Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Where are we going?

Enjoy CapitalismImage by @boetter via Flickr
I've just started reading Margret Atwood's book "Oryx & Crake". Basically it's a fictional story that takes place in the near future and deals with a post apocalyptic world with glimpses into the past showing how things came to be. Through global warming, super bugs and genetic manipulation mankind has brought about the collapse of modern civilization and entered into a dark age.

It reminds me of a creative writing assignment I had in grade school in the early 80's, at the time there was talk of the hole developing in the ozone and continued talk of global warming. So I decided to write about a possible future where the ozone is almost completely depleted on earth and the temperature has greatly increased. In it one can only go outside if they take extraordinary precautions to protect themselves from the sun. Now this was a fictional story about one possible future if we didn't take action to resolve this issue. Thankfully action was taken on one front, that of banning CFC's which were the leading cause of ozone depletion. Now it won't be till approximately 2065 before the ozone returns to the same size as 1980 levels, even though progress is slow the actions were necessary and will pay off.

But I digress, what I'm really trying to get across is that we need to entertain these possible futures, and amazing writers such as Atwood are doing that. The intent is not to scare but to acknowledge that this is a possible future if we continue doing some of the things that we are doing.

Part of what these stories deal with is the old idea that man shall have dominance over all the creatures of earth. This idea comes from Genesis 1 where god proclaims to man "fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth". Sadly this thought remains with us today and we most see it being exercised by corporations, governments and society when natural resources are harvested and the genetic code is manipulated. Now these acts are not necessarily a bad thing, if done properly and with a certain level of respect, humbleness and caution. But more often than not this is not the case, it's done with blatant disregard of known negative consequences or just blindly pushing forward in the name of capitalism and progress. The proclamation outlined in Genesis 1 has brought out an arrogance within our societies, this idea that we must subdue nature and twist it to our will instead of living in harmony. It's as if we are at war with nature. It’s as if we have a psychotic relationship with it, we are of nature, it is what sustains us, destroy it and we are sealing our own fate! Until this shift in thinking occurs within society around the world we will only see further degradation of our earth and thus our own degradation. The examples are glaring and all around us if you choose to see it, from the worst environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, to collapsed fisheries, record levels of extinction, more severe weather more often, drought, flooding and human suffering. Any government and/or economic system should serve us and our environment, instead of what is and has been occurring, we and nature are serving capitalism!

Don't get me wrong about religion, it can and does have positive messages about how to treat one another fairly and good advice on how to live, but as well with in it some very dangerous ideas dwell. This can also be applied to science, some great discoveries are contained with in it, but also some very dangerous things. This is especially true in this day in age where corporations are using science for their own purposes, it is being perverted by their inherently selfish wants and needs, more and more Universities are funded by them and research is being compromised. Genetic manipulation of our food crops and the human genome is occurring with out full knowledge of the consequences. Most is occurring with corporate profits in mind and governments are happy to oblige. Genes are the very essence of all life on earth and should be handled with the up most respect and caution, not by trying to fit it into voodoo capitalist economic models. True science is about discovery for the sake of knowledge and better understanding, it's true intent is not for profit.

All this to say, we need to explore all the possibilities and consequences of these new discoveries. We need to use all our human qualities, common sense, ethics, imagination, intuition, memory and reason to proceed forward in the right way. We cannot regress to old ideologies that have resulted in the destruction of the environment, war and human suffering! We need to expand our consciousness to include the other, and from this perspective I believe we can do the right thing to make this a better world.



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