Sunday, June 20, 2010

Broaching the Larger Taboo


Nathan Thompson wrote a thoughtful piece at Life As A Human about taking responsibility for the whole of which we are a part. He asks, "Can Lifestyles That Are Unsustainable Be Moral?" titling his piece with a quote from politically engaged Buddhist Sulak Sivaraksa.

Nathan writes,

Do we really want the economy to “turn around,” to go back to something resembling what it has been? In other words, do we really wish to continue to support, participate, and drive an economy that thrives only when there is over-production, over-consumption, and excessive amounts of greed? Is this really what we want, or are we just too comfortable with a way of life that will someday probably destroy us?


May I submit that it not merely a matter of comfort, but of ideological dominance: that the entire question Nathan is asking rests in the shadow of an overriding idea that Must Not Be Questioned?

An honest assessment and critique of capitalism, and its control of American politics, is still taboo in our mainstream media and political discourse, even among what is called our "left." Our two dominant political parties have their differences, but neither of them question the notion that effective government means preserving the surpluses and privileges of corporations, their executives, and their investors. This has not budged even in the face of scientific data pointing towards a mortally serious condition for the continued survival of the human race.

After examining his own life and daily consumption of resources, which is exceedingly modest by American expectations yet luxurious in comparison to the world's majority, Nathan continues,

We have to go deeper than simply talking about what we use or don’t use, or how much money we are going to invest in green jobs and new technologies. In my opinion, it’s really time to question the morality of our economic systems as a whole because they have gone global, for better or worse.
Where are we, and where do we want to go from here? It's going to require mobilization at our level. It requires satyagraha. It will not come from the top levels of government, and it certainly will not come from the board rooms and unelected bodies that overrule popular government.

Yet it needs to be a journey of personal inquiry as well. Replacing one dominant ideology with another "better idea," absent individual practice, misses the point. The Big Problem we are dealing with here is a human-made problem.

We are not fighting a "them." We are addressing delusion and ignorance.



[Photo: an old satellite dish attached to our new home, with a bird nest inside it. Discovered the nest was active when I started taking the dish down. It stays up until the birds move on.]

1 comment:

Debby said...

Roland, this post was spot on. Excellent. The answer is, for me, anyway, no. I want the important things in my life, and those things are not things. I want a rich life, not a life that costs a lot of money. I liked this post a lot, and wish everyone could think on this question for a time.