There’s a territory we must learn to live in where we’re committed to the good of the whole. When I engage with a person who’s on this wavelength, or I read something well-written that’s coming from this understanding, or a movie or a play has that ring of being right-on about it, I get excited. There’s something deeply satisfying, kind of like hitting a bullseye, when I meet a compatriot in this pay-dirt for humanity.
I was reading THE CLEAN MONEY REVOLUTION: Reinventing Power, Purpose, and Capitalism (a great book by Joel Solomon that I bought because I know Joel and to know him is to admire him), and came to a one-page statement by Rex Weyler that’s one of those spot-on deliveries of core truth that stirs my heart. I’ve been an admirer of Rex’s, one of the founders of Greenpeace, for a long time. Over the years, having passed along several things he’s written, my enthusiasm got me an in-person visit when Rex came to L.A. a while back.
When I sent Rex’s piece to fellow participants in an Elders Action Network webinar series about our worldview, the moderator said, “It is the most succinct statement I’ve read about the situation, the natural ecological process and the solution for the evolution of consciousness.” The better we understand what got us where we are the better we can grapple with where we need to go, and this piece of Rex’s is stunningly informative on that front:
Humanity is in a state of ecological overshoot, which occurs with every successful species. Nature teaches species how to grow and flourish, but does not teach species how to stop—so everything over-grows its habitat capacity. Everything. Plants in the garden, wolves in a watershed, algae in a lake. Humans have been so successful (ecologically) that we have now overshot the productive capacity of our ecosystem. That is normal and it is the fundamental ecological challenge. Now, all genuine solutions to overshoot involve contraction — plants crowd each other out, wolves die off until the prey recover, algae dies off until nutrients are restored. That’s pretty much a law or pattern of nature. No escape. Technology and efficiency don’t buy us a pass.
Starvation, disease and predators are some of nature’s default “solutions” to ecological overshoot. We can add our own contribution of warfare. But as intelligent, ingenious creatures, we want to devise better ways to contract, and create a mature, stable culture as opposed to simply growing bigger. That is our challenge. But our economic system — capitalism — is fundamentally based on growth, and few governments (outside of Bhutan, perhaps) are willing to discuss the end of growth capitalism. Few environmentalists are willing to discuss it. So we’re in a deep dilemma. We have to learn to talk about it in adult conversation, without freaking out, and then we have to actually act on this knowledge.
How to contract as a species and reduce consumption to suit our finite habitat on Earth—how to do this creatively, intelligently, minimizing suffering as we do so— is the work that lies ahead.
I’d love you to comment on this blogpost, especially to talk about the need for a different mind-set or worldview where we get it that we sink or swim together whereby we need to create a stable, sustainable world instead of simply growing bigger. Do you have an evolutionary idea about this? (Here are some ideas that have been submitted.) If humanity thinks differently we will act differently, and creating the understanding that we are in it together, where, in the words of Charles Eisenstein, “What’s more for you is more for me,” is our challenge. The whole SUESpeaks website is devoted to that work. Please get involved!
Find out more about Rex Weyler, Joel Solomon and Charles Eisenstein in our Heroes Gallery.