Monday, May 19, 2008

Can a Macdonalds and Walmart society responsibly

I`ve heard many people, both highly educated and not so much, refer to our modern western society as the most advanced and developed of any human society in history. So far, archeology tends to support this thinking, and I think its probably fairly accurate in many considerations.


The World Health Organization released a report recently (according to a presenter at which stated that as many as 1 out of 5 humans on the planet are clinically depressed. We live far longer than our ancestors, yet the majority of suicides happen after the age of 65. This information suggests that those of us who believe this advancement may be something of a thin crust formed over a vast sea of lava, may need to find a way to be heard.

What I`m getting at is....we`re fooling ourselves.

Most of us in this western society have been convinced that the only way to be a worthwhile, productive member of our society, is to get through school, get a job and then start racking up debt . At the same time, in order to provide ways to rack up this debt, we`re brought to believe that we are in control of our lives because we can choose a car from hundreds of different styles, and we can have a meal in 5 minutes that we chose from any numbers of prepackaged options and live in a house personally designed for us, complete with 3 stall garage. We`re given the chance to identify with our heroes by wearing the same kind of shoes or shirt or having the same hairstyle. We`re given any number of ways of handling our human emotions (most of them costing more than most humans in the world can afford), other than just accepting and facing them.

Basically, we are led to produce and consume as much as possible, in order to power the machine of PROGRESS.

So here we are; about 1.5 Billion of us living comfortably, consuming our gargantuan quantities and the other 3.5 Billion trying to scrape out some kind of existence all the while hoping to attain our western levels of `development`. The more rational and educated of us are finally beginning to realize that this cannot continue, yet onward it goes. We pick issue after issue to champion, rarely stopping to look at the big picture. In my lifetime it has been gorillas, the rainforest, various starvations, and now "global warming". These are obviously important issues but the reality is that the number of issues, globally speaking, is almost unfathomably immense...and we probably cannot even fathom all of them. The reality is also that most of them are interconnected.

That might be a good time to get into the potential connectedness of ALL things, but I don`t see myself getting into that philosophical topic, just in a blog.

What I do want to get at is the title of this blog. Can our western society, as it operates now, primarily following the free market economic model, correct the worrisome future we currently see? Is a society that produces the amount of mental disease that ours does, properly suited to managing our present, neversay our future?

I think the most current reference point is the current approach to dealing with the future of climate change. First of all, the media and government seem intent on narrowing our focus from global climate change, to global warming and then focusing even further on CO2. Even the most public champion of global warming, Al Gore is very careful to "reassure" us that the solution can be found in our current system...that we will not have to make any significant changes to our thinking or living. There is no discussion from him at ALL, that this current system may in fact be the largest culprit in climate change, neversay the rest of the list of issues that we face. Instead it`s straight to inventing carbon credits and assuring us that the Market will handle the problem.

Now I`m not going to rail on against our current system of the free market economy. I`m simply going to say that I personally believe it is a faulty system that takes advantage of negative human traits such as greed and the hunger for human power. I believe that it CAUSES bigger problems than it solves via technological advancement untempered by wisdom and philosophy and a commitment to human equality. I`m going to suggest that we need a new system.

I believe that at least part of the solution to so many of these global issues lies in a fundamental shift in economy. It is time that we began to shed the chains of consumerism and exploitation. It is time that we used the technological advancements that have been made, but relying on wisdom and common sense in how we apply this technology...rather than primarily relying on monetary cost. It is time that we woke up and shifted to an economy based on industrial hemp and algae, rather than fossil fuels and trees. It is time that we faced our emotions and our personal pains, and just lived.

I am quite serious in suggesting this change in economy. We have the capability to form smaller, more agrarian style communities that are sustainable and self reliant. This is in contrast to the current model, which leads us to nearly total urban living, where agriculture is as corporate as industry. These new communities could be engineered to leave wild areas alone, as well as finding a better balance between industrial Man and nature where we DO have to perform human activities. Its just not rational to suggest that 6, and soon 7 Billion people can live in a totally "wild" planet, so as much as I would like that, it is not a reasonable solution.

Mankind does now have the ability to live as we were taught was possible 50 years ago. We can live in a world where we do work, and produce, but where our lives are not devoted to production. We can be healthy and happy, and live in decent comfort AND equality.

If this thought should interest anyone, I am currently working on an outline for this sort of community and hope to be able to share it soon. Having grown up on a family farm, I know the spiritual benefits of an agrarian lifestyle. However I also realize the inefficiencies in the family farm; the lack of financial feasibility in the current economic system, the difficulty in getting time away, the constant heavy labor from sunup to sundown, the need to have lots of children to help with the work but then with limited ability for all these children to acquire their own similar farming setups, etc etc.

that`s all for now. Be well, Brothers and Sisters.

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