This chapter is from Life, Money & Illusion;
Living on Earth as if we want to stay
Go directly to the explanation of the Question of Direction in the second half of this chapter.
How to Get There From Here:
A Question of Direction
Legitimacy is a key ingredient of civilization; perhaps it is the key ingredient.
A biological analogy can help illustrate the role legitimacy plays in cultural evolution. If, in a society, the shared patterns of understanding and belief, as described in the last chapter, fulfill the role of DNA, legitimacy is the life force. DNA molecules are chains of atoms arranged in a specific order. Each life form has a unique DNA that contains within it (or resonates with it) all the information that is necessary for a single fertile cell to grow into a mature organism, providing that the cell is alive. Without life force, biological DNA is only a complex assembly of chemicals prone to decomposition. When life is present, the DNA serves as a template, guiding the growth and maintenance of the life form it encodes. Whether it is a plant, animal, fungus or bacterium as cells divide, the DNA for that particular life form is reproduced so that each new cell has a copy. Depending on the position that various cells find themselves in, they will grow into an arm or an eye, a root or a flower. Using the foundation "understanding" embodied in their DNA, different cells and clusters of cells follow the basic code and, together, grow and maintain a complete, mature organism.
A society grows in ways that are informed by the philosophy of the people. Until a system of understanding and beliefs is animated by legitimacy, it is only a philosophy. When people subscribe to such a system, their life energy works through that system. How they live their lives, the views they express, what they work at, how they invest, and how they vote, create the structure and form of the society embodied in the philosophy. Each person and organization follows the basic premise of their culture, varying depending on whether they find themselves as builders, caregivers, miners, managers or retailers. Together they produce and trade the complex array of goods and services that enable the civilization to proceed.
When accepted and acted upon, different world-views produce different worlds. Legitimacy is the animating power and it is the product of our many individual wills. That said, we have looked at how our choices are extensively influenced by what others think, the religion of our times and the legal structure. While legitimacy is affected by all these things, the form into which society evolves is ultimately a product of individual wills: yours, your friends, your family, your colleagues, your neighbours. If we want to resolve the mounting tension between the perpetual expansion model and the requirements of long-term well-being on our finite planet, it is the freedom of our wills that can define the new direction.
In the mental cosmology identified by Freud, the tendency to adhere to social order has a permanent position in our subconscious psychic makeup. Within each individual, there is an instinctual, impulsive "id," which seeks only personal satisfaction. The id is moderated by the "ego." While one's id may want to cross a street, the ego seeks to protect the individual by looking into reality for circumstances, such as oncoming cars that might threaten well-being. To avoid danger, the ego restricts the rudimentary urges of the id. Similarly, the "super-ego" exerts an influence on individual behaviour to have us maintain personal well-being by heeding the factors of well-being, as perceived by the larger society. Parents, teachers, religious spokespeople, politicians, legal codes, advertising and media imagery all contribute to forming the super-ego's version of what it is to be good and secure.
The super-ego's influence on individual behaviour may be for the good of all, or for the good of some elite, which has used its advantage to influence conventional wisdom to serve its own ends. Nevertheless, once the conventional wisdom is established, it guides most individual action and requires a long evolution or willful effort to change. Moving one's individual "vote" of legitimacy from economic expansion and placing it with long-term well-being is the basic move. When enough people make this move, legitimacy will shift to reflect new realities and priorities.
We do not lack the ability to transform our world. The problems we face are understood and most of their solutions known. Transformation will proceed with remarkable speed once the balance of legitimacy tips toward long-term well-being. This chapter proposes a technique for tipping that balance focusing on one point. It is the point of contrast between the dangers of continuing to expand the existing order and the possibilities for long-term stability should we choose to apply our creative potential to that end. By focusing attention on this contrast, the balance of legitimacy can be tipped.
Those who apply their will to extending the old order have the advantages of inertia and wealth. Those promoting sustainability have the advantage of growing necessity. The increasing contrast between the two views will inevitably require reconciliation. Our inclination is always toward self-preservation and it is becoming increasingly clear that change is essential. How many opportunities will be lost before the shift takes place depends on how long it takes to rally enough individual wills to counteract the persuasive influences employed to promote the illusion of Growth Everlasting?
Fluctuations in the Super-Ego: Getting Even
Tensions between old and new perspectives have existed throughout the ages. Looking at how legitimacy has fluctuated in the past can help us understand the present. The issue of retribution is a case in point. It has been an issue for thousands of years and the tension continues today.
An "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" was the accepted ethic 20 centuries ago. If someone did harm to another, inflicting equivalent harm on the perpetrator was seen as just settlement of the score. It relieved resentment and served as a deterrent for others who might cause harm. At the same time, however, it could cultivate enduring rivalries perpetuated by cycles of revenge so complex that the origins are lost and offense and retaliation become indistinguishable. This dangerous custom was countered by potent imagery spread through the stories of Christ and other prophets. A new vision challenged the convention. It promoted forgiving the trespasses of others and thereby, offered a resolution to violent cycles of revenge. With this ethical shift, "we-versus-them" identities of independent small communities could more easily fade away, expanding the possibilities for cooperation over broader territories.
This progressive step toward better cooperation has been set back in recent decades. Note how often people on television and in movies shout condemnation at, and otherwise aggressively confront, those who cross their interests. As individuals, when resentment and rage are directed at us, turmoil erupts inside as adrenaline enters our blood and we prepare to fight or flee. When such scenes are portrayed in moving pictures our moods are stimulated in resonance. The stimulus catches our attention, time passes and we are entertained; eventually, we are trained.
The prevalence of such violence may be attributed to the relative ease with which such scenes can be produced. The circumstance need only be acted out with appropriate music and sound effects and moods are affected. We are naturally curious about and stimulated by danger. We want to recognize it so we can avoid it ourselves. By contrast, portraying situations that trigger feelings of wonder, gratitude, honour, love or respect require far more talent to conceive and enact, and more discernment to appreciate.
Entertainment value aside, the role model of people "getting even" seems to cripple many in their social interactions. Nothing causes us to become defensive quicker than an attack. One may defend with a quick counterattack, or just leave the scene physically or emotionally. None of these responses gets those involved any closer to understanding their differences or finding common ground for cooperation. Time and again, I see people in social movements taking issue with their colleagues in the style portrayed so frequently by the mass media. Such gestures almost guarantee misunderstanding. How much more effective could we be if we had more models for the cooperative resolution of differences?
