The “The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations: The Great Binding Law” holds that decisions should be made with forethought and consideration of how they will benefit the seventh generation into the future. This was a philosophy that stood many a people in good stead for thousands of years. Where has it gone? Who is thinking that far ahead these days? Who is actually making decisions for the long term benefit of human civilisation?
Governments think in four year election cycles (and that’s if your lucky enough to live in a rich, western democracy). Corporations (at the very best) focus on a ‘medium term plan’ (which looks five years ahead) – but mostly think in yearly results, quarterly reports and so forth. Some parts of some insurance companies (especially re-insurers) think longer term – but only reactively in so far as it affects their profitability.
So who is keeping watch over the long term picture for human civilisation? While nobody is ‘at the helm’ directly in charge of the world, (though plenty of people jostling for a go), there is, more worryingly perhaps, no one on lookout either. Who’s got the compass? What direction are we heading in? Anyone know where we’re going?
When you think about it, the obvious answer is – no one is really thinking about this – certainly not anyone in government or large corporations (whose decisions probably have the largest impact on our world these days). Says a lot doesn’t it?
It suddenly becomes clearer why trying to advocate the adoption of sustainability as a guiding principle in our world is meeting such a tepid reaction. It’s the socio-political version of a clearance sale gone mad – with everyone seeing their neighbours and colleagues all rushing for the last drops of oil, the last grabs of profit, the last few years of mindless consumption without thought to consequence – as no one wants t be the one missing out while others are grabbing armfuls for themselves. The faster they grab – striving to outdo their competitors – the quicker our resources disappear, heightening the desperation with which they apply themselves and hastening the loss of our only planet – the purpose being only to have ‘more’.
A world run with money introduces the incentive to amass wealth. There is no job to safeguard human existence, to consider the health and happiness of the world’s population, to provide guardianship over it’s resources – it simply doesn’t exist. There’s no money in it, no way to make a buck, turn a profit – so no one does it. The system warps our priorities, shifting our focus to the abstract, ignoring the reality that’s staring us in the face – we can’t see the wood for the money anymore.
We are observing a pointless, destructive and senseless conversion of tangible planetary resources into meaningless, fictional measures of conceptual wealth and status.
We feed our real environment into the machine to process it into something imaginary. Most of us scoff at the ‘idiots’ who throw their lives into Second Life (or some equivalent ‘virtual world’), we are amazed at those people who convert virtual world money into lots of real-world money – or spend real-world cash on virtual things – but what’s the difference? Our ‘real-world’ money is just as fictional – just as imaginary. The fact that we are prepared to put a price on real things – our planet, people’s lives – value them through this imaginary ‘idea’, is frankly bizarre when you really think about it.
So considering that we should not be decimating our one and only habitable environment because it’s bad in principle, and that we also fundamentally cannot continue like this without destroying ourselves in the process, someone should be actively in charge of looking forwards to how it all will end if we continue the way we are, shouldn’t they? Actively making decisions that are thinking on such a long terms scale – regardless of the cost now.
Ideally we’d do it together, and be able to effect the change ourselves – who knows, maybe we can and maybe we will have to – but while we continue to insist on validating the power of government and money in this world today, we should at least demand they be accountable for acting and thinking in our long term interests because we are all in this together.