“Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.” ― Zhuangzi, The Butterfly as Companion: Meditations on the First Three Chapters of the Chuang-Tzu
Of course, there is no such thing — i.e. the past.
There is only what’s happening now.
But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to occasionally wondering how we moved from a group of hunter-gatherers to devouring the world in the space of a few hundred years?
More particularly, how did we so easily lose touch with the natural world and become devoid of all humanity?
From an evolutionary perspective, it looks like something went disastrously wrong; but then again, perhaps this is the natural order — i.e. we’re anthropocentric to the core.
The question has to be asked, or at least I think it does, whether we’re playing out the end game of all end games or this is merely a blip which like so many things we’ll get through, even though millions will be lost along the way?
The thing is, despite all the hyped-up talk about the Green Economy and what we all need to do to stave off a disastrous rise in temperature, I see no change in our behaviour. Christmas is a good example. So far, at least in my tiny bailiwick, I’ve seen no mention of the toll that all that consumption will exact on the planet. My particular chagrin, apart from the fact that no one knows what the hell they’re celebrating, is the amount of waste and packaging that’s produced. Presents! What? In my day, Christmas was a time where you’d waited all year to get the one thing that you actually needed but now, very few of us need anything and it’s as if we’re acting out of shame or guilt if we don’t buy everyone, or at least those closest to us, a bushel of presents. I realize I’m generalising like hell, and I recognise and accept that there’s a whole swathe of people that won’t be so lucky but they’re in the minority.
Just imagine going back in time and speaking to the most influential people on the planet and explaining what’s up ahead. Apart from trying to adumbrate the technological revolution and the sheer size of the problem, do you think they’d have been able to influence their people to the point where they’d have arrested the problems up ahead? I think not. If you take something like healthcare, I’m quite certain that if you spoke about the fact that people were going to live a lot longer and childhood mortality would drop through the floor, no leader worth their salt is going to agree to take their foot off the pedal marked progress.
In the end, as much I might spend time thinking about these things, truth is, and this is said with a heavy heart, what will be, will be and no amount of exhortation, even on an international scale, is going to change our proclivity to screw things up.
Sorry but if it were otherwise, I’d be with the programme with all my heart.
As they say, onwards.
Photo by Mark de Jong on Unsplash