Day in and day out the inhabitants of lonely planet earth kill, maim, conspire, steal, abuse, violate, destroy, poison, fight and, well, hurt each other’s feelings. It is a wonder that we – a socially constrained pack of wild animals – survive. We may not survive in the long run. Some cold-minded scientists suggest the earth’s population will be extinct in 1000 years and claim to have evidence to support it. All this is due to what is called the “cycle of stupid”. The cycle of stupid is the most vicious of all cycles. This cycle has deep philosophical and causes most of the angst on the earth today. It happens when intelligent, sentient beings (people) act like they couldn’t be denser if someone hit them over the head with a stupid stick.
Why our world is corrupted, why sustainable development (even if it is an oxymoron) is not met yet?
Sustainable development is reached when the three pillars- economic, social and environmental aspects are reached in integrity. In fact, economic, social and environmental aspects are all related. In a short-written piece analyzing what Friedman wrote on the environmental sources of the Arab Spring in nytimes, Professor Rania Masri stated that “separation of use of natural resources from economics is a fallacy” when Friedman said: “economics *is* the management of natural resources.”
Another factor contributing to the destruction of our environment is the strong belief in Social Darwinism. Other than having about as much purpose as gravity, Social Darwinism is portrayed, especially nowadays, with its links to scientific racism, eugenics, imperialism, and the notion that the “more fit” out-compete the “less-fit,” “more-fit” usually defined since Darwin’s day as the ones with the guns, the money, the means and the meanness and a hankering for other people’s lands. While saying Social Darwinism, four words echo in my mind, which are industrialization; globalization; capitalism; tragedy of the commons; and climate change. After all, natural selection shows us that cooperation, and not just competition, can be a successful strategy for survival.
What each one of us needs is reverence. Reverence is the feeling of awe in the face of something greater than us. People from all cultures experience reverence, and the experience is accompanied by a sense of humbleness. With reverence, we treat each other and the world around us with respect.
I am passionate about the natural world. I prefer hearing and feeling a place, then engaging with it. Reverence towards the land, as I feel when I think about the food I eat entering my bloodstream and replacing old tissue, or when I look up at a Redwood tree and acknowledge an organism that survived through immense environmental pressures over the course of one hundred human generations, organizing particles from the earth and atmosphere into something that supports and survives in ecosystems that we are only beginning to understand.
Many of our best scientists, including Einstein, pointed out how our ethical systems have long lagged behind our capacities for invention and economic development. And clearly, the lack of an ethical container is the first half of what’s wrong with capitalism.
The issue is that the root causes of global warming should be solved; not the symptoms. Notice that all climate summits emphasize on solving the symptoms of the environmental problems. The Rio+20 looks just a celebration of the previous climate summits. Economic (triggered by capitalism) and population growth are the two major causes for this global problem. What our world needs is an ethical system just like economic one. Also, despite the development of a growing environmental consciousness and the movements to which it has given rise in the last century, the environmental crisis continues to deepen. There is nothing in the record or on the horizon that could lead us to believe the situation will significantly change in the foreseeable future.
The solution is to replace capitalism with a social order based on an economy devoted not to maximizing private profit and accumulating ever more capital but rather to meeting real human needs and restoring the environment to a sustainably healthy condition.
There is a light of hope now. The time has come for global action to build a new world economic system that is no longer based on the illusion that limitless growth is possible on our precious and finite planet. Encouraged by the government of Bhutan, the United Nations held a High Level Meeting for Wellbeing and Happiness where 650 political, academic, and civic leaders from around the world came together on April 2, 2012 to discuss a New Economic Paradigm.
Change comes from within. Small steps do count. Instead of waiting for policies and politics to take the right track toward a sustainable world, each one of us should take environmentally-friendly action or responsability on the individual level. This is one of the ways to understand and participate in democracy. When understanding that citizens are the fuel of their government’s fire, changing the distribution of power becomes relevant.
On a final note, I want to say:” There are dreams. There are emotions. We are all connected. We are all energy.”
The picture below is taken somewhere in Iceland (http://www.bustler.net/index.php/article/choishine_wins_bsa_unbuilt_architecture_award_for_land_of_giants):