|Live more simply so others may simply live|
“May you live your life as if the maxim of your actions were to become universal law.” – Immanuel Kant, the “Categorical Imperative” from Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785)
“Consume only your fair share of nature or being ends.” – Dr. Glen BarryBy Dr. Glen Barry, EcoInternet
The disparity of wealth and well-being which currently exists globally is grotesque and threatens us all with a horrific death as demands upon nature for consumption overwhelm the biosphere.
The stupid among us will wrongly call such concerns communism, while the intent is simply to ask how much is enough? And how much can we each have if we value fairness, the well-being of all humans and species, and seek global ecological sustainability forever?
It is evil incarnate that some have so much as many have so little. Systematic racism and other injustices provide a gilded legacy of plenty to entire families over generations, as some human beings through no fault of their own have few if any opportunities for advancement. Basic human-needs of food, water, shelter, clothing – to say nothing of higher level needs for community, love, and security – are systematically unmet for billions. Some of the disparity is certainly due to intelligence and hard-work, yet the majority of inequity is due to the random location of your birth and the circumstances therein. And much inequity is due to the rich impeding advancement by the poor if it even minutely diminishes the growth of their own wealth.
It is not a coincidence that record global economic inequity comes as abrupt climate change and ecosystem loss threatens to end being. Inequitable over-population and disparities in consumption are the primary forces destroying our ecological heritage and ushering in an era of resource-scarcity.
Natural ecosystems are collapsing as our very climate fails. Racism, chauvinism, and even slavery are resurgent. The human family is poised upon the precipice of biosphere collapse and the end of being. Solutions are impeded by the rise once again of authoritarian fascism based upon anti-science and anti-intellectualism.
Science informs all equipped to listen that soils, wetlands, oceans, forests, water, and the air– the foundations of biological life – are all being liquidated for human consumption and as a result nature, wildlife, and humans are dying. Our immediate future is one of ghastly extreme weather events, a state of escalating perma-war scrambling to access reduced natural resources, and large-scale famine as ecosystems collapse and water and food sources fail.
As I have earlier asked in How Much Is Enough, how have we allowed a band of a couple hundred selfish oligarchs to amass half of Earth’s wealth as over a billion human beings struggle to exist in abject poverty? How do we justify owners of capital making 600 times the wage of their average worker? Wouldn’t their job creation prowess and hard work be sufficiently, even opulently, rewarded with 25 times pay disparity, as was once the case?
It is difficult for the bourgeoisie to imagine the horrors of abject poverty. Putting your children to bed hungry, in a cardboard box, as they cry out in pain before death. Selling your body and soul for your next meal, as your whole being aches with yearning for basic human comforts you see others possess and to which all aspire and deserve. The horrors include untreated disease, open defecation, human trafficking, continual violence, and a joyless miserable existence.
Dogs and cats for the well-off are treated much better than billions of poor people, many of whose labor supports the rich.
The Earth is a finite place (however much the siren call of techno-optimists wails). Humanity has gone from a population of one to over seven billion in only 135 years. Demands for consumption of all sorts of items including meat, iPhones, cars, air travel, large homes, and appliances have surged.
Quite simply not enough ecosystems remain to be liquidated for resources to provide all poverty stricken peoples the level of consumption enjoyed by a typical middle-class American. The nearly global embrace of democratic consumption as the meaning of life means that the rich scour the Earth for luxuries, as the poor do what is necessary to survive (including mass migration), each diminishing Earth’s natural capital and productive capacities.
It is not suggested here that everyone should live equally; just fairly, with all basic needs met, as the sum of global consumption remains within Earth’s limits for regeneration.
Kant’s categorical imperative emphasized that ethics are founded upon universality. Now more so than ever, the measure of a person’s character is whether they are living in a way that does not diminish the ability of others to achieve a similar standard of well-being.
The ecological and ethical conundrum is this: the comforts associated with consumption are being realized at a greater rate than nature can provide, even as many suffer from want. Either the rich will accept less in order that all can attain some basic measure of human well-being, even as sum consumption shrinks; or we face the final liquidation of nature and an appalling era of ecological collapse before the end of being.
We need to learn once again to share as we renounce usury, avarice, and greed. We must seek a higher degree of enlightenment that values equity, justice, and ecology more than gorging ourselves upon ill-gotten fruits. It is time to evolve together to a higher consciousness that values universal truths and well-being.
|We Are One Human Family|
At one time humanity sought increased awareness of the nature of being, and to maximize our well-being through continual self-improvement. Thus liberal democracy, personal freedom, and greater political participation for non-white men became established.
Yet these advancements have been shown in recent years to be vacuous and weak as even a slight decline in household consumption leads many to embrace all sorts of charlatan demagoguery.
As Earth and her humanity fall into nothingness, I implore you to resist such a fate.
Consume only your fair share of nature or being ends.
The ethical measure of a person is the degree to which they are regenerating nature, and that their sum impact upon ecology is positive. Only widespread embrace of such an ecology ethic can now save Earth and humanity.
What does this mean in practice? Sell your car. Return to the land to produce food and restore ecosystems. Have 1 or if you must at most 2 children. Eat less or no meat, and local organic foods. Travel via air infrequently if at all. And reject over-consumption as the meaning of life, instead valuing fairness and truth.
Favor deep experience, community, nature, and learning over more stuff. Consume only as much as is available universally for all. Know how much is enough and how to share. Such an ecology ethic is the new categorical imperative if together we are to avoid abrupt climate change and global ecological collapse.