So frequently have I seen such confrontations between allies, that I imagine a conspiracy on the part of those who control the media. What better way to render their opponents impotent than to implant futile means for settling differences in the public's subconscious? In any case, ineffective styles of communication deflect a large amount of positive effort that would otherwise help make the world a better place.
Some wise advice I heard years ago said that any action taken to "get even" was a mistake. I have remembered this frequently when responding to situations that disturb me. Often I have edited out caustic comments from my writing only to find that, although mellowed considerably, I still have the tone of putting the other person down. Several edits are sometimes needed to identify and remove ever more subtle attempts to "get even." On a good day, I can render the writing to the point that it simply calls attention to the offending action and asks for clarification in the interest of common concerns and better solutions. In the cases where I could not bring myself to mellow the reproach completely, more often than not, I found that I had stimulated obstructions that would not have arisen had I succeeded in removing the retributive tone.
Within the movements working for justice, environmental health, community development, peace and self-realization, there is so much common ground that differences need not be destructive. Even between real adversaries, those wishing to do things others consider harmful and the communities trying to stop them, there is often enough common interest for progress to be made, providing acrimony is not stirred up with insults and personal accusations. On occasion, a "poison pen" letter of condemnation will stimulate a sense of urgency and purpose, attracting allies in order to right a wrong, but it is as likely to inspire those who had created the "wrong" to build defenses, or even to mount a counter attack.
We would do well to identify and eliminate retribution as a legitimate way of responding to difficulties. Mahatma Gandhi showed the way with his non-violence movement. If we want to increase well-being into the future, I believe his tactics of clear, principled, respectful, non-violent confrontation of mistaken attitudes and actions to be the appropriate approach. Though Gandhi was not a Christian, his inspiration re-energizes the same shift in values that Christ promoted two thousand years ago.
The Golden Rule or the Rule of Gold
Among the elements to be honoured from the distant past is the well-known imperative, to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. This is the essence of self-regulation in a society. Present in practically all cultures, it is perhaps the tap root of civilization. Through this ethic, the collective organism comes into existence. Treating another as one treats oneself provides a foundation for trust and cooperation. When this value is shared by a population, its ability to co-create understanding and to act as one, resembles the mutual support of the cells, organs and limbs of a single organism cooperating to be something greater than it could possibly be as many parts. With this ethic, the collective human organism comes into being with the superhuman capability that enables us to thrive as societies.
In some ways, the ethic of serving society by pursuing individual self-interest is a corollary of this "golden rule." When people improve their individual lots by producing goods and services for trade, their individual efforts merge into a social entity. One person subscribing to this ethic would treat others as potential customers and, in turn, wish to be treated the same. That is, he or she would want to be offered the goods and services of others in trade.
While this invisible hand version of the golden rule has enabled huge economic advances, it has also produced the growing gap between rich and poor. The philosophy of self-interest has inspired and excused manipulation of the system in ways that provide further advantage for a few over the many. With time, the system has become lopsided.
Ultimately living only for personal self-interest has to end in tragedy. Individual lives end with death. When people grasp that their own well-being depends on the well-being of those around them and begin to identify with their community, death is no longer as terminal as it is in isolation. An individual will inevitably pass from the scene. A community can aspire toward everlasting life.
The Choice Before Us
With several hundred years of re-enforcement, the perspective that material expansion is the ultimate good is well entrenched at the subconscious level. Its inertia is immense and efforts to perpetuate it are well funded. In some situations, expanding economic activity may still be a means to necessary ends, but the time has passed for expansion to be an end in itself. The present and future well-being of individuals, communities and ecosystems must be clearly seen as legitimate goals. Concentrating less on consuming and focusing more on living, designing for durability, recycling basic resources and eliminating toxic releases must find permanent legitimacy. The means have to be developed to share the rewards of increased efficiency, minimal material throughput and the consequent reduction in the amount of work necessary to maintain humankind.
The present tensions between the steady state and the material expansion models has been growing for many decades, but the first substantial response in the conventional wisdom wasn't until the glimpse of hope that surfaced in the late 1980s, with the Brundtland Commission Report. For the brief period before the economic downturn legitimacy shifted to the ethic of sustainability. That episode ended because the solution of reducing human impacts on the environment fundamentally contradicted the conventional goal of exponential economic expansion. Steps were quickly taken by the cheerleaders of growth everlasting, to reclaim the focus of legitimacy.
Along with the problems of resource depletion, pollution and ecosystem disruption, the Brundtland Commission recognized the problems of poverty and underdevelopment. For those with insufficient food, clean water, shelter, education, health care and livelihoods, development is critical. Enabling people to work within their own territories to provide necessities for each other, shared the new legitimacy with reducing the destructive impacts of the highly industrialized world. It was on this development hook that the deposed orthodoxy staged its comeback.
After the Commission's report, Our Common Future, was tabled, the countries of the world were to experiment with ways of providing for the needs of the present without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The global community was to meet in five years to share related experiences. That UN Conference on Environment and Development took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. By the time the conference was convened, the recession of the early 1990s had turned a lot of attention toward getting the economy growing again. At the conference, "development" (confused totally with growth) shared center stage with the need to find environmental stability. From there, the old legitimacy reasserted itself using the rhetoric of aiding underdeveloped nations, and then catapulted the money-serving mechanisms of corporate globalization on to the well-meaning aspirations of a concerned world.
Sufficiency in basic necessities is an important requisite of long-term well-being; meeting the mathematical expectation of exponential money growth is not. The legitimacy held by sustainability for a short time in the late 1980s was subverted. When it again rises as our legitimate goal, we will want to secure it there. Individually, by will, we can each establish our "vote" for a sustainable order. For that order to regain and hold on to legitimacy, it will take a large number of people applying their wills, and reinforcing each other by letting it be known where they stand.
Sifting Through Traditions
Having individual impulses moderated by the super-ego has two sides. It is both a tremendous asset that has guided us through the ages, and a shackle that now binds us to ways of doing things that are leading toward disaster. Those who seek to transform society have the critical task of assessing the composition of our super-ego and separating those elements that threaten us from those that can help secure the future.
