Here are some changes we need to reverse our march toward doomsday:
- Build an economy on the notion of enough, rather than more: We need to abandon the idea that more is better because we’re suffocating in the trash.
- Replace the focus on coupling with rebuilding community ties: The nuclear family has choked out other ties that are important for a fulfilling and meaningful life. Instead of putting all of our eggs into the basket of one other person, we need to (re)learn to connect deeply and intimately with many people.
- Create jobs that are life-affirming rather than mind-numbing: Most jobs address small, often rather irrelevant, parts of the big corporate machine. We could harness the intelligence wasted on these jobs to address the problems we need to confront.
- Face the reality that capitalism is undermining democracy: If the most powerful institutions in our society are run as kingdoms, we cannot expect democracy to flourish.
- Stop ignoring the problem of overpopulation: There are too many people on this planet to live comfortably. The current population size is not sustainable – another example where more is not better. Addressing this issue will be painful and extremely difficult ethically. The longer we wait, though, the worse it is going to get.
I am sure there’s much, much more that needs fundamental change. Obama will not bring this about. He can’t really. He is a politician after all. But we can. All of us can start looking – really looking – at our lives and decide what works and what doesn’t, what is sustainable and what isn’t. And then we can start to make changes, slowly but surely. Will it matter? Maybe. However, rather than pondering our impact (or lack thereof), we could simply decide to act as if our actions matter. If enough of us make that decision, things will change.
Obama and his administration can make these changes easier by enacting things like universal health care, mandatory sick leave, and even by targeting the economic stimulus toward project that build sustainability. These are important foundational blocks onto which we can build real change.
Sustainability must be in the air. Here’s a great post from the Regressive Antidote that touches on similar themes that I covered here.