Sunday, November 25, 2012
What is possible in a world that changes at amazing speed? From the cells in our body to decisions made in hallowed halls of government to the shift of winds and just the smallest chance of who you meet when, the future is highly uncertain.These young people pictured above I saw last summer in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso have all kinds of possibilities when they slide out of the womb, pre-wired. But simply because of where they are born, grow up and live, those possibilities are quite different from my own.
That being stated it is also clear that despite the constraints of poverty and access to fewer opportunities, they can be loved and cherished by their kin and neighbors as much if not more than those raised in more affluent surroundings. They may well learn more easily than I how we humans are dependent upon the natural world and intrinsically part of it. They may better appreciate and savor the power of relationships to sustain and to develop our possibilities.
But what does it say of our time, that despite the vast storehouses of knowledge acquired and passed on, despite our great riches, we see more people fighting for the basics to survive, while some are so wealthy they spend more on a meal than the entire annual food budget for others? If we were starting for scratch, would we construct a system that grows the gulf between the haves and the have-nots, while simultaneously unraveling the ecosystems that sustain life? I don't think so. Yet the evidence for growing inequality and ecological decline is stunning. Just as stunning is the paucity of discussion, let alone action, to address the system rules that are accelerating the growing disparity of opportunity for both current and future generations.
Having an idea that something is 'possible' is the first and necessary step towards making it happen. If we convince ourselves that something is not possible, we all but guarantee that prophecy. Each of us, regardless of where, is born with great possibility that can be fed, nurtured, awakened to or 'enabled' by the family, the environment, and the social-political-economic systems that we create. A just world should not only allow each person to develop their capabilities (Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate), but it should strive to create the conditions that enable that development, not at the expense of others or the natural world that provides life's essentials, or the possibility of future generations to develop their own capabilities.
If we were to design a system to do that from scratch, what might it look like? It certainly wouldn't be the one that have driven us to an 'inequality cliff'. This feeble blog will be attempting to share 'hunches' of how we might recalibrate our fundamental human systems (social, political, economic) to move us all closer to a human family where everyone gets a fair chance to develop their capabilities while living in balance with our natural world and the ecosystems that sustain us. These are simply meant as reasonable 'possibilities' - not guaranteed, not certain, but possible. I will borrow rapaciously from others I bump into along the journey -- those that shed a new light or provide a different angle or perspective, that might have us see a possibility previously blind to us. The recent understandings pervading the sciences of the 'emergent' properties of so much we cannot yet fathom in this complex universe, might offer us some humility that much more is possible than we have been led to believe.
I sense very deeply, incredible possibilities to become a better human family than we have been to date. As Martin Luther King, Jr. noted: "The arc of the moral universe is long,but it bends towards justice." I believe in that possibility, but our current dominant (social, political, and economic) systems need some changing if we plan to get there. Let's consider the possibilities.