I’m pretty lucky to have the Matrix as a radio station here, replaying speeches from Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr and others. Today, a Dr Vandana Shiva address was repeated, and it reminded me about her Earth Democracy movement. Dr Shiva is a physicist and organic farmer, and one of the most eloquent speakers on sustainability issues. An interview with Vandana appeared in Yes! in 2003, and since the planet is not particularly further along on this path, it’s worth linking here.
She also speaks on the attempts by corporations to patent natural, ecological processes, which she fully and rightly considers to be a modern equivalent of the colonization that took place 500 years ago. No one should own aspects of nature—even when I was at law school that was a fundamental rule in the intellectual property class.
It also made me think: if we humans are creating most of the mess on this planet, then we should also be the ones picking up after ourselves. We aren’t the smartest creatures on Earth—if we were, we would be far more conscientious—but we do have the greatest inﬂuence with our words and actions. Since other life and creatures can’t “speak” in the human languages that we do, and therefore have a more limited ability to change their environment, we need to bridge their concerns with the overall destiny of this planet that we all dwell on.
OK, that last sentence made me sound like a total tree-hugger, but even ignoring it, and looking at human life alone, we are doing a lousy job in the west. We can all do something, but the next question that comes is, ‘How can I? I’m busy enough as it is.’
If that’s the case, then your ﬁrst step might not be an actual task, but simply the way one approaches things. Consider the life around you as being equal to you, but without a voice. You are the advocate for the plants in your garden. And the trees in your neighbourhood. Even glancing at them and thinking, ‘I give a damn about what’s happening to us here,’ is a great start, and something we can all manage. Posted by Jack Yan, 01:09
i feel that we are living in a barbaric age with a long way to go until we can truely say that we have a global collective conciousness.
i feel that there is a need for a global governing body much like the UN but with greater feaching powers over all aspects of the globe. but unfortunately we are a long way from being able to do this as we are still corruptable and greaady people.
i think the things that corrupt need to be removed from power?
i can't even begin to understand why i can have a mobile phone, live in a house and eat 3 meals a day and grow fat while people in africa and even the Northern Territory starve to death and live in 3rd world conditions.
we need to come a long way yet and the journey hasn't even begun.
I agree, Markoos, about us as human beings. Scientists are always looking for the missing link between the ape and the civilized being and I think it’s homo sapiens. My answer, however, is self-regulation: teach people to behave responsibly and about the consequences of their actions, teach them to be aware, and teach them to be honourable, then we will do right. A governing body is excellent for the interim, and it is more realistic for the immediate term if we are to make any sort of shift, but long-term I think we need to act solo. Remove the desire to corrupt through teaching—rather than getting our kids to repeat the same mistakes we did—and changes will appear.
To be honest, the thought of a governing body scares the bejeesus out of me. And it ought to scare you, too.
The problem is that we continue to struggle with resource management: How to spend the resources we have to do the best and most good. When there are enough resources to do all of the good on the wish list, then there are no problems.
When you put a single governing body in place as overlord, then the "experts" get to choose what is best. And when experts play out their utopian fantasies, innovation dies.
Markoos, you are talking on a cell phone because competitive pressures, a free market, and a healthy respect for the law made it affordable. You live in a house because the prevailing economy where you live, bolstered by a free market and the rule of law made it so. That also explains your three meals -- if you have weight issues, that's up to you.
The real question is "Why does Markoos have the leisure time to feel guilty about having it so good?"
(Markoos, I am not picking on you per se. I went through a process of answering these same questions myself.)
Be encouraged. The trends are getting better, and not worse. The fact that people worldwide are enjoying the luxury of introspection means there is a new pressure on markets. Things are getting cleaner. Developing nations are leapfrogging with technology, and don't have to get nearly as "dirty" to catch up. We're getting smarter, curing and preventing many illnesses and diseases.
If it were a matter of natural resources alone, Tanzania would be an economic powerhouse. If government control and planning were the solution, the Soviets would have truly been unstoppable. Hong Kong was built on a patch of rock with no natural resources whatsoever, yet people there prosper. The best we can do is to educate and empower those who want a better way. There is no magic handout that can help, other than exporting know-how, clean technologies, free trade, and democracy.
And I agree -- let's rejoice in our real place on the planet -- but not forget the things that allowed us the luxury to ponder and dream.
Ike, excellent points. If I read you correctly, what you are saying is that one-world government could be severely detrimental. I agree, given that those who do govern, and even those who are drawn to govern, work in such a framework where ‘the "experts" get to choose what is best. And when experts play out their utopian fantasies, innovation dies.’ Very true.Post a Comment
This sort of global government presently exists only in fantasies and ideals, and perhaps it is a good target at the least—if it will create introspection on how we can make our planet happier and fairer.
But such ideals cannot come rapidly. We’re talking centuries before such a body would be possible, at a guess. You are right: the progression is not bad, though we can do more. And among that is teaching individuals now of their global responsibility and duty. This is the only cure to governments growing too large—show we are capable of governing aspects of our lives without them. Eventually, maybe, we might be equipped, as individual citizens, to elect representatives on a global scale—presuming a highly educated global citizenry. This removes the corrupt temptations of some who wish to be in government (just as future money is the main motive for law students). This is possibly centuries away—and an impossibility with our present institutions and behaviours.
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