A distinction has to be made between the elements that have been relayed over generations because they improve our common lot, and those that have followed a similar path, but are no longer relevant in our full world. In particular, we need to identify and moderate the inflated values that have been given to greed and self-interest in the name of the invisible hand. In order for the internal, super-ego moderator to serve a positive role in today's world, the exploitation of disadvantaged people and the degradation of the environment have to be widely recognized as antisocial.
As the present model of progress delivers us deeper into environmental disaster and social disruption, individual dissonance will increase. If the Monopoly winners insist on continuing "the game" to its bitter end, the urge to rebellion will grow. We need to offer an understanding of how legitimacy is assigned by the will of individuals, and to initiate open debate about what is and what is not acceptable. Such a process to sort through the "right" and "wrong" of the present value set could avert the chaos that might easily arise as people see their future being destroyed by a power structure that does not see the problems it is causing and seems unwilling to look. We need a "Reformation." We cannot afford the huge setback that would come from pursuing the present system until it either breaks of its own negligence or is disrupted by violent rebellion.
Human Purpose in a Changing World
The super-ego's subconscious role in supporting the human purpose, hasn't changed. It promotes behaviours understood to enhance the common good. When that purpose is usurped by elite power groups, they must, nonetheless, profess the common good, if not in terms of overall well-being, at least, in that of security. Without effective propaganda, it would become obvious that the end result did not serve a viable and inclusive mutual provision. If they cannot convince the people that we are all served by serving their goals, active repression through violence and fear becomes the only way for them to maintain control.
As circumstances and opportunities change, understanding about what best serves the common good also changes. Attitudes about retribution, lending money at interest, slavery, the role of women in society, democracy, sexuality, and many other issues have shifted over the centuries. Always we evolve. Problems inspire visions of change and those so inspired share their thoughts. As a growing number of people come to see well-being in the new way, the paradigm begins to shift. At first the new ideas are opposed, sometimes violently. But gradually, if the vision is true to the human condition and how the world appears, the number of people who understand it grows. Finally, as the new perspective becomes established, the attitude and consequent ways of being become second nature. As surely as we have come to know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, we will come to understand that our well-being depends on integrating human culture within the flows and limitations of ecological reality.
How long will it take for the subconscious shift to take place? This is a question of huge relevance. Each one of us influences the answer by how we apply our will. If we act with the resolve of one who sees a car speeding ever closer on a collision course, we may yet preserve well-being for our childrens' children.
The change process is well under way in terms of public awareness of the problems at hand. Unfortunately, the fundamental belief in growth everlasting looms ominously. The belief is a roadblock propped up and defended autocratically by people with enormous means, and more than enough interests vested to trigger deep denial about the problems and solutions of our time. Until the need for change is seen to be widely understood, most people will not resist the pressures to conform. As long as economic growth is recognized as the goal of society, "good" citizens will seek satisfaction through consumption. Most people do not have the conviction to resist what appears legitimate. As long as our governing institutions proceed to adjust the law to accommodate expansion, we will have work to do to convince people that legitimacy should be assigned elsewhere.Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.
Economist, John Maynard Keynes
The idea of letting society self-organize through competition between unrestrained, self-interested, ambitious people is a recent addition to the conventional wisdom. At most, it is a few hundred years old - practically newborn compared to the hundreds of thousands of years that people have cooperated in mutual provision. As a lifestyle, self-interest tends to create lonely people and competition creates losers. Nevertheless, the ideology asserts that the common good is best served by these potent motivators. Even if it were once true, it is no longer so. Only in terms of its self-selected measure of expanding gross wealth does it continue to produce results, and that only in some quarters.
By other measures, the present order is failing. Many of those who have benefited in recent decades have cause for anxiety. Without warning, distant shifts in the globalized economy can undermine their livelihoods. Even for those with "secured" wealth - everything paid for and money in the bank - the underlying processes upon which their lives depend are in danger. Fuel for the machines that drive our world is in precarious supply. Chemical pollutants contaminate the air we breath, the water we drink and the food we eat. Many types of cancer stalk rich and poor alike; families and communities are disintegrating and resentment spreads. Amidst mountains of material goods, we cannot assure our children a secure and healthy future.
We live in a parody of the joke about the surgeons who, upon emerging from a very complex medical procedure, announce that the operation was a success, but the patient died. It speaks of misplaced priorities. People need things, and it is the purpose of business and industry to produce those things. However, if the productive process undermines well-being, it is not successful. It is a misplaced priority to say that activities are successful simply because they make money.
A Three Fold Social OrderFascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power.Writing in Germany in 1919, Rudolf Steiner recognized the danger of wealth concentrating under the control of one sector of society. He saw problems brewing in the power that business was exercising over government, and he saw further problems arising for social well-being as a result of the control that the business/government combination was exercising over the cultural life of society.
Steiner understood why the business sector had access to the material and financial resources of the community; producing material goods was what they did. It was not in the interest of society, however, for the business sector to have control over all aspects of human activity. In his book The Three Fold Social Order, reprinted as Toward Social Renewal, Steiner makes a case for recognizing that society is made up of economic, political and cultural sectors. These three, Steiner saw respectively as the cultural manifestations of willing, thinking, and feeling. Each sector has particular areas of concern and in each area, the people involved are the ones best informed for making decisions in those areas.
As Steiner saw it, the economic or business sector would manage the production and distribution of goods and services. The business community understands what has to be done to meet people's needs and the necessary work. They are also accustomed to applying the will to getting it done. At the same time their natural assertiveness needs to be tempered by the "rights" or political sector.
The political sector would be responsible for justice in the relationships between people. By thinking through the implications of various sorts of advantage, and assisted by the democratic process, this sector would work to maintain balance between different groups of people and between the rights and responsibilities of individuals, communities and institutions. This sector might, for example, determine that everyone needs opportunities to work, and that view would be weighed against the advantage of allowing unemployment as a means to keep the cost of labour down and profits up.
The final sector is that which encompasses the potentials of people as feeling individuals: education, religion, the arts and other cultural activities. It is not in the long-term interest of society for its children to be raised as fodder for production and consumption, nor to fit into the master plan of some political vision. The cultural sector would see to it that children were nurtured with the best of opportunities to grow into strong, capable and confidently independent individuals able to give meaning to their lives from within themselves. Training for particular vocations would come after nurturing the greatness of individual humanness and would be directed by personal observation of the needs of their communities. The ongoing education of adults and the support of theater, art, literature, music, dance and other expressions of culture would be accommodated with resources from the sector where wealth is produced.
