The state of the world is of course dire on every front: ecological; economic; political; moral; spiritual. Worse, is that the people with the most influence in the world — the virtual oligarchy of governments, corporates, financiers, and their chosen intellectual and expert advisers — haven’t grasped the gravity of our plight, and don’t really want to, and are often in denial. On the whole, they simply pursue their own agendas, according to their own established ideologies.
Much of the trouble springs from the inadequacy of present-day, siloed education which leads people – including or perhaps especially the most intensively and expensively educated, of the kind most likely to achieve positions of influence – to look at the world only through their own specialist eyes and imagine that they have thereby grasped the whole picture and know how to react. Thus the policies that descend upon us from on high are not well-informed and well-directed — not wise — but are compounded largely of ignorance, hubris, self-interest, and bluff.In short: our problems are dire, but there is little real sign that humanity is responding appropriately — or that we have the radical vision, or the collective will, or the people in positions of power, that are needed to do what’s needed.
Yet I cling to the thought that human beings are basically sensible, and nice, and eminently capable, and that even at this late hour, with the forests on fire and the sea-levels rising and our fellow creatures disappearing by the hour – all that and the rising tide of human desperation and the ever-present threat or reality of war – we might still rescue ourselves and at least enough of the natural world to make the endeavour worthwhile; and indeed that this, technically, should almost be straightforward. Broadly speaking it’s just a matter of doing conceptually simple things well.
First, though, we have to clear the ground; to re-think everything we now take for granted from first principles, and to re-structure accordingly. Indeed at this stage of the game we require nothing less than a Renaissance; “re-birth”; metamorphosis (change of form) and metanoia (change of mindset). Furthermore, we, people at large, have to make the Renaissance happen. We cannot leave this critical undertaking to the powers-that-be because many of the most powerful people don’t want to know and the few who are up to the task are typically side-lined by those with their eyes more firmly fixed on power.
All-in-all, alas, there is little room for optimism. Yet, as St Paul insisted, we must never give up hope – and there are some good reasons for hope. There is no truly coherent vision but there is no shortage of good ideas or of good will. Billions of people worldwide want the world to be a better place and are willing or eager to work to make it so. Many millions are already on the case, already doing things and developing ideas that could lead us in the right kinds of directions. There are already enough good ideas and thinking people out there to form a critical mass that really could turn the world around. All that’s really needed is a coherent philosophy to hold the whole endeavour together; that, and a little more coordination.
And although wild nature is horribly fragile – often entire ecosystems that seemed forever secure have disappeared almost overnight – it also has remarkable powers of recovery, sometimes springing back from a remarkably low base. So we need never give up trying (and if we do give up then the game is lost).
One response to “The state of the world”
I agree entirely with you, Colin, about the terrible place we have landed in — on this small planet that deserves a better fate!