Why do I get out of bed in the morning?—to avoid becoming someone I don’t want to be, someone conscious, but not awake, someone who moves about, but isn’t strong, someone who grows distant from other people, but who wants more than anything to remain vitally engaged. So to increase my awake, strong, vitally engaged self I’m jumping back into the blog glögg and going for a swim. As I had hoped my summer hiatus, which turned into summer, fall, and most of winter, proved to be fruitful thanks to relentless cross-pollination of excellent, non-fiction reading. I can hardly be an expert on everything that interests me. So I am encouraged when there are so many authors who dare to describe and prescribe conditions for our society’s improvement and healing. What follows is a compilation of the key points from these writers.
How will humans evolve when our choices within a market economy are driven by the very forces that serve to destroy us? While we ride the tide of ever escalating and sophisticated technology, how can we manage social changes brought in its wake?
The answer is essentially a recognition that we can no longer maintain the growth of capital at the expense of social capital. Any enterprise in the 21st century that wants to capture the social conscience will have to do so while grounded in “biosphere consciousness.” As described by Jeremy Rifkin this organizing principle follows the natural rhythms of life, and the laws of energy. It powers every living thing in existence; photosynthesis, solar power, geo-thermal power, etc. Equally as important is the goal of social capital—empathic engagement with one’s fellow human beings. It represents accumulated trust between people and helps create the narratives that bind us together. Slowly we are learning how to treat each other and share what we have so that our culture reflects who we want to be.
Much of what has spurred the development of these ideas is the massive dysfunction of the organizations and systems in which we currently live.
· A long string of stalemates has eroded trust in our government. People will withdraw their support or force a reorganization.
· Intelligent technology will substitute for various forms of human labor in the commercial arena, while social capital in the collaborative community will increase.
· Education reform: In many ways we are teaching ourselves how to live in what Rifkin calls a distributed, collaborative, open-source economy.
Our culture and its leadership have no choice but to drive the changes we seek. Transformation initiated by government can happen, but only under pressure from its citizens.
How can the system self-correct unless we intervene?
There is an undeniable need to impose limits on human behavior. Capitalism as we know it will re-align favorably with environmental conservation initiatives when it is proven that they deliver measurable financial reward. The market and its regulatory context must reward businesses for their performance. Rather than making business the demon, it must be reformed from within so that values of its well-being are not at odds with maintaining the health of our physical world. From decades of having witnessed the carnage of oil spills, we have learned that pleas for intelligent environmental protection have fallen on disbelieving ears, and it is insulting to imagine that the cost of repair can ever equal the loss of our one and only world. As Paul Gilding puts it, we must cage the market tiger.
Please stay tuned for next week’s installment where we find how personal economy gets involved.