With the wealth of society distributed among the various sectors to be managed and worked with by the people most familiar with and affected by the functions of each sector, each area of society could flourish, adding its potential to the health of the whole.
In his day, Steiner's Three Fold Social Order could have prevented the calamity of the fascist power that sought to impose its political ideology on civilization. It could serve us as well today.
Steps in Transition
The shift in priorities that our civilization needs to undergo to accomplish long-term well-being will not take place in a single bound. Grasping the nature of a sustainable economic order will come in stages. Industries adopting the Natural Step, Extended Producer Responsibility or programs, as described in Chapter 12, can move us toward sustainability by reducing fossil-fuel use and the waste they produce, while at the same time conforming to the principles of the economic expansion model. Renewable energy provides a further bridge. With its foundation in the material production of equipment, its positive effects can be multiplied by the application of intent through conservation. Health care and education are of unquestionable importance. They will have a presence in any social structure and they provide an exemplary way to move the focus of society away from the limited realm of material processing and toward the unlimited realm of life-based potentials.
By stepping away from accumulation and consumption as the purpose of life, security would become the product of working respectfully with natural cycles. By extending respect to other people, adversarial competitiveness would give way to caring cooperation and the possibility would expand for creating a truly elegant culture through co-intelligence and participatory democracy.
Renewable energy provides a toehold for the new legitimacy. Unlike petroleum, where long ago the energy was captured and rendered almost ready for use, renewable energy and storage systems require sophisticated, manufactured equipment making them expensive. A cost benefit analysis would show that more comfort and service can be derived from investing in conservation measures than in building additional equipment. Understanding that conservation can accommodate human need better than expanding production is crucial.
Energy conservation combines elements from both paradigms. From one perspective, it is a full participant in the "investment-production-compete-for-market-share" world of the growth economy. energy-efficient light bulbs, motors, appliances and vehicles are all products of profit motivated businesses. From the other perspective, conservation involves recognizing limits and taking steps to live within them. While this impulse can still lead to product purchases, it gives legitimacy to considering one's life style and choosing less consumptive activities. Through this window, the focus shifts toward the sustainability perspective.
The conventional wisdom around energy supply has oscillated notably since the early 1970s. Up until then, energy was strictly a growth industry. Following the 1973 Oil Crisis, concern for energy conservation reached a high point. Programs were instituted to encourage the insulation of homes and businesses, speed limits were reduced to boost fuel efficiency and subsidy programs were initiated to advance the development of wind, solar and small-scale hydro electric generation. Pioneering low consumption lifestyles was not part of the official response to the energy crunch but it was a natural inclination for conscientious people. The vision has been growing ever since.
Between the high price of fossil energy and encouragement to conserve, consumption levels did drop, and the energy producers were not pleased. Among the first things that Ronald Reagan did after his election in 1980 was to cancel the funding for alternative energy programs, slowing progress in those fields to a crawl. Speed limits were increased and a blind eye was turned to the promotion of sport utility vehicles and 4X4 trucks for personal transportation. Exempt from the fuel efficiency requirements of personal transport, yet sold by the millions, these heavyweight vehicles ended energy conservation in transportation. Claims of increased safety have since unraveled, leaving the public with inefficient transport and increased danger of pollution, fuel depletion and large volumes of steel traveling at high speeds. A review of the Ford Motor Company's 2003 vehicle line-up, showed that only one of those models gets better mileage than the 35 miles per gallon with which their 1912 Model T cruised the highways.
Such was the first oscillation of legitimacy between producing energy to maximize monetary returns and extending the utility of a resource through conservation and the development of alternative energy sources: one was driven by monetary growth and the other, carried within it, the seeds of the "life perspective."
As anxiety mounts again over petroleum reserves, another oscillation is presently taking place. With well over 500 billion barrels of oil consumed since 1973, most oil fields outside the Middle East are past their peak of production and in decline. Those who still believe in perpetual expansion continue to muster vast military forces to secure remaining supplies so that they can continue with business as usual. Those who view the world from the sustainability perspective are moving slowly forward, developing energy-efficient and renewable energy producing equipment. These new businesses fit inconspicuously into the old legitimacy as ambitious growth industries preparing to fill a growing need. At the same time, they are important components of a sustainable economy and are increasing the legitimacy of their compliment - conservation.
Health Care and Education
The scope for shifting paradigms expands further in the fields of education and health care. Critical to any society, the way these sectors are developed changes significantly depending on which values a society holds. Despite the seemingly self-evident truth that a population is far more productive when it is healthy and well-educated, the money paradigm considers health care and education expendable when accounts get tight: the returns are less concrete and often longer-term than suits conventional monetary expedience. Loan payments are due monthly, economic performance is measured quarterly, and governments are reviewed on their performance every four years or so. A basic education, on the other hand, can take a decade or more, and, like health care, is most effective as a life-long process. Unfortunately, from a monetary perspective, which legitimizes only profit, the gains from industry and speculation are more tangible than the returns from good health and education.
Unlike material production where technical innovation can increase the amount of work each person can do, the work of teachers, doctors and nurses requires dealing one-on-one with students and patients. Efforts to increase "productivity" end up lowering the quality of the service. When the measure of all things is money, working directly with people suffers. Technological innovations in manufacturing and some services enable higher pay through increased productivity per person, without disrupting the customary balances between wages, profit and prices. For the wages of teachers and health care personnel to keep up with that of their peers in manufacturing, however, additional revenue must be found or other services cut. The money paradigm says the additional costs should be carried by those receiving the services. Such policy in health care and education, however, creates serious divisions. In health care, those who would receive treatment for a serious illness contrast with those who might die for lack of care. In education, those who must study long years to take on challenging jobs are contrasted with those who must live by menial labour. Such harshly divided classes frequently lead to deep resentment and social instability.
Education in the money paradigm aims to train people for jobs. Raising the price of education limits the number of people who might seek jobs in professional fields, virtually assuring that only the children of those already well off will fill those jobs. Education for life aims instead to produce emotionally stable, confident citizens, with a variety of knowledge. While skills by which individuals can contribute to mutual provision are important, so too are history, philosophy and the arts. These subjects help people understand the world, make informed choices about democratic options and increase the quality of human experience. The sciences are learned, not simply to expand production, but to assure that such production can coexist harmlessly within the social and natural environments. Furthermore, education is a bountiful component of the life paradigm. By pursuing education for the wonder of knowledge itself, satisfaction can be gained for entire lifetimes with almost no additional material throughput.
