5 days ago on Tuesday January 5th 2021, I witnessed a mob who supported Donald Trump, entering the Capitol Building in Washington and breaking through the police barriers which offered minimal resistance. The most potent act of lawlessness seen in the USA for the past 150 years.
Just this Sunday morning I was able to view a scenario as ideologically distant from that tragic event as I could imagine. A scene in which The Mind and Life Institute organised a dialogue between the young Climate Activist Greta Thunberg, and the compassionate leader of the Buddhist faith, The Dalai Lama.
The earlier experience displaying the worst of human nature, and today’s dialogue demonstrating the value of cross cultural and cross generational co-operation. The timing of this beautiful display of unity is so much more refreshing because of its juxtapositioning with the former illegal and terrifying event.
The past four years have seen a dramatic whittling away of Democracy by the strongest country in the West. The leadership of the country with the best institutions of higher education in the world, sophisticated and technologically advanced, nonetheless encouraged actions and words of divisiveness which demonstrate a degree of destructiveness beyond the imagination of any sane and moderate citizen.
10 Months of Covid-19
It is now 10 months since the South African government announced its decision to implement a Stage 5 lockdown in order to try and contain the pandemic of Covid-19 which had spread throughout the world. It has become a time for us all to slow down. Space has been offered for reflection. An opportunity is granted for each citizen of this universe to re-evaluate their personal role in maintaining a sustainable lifestyle.
My opportunity to become educated on the realities of the dangers of the warming environment with Climate Reality in June last year, were further reinforced this morning by having the privilege of sit in my study and listen to Greta and the Dalia Lama articulating the urgent work that needs to be done. They eloquently articulated a description of the Feed Back Loops caused by the continued augmentation of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. And, they appealed to each and every one of their listeners to enhance their own knowledge of the urgency of reversing the heating of the atmosphere. In addition they pointed out the role that everyone needs to play in spreading a message within their sphere of influence about the opportunities that exist for all informed people to ensure a reversal of previous destructive lifestyle habits.
Existential Threats of the Future
Late last night, I was able to listen to Yuval Harari describing two other hazards of which all responsible citizens of our planet need to be aware. Climate change is not the only threat with which we are faced. Civilisation is also endangered by unethical exploitation of artificial intelligence, as well as the hazards of nuclear power which is put to nefarious use.
So how reassuring it was to be informed today by media reports that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter had deleted Trump’s accounts. The social media are just one aspect of AI which has enhanced the lifestyle of today’s population, whilst at the same time being the source of grossly destructive events.
Inter-connectivity of People, Animals and the Natural World
A few years ago when pursuing the philosophy of Buddhism in order to understand the concepts behind mindfulness and meditation, I became acquainted for the first time with the concept of the “inter-dependence of all humans.” At the time this was for me a novel concept. I did not really ‘get-it’. Although now I realise this concept of inter-connectedness needs to include animals and the natural environment; as well as an awareness of our dependence on the freely given gifts of the universe.
My Personal Mission!
So now, I am able to encapsulate my personal mission going forward. My work for 2021. By continuing to blog and challenge myself I must look at ways in which humanity can give up short term goals in favour of long term interests. An expanding economy which prioritises the rich and leaves out the poor is a recipe for disaster. We need to re-educate humanity with the values observed by primitive societies. Their founding belief was to retain the natural environment in its present format for seven succeeding generations. If only our politicians could exchange their short term goal of self-grandiosity, and substitute an appreciation of the needs of the succeeding seven generations.
We are all dependent on each other for the continuation of a lifestyle that is sustainable. The pandemic is helping us to realise that the future of humanity is dependent on the welfare of all. The growing gap between the rich and the poor is a total anathema. The Gini coefficient needs the immediate attention of all the decisions makers of our world, particularly politicians and business leaders. Until poverty is eliminated, there will be no such thing as security. And unless we concentrate on diminishing carbon pollution in order to escape a destructively heating planet, the civilisation which has evolved for the past millennium will gradually undergo an irreversible deterioration.
“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.” Martin Luther King Jr.