Not a very exciting blog title I feel, and a difficult subject to write on because it’s potentially so overwhelming. We are micro-organisms in gargantuan, unknowable universe on the one hand, and on the other we are hugely powerful beings with massive responsibility, co-opted to share the world’s resources in a fair and equitable manner.
Some people I’m sure would dispute the latter statement, and not just hedonists and naysayers, but many people who find life a struggle through circumstances of poverty, ill health or lack of opportunity, and others who don’t think or care, or don’t care to think!
It’s easy to get stuck in our own ‘sloughs of despond’ and feel that we are powerless to help ourselves, let alone anyone else! What can we do about corruption, or war, or the arms trade, or child prostitution, habitat loss, poverty or global warming? Thankfully there are individuals and organisations that are working to achieve positive outcomes in these areas and more besides, and millions of us worldwide who support them. What concerns me is the lack of coherence. We understand that people power, especially through the power of the internet, has the potential to change things, but we often fail to unite and harness the elemental might that comes from a single voice and a single direction. Third sector organisations do a massive amount to alleviate suffering both globally and locally, and sometimes such as in times of crisis, they work together towards a single objective, which is both laudable and necessary, but is not enough.
We are all trying to fix something which is beyond repair. Peel away one bad layer, and another takes its place. The whole is rotten and can’t be rescued. The earth will recover ultimately, once humanity has been erased from its surface, but if we want to be part of the on-going story of planet earth then we need new paradigms for living. We have the knowledge, intellect, skill, and physical ability to change and renew, to start again, and we need the heart and will to do so. Politicians, economists, financial institutions, corporations, as well as individuals, need a new purpose and identity, part of the whole. People in power are afraid; afraid of losing their power, of becoming insignificant, and they are right to fear because the peaks and troughs of our societies do need to be levelled. There is no need for famine, poverty, inequality, we have the resources to re-distribute wealth, in all nations of the world, through a new economics that values people above profit: in business, in banking, in trade, in politics; we become truly human, truly powerful when we acknowledge our greed, frailty and mistakes and determine that we will change things – together.
The analogy of a pebble in a pond setting off ripples across its surface is useful, if limited. The butterfly effect is perhaps over-used and equally simplistic, but it helps to convey how seemingly disparate elements are related. The reality is EVERYTHING is connected to everything else! Cheap food in the UK means mono-culture, animal suffering, pollution, habitat loss, reduction in bio-diversity, lack of food security, food miles, oppression of the poor in other countries and rural poverty. An economy that is based on the need to grow and expand infinitely is one doomed to failure. A world where farmers go bankrupt whilst supermarkets gain huge profits is not sustainable; a world where money has become an electronic blip – extendable if you are rich and concrete if you are poor – is in danger of losing any grasp on reality at all: It is not only the farmers who will be bankrupt and suicidal. Food is a hugely political issue these days, and when you have financial corporation’s dealing in it, diminishing its value by ‘betting’ on its chances in the future, then you really have lost the plot!
The reality is that every financial decision and purchasing choice I make has repercussions, not only in my local community, but across the globe. This is about far more than being a concerned or ethical shopper, as trendy or good as that may be, it is about reclaiming worth for ourselves and our fellow planet dwellers, making money real and its benefits percolating throughout communities; about valuing what’s real and lasting in relationships, in the natural world, and not being exclusively governed by ‘the bottom line’.
Of course, not everyone will get on board, those who have a vested interest in the status quo, who keep their fingers crossed and ‘fiddle while Rome burns’, but we don’t need everyone on board, just enough to reach tipping point. Change will come. It has to. We can either be a part of it, and acknowledge our place in the world, or we can act with self-interest and greed, failing to acknowledge that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. It will be a shock to those people when the world swallows them up and spits them out!
I don’t have the answers. No one person or organisation or political ideology does, whatever they may say, and that’s the positive part – we all have a section of the jigsaw that makes the whole picture, only by collaboration and co-operation can we piece it all together. I am not a pessimist, but I do believe we need a revolution to take place on a global scale – financial, political, social, and personal. Global warming, the rise in food costs, and the current turmoil in the financial markets of Europe and beyond are not isolated happenings, but intimately connected to the way we live our lives as nations and individuals.
I acknowledge that my grasp of this topic is woefully inadequate and ill-informed. Thankfully there are much better minds than mine working on solutions to the challenges we face. What I do know is that change is both necessary and inevitable – and it will be better to ride the crest of the wave together than crash and burn on the beach alone.
See Positive Money for some helpful information and debate on economics