Recognizing the future

Consider how past crises have focused the minds of humanity, and understand how this applies more so than ever, right now. Before focusing on the future, we need to understand the present and the uncertainties it holds for humanity.

We have a status quo which is under question, so let’s look at a few of the definitive problems: climate change, debt based world economy that demands perpetual economic growth, ~7.8 billion people on the planet which has been creaking under the strain of this system, and the contrast between rich and poverty-stricken, are some of the broader critical issues. The earth is a finite, closed system that can no longer support this philosophy and way of life. How would you solve this conundrum with a single decisive action, if you were not to consider your own humanity, but solely the survival of the planet?

I would remove the human species completely, and the earth would thrive and most probably recover to it’s former glory within the relative “blink of an eye” in its history.

The logical deduction from the above is simply put: The earth will survive, no, flourish without us. In order for this to hold true, the next logical deduction is that as the “apex” species, we have made a colossal mess of everything.

Take that a step further, and you can further deduce that for nature to protect itself against the most destructive species on the planet, perhaps CV-19 is the cure … for the planet.

So where does that leave us? Well, it’s relatively simple and yet hugely complex. The human race is not all bad, and there is much good that can be framed and admired in isolation, but broadly speaking, we are the worst thing that has happened to the planet.

Further logic says that we have two options:

  1. Proceed as per “normal” and secure our plight … into oblivion, or
  2. Recognize our folly, and decide collectively to decisively address our failed system, and accept that we need to break free of the cage of conventional thinking, which currently holds us captive. Time is of the essence.

Recognizing our future is directly and completely dependent on the option we choose. Personally, I quite like option 2, so I’m going to forego option 1 at the outset, and selfishly pursue option 2.

This is the fork in the road in this discussion, so if you are keen to pursue option 1, please read no further. If, however, you either follow your strongest instinct, survival, or are a little curious to see how option 2 could pan out, keep reading.

Over the years I have tried to isolate my/our most fatal flaw, and although a few others combined can hold considerable weight, the one that I keep re-visiting, is greed. This is, after all, the foundation of capitalism. Make no mistake, in my formative years, I always believed in capitalism as the only way to go, and that any slightest socialist- or communist-aligned philosophy is doomed, and perhaps while we only had a billion or two of us kicking around the earth, this seemed like it would just keep going. Happiness.

My naive belief, no, faith, in those in authority, first came to light in my primary school years, when, sitting on the floor in the school hall, watching a film (huge treat) on the Industrial Revolution, the problem of pollution became apparent. I could understand at that tender age that we had a problem, yet naively believed that “the authorities/adults/whoever is charged with this responsibility” were indeed addressing pollution. That was a fatal mistake and is symbolic of our current plight.

We all continue making the same naive mistake as we selfishly go about our lives, for some, surviving, for others, not, for those more fortunate, pursuing the good things in life, happily or otherwise, distracted from the real issues of the world. Nobody in authority (politicians/governments) is addressing our most pressing problems, so it is simply time to take the initiative, remove the yolk and break free. Easier said than done, but we need to start somewhere.

Again the road forks. CV-19 may be sufficient to force a complete reset of our core values, the outcome of which is fraught with uncertainty: how many of us will survive this contagion; what will be left to salvage and pick up the pieces, how will we rebuild etc.? The other fork requires a more proactive approach: The sooner we get started, the sooner we may reach our goal.

Virtually starting over is what is required, and whilst our current infrastructure will provide the framework for the new system, we must keep reminding ourselves that it is in fact part of the problem.

Everything starts with an idea, and hence, that is our departure point. CV-19 may well prove to be a blessing in disguise, the one that focuses our minds as a direct result of the crisis we face. We need to convince a few influential, forward thinking people with vision, that we have a problem, but that we also have the resources within, to squarely address it, but specifically without being confined to conventional thinking, within the ceiling of the status quo.

Our political system, education system, financial system including banks, economics and control of the world economy by wealthy individuals, have moulded us as people. We all conform to the system, regardless of the fact that it is one-sided and flawed. The world produces enough food to feed everyone on the planet, there are enough resources to ensure that everyone has the basic platform for life: water, food, shelter, clothing, education, the ability to contribute towards the necessities for a comfortable existence, access to health care etc.

CV-19 has presented a crisis that will require, amongst many other resources, money, to emerge from it. The USA faces a huge debt bubble that can burst at any time, African and many other countries simply do not have the financial resources to deal with the catastrophe, so in terms of the current system, the IMF, World bank and other banking institutions will be at the forefront of lending them money they cannot afford to borrow, and have no reasonable prospect of repaying. The result will be an inescapable debt trap, which will hamstring them for the foreseeable future, one that looks bleak. South Africa is just one such country, and arguably the country in Africa with the greatest potential.

We can continue rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic, and face the consequences, or we can evolve and develop an economic system that truly works for us all. I have no background in economics, but capitalism (sic) has not really worked and needs to either be completely upended, or adapted with elements of socialism, and perhaps other philosophies. It must ditch the notion that perpetual growth, debt and ongoing depletion of finite resources is sustainable and replace it with a new system.

South Africa is an incredibly resourceful country, with multitudes of innovative people, and massive problems that sit within the framework of the current system, trapped forever within.

It would therefore seem quite logical, that South Africa can be the birthplace of an international think-tank charged with the responsibility to set the ball rolling. Developing the critical mass to become a credible, influential and above all, ethically driven and respected body, poses significant challenges. Perhaps we can unite with an organization like Avaaz, which already has a worldwide support base of more than 45 million people, to become the new beginning.

Undeniably, this will not happen overnight, and for now, we will be in transition if we proceed within the currently proposed bout of unaffordable borrowing. South Africa in particular, has a very small window for the roll out of aid, after which the inevitable collapse looms. Option 1 for SA is doomed from the beginning, assuming that the IMF, World Bank etc. even lends us R370bn. ANC government performance to date, does not permit me to believe it has the political will, capacity or integrity to implement this. As a South African, I can therefore only support option 2 – hopefully you can also see that.

This is an oversimplified view, no doubt full of problems, but it provides a very crude, ideological, but logic based concept to be discussed, refined, moulded and implemented. It is the basis for the reformed systems we so desperately need to put in place for the entire planet.

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