In 2013, we are being deluged by news reports of predicted world tragedies.
On Friday, May 31st an EF-5 tornado landed in Oklahoma that was 2.6 miles wide (over 4 kilometers), which was the widest tornado ever recorded in the history of Earth. Its winds reached 295 miles per hour (475 kilometers per hour). This followed another EF-5 11 days earlier in nearby Moore, Oklahoma on May 20. Together, the two tornadoes killed 44 people, many severe injuries, and caused billions of dollars in property damage.
In 2012 and 2013, Australia was so hot that their weather service had to add two new colors to represent hotter-than-ever temperatures, reaching 54 degrees Celsius (129 degrees Fahrenheit).
Following hurricane Sandy last year and extreme weather events around the world the last few years, we are witnessing the predicted effect of a hotter world leading to more intense weather events.
The executive summary of the most recent Global Environmental Outlook report (GEO-5) by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) states:
“As human pressures on the Earth System accelerate, several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded. Once these have been passed, abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur, with significant adverse implications for human well-being.”
I’ve written a summary of the many factors in our global crisis.
Right now, we stand at the edge of a cliff looking into an abyss—we are witnessing the beginning of a singularity in human history. Never before has our global population been as high as it is. Never before have we depleted our resources at exponentially increasing rates as we are now. Never before have we polluted our air and water in exponentially increasing ways as we are now.
Given the fact that these symptoms of growth will continue to occur; given the fact that they are going to get worse for a while; given the fact that we are all going to be witnessing them locally and globally through our news networks, it is important to ask:
How can we generate within ourselves the hope that will lead to needed collective actions to reverse, to modify, and correct the causes of this crisis and build a sustainable world for ourselves and the generations of tomorrow?
How can we build a bridge across to the abyss to a world that works?
Hope is crucial for action which generates happiness, just as cynicism leads to inaction, which generates depression or fake happiness.
There are a number of mental processes that need to occur in order to create hope, to act decisively to solve problems towards creating a trajectory of a world that works, and to enjoy the happiness that comes with the promise of a positive trajectory forward.
Consider the following processes:
- A collective, accurate diagnosis of the problems we face which corresponds to the real world at an understandable scale that reflects real-world issues that we can correct.
- A collective vision of a future, desired state such as a sustainable, prosperous, healthy world which excites us to make that vision come true.
- The creation of modified and new institutions which can develop strategies for dealing with large-scale global planetary problems that reflect the complexity of the global crisis, and move us towards the vision that excites and energizes us.
- And we need political organizations and processes through which we can act as individuals in concert with democratic institutions at the local, state and national level in order to know that we collectively as a democratic majority can chart our own future.
I am not so naïve as to misunderstand the reality that our national government in America is a democracy.
It. Is. Not.
Our national government is a corporate plutocracy whereby rich people seeking filthy wealth and plutocratic power have seized control in pursuit of their selfish interests over happiness and health of the democratic majority. It is a crucial obstacle preventing hope, action and happiness.
The rise of tyrants and tyrannical institutions is nothing new. It has happened throughout the history of the human race.
The book Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior, by Christopher Boehm provides a summary of how the democratic majority at different scales human society, over the course of humanity’s existence on our Earth have successfully put down tyrants, bullies and tyrannical institutions in order to be free.
I recommend this book for its amazing insights, not only into how people in nomadic hunting and gathering societies, tribal societies, chiefdoms, kingdoms, and empires resist tyranny, but also how people in our modern nation states resist tyranny as well.
For those of us in the United States (such as me), it is clear that we have a job to do. We need to democratize our nation so the will of We the People becomes the law of the land. That way, the United States as a nation can reverse course, and we can take our place with other nations to lead ourselves and humanity to a sustainable world.
Even beginning such an achievement would activate our hope, energize our actions, and through altering our course, bring about a deep sense of happiness, as we as members of the human race move forward towards claiming a world that locally and globally bestows upon the generations of tomorrow a way of living full of hope, collective action, and happiness.