The first three words of ECOnomy are ECO (Jim Bell). That’s the central truth we all need to remember. Sustainable is not some hippy dippy feel good idea, it’s the key to our survival. Just like any individual, the economies of the world have to live on the budget of what the earth will sustain.
The economies of America and the world are based on fantasy and denial. Whether the societies are capitalist, socialist, communist or whatever, ultimately they are all materialists.
There’s only so long the illusion that we can loot and pollute the earth without any consequences can be maintained.
Resources are not infinite,
the ability of the environment to absorb poisons of various sorts without serious consequences to our own health and well being has been reached, including electromagnetic pollution, not to mention various other manifestations of fantasy thinking, such as GMOs and fracking.
We are living in what could be called The Age of Pollution, or perhaps the Age of the Two Experiments, biological and electro-magnetic.
1) The Biological pollution experiment-Starting with the beginning of factories, toxins were spewed out in all directions. Now there are toxic chemicals in almost every product on the market today, especially widespread use of poisons to grow food. That has gone into overdrive with the sudden shift into GMO usage, basically using the whole world as a testing lab, and the people in it as guinea pigs.
2) The Electromagnetic pollution experiment-living organisms, indeed the earth itself, are electromagnetic beings just as much as we are flesh and bone. Starting with the widespread introduction of electricity, power lines everywhere, now going into overdrive with computers, wifi, cellphones, cellphone towers. and all the rest of the electronics that modern life seems to revolve around, ubiquitous everywhere one goes, there is another worldwide experiment going on, an experiment in which the effects of all these devices are impacting every living being on the planet.
These are two big experiments.
We can no longer base our economies on the production and consumption of material goods. Particularly odious and destructive are disposability, and the conspicuous consumption and massive waste seen especially in the US and other wealthy countries.
Voluntary Simplicity and efficiency are the order of the day, but what about jobs?
One thing no one talks about when asking where will people work is that- how much income someone needs is directly dependent on prices, especially housing and food, and this is very much a function of the equality or inequality of a society, the degree of exploitation imposed by the haves on the have-nots.
How many hours do you have to work to pay your rent? In the US in the 50s, one could push a broom for $1/hr and rent a room for $10/month. You could pay rent with 10 hours work per month. Now the ratio is a lot more brutal. Who sets those prices. How do the laws of a country affect that? It’s not so simple.
The simplest things people could do would be to
1) go vegetarian, even vegan
2) get out of their cars and on to a bicycle, walk or public transit
3) stop buying stuff not really needed
Sounds great, but how safe are the roads for bicycles, how much public transit is there? Can people get where they need to go and do what they need to do? That takes a different infrastructure.
What happens to all the people out of jobs because people stop buying? My view is that most jobs are unnecessary, especially when one calculates in the subsidized waste and inefficiency and consumerism so rampant today. However, those jobs feel very necessary to the people working them. Is America suddenly going to go to a 15 hour workweek, so that there is work for everyone? Will prices come down to adjust? It’s not so simple.
It’s one thing when disasters happen in isolated instances, but if it happens on a large scale?
What happens when rising oceans force people, including businesses, to move somewhere else?
What happens when storms and fires destroy homes and businesses?
What happens when various disasters happen as a result of fracking and other insane practices.
Etc. (too many things to list all
Where will people get money, how will they live?
1 What we work at, what jobs the economy is based on, must inevitably change, because right now jobs produce a lot of poisons, and this is simply not sustainable. Already cancer rates have skyrocketed, not to mention all sorts of other health problems that ultimately come down to a toxic environment. Not to mention global climate disruption, the oceans being fished out, loss of soil nutrition, ad infinitum.
2 The whole issue of wage and social inequality will make a huge difference in how much suffering this change entails
3 Voluntary simplicity and conscious consumption must be seen as the patriotic and socially useful choices they are, rather than as a bunch of granola munchers living weird lives.
How can we have good lives, doing useful and productive work that doesn’t result in poisoning ourselves and the planet?
How do we transition as gracefully as possible to this new economic system?
The issue is not just the rich who own the companies and the governments and buy the laws. The issue is the attitude shared by so many people that, in effect, the earth is just something to eat. Translated, that means that if their job, which pays their rent and buys their food, if doing that job means toxic waste in a river, well, they just do it. Perhaps they would prefer not to, but they don’t feel they have a choice. Truth be told, in many cases they may not apparently have much choice.
Many may not even think about it all.
So now we get into values and self esteem. So long as people peg their self esteem to how much they earn and spend, especially how much stuff they buy, well, big problem. This is especially true of men, who often have been taught that the way to prove how much of a man they are is spend, spend, spend.
And for women, they seem to like lots of nice things.
Does it make a difference how we live our personal material lives?
In an old article, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has been a real warrior for the environment, said that personal choices by a few wouldn’t do much in the larger scheme of things, that laws were needed. Statistically speaking he is correct, however in metaphysical terms i think he’s wrong. I think of the story about a mother who brought her child to Gandhi and said “please tell him to stop eating sugar”. Gandhi said come back in two weeks. When they came back, Gandhi said “Stop eating sugar”. The woman asked why they had to wait two weeks, Gandhi said, 2 weeks ago i had not stopped eating sugar.
Always carrying a shopping bag, coffee cup, portable plate and silverware, takeout container with you; being very conscious how much water runs when washing dishes, indeed starting with whether a dish really needs to be washed or not, these are small things, and let’s face it, there are people who can waste in a week what we can save in a year, but… in metaphysics there is the principle of “if you take one step towards god, god takes ten steps towards you”. It’s really all a lesson in consciousness, consciousness in the everyday details of our lives as a spiritual practice.
Ultimately, what has created these problems is a lack of consciousness and self responsibility, what will solve them is consciousness and self responsibility on a global scale. i realize that’s a lot to ask, but there it is.
Every spiritual teaching says find fulfillment within, don’t look without. Ultimately i take the view that this whole massive crisis, this upheaval, is for the purposes of spiritual growth, of teaching consciousness, in the everyday details of our lives. In a lot of teachings, there is the view that we are spiritual beings having a material experience, and that all that falls shall rise again, that nothing is created or destroyed, just transformed, speaking on a spiritual and energetic level. None of which excuses or condones the rape of the earth by a society that is living unconsciously. Well, we are about to become a lot more conscious on a mass level, so see the silver lining, which is that, at the end of however long this next period of upheaval lasts, which could be hundreds of years, humanity will have evolved to a new level.