Archive for June, 2011

Manifesting the Golden Rule

While philosophers may debate the purpose of life, I believe one thing all people seek in life is happiness. The traditional route to becoming a happy individual usually leads people to embrace religious or spiritual teachings. However, I also believe that the values and morals we learn from them can only take us so far. Because, let’s be real, the world we have created and live in is full of problems and constantly clashes with our values. As a result, people compartmentalize life as a coping strategy and we are forced to apply different standards to different areas of our life – this is something I really do not like.

We’ve created a world full of systems that is creating unhappiness – systems that we blindly serve rather than serve us. It almost feels like we’ve created a monster that is now controlling our lives. Call me crazy, but it seems to me like we should do something about it. Creating a sustainable civilization is a way to manifest the Golden Rule into our real world because they are both founded on the principal of respecting the individual. Likewise we might be able to say that by really living according to the Golden Rule, by treating others the way you want to be treated, we will by necessity create sustainable systems.

As a civilization, the challenge of the Golden Rule does not lie within the realm of the extraordinary, but in the ordinary. It is not a call to create a lifestyle of millionaires, but rather very simple, reasonable and achievable goals. And, we need not look beyond our own needs, wants and dreams to recognize them. I want to be able to achieve my potential. I want to breathe clean air and drink clean water. I want my children and their children to benefit from the planet’s abundance of species and have their share of the planet’s natural resources. If I’m sick I want to have access to health care. I don’t expect everyone to like me, but I want others to respect my personal choices. I don’t want my prosperity or happiness to come at the expense of others. I want to live in dignity and be able to provide for my family.

And, although the concept of sustainability may be new to most people and a challenge to grasp, the Golden Rule is an idea that most people already know. In fact, since it is the lesson of the Old Testament, it seems to me that the combined 3.6 billion Muslims, Jews and Christians should be in support of creating a sustainable world. And, I’m pretty sure Buddhist values also lead to sustainability so it’s actually about 4 billion supporters! The question then remains how to rally the faithful to action.

Ultimately our character as an individual or a civilization will be judged on how we treat others – both known and unknown to us. Yes, the challenge we are presented is a tough one, but what people don’t yet understand is that our physical journey and our spiritual journey are actually one and the same. The amazing thing is that making our civilization sustainable is inevitable AND we get to live our lives in harmony with our values. Why do we resist?


June 17, 2011 at 10:04 am 1 comment

Effective Government

Government is an important part of how a modern civilization organizes itself.  While many americans very often treat it as a boogy-man, Abraham Lincoln described its purpose in very practical terms: “We should do together what we cannot do as well by ourselves.”  The problem today is that government has become a catch-all and as such is becoming ineffective — kind of the “jack of all trades, master of none” syndrome.  In a sustainable system, however, government’s role will be refocused.  The concept of sustainable communities is that they are self-governing and self-reliant and designed to resolve as many issues as possible at their local level thereby decreasing the responsibilities people place on a centralized government system.

Geography: At present, governments are responsible for everything, everywhere.  This is causing a strain on its ability to provide effective services to everyone.  By contrast, in a cantilevered system of sustainability, the role of government would shrink the domain of its responsibility to the consumption based economies of the cities, leaving the sustainable communities to self-govern and coordinate resources amongst each other.

Financial Liabilities: Currently, governments are responsible for social welfare programs for everyone that is resulting in huge budget deficits as well as inadequate services for those in need.  The structure of sustainable communities would actually eliminate the need for any social welfare programs since the design of the communities achieves the same results.  So, for example, if eventually 80% of a population emigrates into the sustainable system, the US Federal government would similarly decrease its future liabilities for social security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment and all other services.

Jobs: Economics is a fancy word to describe how people make a living – providing for oneself and one’s family.  Our “modern” system accomplishes this through jobs which government policies are forced to promote at any cost.  In a consumption-based world of 6+ billion people, near full employment is not possible and irresolvable.  However, if 80% of the population retreats into a sustainable system of living, full-employment within the consumption economy becomes possible and will in fact increase the value of labor in cities.

The systems in place that make the “world go around” were not designed, but evolved over time through trial and error.  And, while they may have gotten us to where we are, they are inadequate to meet the modern challenges we now face. The game has changed and we don’t recognize it yet.  And, while I’m not sure exactly what the game is, if it’s “who’s on top”, the United States is rapidly losing its place.  Moreover, right now the United States and the world are facing the new, great depression.  The course of action I’m proposing will prime the economic pump to keep the world going in the short term and lead us into a system that is sustainable for generations to come.

June 9, 2011 at 10:40 am Leave a comment

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