May 23rd, 2009 – I’ve been thinking lately about the many changes that have happened since Obama took office and I’ve been wondering; Is our fledgling ‘Green Economy’ at a new cross-roads? Are moving fast enough to save our planet? Are we moving slow enough to ‘collectively’ discern and make the crucial turn to ensure success?
We know there’s a perfect storm crisis. At once economic and environmental. We understand that we need to completely over-haul our economic infrastructure – that meshwork of physical and legislative elements that make it all function. We know if we get it right we have a chance to save the planet.
In practical terms we appreciate that when $65Trillion is removed from the global economy, it is not trivial – we will need to invest much more than we’ve already invested in the banking system and auto sector to date.
We hear the economists being questioned about an economic recovery – they anxiously hail the return of ‘the consumer’ as the key indicator determining our collective economic future – as if ‘the consumer’ were some mindless monolithic mass-beast, bellying up to the economic table with its ravenous appetite to re-employ us all and save the day. “Tip please!” Then we could all go home and not have to worry about facing a radically different future we don’t yet really understand. Well guess what – it won’t happen that way.
I hear citizens wondering aloud about their new role and responsibilities now that so many corporations are now deeply indebted to them (i.e. to ‘We the People’) after having taken loans, bailouts and stimulus. This on top of only just realizing the scope of mess we inherited, after becoming the majority debt holders covering previous economic sins.
Now we are also the majority shareholders in the future of the global economy. These citizens are not savvy Wall Street strategists – they are average people – rooted in solid, small-town values and approaches to dispensing their responsibilities.
Citizens everywhere have started to take action – planting urban gardens, converting fuel consumption, creating green energy, investing in cleantech innovations, rebuilding sustainable communities etc. They know the importance and impact of considered, daily choices – especially as they accumulate – not only in impacting our lives and world around us but ultimately shaping and defining the vision we hold for ourselves, the nation and yes, the community.
So what happens when these cumulative choices become the leading indicator of an economic recovery? How do we work with each other now to manage banking systems, transportation networks, energy grids and other key markets? Should the way our economic system currently works be used a model for how sustainable green energy works or is it the other way around?
Shouldn’t our next move be a thoughtful, considered one? The train looks is leaving the station – moving down the track – now which way does it turn? Old system? New system? Once we pass this point there is no coming back. Are we up for the struggle?
I found the following quote an inspiration in reflecting upon these questions:
One of the big questions for each one of us today is how to turn our backs on the culture of rivalry, individualism, conflict or depression that surrounds us, and move instead into a culture of solidarity and cooperation, peace and hope. How can this transformation come about in us? …”Is it possible that one day there will be paradise on earth?” It seems to me that paradise on earth is not possible unless each one of us discovers the paradise within us, that little sanctuary hidden in the most intimate part of our being. Perceiving and finding this inner paradise of peace and unity implies a struggle against the culture of rivalry which is within us too. If I can catch a glimpse of this inner paradise, I will begin to see it in others. And then as several people come together who live it, we create community … but all that implies a real struggle.
– Jean Vanier, Founder of L’Arche, June 2006