The Twenty First Century Human Being is facing the biggest challenge and potential catastrophe of human history. Although many may be in subconscious denial, and others are clearly in conscious denial, our collective blindness will cost us all.
The cost, it is clear, will not be paid only by human beings. It will be paid by all forms of life on this planet, by every species known and unknown, vegetable, animal, reptile or insect. This is a cost unquantifiable. A cost that should make you sick to the marrow of your bones to know that you will not only pay this cost, but have incurred it.
We can look for scapegoats, and we will find them. Yet in doing so we will once again be deluding ourselves and pushing possible solutions further into the domain of unlikelihood. We have, we are, and we will all continue to contribute to the problem. Even as some of us look honestly for solutions. Even as others find and implement them.
There is no bad guy here. If blame is appropriate, we are all to blame. If you are inclined to quantify and apportion that blame then you are further compounding the problem.
We are all equally guilty. We are all equally innocent.
Not one of us chose to be born. Not one of us chose our parents, our race, our gender, our birth nationality. Not one of us chose the comparative size of our footprint and the amount of damage it does.
Yet many of us have the privilege and the power to respond immediately and definitively to our common crisis. Especially those of us who live in a democracy.
It may well be true that democracy is an inefficient and unjust political system. It may also be that contemporary democracies are breaking under the weight of inequality, austerity, population displacement and all the other consequences of exploitative economics.
Even so, there is some life, some purchase available in democracy. Just as some can be made by individual consumer choices. Every little counts. Not least in transforming our habits and thinking from that of a careless consumer to that of a careful caretaker. Like wise we can reconsider our voting habits and intentions in the light of what is undeniably the biggest issue facing each and every one of us: runaway ecological catastrophe.
It is happening now: more and faster than you think.
Democratic elections are also happening all the time across the globe. And even though the old patterns and loyalties are shifting the same options and aspirations remain. All of the conventional options, and their underlying aspiration of economic security, improvement and growth are deeply embedded in the roots of our common crisis.
By voting along, or even against, traditional political fault lines we are voting for the continuation of exploitative and destructive economic systems of competition, accumulation, consumption and waste.
No traditional political party, nor their populist mutations, would even dare to present a manifesto of reduced growth, reduced income, reduced consumption. Nor to prioritise caring for the ‘other’ over caring for self. Yet that is what we need if life on this planet is not once again to be reduced to a fragile shadow of its present, though rapidly fading, magnificence.
It may well be that voting for a ‘Green’ party dedicated primarily to environmentally sound social and economic policies will not bring them into power. This does not mean that it is meaningless or useless.
We have to begin somewhere. We have to see the problem clearly, and our parts in it. Not just our consumerist habits and (unconsciously) exploitative aspirations. We also have to see that while reducing our ecological footprint with our consumer choices may have little impact. It will have some.
Likewise voting for environmental policies may not yet elect environmental parties. Nor will it remove the deep economic and political constraints within which they function. Yet it will make a difference. It will make a statement. It will affect the politcal landscape. We can not know for certain how much.
Are you willing to allow cynicism to determine the fate of this planet?
If a people get the government that they deserve, or if they don’t, you are a human being. This means you have the power to act, the power to choose, the power to push back, even if only a little, against the forces of destruction.
Not doing so can only guarantee catastrophe. Doing so will at worst delay it, and perhaps even prevent it.
Of course, nobody, no institution, no political party, no NGO knows exactly what is required. Nobody ever will unless everyone begins to take whatever action they can.
However, action taken out of fear and anger tends only to muddy the waters. We need to change our behaviour, but to change our behaviour we need to change our attitudes. To change our attitudes we need to examime the assumptions underlying them. In fact we need to challenge them. Not only with our minds but also with our hearts.
To save the world we have to change the world: radically, fundamentally. Yet how the world changes is determined by human beings: by our actions, by our desires, by our fears, by our beliefs.
A different world requires a different human being. We can’t change our DNA. We can learn to change our behaviour. To do so we must learn to change our attitudes and beliefs.
We must take less, consume less, use less, and we must complain less. We must give more, as much as we can: to nature, to others, to the future. We must substitute the anxiety and doubt that creates greed and agression with generosity and trust.
This is definitely possible. We are exploitative because we dont’ feel safe, satisfied, fulfilled. We dont’t feel those things because we look to the ‘other’ to provide them for us. This is not only stupid, but it is the root cause of our destructiveness.
The only way that we can feel safe enough to stop exploiting is to recognise how powerful we are: both as individuals and collectively. The power that has brought this catastrophe upon us is the same power that can resist it. The power to think, choose and act that flows through all human beings.
Yet it has to flow more deeply than it has.
Human beings do not understand themselves. In our ignorance we seek satisfaction where it can not be found. Without ever finding more than brief moments of limited satisfaction, we are destroying that which we use to provide our satisfaction: nature.
Nature is not only the source of all the products, gadgets, distractions with which we seek to alleviate our anxieties. It is also the source of life, of our life, and also of our nature.
It is because we are out of touch with our own nature that we are destroying Mother Nature. Only by becoming deeply intimate with your own nature will you be able to fully relinquish the need to get, take, accumulate and consume. This you can do by taking the time to become intimate with your own presence, and with the presence of others.
Until then: Vote Green.