Yesterday’s post includes the Minute about the intersectionality of problems. It says “only radical turning will save the world.” Radical turning is a phrase some authors have used to express completely changing direction from the current path. I’ve mainly seen this used regarding the need to abruptly stop using fossil fuels, in order to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, in order to try to avoid runaway global warming.
As Albert Einstein stated, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Think about how profoundly true that is. That is why incremental changes have not worked. We MUST “think outside the box.”
Our current, interrelated problems include social and political systems white European settlers created when they arrived in what is now called the United States. Initially only white men were allowed to vote. White men thought they were superior to others, which allowed them to justify to themselves the enslavement of “African” Americans, taking the land of, and killing, “Native” Americans, and subjugating women.
Industrialization resulted in families leaving rural areas where they were self sufficient and members of supportive communities, to cities, where they were dependent upon wages. Industry required vast amounts of energy, which was provided by fossil fuels because of their energy density, ease of extraction and transport, and initially, huge supplies.
The capitalist economy placed a monetary value on everything, from the value of a person’s labor, to land, water and other natural resources. People and resources are accorded little value. Laws, created by white male legislators, allowed people and resources to be exploited for wealth, regardless of the consequences to people and to our environment. We have seen the economic impacts, and are now seeing the consequences of the unfolding environmental chaos.
The jobs people depended upon disappeared due to automation or by taking advantage of cheap labor in foreign countries, leaving people in poverty, hungry, sick and without dignity, while the rich accumulated vast sums of money. This is artificial wealth that depends upon us continuing to participate in a capitalistic society.
The radical turning that we need now would involve rejecting the capitalistic economy and the political system that enforces it. People can re-learn how to build communities where each person is valued, and which provide the basic necessities for all. This could be done by the migration of people from cities where they are dependent on others for almost everything, to rural areas where they can become self-sufficient once again. Such communities could use little or no fossil fuel.
As basic necessities are taken care of, people could again build communities that value relationships with each other, the land and their spiritual beliefs. Ideally each person would be valued for the skills they have to offer the community. Artificial stratifications of society based upon skin color, gender, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or religion should disappear. Our humanity restored. Systemic racism should not be part of this new system. Indigenous people could teach us how to build such communities, and re-establish right relationships with each other and Mother Earth. We could finally begin to heal the wounds of enslavement and the genocide of indigenous people.
Many may be skeptical about this. This would obviously be a huge disruption. But as our existing political and economic systems are overwhelmed by the increasing environmental chaos, we will be forced to come up with alternatives.
Change will be forced upon us. We would be wise to explore how to do this while we can. I’ve written about possible ways to do that in this blog post: https://jeffkisling.com/2018/02/22/design-and-build-beloved-community-models/