When you see a problem, do you do what you know is the right thing or do you leave it to someone who you imagine might be more fit to do so? Most people leave it for someone else.
Though we do a great job of pretending we’re reasonable to reassure ourselves and those around us, we can’t rightly use the word reasonable to describe modern civilization. With the way we live our daily lives and run our society, we are slowly consuming the life force on which we depend. We are to the planet what cancer is to the life force in which it depends. We’re a destructive and careless species and it’s hard not to notice the trend that says that we will not find the will to change until we reach the brink of annihilation.
It’s not easy to see this mentality in people all around when I enjoy people so much! That is one problem with sociology. It is out there though, no matter what I want to think. We see the pictures of the emerging global crises we face plastered all around us. Esteemed scientists, economists, and politicians are blowing whistles in the media, in scholarly publications, and in the halls of Congress. They warn us that our money isn’t safe, that species are going extinct, about wars over water and emerging food problems and in the end that we’re potentially setting ourselves up for the most substantial and devastating economic breakdown and resource exhaustion that civilization has ever seen.
Just imagine the ecosystem we are in control of, and that are essential to our survival, as more links of the food chain start disappearing. Without a foundation, systems crumble whether environmental, financial or social. To make a comparison, think of the economy after the World Trade Center attack.
While recycling, building green, and buying hybrid vehicles helps to reduce the damage we’re inflicting on our ecosystem, this isn’t enough. It’s like a band-Aid. It won’t be enough to keep up with the rate of population growth, which by itself is not the big problem, however, when factored with increasing consumption and declining supply of resources, it is becoming a bigger problem. We can’t all afford hybrids, we don’t all have recycling programs. Regardless, this is not the root of the problem, or the solution.
This isn’t simply a problem of technology or weak policy; it’s a problem of desire, vanity, and self-deceit. It’s a problem of our dependence on convenience and mass produced pleasure. We want more, bigger, better things; in essence, more resources. We want them now and we don’t want to have to work too hard to get them. One might say, “Well, yea of course that’s what people want”. Well, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. Being hungry for more when in reality we all probably all have more than we need, is simply greedy. This incessant hunger for more is eating our planet and once we take the last bite, we won’t be hungry, we’ll be starving. That is of course, something we don’t want.
The tragedy is that we know in the back of our minds what will happen. We can sense it, but there isn’t a thing we seem to be able to do about it. “What about ‘hope,'” I can picture a brave little boy saying. It would be nice if we could simply rely on “hope”. Unfortunately, we must do more than just hope. We the people, must be proactive, we must take part in change.
The changes necessary for civilization to survive, let alone thrive, are so substantial in the big picture that the only way we can move toward them is if we, the average people, take ownership of solutions through direct action. Each and every one of us has to do a little thing here and there. This isn’t very hard if you think of the way our ancestors lived. We have it so easy, yet we make it so hard. We can still have our technology and information, but we need to make it a priority to simplify and slow down a little bit, to consume less. We have to stay focused on long term, just as Warren Buffett would focus on an investment. Our investment is the life force on which we depend; the planet. Let’s stop abusing it.
Einstein said that insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s what we are doing. He also said that we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. It is crucial that we do the right thing, which is what we know in our heart is right, even if it is a little inconvenient. The attitude, “I don’t have to make a change, someone else will” has to go because “someone else” is thinking the same thing.
If you aren’t part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. Remember that we’re all in this “life” thing together.