The End of This Road: How to Save the World

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."
- Albert Einstein

   The last couple of times that global society disintegrated, it wasn't the end of the world. We got ourselves somewhat together again as a society of nations - a few defeated, a few vindicated; some strengthened, some weakened or crippled, some destroyed forever; some newborn from others that were disfigured or destroyed. Only a few were mostly uninvolved and relatively unscathed. But human society picked itself up, dusted itself off, and carried on as it always has, even after Little Boy and Fat Man upped the cost of our collective madness by so much.
   But the next time, which can't be too far off now - and pretty well all of us can feel this in our hearts, our guts, or wherever it is that we retain those vital vestiges of deepest feeling - the next time this human order of ours disintegrates will be the last. When it comes to existential threats, blowing ourselves into radioactive smithereens is seldom even at the top of the list any more.
   We cannot continue as we have been doing, comfortably looking out for number one while letting the government and the authorities take care of number two and all the other numbers beyond that.
   We cannot continue as we have been doing, grabbing up, digging up, using up and burning up our resources to sustain and energize a wasteful, combative, counterfeit, deadly system of economics which has become global, all the while ignoring our true material needs, such as breathable air, potable water and non-toxic food - to say nothing of our non-material needs. We cannot keep ignoring what is happening to, on, and even above and under the land which feeds, shelters and sustains us, as a result of our collective stupidity.
   We cannot continue as we have been doing, breeding like rabbits, in many cases supposedly to fulfill an order given by God in an ancient time to our arch-ancestors in a fresh, underpopulated, and over-bountiful world - though here in the West we do it primarily because it comes naturally, we enjoy it, we tend to act on impulse, and we are over-stimulated through commercial media, and excusing it all through moral relativism.
   We cannot continue as we have been doing, viewing those who are different or who are elsewhere as objects to be used, manipulated ignored or avoided, instead of seeing them as brothers and sisters, all of us sharing the same spirit of family and community. We cannot go on validating and fortifying the fears, distrust and biases which we have invented and created for ourselves.
   Yet in spite of what is already coming upon us we are still reluctant to change, perhaps because most Westerners have become far too comfortable in our affluent and wasteful lifestyles, which soothe us into ignoring global emergency and our individual responsibility for it.
   Perhaps some of us are fearful of change because experience has taught us that we can't often expect to go from works-for-me to better-for-everyone without first veering worse-ward somehow, especially when "good intentions" are involved. Yet, that's just part of who we are. We learn from our mistakes, but it makes us reluctant to try a new and different responses in familiar situations in which the old ways have become unworkable.
   If you haven't already guessed, we're talking about the government, the economy, politics, religion, education, business, recreation, the environment - the whole mess.
   But it's not a completely hopeless mess. It must be possible to fix it because it has a common cause.
   We - peoples, nations, communities and societies all over the world - have learned to distrust, fear, fence off, disdain and even hate each other instead of having learned to respect, understand, communicate, empathize and even love (or at least tolerate) each other. Oh, sure, mostly we've learned how to relate well enough to get by on a personal level, but the larger that groups of us get, the more difficult it becomes to communicate and work together or even to agree to disagree, and to let each other be.

   Mankind has evolved to the point at which we consciously apply certain basic principles for successful adult relationships, at least on a personal level. Our more complex relationships, the ones we label 'politics', need to be approached in the same way, and with the same level of maturity.
   All relationships operate on the same underlying principles. In fact, they all boil down to the same basic relationship: that of me to not-me, or of self to other. All politics are exactly that same relationship, of self (as an individual, a group, or a nation) to society. All social problems and conflicts stem from an inability or unwillingness to reconcile the personal freedom of one's self (or interest group) with responsibility to one's community or communities and other individual members thereof. That reconciliation must be bilateral; that is, the community must reconcile its goals and actions with the personal freedom of its individuals. That is the essence of successful societal interaction, and of good politics.
   The ultimate way to fix our politics, as well as the challenge, is to explicitly define and acknowledge those basic principles of relationship - such as respect, personal rights, civic responsibility, non-violent communication, non-coercion, and so on - and to strive together to apply them at all levels of community and social  interaction.
   Instead, we make volumes of laws to try to protect our selves and define our property.

    Ultimately, successful relationships, including political ones, cannot be legislated. They can only be nourished and promoted; not by any political party or policy but through the "greening" of our attitudes toward each other and of our approach to community, trade, commerce,  currency, resources and valuation, as well as through the proper, holistic education of our youth; not just in how to "earn" a living, but in how to live successfully with each other and with what is all around us. We need to promote and work toward that holistic education for adults as well. And it must be a balanced education, not just in human rights but also in social responsibility. Not primarily in how to get what I want, but in how to get what We need. Not in how to get all the things we want without destroying ourselves in the process, but in how to stop wanting so much in the first place, and how to more fully appreciate, make use of, and benefit from what we already have.

  Most people are too eager to nail things down, and even screw them into place, in an effort to keep them, or to keep them from changing. Perhaps it is because they have no faith. Neither in that ultimate being or supreme principle to which religious and cultural traditions and personal intuitions and experiences often point and attest, nor even in that principle of evolution with which modern science has seasoned and stirred the theological pot and is currently enamored.

   We have no faith even in ourselves, probably because we don't fully know our selves.We are blind to the fact that in nature - which is where we all really are and live - what is good, once it has served its purpose, is, sooner or later, turned into something which, from an objective viewpoint, is just as good or even better. Crap becomes manure becomes fertilizer becomes food becomes us. (After that, it is up to each of us whether we continue the cycle until we again become crap, which doesn't become us, or whether we continue becoming ourselves even more.)
   Fixedness, permanence, solidification, preservation, crystallization, rigidity, immutability, finality - all are forms or processes of death. That's not what we really want in our lives, is it?

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