Supporting article O: Environmental Sustainability and inequality. “Yes folks we are still living in a white supremacist and patriarchal society, undemocratic, unsustainable and psychologically stunted.” Have we actually evolved over the last 5000 years?
Let’s go back, say 5000 years to a time when the most immediate and necessary requirements were all important. Food, water and shelter. These things were always at the front of our minds and dictated the way we lived on a day-to-day basis. If we didn’t get these things, put simply, we would die. Survival was key. Sure we rarely lived much past thirty years, infant mortality was extremely high and few people were able to contemplate anything outside of their own immediate group or culture. Was this good compared to today? In some ways yes, in many ways no.
There was then like there is now an elite ruling class that controlled resources and riches albeit much smaller pools. They would decide the fate of common people at their own whim, which could be based on anything: fear, insecurity, frustration, anger, jealousy, loathing, to name a few. Any negative emotion present within a ruler could be transferred into fault and bestowed solely upon anyone. How convenient, a barely plausible justification for applying the ultimate penalty of death.
So what’s changed?
• An increase in provision of food and shelter, for less than half the population;
• An improved system of health, welfare and education, for less than half the population;
• Decisions of rule being made collectively on consensus rather than personally, for less than half the population;
• Longer life expectancy, for less than half the population.
Well a lot has changed for some of us or has it?
In terms of viewpoint almost all people on the earth today are aware of others around the globe and have access to at least some basic means of communicating with them. The level of this varies greatly depending upon the level of development within particular societies. This has enabled a lot of us to consider issues we all face globally and to be aware of the problems that the majority of global citizens still face. It has allowed us to connect with like minded people around the globe although for the majority of the world’s population this comes a distant second hundred odd to the immediate concerns of food, water and shelter.
Due to our understanding of the natural systems we live within we have developed means of exploiting and manipulating natural resources to suit our largely expanded needs. Medicine, food, technology and protection (shelter) have become an assumed part of life in the developed world and this has allowed many of us to focus on non-essential aspects of our lives such as material gains or spiritual development. The global capitalist economy, a relentless driver as well as the preferred tool in pursuit of the former. While the latter has long been considered the key to happiness and interestingly seems to make the former less important for those well versed in it’s ways. So there has been a huge psychological shift in the developed world that has allowed us to plan for the future and given us the opportunity to amass material wealth and provide for those less fortunate than ourselves.
This shift in focus has also made us forget about some of the beautiful things that happen every day that have nothing to do with material wealth and success. It has also distracted us from evolving and developing real wealth. The real wealth of mind and spirit that equates to calmness and happiness, gained only through spiritual and mental development.
There is still as there always has been, an elite ruling class, controlling the flow of resources. They don’t have as much immediate power as they did but they have a new type of power far broader and much more subtle than that which ancient kings wielded. This power is fed by the capitalist system as it concentrates wealth, which concentrates political power, which equates to an individual or a small group of individuals most of whom are white and male having greater influence over everything. Yes folks we are still living in a white supremacist and patriarchal society, undemocratic, unsustainable and psychologically stunted.
The results of this new power and proof of its existence are everywhere. Social inequality, environmental stress, species extinction, crime, corruption. To be fair though it can also bring aid to developing nations, inspiration, improved health and welfare. Both lists go on. Unfortunately though the things on both of these lists are driven by money, primarily the desire to obtain more of it secondarily as an endeavour to share what it can bring.
This development of comfort and available resources, massive infrastructure and economic control has stilted our evolutionary potential. It has stunted our psychological progress. It has taken the focus away from ourselves and placed it upon the system and how we can best fit into it and best get out of it what it tells us we need. As a result structures within the system are reluctant to change or in fact are geared not to change because positive change will have some negative economic impacts. It does not allow for the principal of evolution where things must die and not be buried. Capitalism does not like failure particularly when it enshrouds something that has previously not failed
Our developed societies have grown weak minded due to the distractions so many of us focus on, the new essential aspects of our lives that the elite classes have so generously provided for us at our expense for their profits. We now keep systems and people alive and running at any expense, often for far too long, thereby damaging the environment that is integrally required for these systems to continue and weakening gene pools, ever widening the gap between those that have and those that want. So how do we change this?
With trillions tied up in environmentally damaging infrastructure, billions relying on their poor employment status for subsistence and powerful lobbies exerting insurmountable pressure on the capitalist system in order to prevent it from changing. What is required? How do we implement such change?
The system needs to change we cannot make the capitalist system work for everyone it is not designed to do that. Money needs to take a back seat to society as a globally functioning entity and to the environment as a treasured and respected resource to be used carefully and with respect.
Money is the root of all evil. We cannot do away with money, it is too late for that and to think or attempt to do so would be madness. Perhaps if the just mentioned misquote was practiced in its original form the three pillars of triple bottom line theory would be in balance. The quote is from the bible where Paul the apostle states, “the love of money is the root of all evil” in a letter to Timothy (Timothy 6.10: King James Version).
Massive companies and whole industries will go broke and disappear. Many people will lose their jobs but newer, cleaner more abundant jobs and income sources will replace them and the net result will be for the greater good. Things will change slowly and the impact on this planet will be lessened and spread more equitably as will the resources resulting from the impacts.
The only problem is less than half of us will have to be happy with less than we already have. Is that OK? Which leads me back to the original question of how much we have changed over the last 5000 years? For more than half the people on the planet their primary concern on a daily basis is getting enough food, water and shelter to stay alive. Is that OK? It would seem to me that on average we haven’t changed too much at all.
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