Sunday, April 27, 2008

Seriously now

We watched Leonardo DiCaprio's The 11th Hour documentary last night. Really excellent. What I especially liked about it, aside from it's acknowledgement of the Peak Oil dilemma, was the focus on our collective psychology.

Our everyday environment that we see around us is a manifestation of our beliefs and ideas. This is not some freaky New Age thing - just look around you. Don't you feel like you are living in a hallucination sometimes? Everyone around you is behaving completely irrationally, together in their completely secure belief in insanity.

We live AS IF the world were an infinite place, with an economy capable of infinite growth.
We live AS IF the world could absorb infinite amounts of plastic and pollution.
We live AS IF the world has unlimited power to provide us with unlimited luxuries.

Are any of these things true? No, but we behave as if they were, which is how we manifested surroundings that include disposable diapers and styrofoam cups, highways and strip malls, leafblowers and food processors, retirement plans and ATMs. Maybe trees and clouds are not manifestations of our beliefs - but clearcuts and smog are.

We have shaped virtually the entire planet under one mistaken belief:

The planet BELONGS to us, and we have the right to do with it as we WANT.

We need to break this spell that we are under and wake up. Wake up, wake up! Living under this false pretense causes so much pain and destruction, and the consumerism this belief has spawned has not even made us happy. None of it has been worth it.

A speaker in the documentary had this quote: "We can never get enough of what we don't really want". People want good food, satisfying work, time with family and friends, meaning in life. But what do we do with our lives? We have been so trained to answer every need with a purchase, for the lack of any better option. And every purchase takes resources from the planet and puts waste into the rivers, the air, the atmosphere.

In the past, we earned respect with our character and contributions. Today we try to buy respect with our busy schedule, nice house, immaculate lawn, buffed car, and stylish clothes.

In the past, we earned love with dedication, patience, and time. Today we try to buy love with gifts, vacations, and indulgence.

In the past, we earned security by building community and family, by supporting our friends, family and church in time of need. Today we try to buy security with our bank accounts and retirement plans.

And in return, all we get are pale imitations. Because you can't buy love, respect and security. You have to earn them.

So we need to get more of what we need and less of what we want. We need food, shelter, and water. We need community and friendship. We need to do something interesting with our time. Everything else is just pretense. And the more we pretend we can buy our vital needs instead of earning them, the further the planet deteriorates. We don't have much time left.

How do we want to be remembered in the history of the universe? Were we the spoiled brats who blew our inheritance in one wild orgy of consumption, ruining the planet for all the other lifeforms and our own children? Or were we the heroes, who pulled back from the brink and joined together, did the hard things that the world needed, and remade our society into a better place?

We better choose, and we better choose now.

2 comments:

patrick said...

11th Hour has an especially interesting special feature, "Nature's Operating Instructions" ... apparently there is some amazing technology built into nature, a lot there that we should use as a model for our own technology

HausFrau said...

Great part. Nature has weeded out everything that doesn't work for the long term. We in our infinite wisdom, are experimenting only on a quarterly-profit timescale.