As revealed by this article, An Inconvenient Truth is only the tip of the iceberg. Those who are serious about the environment have to realize the nature of the entire problem. Please take the time to venture to some of the links at the bottom of the article.
Check out this book review as well. We're finally elevating the discussion to something that is meaningful.
Please note that I start with "A" in the Title of this post. I often think about how Christopher Alexander got his book at the head of the list on the left of this page by using "A" rather than "The". This distinction between "a" and "the" happens to be critical to my philosophy on life and living.
..."Thinking, reading, and art require a cultural space," writes Russell Jacoby in Dogmatic Wisdom, "a zone free from the angst of moneymaking and practicality. Without a certain repose or leisure, a liberal education shrivels." [p.122 of The Twilight of American Culture]
The university may look like an institution for the advancement of higher culture, in other words, but its content and organization are corporate, and the result is that the coinage of education is severely debased. ("Another bad effect of commerce," wrote Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations, "is that the minds of men are contracted, and rendered incapable of elevation. Education is despised, or at least neglected....") [p.123 of The Twilight of American Culture]
The key to life and living is to have the time to learn in a liberal arts -- and sciences -- sort of way. However, this learning must continue throughout our lives and indeed this learning -- in my opinion -- is the meaning of our lives. Any time we think we know "the" way, we stop learning and transition from an active mind to a closed mind. As indicated in the excerpt above, the corporate nature of our learning -- and living -- contracts our minds. The expectation is for us to be clever rather than wise.
The Jesuits were [are?] fond of saying, "Give us the child for the first seven years; after that, nothing much matters." [p.241 of Dark Ages America]
This is true of our culture in general. We indoctrinate our young through required pledges in our public schools. The result is a nationalistic and close-minded perspective that thoroughly inhibits our ability to be humble. The mind closes down early and stays shut down for the remainder of most people's lives. Most end up believing in a Supreme Being rather than experiencing the joy of being -- and the joy of not setting any boundaries to our learning.
A Related Note on the movie An Inconvenient Truth:
The suggestions for reducing your carbon footprint at the end of the movie are not enough to make a difference. Our only hope for getting closer to a sustainable world is to dramatically change the way we live. Rather than buying a hybrid car, for example, we must do without a car or share one with dozens of other people. I've found that one of the consequences of the on-going learning that is described above is that the more you learn the less you need. In other words, there is a practical reason to initiate a philosophy of expanding your learning boundaries.
Our dominant institutions are unable to change the destructive course of mankind. While some of these institutions may be able shift to the positive side of the equation, it is doubtful that it will happen fast enough to assure a quality living environment for future generations. Therefore, it is critical to form new institutions that can provide a model for shifting our behavior so that the rights of future generations to a quality life are recognized. Evidence is overwhelming that preservation and restoration of all natural systems is a key to a quality life.
In order to shape a new institution, it is helpful to list the positive and negative attributes of our dominant institutions. (Please note that there are exceptions within any institution. This is a general description of the attributes.) In my opinion those are:
Religion- A positive attribute is that saints and sages throughout history have realized the wholeness of the universe. A negative attribute is that the religion of those who are most powerful in society today is one of fear as the result of the literal interpretation of scripture that was written hundreds of years ago when the population and the knowledge of the universe was much, much smaller.
Business/Corporations- A positive attribute is teamwork and goals. A negative attribute is that, by design, corporations do not have a conscience.
Education- A positive attribute is the compact and pedestrian-friendly design of many campuses. A negative attribute is that the primary reason for existence is to train people to work for corporations.
Politics/Government- A positive attribute is that a certain amount of governance is necessary in order to maintain a free and civil society. A negative attribute is that government is controlled today by the influence of religion and corporations.
As you can see, this is really very simple. The complexity comes into play when trying to understand why we as a society have allowed the negative attributes of these institutions to shape our lives. Many of the recommended books in the column to the left attempt to explain our irrational behavior.
We can analyze this irrational behavior until the cows come home -- or are genetically altered beyond recognition and prudence due to the negative attribute of corporations. What we need to do is form new institutions that integrate the positive attributes of the above institutions. Let's at least start the discussion.
This post touches on almost every category that I have formerly established. I am sometimes asked what I do. Maybe I should start referring questioners to the About area of this blog. I'm trying to find our why we as a society do not live up to our potential. The fragility of our present circumstance requires some integral and creative answers. We have to create a system that competes with the prevailing system.
Why a "private" hedge club? A public entity requires the oversight of the government. Why anyone would want this government involved in their financial affairs is a mystery to me. Fiscal irresponsibility aside, the government has a "leader" who less than 15 years ago was placed on a board -- through a favor from the well-connected -- and proceeded to distinguish himself during his tenure by telling dirty jokes.
Why a private "hedge" club? Most people have put all their marbles -- literally and figuratively -- in a system that is fraught with corruption and inefficiency. They need to realize that there can be a way to "hedge" the current system. The fragility of the current system is there -- for us all to see -- but yet we remain in a state of denial. (To be up front, this also permits playing the "fear card." A tool that unfortunately seems to be required in order to get the general public's attention.)
Why a private hedge "club"? A private club seems to me to be the only entity that can encompass all of the elements necessary to create a new institution. Education, a physical infrastructure, lack of dogma and doctrine, and longevity. The term "society" works as well but makes it harder to define the rules that are necessary for sustainability.
Primary Hedge Areas
One of the dominant -- read thought-killing -- characteristics of the current system is debt. Debt is all about possessing. The irony is that so long as debt is involved, the system -- not the bank per se -- possesses you. This is unhealthy and one reason -- in my opinion -- for the high levels of depression. (This reminds me of the standard Christian response with respect to the poor: They will always be with us. Baaad Attitude!) If one wants to hedge the current system, one would create an institution in which "banking" is equity only.
As has been pointed out in earlier posts, our education is primarily geared towards producing certified individuals, rather than critical-thinking individuals. Another dominant characteristic of the education system is that it is concerned with turning out folks who work/manipulate behind a desk -- or in a hotel lobby with a laptop -- rather than doing something that is hands-on. In the new global economy, your desk job will soon be done somewhere around the world where the costs are lower. Why would anyone want to sit behind a desk for 8+ hours anyway? The hedge club will commit resources to shaping an education system that includes hands-on activity and real-world projects.
Opportunity, not charity or propaganda. The current system's tax laws either encourage charitable giving or cause (special interest) giving. A hedge club can be structured to encourage members to quit giving to charity and propaganda. Pay your taxes and use the balance to build up equity in a system that builds and provides opportunity, rather than tears down and gives hand-outs.
Anyone who thinks the current system is not sustainable should contact me and make a commitment to help get the ball rolling. Hit the "Email Me" button (above left) and contact me. We can change the course of history this afternoon.