Looking at the world we see a vast array of terrible problems, many millions go without adequate food or water, lack adequate sanitation, or live in slums, while millions of others are overweight. Wars arise here and there, nuclear weapons which threaten our very existence are stockpiled or aimed at us. Democracy seems little more than a single choice between a few ideological groups every four or so years.
Half a billion people live in countries that have a shortage of water. Waste products of various kinds poison the planet. The environment continues to be destroyed in so many ways, the world’s ecosystems are shrinking, pollution threatens many of them and harms all life, human activity threatens to radically change our world and yet there seems to be little we can do to stop it.
Most individuals who wish to do something about it, feel incapable of making an impact, it feels like a train hurtling along in a direction that can’t be stopped, you can see it heading for destruction but are powerless to stop it, even if we have treaty after treaty, agreement after agreement, the train still keeps on rolling.
These things keep repeating, it seems without end. We have the means to do something about it but we don’t.
Surely this is not a sensible way to live.
Strangely enough many are content with things as they are and don’t want the boat to be rocked too much. But bear in mind that this indifference and contentment with the status quo brings consequences and those are found throughout the world in the state of the environment, the global economy, lack of democracy, starvation, wars, etc.
We have to change for the world to change, but the problem facing people is how to change. We can try to be more positive, caring, etc., but the deep rooted problems are the animal drives.
Many people have a faith that certain politicians will bring about the change they require in the world. They won’t fundamentally – new problems keep appearing all around the world.
It is a myth that things are constantly improving – technological improvements yes, but not in the wisdom to manage that technology. Each generation inherits the technological advances of the previous one, but little wisdom is transferred, as that is personal.
The wisdom required to manage ourselves intelligently comes from within and the lack of it is the cause of the world’s problems.
What could we do if we cared about each other and worked without greed to create the things that we and the earth need to sustain ourselves and survive?
Initiatives to make fundamental changes to the way the world is run are often fragmented and thwarted by priorities that are elsewhere. There is a lack of international cohesion.
It’s so difficult to do anything fundamental towards change for the better when the population is so driven to fulfill its desires.
Fulfilling a drive does not necessarily lead to happiness, either for ourselves nor for others. Many drives are in fact fulfilled to the detriment of others, … taking of one’s land, polluting the environment to make money etc.
Then the harm comes back to us even individually or as a humanity.
Many of the technical and practical problems already have solutions, but we don’t implement them. Vested interests of one kind or another thwart the implementation of cooperation and solutions. Tradition and culture can get in the way of doing the right thing.
We need to feel responsible for our actions and having real democracy could help towards this, but fundamentally we need to be responsible towards ourselves and in what we do in life.
Once our basic needs are met, greater wealth and consumption do not translate automatically into correspondingly greater levels of happiness.
Many activities in today’s society are ‘isolating’ and people feel more and more detached from those who live around them, this detachment also extends to the wider relationship with humanity and towards the planet. It’s an unhealthy way to be.
The State of Humanity
Doesn’t all this say something about us as a humanity? What kinds of beings would do this? What is their state?
If we look at the state of the world, we see that it is a reflection upon the state of humanity.
Many people look at the problems we have caused in the world and ask what can we do to solve them, but rarely will anyone ask what can we do to change ourselves?
We cause appalling suffering to each other and (natural causes aside), turn a world of beauty into a world of ugliness.
We turn abundant forests into deserts, clean water into foul liquid, and clean air into poison.
We bear the consequences of our actions, yet rarely stop to examine ourselves.
What are we, that we would do this to each other and to the planet we live upon?
Those visiting our world from afar, may well look upon our world and exclaim “strange creatures”.
It’s time to examine ourselves as a species openly and honestly, to see ourselves as we really are.
It’s time to take off the glasses of illusion, to admit weakness and look at stark reality.
What do we see? Do we see beauty, justice, wisdom, compassion? Well perhaps if we are fortunate enough, but we may also see hatred, greed, fear, anger, depression, worries, anxiety, and a huge sense of self-centeredness.
We see that we are driven by impulses, sensations and thoughts that we have little control of.
We see that we are governed by our own psychological make-up, our thoughts turn unceasingly in our minds, we repeat the same responses to the same kinds of things over and over again. We suffer from emotions we have little or no control over.
The same fears, the same worries, passions, pleasures and pains repeat constantly within us, and what arises within one, arises with the psyche of the whole of humanity too, because essentially, psychologically we are all more or less the same.
We don’t have to look far to see where these states originate. They are clearly present in a simplified form in animals: the more complex the animal, the more pronounced they are.
But as humans we have something that separates us from animals – the human intellect. It’s far more complex than any other animal, and it gives us the possibility to consciously be aware of ourselves. With this we can examine and change ourselves, in ways that no animal can do.
Unfortunately the complexity of the mind combined with the animal drives gives us more complex drives, and due to its creative nature, we spawn increasing psychological problems.
As we work to fulfill our drives we, like animals, do so at the expense of others. We compete like animals, and for every winner, there is at least one loser.
Sometimes the loser is our neighbor, sometimes a stranger, sometimes it’s the environment and sometimes it is us.
It is always us really, as we live in a world that is stressed. We are unaware of how different it could be if only we were different.
If we as a humanity were loving, kind, compassionate, wise and responsible, how different this world would be.
The state of the world is the way it is, because of the way we are.
For some time we have been capable of transforming or destroying the world, but never think of transforming ourselves.
Latent within us is the capacity for change, we have to exercise it to use it, but humanity as a whole is not interested in that change and therefore will do nothing of substance to bring it about.
It’s up to the few who are interested to take up the challenge and tackle the problems we face at their root – the human psychology. It remains to be seen how much impact those individuals can have, but as a whole things do not look promising.
Some may dislike hearing these things and may criticize and judge you if you spread this message of change, but it’s these who are part of this mess, who don’t want to get out of it that are judging you. And just look at what people of this kind have done to the world.
Nevertheless if one or more individuals do fundamentally change then all the efforts made to explain how to do it would have been worth it.
Here are some figures to think about:
Over the last 40 years, almost one third of the world’s cropland has been abandoned due to soil erosion and degradation.
In the last 40 years, approximately 30% of the world’s cropland has been unproductive.
More than 5 million people, mostly children, die each year from illness caused by poor quality water.
Over 852 million people around the world don’t have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs.
Around 2.8 billion people survive on under $2 a day.
Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at the rate of 32,000 a day.In the last 50 years it’s estimated that 600,000 species have become extinct (estimated 10-50 million species).
Belsebuub from an online talk 2009