Except for the cost of living for the teachers, from the sustainability perspective, education costs almost nothing to deliver compared to a transportation system or consumer products. Once developed, knowledge is free. A teacher can explain a topic to many people. While all will know more than they did before, the teacher loses nothing for passing the knowledge along. It is possible for poor countries to have a very well-educated population. Once basic support for those who enjoy learning is provided, they will be able to absorb and share the bounty of information that humankind has produced. Unfortunately in the Money End Game, developing countries are told to reduce investments in education when lending agencies pressure them to gather money for interest payments.
In the realm of health care, the economic growth model finds opportunity in sickness. Diabetes was mentioned earlier, and drug prices are another infamous example. The extension of patent protection for drugs was a concrete action to accommodate economic growth. Patented drugs are often sold for hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of times as much as it costs to produce them. This makes drug companies among the most profitable investments around and assures that their sales will continue to inflate the GDP for years to come. While the resulting increases in GDP, with minimal increase in material throughput, is promoted as a win-win solution for growth and sustainability, the moral repercussions of charging inflated prices for badly needed medication are compromising.
Cancer is a growth industry. Tens of billions of dollars are spent annually treating the poor souls whom it afflicts, and many millions more are spent studying the disease and looking for a cure. In all the research, however, the obvious connections between increasing concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals in the environment and the increasing incidence of cancer is largely ignored. Making money doing practically anything is so revered that it is considered almost anti-social to try to solve the problem at the prevention level. It does not bode well for preventative solutions as long as we are entrenched in the value structure of growth everlasting.
Nevertheless, the new paradigm is making appearances here and there. The successful legal suit against the tobacco industry mentioned in connection with full-cost accounting is a landmark example. The legitimacy gained for prevention in that one case will make it easier for future cases where money-making activities threaten well-being.
The expensive equipment and complex procedures that drive medical costs up are the tools necessary for curing illness after it has taken hold. Maintaining good health is not an expensive undertaking when it is approached from the angle of prevention. Mostly what good health requires is knowledge about the factors that contribute to individual well-being, and the will to encourage each other to lead healthy lives, rather than promoting the consumption of products and lifestyles that undermine our health. Knowledge, as discussed above is the product of attention, thought, communication and goodwill. Research to determine the causes of problems can be expensive, but once it has been conducted, the understanding can be reproduced indefinitely at little or no additional cost. Nourishing food, exercise, a community of friends, and the opportunity to participate in mutual provision and the decisions that affect one's life will keep most people in good health.
Cuba provides an excellent example here. The island has been under an economic blockade since 1962. Without the benefits of unrestricted trade and finance, the most abundant resource available has been the life-based capabilities of the people. Even so, in 1988, Cuba was awarded the Health for All medal by the World Health Organization (WHO). The medal recognized it as the only developing country to attain the health goals that the WHO hoped all third world countries would achieve by 2000. Cuba received the medal again 10 years later for having more doctors serving in other countries than the WHO itself, and for having lowered its infant mortality rate from 60 per thousand births in 1959 to 6.5 presently. By comparison, the U.S. has an infant mortality rate of 6.9 per thousand births.
A recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine said of the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana: "[It is] sponsored by the Cuban government and dedicated to training doctors to treat the poor of the Western hemisphere and Africa. Twenty-seven countries and 60 ethnic groups are represented among [the school's] eight thousand students." Of these, 88 are from disadvantaged parts of the U.S. In exchange for free education, students are required to commit to practicing medicine back in the poor communities from which they came.
Another example is China's "barefoot doctors." China's present medical system was started during their revolution in 1935, by a Canadian, Dr. Norman Bethune. Bethune had already achieved notoriety for a variety of things. These included the procedure - which he first performed on himself - for curing tuberculosis by collapsing a lung, and the creation of the first mobile medical unit upon which Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH) are now modeled. Before going to China Bethune had been a professor at McGill University in Montreal. To this day, in his honour, each year two professors are chosen from the McGill Faculty of Medicine to tour China and lecture at medical schools there.
My father, Dr. Mark Nickerson, was head of the Department of Pharmacology at McGill when he was chosen in 1975, to be one of the "Bethune Professors." One of my dad's specialties was post traumatic shock - the sort of complication that sets in after a severe injury, such as a very bad burn. In China, he was expecting to deliver a talk on the methods he had been developing, but before the lecture he was given a tour through a large hospital. To his surprise, the post traumatic shock complications he was accustomed to dealing with here in Canada were almost nonexistent there. In North America, 20% of serious burn victims might develop such complications. In China, the figure was around one-half of one percent. The "barefoot doctors" were responsible for the difference.
Because the new order arising in 1935 had almost no medical services available, Bethune trained people to train others in medical procedures. A kind of voluntary pyramid scheme of medical information sharing developed. By the time of my father's visit, if someone in China didn't have a job, he or she received first aid training. If there was still no work, they received more sophisticated training. Over time, a great many Chinese have been trained in all manner of medical procedures. One in every 80 people there is a health care provider. What this means to accident victims is that sophisticated first aid is available anywhere in the country soon after an accident. The shock complications don't develop because of the speed with which accident victims are treated. My father's specialty was irrelevant and it was necessary for him to quickly come up with another topic for his lecture.
Even today, China is not yet rich by Western standards, but 30 years ago it was far less so. The difference in this health care system, at that time at least, was that medical procedures did not have to respond to the structural scarcity of a debt-based money system. Human ingenuity could be directed toward other ends.
We have some of the advantages of the life-based approach with Canada's Medicare system. Although it is heavily influenced by a profit seeking drug manufacturing industry, and tight restrictions on who can provide medical care, the services are primarily in the interest of a healthy population. Even as powerful lobbies campaign to allow "for-profit" medical facilities, there is a trend to shift Medicare's focus from treating illness to promoting wellness. While we aren't training welfare recipients to give their neighbours first aid yet, there is a growing effort to keep people out of the "medical treatment market."
