Can we put the planet on pause for one moment?
Look at all that you have. Do not look at what you hope to achieve, gain or benefit from. Do not look at your need or want. I ask you, do you have too little, just enough or too much. Chances are that you’ll answer that you have too little. Indeed, we are continually chasing dreams. We want a better car, bigger house, newer tech and nicer clothes. So, at what point do we, individually, decide that we have enough?
Now let’s look at it on a planetary scale. In a nutshell, this is what we have:
- Multiple times more people than we ever thought we would have walking this earth
- Planes, trains and automobiles that take us anywhere on Earth in less than a day
- Alloys, plastics and a myriad of heretofore non-existent materials
- Calorie intakes that make us fat, lazy and sick
- Water usage, especially industrial water usage, that will ultimately consume all fresh water forcing us to either desalinate the oceans or die a blistering death
- More technology than we need or can handle
- Health care that now costs more than diamonds
- People fighting and killing each other over 50 century old disputes
- More guns than, who knows, I can’t count that high
- People that are so rich that, who knows, nobody can count that high
- Billions starving, that we must count
I could go on.
When do we awake? When does the human race accept that it has blown its turn at running the planet. Instead, we fight over everything. We fight for everything. We waste and disagree, all in the same breath. Everyone thinks they’re right. Everyone thinks they can’t change the world. Everyone thinks the neighbor is worse.
Have some tried to change the world? Of course they have, for better or for worse, and they all failed. Hitler, notoriously, with unlimited firepower and hatred, failed. But so too did Gandhi or Lincoln, for that matter. Sure, there was advancement, but was their a lasting fix? Did India gain independence? Yes it did. Did it also gain a nuclear armed nemesis on its Western border? That too. Lincoln emancipated slaves. Are we now a nation of racial integration and equality?
So, we that seek solutions, the challenge is ours to take on. How do we change the course of history and fix those things that really really really need fixing?
I foresee one of two options, and only two. Neither is pretty.
The first is the cataclysm scenario. We run into a comet, twenty nuclear warheads are fired, a pandemic wipes out half of humanity or our global water supply is poisoned. Chances are that if any of these happen, those who remain will unite and try to build a better tomorrow. Anyone in favor of this scenario, don’t raise your hand. We do not want another holocaust or a global viral emergency.
The second option, just slightly better, is that things get so bad that we finally awaken to the reality of what we have done. The obvious problem is that by then it will be too late to reverse matters effectively. There will be pain. There will be sorrow. There will be loss. But there will, probably, be a renaissance.
Our collective goal should be to reach the second option, the critical — we’re screwed — point, sooner rather than later, but with a slight twist. My hope would be that we not reach the actual point of no return but rather that we think we have. Our job as public interest communicators must be to awaken all to the realities of our world. I would not even bother arguing with the nay-sayers. Instead, just present your evidence. Present it again and again. Tell more and more people. Make it a mission.
This, of course, cannot happen at a small scale; there is no time. Saying that we can each make a difference is noble but it will not reverse our global fracas. My personal ambition, give me a few million and I’ll get it going, is to mount a coalition of campaigns. We are too fragmented in our messaging. Instead, we need a coalition of voices — a very very very loud coalition of voices — that gets the message of change out, about and into people’s consciousness. We need people to consume less, not more. We need energy to be renewable, not fossil. We need water to be treated as a precious metal is. Lastly, but very importantly, we need to take science and technology away from its military slavery and focus it instead on health, energy, food, waste management. We need the big research and development dollars to go towards making this a better place to live in, not a more exclusive one.
In parallel, this coalition of minds and mouths, must lower people’s anger and righteousness. While our consumption is fueled by greed our conflicts are fueled by saintliness: “we are the good people, you are the bad.” In some form, this sentence is uttered or thought by countless religions, nations and tribes. Stop it. We are all in this together. We are all descendants of the same historical journey. We are of the sam species. Would it not make sense to work together? I’m guessing that dolphins, falcons and spiders are not at war. I don’t think the Pacific Dolphin is trying to take over the Atlantic. Why then do we?
Clearly, the dolphin is smarter.
Awaken world, awaken soon.