The second major focus here is derived from Bateson’s core ideas about the role
of language in the process of cultural reproduction––especially the reproduction of
ecologically unsustainable ideas and values. Words are metaphors and many of their
current meanings were framed in the past by people who reproduced in their choice of
analogs the cultural assumptions of their times (Bowers, 2011b, 2012). Largely
unnoticed today is how the metaphorical nature of the vocabulary used in the dominant
culture carries forward earlier patterns of thinking that did not consider the environmental
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