Archive for August, 2007

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”
– John Lennon


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Yes, in 1994 Dick Cheney stated that invading Iraq would create a Quagmire.  I guess he was right.

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It’s a long time, and a long path, since the invention of the printing press. Much has happened since then, many more technologies have come along to make our life easier, and in the last 100 years or so, we have harnessed our technological prowess to serve our thirst for entertainment. Perhaps this is because we lack the energy and discipline to put this surplus wealth, which affords our lavish pursuit of trivia, to the common good.

When I was in high school in the ‘80s I learned in our socio-economic class that a UN study said the world had at that time enough food-growing capacity to feed 1&1/2 times the global population and that by the year 2000 the population would be between 6 & 7 billion. Since that time the population has risen by almost 50% (from around 4.5 billion to around 6.7 billion – check out the worls pop here and here). So we are now at the point where the planet could produce enough food to feed it’s entire population. It is clear that over the last two decades we have not achieved, as if it were ever our aim, planetwide freedom from hunger; it remains an unrealized potential – but not for long.

Our population continues to grow at a geometric rate and, if it has not already done so, will soon outstrip the planet’s capacity to feed it.
The capacity has been there up until now. Now we are at, or near, the turning point. This should not alarm anyone – we’ve never shown ourselves interested in fulfilling the potential offered by the planet’s food growing capacity. All that’s changing is our ‘option’ to fulfill the potential.

When I say ‘we have never shown’ an interest, I mean as a species, a collective. Individuals have, but they have not been the ones elected to governmental rule. From our wealth we have developed technologies to serve our needs and those needs are not, it would seem, to be of service to others; our wealth has been achieved by the exploitation of others, especially of the weaker societies and those most needing our help. Our preferred goals for our technologies seem to be the gathering of more wealth, comfort, entertainment and….

I do not say this to give you, or myself, a guilt trip. It is merely to highlight our capacity to ignore or put into the background of our consciousness the deepest needs of others, especially if they are outside our immediate environment. Our governments do not campaign to their electorates on promises of tackling world hunger (why?); for the same reason, few would have the gall to honor their committed portion of GNP as aid to global poverty, currently around 1%, let alone to raise it to 10%. It is left up to individuals to decide what, if anything, they’ll do to address the big issues of the planet, how much of a ‘sacrifice’ is acceptable to us.

I believe that we will only have inner peace when we allow these issues into our consciousness and address them in someway, according to our capacity; when we lighten up a bit and do not take ourselves and our whims so seriously, and allow ourselves to be more human; when we are able to include the weakest among us in our thoughtfulness and concerns. From a disposition, and a position, of helpfulness, our internal and external peace, and happiness, will grow.

“Few seem to realize how many of the evils from which we suffer are wholly unnecessary, and that they could be abolished by a united effort within a few years. If a majority in every civilized country so desired, we could, within twenty years, abolish all abject poverty, quite half the illness in the world, the whole economic slavery which binds down nine tenths of our population; we could fill the world with beauty and joy, and secure the reign of universal peace. It is only because imagination is sluggish, and what always has been is regarded as what always must be. With good-will, generosity, intelligence, these things could be brought about.”

From Nobel Prize Winner Bertrand Russell’s Political Ideals.

Suggested reading, Bertrand Russell’s essays In Praise of Idleness and Political Ideals.

Help – for your consideration – The Smile Train.

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