Yesterday I posted an interview with Van Jones, who reminds us that the way things are for the poor in America makes environmentalism their last concern. Then, Anne, from Not So Big Blog, left behind a comment suggesting that the way things are for the middle class in America isn’t so great either.
Compared to many parts of the world, we have so much in the United States, yet we are also missing so much. There is the poverty of the material and the poverty of the spirit and the poverty of community and the poverty of meaning and the poverty of shared purpose, and nobody likes the kind of poverty they’ve got. We aren’t satisfied with what we have, yet we run our lives and our culture as though more of the same would be better.
We dance around a limited number of musical chairs. The chairs aren’t so great, and no one really wants them, but no one wants to be left standing either. No one wants to be the one left out, even if what they’ll be left out of isn’t worth sacrificing for. No one wants to be the only one without the great American dream, even if, for so many of us, the dream is no longer that great.
So the game never changes.
But it could.
Because there is huge opportunity for improved human happiness in our environmental crisis. Paul Hawken says, as Anne from Not So Big points out, that “rather than despair over the depth of the crisis, he gets excited about living at one of the fulcrum points in history. In this generation, human beings will change the way we live, and we all get to play a part in that.”
The danger and the opportunities in our situation both anchor themselves in the fact that, in order to mount any meaningful shift towards sustainability, we must work towards the consensus of so many constituents–the rich, the poor, the developed world, the developing world, the businesses, the citizens.
That means, for perhaps the first time, we all get to work together on the biggest and most important project in history: the search for a way to deliver peace, harmony, dignity, health, safety, happiness and well-being to not just a few of us, to not just for the privileged among us, but to the entire population of our wonderful planet.
It’s our most glorious undertaking. One worthy at last of our incredible spirit, heart, mind and muscle. At last, we can jettison our meaningless, soul-destroying game of musical chairs. We can cease our separate struggles to become king of our lonely mountains. Instead, we will work together to use the renewable resources of our planet until we have one shared mountain populated only by kings.
Illustration courtesy of Jupiter Images.