I am not a cynical person. Especially when it comes to globalization and the human state. I am not (blissfully) naiive about the way the world is either. I am a realist in every reasonable, pragmatic way that a man needs to be for 21st Century living. When I'm not dreaming, anyways.
First let's make it clear that I do indeed see a lot of good in the world. Everywhere around me amidst this insane world of depravity, inequality, pain, and suffering, I can still find beauty. Beauty beyond nature. Beauty beyond engineering, even. But on another level, I feel that the soul and spirit that lies deep within some of the most beautiful creations in existence are likely because of some higher being.
But this blog is more about when that higher being happens to call in sick, and we are all left down here to fend for ourselves and try and come up with a creative way of not totally destructing the planet - or each other. Because even if there is someone/something up there watching over us poor lost souls, we still remain prisoners of our own device here on earth, and therefore we might as well pimp out our "prisons" as best as we can - for us and especially for the generations that will follow us. We live an incredibly insignificant amount of time on this planet in relation to how long it has taken our Maker to allow everything on the planet to evolve to the point it is today!
I say this now because time is running out. Sure, tell me that the fear mongers' have been saying our time has been running out since the start of the Cold War. But I do believe that a world with 8 Billion people is different than a world with 3 Billion only 50 years ago.
The hardest thing to grasp is this whole timeline thing. A planet that is 100s of Millions of Years old is still spinning today, despite the endless atrocities that human beings have committed to it (and each other) in the matter of their lifetime. On the same level, a lot of good can happen in a person's lifetime but mostly I think, just on a very personable level. Implementing a simple idea that could lead towards long term global sustainability likely transcends one person's lifespan. For example, electricity is nice - but when it comes at the cost of burning thousands of tonnes of coal or mitigating the threat of nuclear waste, generations of imagineers are what the world needs most.
It's especially tough in achieving this though, with the attention span of most people nowadays. Watching these wasteful unforgiving people piss their time away can be very taxing on the human spirit. Their apathetic and selfish attitude puts unsurpassed pressure on the rest of us trying to make any sort of progress or significant impact for a lasting world. The tiny window that we have here with our time on earth to make lasting positive change becomes even smaller. Frustration sets in and the achievers either succumb to the prevailing, draining attitudes of most people, or else they just decide to end their time in this twisted world, under the belief that there just has to be something better than this. Killing time is indeed just another form of murder after all, and the fact that people either kill themselves in a desperate need to escape or people kill time by under-utilizing the imminent opportunities they have on this planet (like me, here, now) really pisses me off.
Less is more. This is another radical philosophy that a lot of people in the Western World will never fully be able to appreciate. Certainly not in a place where we are in a love affair with wasted space. No Impact Man takes things to the most extreme with the protagonist's attempts to raise a family in Manhattan and reducing his footprint to nil. He got the point across, but in reality, a modest footprint is probably acceptable if we ensure that we are progressing towards a globally sustainable lifestyle for the majority of the world's inhabitants. Immensely modest. i.e. not the path we are currently on.
The necessity to make drastic changes in the way we live our lives is now. Unplug. (I can't wait until the day that I have someone to talk to about some of the good/bad ideas that build up in my head, instead of having to try and sort them out here). Park your car, don't commute farther than you have to, don't eat meat, shop local, kill the box store, don't drink bottled water, change to CFLs, put on a sweater, blah the fuck blah.
There is a widely accepted proposition called the Jevon's Paradox which environmentalists like Monbiot like to use in order to describe how even in the present day of fantastic technological progress and advancements, we are - of course - still doomed. It describes how as we develop more energy efficient ways of doing things, there will be only that much more greater demand for more of those things! And beyond that, it must be understood that with every quantity of energy saved by doing some form of efficient work, there is a complementary amount of less efficient work that is freed up for the doing. George describes this in his book waaaay better than I am doing here...
I think, mostly when it comes down to it, we must be truly proud of the work we do, and the outcome that results from this kind of work on a long-term scale. And as workers, we are all getting paid in order to contribute to our role of consumers. Likewise, it would be nice if the consumer could (afford to) be proud of the choices he/she makes in their life of consumption.
So those are some of the things I think we need to keep in mind when it comes to making the most of our time here on this big blue orb. But how do we get there when we are soooo effing far off track?!?!?! These are a few ideas...
1) A leader that is RESPECTED ---- Perhaps something like having a total restructure the UN and IMF combined, where the idea of Peace Before Prosper dominates. Perhaps with no Veto players and no Americans? We need someone to lead this UN that is heard and respected by the world. Certainly not someone like Obama who is more interested in going on holidays with his family in Cape Cod when the world is going to hell. We need a leader that can not just say "Oh, my very best advisors will give us the right answers that will lead us to a solution", but instead we need someone who can just present the concise steps towards the solution, having already consulted with the "imagneers" I referred to earlier. This leader needs to appreciate the limited opportunity he has to leave a lasting legacy to the planet and all of its civillians, plants & animals, that are all essentially at the mercy of one person's decisions.
2) Education of the Youth. The world over. Especially women. They have the brains & the know-how. Give them an opportunity, but please just don't take my (high-paying?) engineering job away from me.
3) A WORLD Commitment. With leaders like Jack Layton who can really inspire people across entire nations to be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. When people have hope, they will tend to be less antagonistic about everything!
4) Good parenting that includes raising one's children with values such as temperance, focus, and commitment. It is hard to find this nowadays.
This whole political part is unfortunate but necessary in the year 2011. Leaders that have clout and can make bold decisions are the ones that hold the key towards long-term global sustainability, just as Jack Layton was trying to do until his untimely & unfortunate departure from the power-position that he briefly held. Now, with a majority government hell-bent on destroying most things good in the world, it's especially sad to see that the wrong leader is likely going to push us all further to the brink of destruction. The alternative is to possibly have an all-controlling government with the opposite ideals of Harper's conservatives, and we end up living in a Big Brother state like in any of the dystopian futuristic novels. Either way, I guess, dictatorships: still bad. But having faith in a leader in a time of our greatest need? Kinda necessary.
We simply need to understand the reality of the potential for any Wall-E/Tank Girl type scenarios. The privileged and elite will survive. You and me? Probably not. The Global South? GOOD LUCK!
time is running out.