My weekend started with a task not too foreign to me in recent years – filling a 10 yard dumpster outside of my middle-class suburban home as we get the ball rolling with a basement renovation project. I asked myself, yet again, “where does all the garbage go?”
Now, I certainly do not pretend to have all of the answers, but having been afforded the opportunity to see a very different world out there, I tend to be somewhat hypertuned to the problems. For an average middle-class family of four to fill several dumpsters within the last couple of years is not contributing to any meaningful solutions – admittedly I am very much part of the problem. What goes out? To be honest, we don’t know – just ‘stuff’, which is the product of being part of the big consumer machine.
My very fortunate experiences in remote parts of the world, where excess is the farthest problem for consideration, have shed enough light on our [American’s] problem of consumerism and excess to appreciate that it is flat out wrong and should even be illegal. If and when we break this, the natural world will be given the chance it needs to find balance – and provide for sustainability for our and other species.
How to do this? Well, this is a huge problem, stemming from perhaps the origins of human civilization, where hierarchy and structure were imposed to provide some degree of order. This created a value system on power and materialism, rather than maintain an appreciation of the balance required for Earth to work with us. By contrast – today Earth is very much working against us, and that is evidenced simply by flipping on the news.
Now, I am by no means suggesting that we need to retreat to the hills or caves and live as hunters and gatherers. In fact, I am suggesting the farthest from. My belief is that we need to arrive at a more responsible economic model where success is not rewarded my materialism, rather rewarded with improved social and cultural experiences at a personal level. i.e. spread it around. We’re starting to see this at very small scales via ‘socially responsible investing‘ and the like, but this needs to be embraced in a massive way, and by those who have the means to chart the course in levelling the playing field. The end game, after all, is for humanity to be brought forward, not the individual. That being said, are we evolving forward towards a sustainable future, or on a path to our demise?
That of course begs the question, ‘why are we here?’. Following my dumpster exercise, I honkered down to watch the documentary film ‘The Nature of Existence’. The film touches on much of this, and explores the question in the context of organized religion at the cornerstone of human belief systems. Certainly not a conclusive film, though did a good job in forcing some reflection.
I do believe there is time to turn things around, if we take bold strides NOW. That may well mean revolutionary economic strategies and with that massive social upheavel to get there. The other option, which may be needed regardless, is to stray from the mass conformity and actually demonstrate something entirely new to promote a new world view. A new life in the sea would very much achieve that objective; that is, going as far off the grid as possible, removed from any dependence, and with roots in a new frontier. We’ve done it before here on Planet Earth, there is no reason why we cannot take bold steps yet again.
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