I can imagine my grandchildren as adults living in a village where everything is accessible on foot or by bicycle. Their children (the great-grands) can walk safely through the village. Friendly neighbors watch out for them and send applesauce along home with them. A few days later the children may bring these neighbors eggs in exchange.
These children come home to a locally and sustainably powered house they share with two other families. The household car remains parked until one of the families needs to make a trip “abroad”. The children snack upon fresh cherry tomatoes picked from the vine trellising up the porch newel. At least one adult from the three families is there to greet them. Their parent will arrive home tired but fulfilled by their work.
This future will require a major change in our personal and cultural mindset. To get there from here, we have to give up the idea and ideal of “economic recovery.” Recovery suggests going back to a supposed prior health. Recovery posits that our system of hierarchical wealth and power is sustainable. Recovery presupposes that the Earth’s “resources” are a commodity that humanity needs to learn how to exploit more sustainably. Recovery assumes that the current downturn is a temporary interruption of perpetual growth. These are false assumptions!
Our current cultural paradigm is based on “profit of the fittest.” I believe we must accept the collapse of this four thousand year old paradigm that humanity’s job is to wrest a living from a planet of scarcity.
The future scenario I imagine is only possible if we can accept a new paradigm of plenty for all Mother Nature’s children, inclusive of humanity. Once we can envision ourselves as one among many species, subject to the natural laws of population control and sufficiency, we can make ourselves very welcome members of Earth’s community of animals and plants.
Such an evolution in our philosophy, economy, and lifestyle will cost us dearly. There will be great disruption, resistance from the entrenched powers-that-be, and throwbacks to our traditional mindset. Worse still, there will undeniably be human suffering and even die-offs. Only true compassion and conviction will see us through. It is almost too awful to contemplate…until we realize that we are living with all this suffering already while catapulting toward global warming, water wars, and possible annihilation.
The epoch of empire is finally failing. Let us forgive it its trespasses and its debts. Let us take it off artificial life-support and grant it the grace and grief of hospice.
Just as truly, humanity is pregnant with a new epoch. She is groaning in the labor of regeneration. She requires our immediate attention and affection. She hears the urgent voices of our great grandchildren pleading to become a part of the life of our beautiful planet. Humanity is calling us to become midwives at a difficult birth. This I believe: we must heed her call.