Many communities in Ontario are fortunate to have community health centers. The doctors on staff are paid a salary rather than per visit and, as a result, have nothing to gain from people getting, or staying, sick. The primary focus of these centers is to encourage healthy living. By helping people to understand how health is affected by stress, pollution, quality of employment, income distribution, exercise, nutrition, participation in decision-making and the like, communities are prompted to work toward improving the quality of life for everyone.
Health care straddles the line between the material focus, which can be lucratively harnessed for monetary expansion, and the life focus, which can provide significant increases in well-being with almost no material requirements beyond the sustenance of those providing the services. The economic growth approach might be seen, from the life-based perspective, as taking undue advantage of people's weaknesses, while the life-based approach would be considered worthless, distracting or counterproductive where monetary expansion is the measure of success.
Renewable energy systems support the sustainability perspective by introducing conservation. Education and health care can take this a step further by showing some advantages of focusing on well-being, rather than profit. Both of these can, and presently are, managed in ways that also serve monetary expansion. Shifting one's focus from consumption to life-based activities takes one completely out of the money perspective and into the life model. When we make this move, we can expect opposition as it challenges the present order's deepest illusion - that material things are the essence of wealth, well-being and satisfaction.
Once basic nutrition and shelter are secured, the illusion that life depends on material things is a trap. Until we realize how, we too, are caught by the materialist illusion, there will be a tendency to dismiss life-based solutions as lacking legitimate content.
Material goods have built-in tollgates. Those who possess the material can demand money from anyone who wants what they have. Satisfaction derived from life, and from developing the capabilities of aliveness, offer few such tollgates. One might, for example, be able to charge for giving music lessons, but once a student catches on, he or she could well derive pleasure from music for the rest of his or her life without ever paying again. The case is even more pronounced when it comes to gaining satisfaction from a good friendship, or the appreciation of the things we can see, hear, taste, feel, smell and understand. Even when lessons introducing such things are purchased, the return business can be minimal.
Because of our material focus, modern education often neglects the basics of how to be a good friend, what makes relationships work, and how to raise children to be creative, self-motivated, responsible citizens. We are not taught how to eliminate the undue influence that past traumas can have on present circumstances. Such lessons would produce huge benefits in terms of long-term well-being, but they could also cause a serious setback for GDP. Psychiatrists, lawyers, prison guards and physicians would lose a lot of business and, if people had fulfilling lives with less residual trauma, far less gratification would be sought through consuming material goods and other addictive behaviours. The economic expansion model could be in serious trouble. Investing in such education would only pay off if we measured progress in terms of well-being.
I think again of my friend John's comment about the "poor" Asians he visited in the early 1970s. When things got tough, they "just huddled closer together in the great love they had for each other and it was okay." One wonders whether or not such people are actually poor? With access to traditional lands, they could support each other forever, cycling their nutritional needs through natural processes and working together to maintain their shelters and other necessities. In the closeness of community, the gratification that comes from helping those one knows can transform work into passing time with friends. There are few in our money culture who enjoy such security.One who is content with little, has much.
Financial security always seems to be an issue. The debt-based money contrivance keeps everyone on the edge. After generations of pursuing self-interest, and with television claiming our time and teaching us to want so many things, community bonds are all-too-often absent and the sense of needing something never far away. The material dream requires a lifetime of hard work or exploitation, yet seldom does it provide the sense of having arrived. If our purpose was mutual provision without having to compete over a monetary supply kept scarce by design, a whole new world of possibilities could open up. By recognizing security as having enough to get by in the material realm, it is possible to become still inside and breathe in the wonders of life. Time to live and to help those close by is available to anyone - no gate, no ticket. All that is required is to appreciate sufficiency and open up to what life offers. There is a security bonus in that civilization based on enjoying life has a far greater chance of enduring than one seeking perpetual material growth.
One of the growing trends in North America today is the movement of people to simplify their lives. Working long hours can be stressful on individuals and alienating for their families. By avoiding the trap of materialism and, instead, enjoying what life offers, one can have far more time for living and do less harm to the Earth in the process.
A trip to your local garbage dump can provide a firm grasp of this concept. The tradition of "dumping" garbage lost some of its legitimacy in the 1980s, so the facility is now called a "landfill site." Now, there is likely an associated recycling program and the garbage will be carefully covered so that rain water runs off and away, rather than percolating through the often toxic contents. Whatever the improvements, however, your experience will be the same; you will still find huge volumes of used goods and truckload after truckload of things upon which people spent good money, days, weeks or months earlier, coming to be buried. Imagine how much was paid for the contents of each of those truckloads. People worked hard for that money; by spending it, they willed the conversion of the natural world into products that they possessed for a time and then threw away. While doing their bit for an obsolete economy, the futility of their efforts is obvious as one watches the trucks unload.
Material security, in the form of excellent nutrition, comfortable, energy-efficient homes, sufficient clothing, excellent tools, close families and communities, and lots of time to be creative and enjoy the wonders all around, can be achieved for all, if we so choose. Even the basic physical gear of education, health care, sports and the arts is within our grasp. What cannot be maintained is the steady and increasing flow of goods that are produced with the intent of being used up and discarded to make way for more of the same.
"Voluntary simplicity" costs far less than a life pursuing material goods; it is more satisfying because the enjoyment is real in the way our lives are real. It is a vision that we can realistically offer our children and grandchildren. A sense of knowing that we are passing a world of fulfilling possibilities on to our children would be priceless, in and of itself.
A Step in Good Faith
Both feminine and masculine are found in each of us, in varying proportions. Nevertheless, the underlying dichotomy exists and provides a useful reference. While the statements in this paragraph and those following are broad, with many exceptions, "feminine" attributes are most frequently found in women and "masculine" attributes most frequently found in men. Most of the present order is run by men; we are strong, stable and motivated. We are also full of personal ambitions; just the thing for a system that promotes self-interest and competition as the best way to serve the common good.
As the collective human condition shifts from adolescence toward maturity, the qualities of cooperation and inclusiveness become more appropriate. These qualities are more commonly found in women. When making decisions there is a tendency for women to think, "What will work for the children?" rather than "How can I win." Considerations of pride, power or conquest are less likely to distract their focus from the common good. Feminine attitudes are the essence of the Seven Generations perspective. We need more of them.
