The stop-what-you’re-doing principle March 7, 2007Posted by Andreas in "The Economy", Environment, Politics, rant, Society, Sustainable Living.
We are busy destroying the world. Global warming, environmental decimation, pollution, wars without end, unsustainable extraction of non-renewable resources and species extinctions are wrecking our planet. This is not news. We all know this, but we seem incapable of stopping the carnage.
Now I don’t know about you, but if after naively experimenting with sticking my arm elbow-deep into a running meat mincer, I realised that I had made a potentially fatal mistake, my first reaction would not be to ask a doctor to give me an anaesthetic to numb the pain. Nor would I employ an engineer to design a fancy do-hickey that will make the meat grinder work at a more bearable speed and intensity.
My first reaction would be to pull my arm out of the mincer. I would simply stop whatever I was doing that was causing me pain. It’s the stop-what-your-doing principle. Its easy, cheap and has immediate effect.
So why don’t we just apply this simple principle to our current predicament regarding human-induced global mayhem and destruction? We know pretty much exactly how we are killing our environment – why don’t we simply stop what we’re doing, even just for a moment to think things over?
One of the reasons is that my arm-shredding analogy isn’t quite appropriate. In reality, we are more akin to the addict who knows that the substances he is imbibing and injecting are ruining his life and killing him. Of course, he is so psychologically and physiologically dependent on the stuff that he can’t imagine living without it.
The only real solution to the addict’s problems is to go cold turkey – to stop doing what he’s doing. We are addicted to oil and to consumption for the sake of consumption and to growing profits and to an ever expanding “economy” and those are ultimately the underlying reasons for the poor prognosis on the health of our planet.
Call me a Luddite, but I think what we should do is to stop what we’re doing at least to give ourselves the chance to reconsider our options.
I’m not saying that there aren’t possibly some “technological” solutions to some of our problems. Quite the opposite, human ingenuity and imagination will be crucial if we’re ever going to get ourselves out of this mess, but while the house is on fire, can we at least stop fanning the flames, please!?
Now I reckon its great that more and more of us eat organic food, use bicycles whenever possible and install energy saving light bulbs. That’s a start, but it’s not a final solution, because our dilemma is systemic.
We, not just as individuals, but as a society, as a civilisation, need to stop what we’re doing, because it’s the very basis of our way of life that’s at the heart of the problem. And yes, I am going to use the c-word here: capitalism is destroying the planet. Capitalism, the myth of endless growth, the commodification of everything, the globalisation of corporate empires, the military reach of the last remaining super-power, the belief in might-is-right and the political neutralisation of individuals and viable communities through a corrupt system of so-called representative so-called democracy.
Lets stop doing all that and talk about alternatives for a better world.