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Vision of a Sustainable Future
Compassion Trumps Greed
I am from Australia, where we have been experiencing some severe weather, to say the least. Early 2011 brought us record breaking disasters including wide-spread flooding, followed by extreme cyclone events. What was perhaps most remarkable about the aftermath of these events, was the outpouring of concern and practical assistance given by so many 'every day' people. Entire communities rallied to support each other in any way they could, while those unaffected chipped in as well. Nobody HAD to help. They just wanted to.
Human beings can be kind giving, sharing people.
Some people argue that greed is 'human nature', that we have always been greedy and always will be. Maybe up until now, human beings have always needed to fight, just to get enough. We have fought against nature, each other and ourselves - so in that sense I suppose we have always been greedy. Perhaps greed is a trait that has 'evolved' in us out of necessity.
For many of us - who 'own' far more than what our basic needs require - the necessity for greed is gone. So, why does greed remain? It has become a habit, an attitude passed down through generations and re-enforced by our current capitalist system and consumerist ideology. Greed also stems from fear. We are afraid we don't have enough. Advertising - and society at large - tells us we don't have enough and we cannot be happy without more. We are also afraid that if we don't have everything - if we don't take as much as possible, guard it, put our name on it - then some 'other guy' will come along and take it.
We have as much capacity for compassion as we do for greed.
What if we suddenly turned around and noticed that we DO have enough, more than enough! Not only that, but the 'other guy' we were afraid of, turned out to be a human being, just like us. We might notice that the 'other guy' is in a desperate situation and could use some help. Finally it dawns on us that so much suffering is our own doing. We were too busy being afraid, hoarding everything, then wasting it anyway. We were too mindless to question the bias of the 'authorities' we listened to. What if we realised also, that taking care of the environment, our planet, is actually the best and ONLY way to take care of ourselves. Without it we will die. Shouldn't that fear be greater than the one about not 'having it all'?
Thankfully, this very epiphany is finally dawning on individuals across the world. We may even be on the precipice of a revolution - a good-triumphs-over-evil kind of epic shift - away from money and greed and towards compassion, co-operation and equality. Technology has led us to this place. Leaping advances in communication have allowed us to get to know the 'other guy' and begin to trust him. It has also exposed the ugliness of our current economic system. Meanwhile, scientific study and discovery across all fields is showing us that sustainability is achievable, giving us hope and alleviating our fears.
As we begin to share more, we will grow away from violence and greed.
Did you know: societies that are more equal have less violence? They also have less drug use, child abuse, mental and physical illness, crime, obesity, teen pregnancy and illiteracy. Bridging the divide between rich and poor will minimise every one of these things.
Our efforts in the future will require a great deal of co-operation to make best use of our most sustainable forms of technology and to effectively monitor and distribute necessary resources. As technology improves, everything will become more and more efficient: machines, building design, communications, primary production, energy, resource distribution, recycling and so on.
Many people I have talked to panic when I point out that there will be less work to do. Oh no! We need more employment not less, they say. They are not seeing far enough ahead. I am talking about a much more equal, global society. With less work to do, billions of people can effectively be released from 'slavery' - for 'slavery' is what I call 'employment' when the 'payment' for work is not even enough to buy food and provide basics. In the future, everyone will have food and basics: and people will voluntarily help each other to make sure of it.
Vision of a Community
- self-sufficient in terms of energy and water, making use of ever-improving technology to ensure ecological balance is maintained.
- self-sufficient in producing food. Most households or small community groups will participate in production of food using hydroponic and vertical farming.
- Centralized food distribution centres, within walking distance.
- Surplus of locally produced goods will be exported to other areas in need of them.
- Materials and goods not able to be produced locally will be imported from other communities.
- Small, efficient homes.
- Large natural reserves and recreational areas for community use.
- Libraries with a lot more than books! Instead of owning many, rarely used possessions, individuals will share all kinds of items with their community, borrowing and then returning them as they are needed.
- Goods will be built to last and be repairable. Materials will be recyclable and sustainable.
- Advanced automation technology employed wherever possible. Eg. efficient and automated waste management and recycling systems; transport systems necessary for distribution.
- No cars (as we know them). Most of what we need will be within walking distance.
- No jobs (as we know them). We don't need money to motivate us! Each individual will find many ways to contribute to their society throughout their lifetime.
- Co-operation and collaboration will solve problems as they arise.