There are women in positions of power today who got there by competing with and winning over men. With women, as with men, there is a full spectrum of qualities. Within the current structures, it takes masculine qualities to get to "the top." Think back to Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher of Britain and Golda Mier of Israel, both of whom demonstrated that they had "the balls" to wage war. This is not the conciliatory attitude I'm suggesting would surface if women filled more positions of power. Gro Brundtland provides a different example. As the Prime Minster of Norway, she chaired the World Commission on Environment and Development that produced Our Common Future described in Chapter 1. That statement of concerns led to the great hope that humankind might rise to the challenges of our times.
George Mully became a friend and mentor as we worked together in the late 1980s on the video in the Guideposts for a Sustainable Future discussion kit. Earlier in his career he did projects for native communities where he learned how leaders were chosen within the Six Nations Confederacy. He explained that while the leaders were men, they were chosen by the women. If someone was ambitious and wanted to lead, he was disqualified. Leadership wasn't about personal ambition, it was about service to the community. How was it known which men harbored personal ambitions and which did not? The women knew, because they had known them since they were babies.
It will take a strong sense of trust, fair play and the will to survive to raise the feminine influence on decision-making up to par with the masculine. A healthy balance is needed.
There must be ways for the masculine and the feminine perspectives to coexist. Among mature, responsible adults, it is unnecessary for the boisterous to submerge the accommodating. If a commitment to democratic process exists, opportunities to speak should be possible for those who prefer to let a moment pass after one person has finished talking, before adding another perspective. The technique of consultation (see the Appendix) provides suggestions.
Marilyn Waring is the godmother of the well-being measurement movement. She served three terms in the New Zealand Government - the first, as the only woman Member of Parliament. In her second term she chaired the Public Expenditures Committee. There she learned how disconnected the GDP measure was from much of what is valuable in society. Most of what women traditionally do is ignored in GDP tallies. Raising and educating young children, keeping peace in the home and community and the care of aging parents, to name a few critical activities, are not counted. Because they do not contribute to the GDP, those essential services are officially invisible and few public resources are made available to assist those providing such services. The lack of compensation, or even social recognition, causes some to feel it is not legitimate work. With people seeking to contribute in ways that are recognized, these critical roles in society are increasingly neglected.
Proponents of economic expansion argue that people express their will through how they spend money. Marilyn Waring believes that our will is more accurately expressed by how we spend our time. If public resources were distributed relative to where helpful time is spent, rather than where money is made, our world would evolve differently.
In the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, in part because of the traditional custom where women were responsible for family wealth and men married into families, but not into control, the women have had a definite say in how that society's resources are allocated. This has resulted in European standards of literacy and health, along with population stability, all on an average income of $330 per year. This, and other examples of what happens when women are empowered, led to the 1994 United Nations Conference on Population making the education of young women a central part of the global population stabilization strategy.
The attitudes of cooperation, and of caring for those who cannot fully care for themselves, are important elements of what we must accomplish. Whether through genetic propensity, cultural training or from the long and loving work of raising children, these are qualities most consistently found in women. The more women are empowered to make decisions in society, and the more comfortable that men become with their own capacity for nurturing, the more influence these qualities will have on the world our children will inherit.
Managing Public OpinionThe twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
Understanding the world is a product of thought, which is a product of experience. Experience comes from two sources; the world as we see it and, what other people tell of their experiences. This latter source includes the experience embodied in the conventional wisdom as delivered through our language and culture, topics from our education, the experiences of our peers, and presentations by the media. Most people relay experiences as accurately as they are able, subtly participating in the collective mind by which an open, trusting society makes its way through time. Sometimes, however, people feed information into our experience that is selected or contrived so that we think what they want us to think.
The promotion of material acquisition in the conventional wisdom poses a major obstacle. To rise effectively to the sustainability challenge, as many people as possible must have a clear understanding of what the problems and opportunities are. While much information is being distributed, vested interests employ a great deal of creative effort to divert attention from the challenges and proposed solutions, and to reinforce the goal of perpetual expansion.
Manipulation of public opinion is not a new situation. It was well established in 1915 when the major financial houses of the U.S. were afraid that $1.5 billion in "Rothschild Formula" type war loans to Britain and France were in danger of going bad. German U-boats had successfully cut off shipping to Britain and food supplies for the civilian population were estimated to be sufficient for only six to eight weeks. In The Creature from Jekyll Island Edward Griffin gives extensive details about news media control and how, with some cooperation from Britain, the U.S. was ushered into World War I.
Early in the 1900s, financial interests were buying up newspapers to gain control of editorial policy. In 1905, a cooperative Congressional Representative from Pennsylvania, Joseph Sibley, wrote about the need for media control: "An efficient literary bureau is needed, not for a day or a crisis but a permanent healthy control of the Associated Press and kindred avenues." On February 9, 1917, another Representative, Oscar Callaway, from Texas, reported to the U.S. Congress. The J. P. Morgan interests had taken steps:... to control generally the policy of the daily press. ... They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of 25 of the greatest papers. ... An agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information "regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies, and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers."
Through the network of public information so acquired, considerable editorial space was invested to inspire the U.S. participation in the war. Even so, the public didn't buy it. Ten to one, they opposed entering "Europe's war." Additional tactics were then added to the effort.
The Lusitania was a British passenger ship that had been retrofitted so that the lower decks could carry military cargo. For its May 1915 voyage from New York to Britain, in addition to its passengers, it was loaded with a large amount of military supplies for the British war effort. The German Embassy in Washington protested the breach of international neutrality treaties and sent prepaid ads to 50 newspapers in the U.S., for their travel sections, warning potential travelers that they were at war and that British ships traveling in British waters were targeted for destruction. Of the 50 papers to whom it was sent, only the Des Moines Register printed the notice. Under the pretense of saving fuel, the Lusitania was ordered to travel at three-quarter speed. When it entered the war zone, its rendezvous for escort with the British Destroyer Juno was canceled and the captain was left to sail, unprotected, right into waters known to be occupied by German U-Boats. Not surprisingly, the slow moving target was sunk, killing the 195 American passengers aboard. Then, predictably, the newspapers took up the cry. Americans had been killed; the nation must enter the war. And they did.
