Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Culture of Insatiability

Our economic system is broken. We are all tied into a system that creates lots of stuff while it destroys the environment and wreacks havoc on our lives.

The system forces us to work too much. The system forces us to compete with each other for basic necessities like food, shelter and health care. The system is destroying the fragile biosphere upon which our lives depend. The system often destroys communities. The system places the love of money above all others. The system has compromised our democracy and our ability to self-govern.

These are symptoms, not root causes.

The system is on auto-pilot (no one is in charge) and each of us dutifully do our little part to keep the system going. We work, we vote, we pay taxes, we work, work, and work some more.

We are part of a system that believes it has no limits. No limits to economic growth, population growth, having more, living longer, and even being more.

We live in a culture of insatiability and as long as we remain insatiable, we have no choice but to work, work, work leading to a life of destruction.

In this culture of insatiability and discontentment, we never find lasting satisfaction. Is there a wonder where our stress and unhappiness comes from?

Changing this system is a profound challenge however, I see no alternative as this system will grind on until the salmon are dead, the glaciers have all melted, and all of us are working hard to compete against our neighbors. There has to be a better way. Our challenge is to find a new way. This won't be easy but nothing short of a new way will save us.

I believe the first step is to decolonize our minds. We've all grown up believing this is the way and there is no other. That is a mental model that must be challenged.

One book (and author) I'd highly recommend to begin this journey is Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. If you haven't read Quinn, you really ought to. If you've read Ishmael, I highly recommend the other books and writings by Quinn. He really does offer a comprehensive view of sustainability that is often difficult to see with the voice of Mother Culture constantly singing in our ear.

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