Quoting Lundberg from his book, America's Sixty Families: "The declaration of war by the United States, in addition to extricating the wealthiest American families from a dangerous [financial] situation, also opened new vistas of profits." Some $35 billion were created and spent by the U.S. as the war progressed, nearly doubling the money supply and consequently lowering the purchasing power of the dollar by nearly 50%. With net profits of nearly $38 billion, wartime industries were the winners, while the whole population shared in the hidden tax through inflation.Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and for exposing the country to greater danger.
Nazi Reich Marshal Herman Goering, at the Nuremberg trials
News reporting, or withholding, and its ability to mold public opinion aside, the media - television in particular - is dedicated to cultivating consumer demand. In The Last Hours of Ancient Sunshine, Thom Hartmann describes many aspects of our culture that keep us ignorant about how we live on Earth today. His main theme is that over the last few generations we've developed an almost total dependency on fossil-fuel - oil in particular. Ancient sunshine is a lyrical description of fossil-fuels; literally, the energy in petroleum is sunshine that was absorbed by plants hundreds of millions of years ago. The information media has only begun to acknowledge that this resource will be practically exhausted within the lifetime of today's children. It would seem a message of importance, as this one detail renders all decisions about increasing dependency on long-distance trade and travel mistaken, yet it is not an issue considered suitable for media attention.
What the commercial media does consider important is for people to buy things; commercialism thrives on short-term thinking. Using the analogy between individual stages of maturity and the behaviour of society, Hartmann points out that young children have not the slightest awareness or concern about the future; "Gimme now" encapsulates their attitude. "The primary immature cultural concept that - 'you are the most important person in the world' - is shouted at us daily through TV, the primary spokesvehicle of our culture," Hartmann continues. The constant reinforcement of this message keeps us immature. The reason he gives for, "the persistence and intensity of these messages is simple: when people behave like children, wanting immediate gratification for their every desire, they are ideal consumers."
Premonitions in the late 1940s about control of public opinion led George Orwell to write his famous novel, Nineteen Eighty Four. In the world he described, every aspect of life was centrally controlled. Fiction was broadcast as truth and history was re-written to maintain control of the public mind and serve the political aspirations of the rulers.
After reading that book in the 1960s, I remember counting down the years as 1984 approached. The year arrived, and with it, in Canada, the election of a government that gave us the first of the "Free Trade" agreements. Ninteen-eighty-four is now two decades past. In 2003, 50 million people assembled on a single day, for common purpose, in dozens of countries around the world. Never had an event taken place of such size and geographical diversity. It was an event of globally historic proportions. However, since its purpose was to protest against the American establishment's war plans for Iraq, it received only passing mention in mainstream news. With very few exceptions, that media has been purchased by wealthy interests and it is diligent in presenting views of the world that support its owners. It is no coincidence that these people are from the same small community that is intent on winning the Global Monopoly Game.
It is timely that, for many of us, the Internet has arrived, providing a source of information that is not controlled by commercial interests. It has already breached monopoly control of the news. The stark differences between what is reported by individuals on the spot and what the commercial media says, has stimulated the critical faculties of many. The ranks of those who would change the focus of our culture are swelling as the self-serving motives of the Monopoly winners come to light. The goal of "shopping-until-we-drop" is giving way to sustaining the land and life.
The Internet was designed by the U.S. military to provide dependable communications, even if large portions of the infrastructure were destroyed. The robust design makes it safe from disruption, at least, so far. However, as we attempt to prevent blind commercialism from driving civilization to overshoot and collapse, we are well advised not to put all our communications eggs in the Internet, or any other basket. As that medium proves effective, we can count on steps being taken to limit its usefulness for opposing the Global Monopoly Game. For good measure, keep an eye out for other means of communicating. In particular, look for opportunities for personal encounters. Person to person communication remains the most secure, direct and trusted means of sharing experiences.
Across many cultures and through many centuries, ostentatious displays of wealth by those at the top have helped cement the social hierarchy and stabilize power. While in the past these affluent displays have been too small to damage ecosystems, their expansion through the middle class dream have grown into a highly destructive custom.Every step of economic expansion comes at the expense of wildlife habitat and the health of ecosystems.
Dr. Brian Czech, Author of "Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train"
Brian Czech is a Ph.D. wildlife biologist working in the U.S. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. After years of documenting environmental degradation and thinking about the social order causing it, he wrote a book titled, Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train. Czech explains "that every step of economic growth comes at the expense of wildlife habitat and the health of ecosystems," and that after a good standard of living is provided for, further economic growth is actually uneconomic. "To say the economy is growing sounds like something good," he explains. When children or crops grow it is a good thing. When an economy is already more than big enough to provide for all its people's needs, further growth is not a good thing. Were it reported that the economy is "bloating" rather than growing, we would be more inclined to recognize the problem and do something about it.
Dr. Czech suggests that such a reframing of our language could help direct our culture away from self-destruction. Using language, like "the bloating economy" to more closely reflect reality is a start. So frequently in the media conspicuous consumption is presented as admirable, encouraging viewers to wish it for themselves. In fact, Czech asserts that consuming beyond what is needed for a secure and healthy life is "a narcissistic disregard for posterity," and recommends social pressure as a means to discourage such dangerous behaviour. He suggests identifying the wealthiest 1% of the population - those who consume the most resources - as "the liquidating class," and says they ought to be "castigated" for "the wanton destruction of the grandkids' natural environment."
Czech is sensitive to the danger of alienating those who might be allies in reframing public opinion. Hence, the 1% focus. At the time he wrote his book, (published in 2000) the top 1% in the United States were gathering to themselves 62% of all the new wealth being created. Their net worth was equivalent to that of the bottom 90%. Conspicuous indeed.
On the other side of the "public opinion revolution" are those who act with respect and restraint. Whether their restraint be out of choice or necessity, if they feel good about what they are doing, they won't strive to join those who needlessly destroy the natural world. They can take pride in their frugality and enthusiastically pioneer the wonders of seeking satisfaction from their lives rather than from stuff. Those who are capable and wise enough to live with minimal disruption of our living planet could be called the "steady state class." Those who excel at living lightly on the Earth will be the new heroes and our young will look up to the best of them, seeking to emulate and surpass their feats.
It could happen, but it will take considerable creativity on the part of those who presently grasp the challenges we face. Of special importance to the success of this "Steady State Revolution" is how the act of castigation is borne out. "Acts of violence," says Czech, "will only backfire, especially in the post 9/11 world."