I read Russell Brand’s book Revolution at Christmas and it made me reflect on my own views about the topics he raises. Amidst his strongly expressed views and his style of rhetoric there are serious points worthy of reflection.
He is saying that we need a revolution: nothing less than this will shift the tectonic plates of our current world situation – socially, economically, politically and environmentally. I tend to agree.
To those who say that the evolution of consciousness is upon us and that this will deal with our problems, I would say the following:
- Consciousness, as usually defined, last evolved with the arrival of the frontal cortex. Who knows when the next shift will occur. However, it is true to say that a growing awareness of the possible (broadening our range) is happening – interest in well-being, re-emerging interest in spirituality (as opposed to religion) and concern for the common good (whether that be about the environment, social and economic inequality, frustration with politics etc). But it is not evolution, it is awakening of the already existing.
- Maslow’s hierarchy as the basis for evolution is flawed- otherwise people with little or no material comfort would never reach soul consciousness – patently not true. The hierarchy as the perceived wisdom is flawed. It is much more likely that we all have all aspects of consciousness available to us – they just need triggering into action and their importance to us at any given time will be regulated as in a digital equaliser.
To those who argue that technology will sort everything out I would say that history is against them. For every problem solved at least one new one emerges. Just think of the advances in communication that now stop us relating together as human beings: think ipads for toddlers to amuse them, think emails to the colleague sitting within ten feet of you, think of life prolonging medicine that creates huge social and economic problems for caring for the elderly beyond the lifespan that nature intended. Innovation for innovation’s sake: built in obsolescence and short life of products creating false demands and therefore pressure on the world’s already overtaxed resources – usually in the pursuit of growth that is also unsustainable. We cannot go on using up the world’s resources at 1.4 times the rate of replacement with impunity.
And evolution, as in doing things incrementally better, only buys time it does not change anything.
So, if revolution is an essential answer to the world’s dilemmas, how do we have one? Let us first look at what is stopping us taking this monumental leap? Let us explore who has their hands on the levers of power – our decision makers and influencers.
- Business: whose financial might has moved beyond where countries can control their activities. Think of the real penalties for local communities once you take into account the short term benefit of economies of scale as against the long term cost of dependency (UK apples being sent to South Africa for polishing for sale in UK supermarkets for instance). Think of the impotence in dealing with the inequity of offshoring tax liabilities, thus making the burden of providing government sources of income fall more heavily on individuals. It used to be that commercial enterprises in the US contributed at least 35% of government income, it is now less than 9% – mostly due to legal, if not moral, tax avoidance. Morally fair or not? Mmmm!
- Banks and financial institutions: who behave as though they are untouchable (too big to be allowed to fail) and behave in ways that are not acceptable to the majority of the population. Derivatives, described as ‘weapons of mass financial destruction’ by Warren Buffet, are examples of converting sober asset management in to casino operations. Astronomical bonuses paid to people, even when the share price and asset value of the business declines, defies understanding from the ‘man in the street’. Morally bankrupt or not? Mmmm!
- Religion: acting as a mass anaesthetic and ideologically insisting on their own brand of the status quo or fanatically creating both martyrs and victims rather than peaceful co-existence. Morally right or not? Mmmm!
- Politicians: democracy corrupt and corrupted, managed by an elite for an elite and untouchable between elections. Ideologically led rather than problem and opportunity focused and disconnected from their electorates. Morally degenerate or not? Mmmm!
- Government institutions: more interested in protecting their own power bases than transforming things and serving the people who pay their wages and need their real services. Services hi-jacked by government ideologies and delivery constrained by measures that make no sense. Morally acceptable or not? Mmmm!
- Media: unaccountable and obsessed with sales at any cost, leading to sensationalism, ideological twisting of messages and using the power of the negative story to make sales. Morally lazy or not? Mmmm!
Enough of the rant! Even if you don’t believe everything I have said, I would ask you to consider whether there is a smidgen of truth here. It is increasingly hard to take the position that there is nothing wrong in our current predicament. All of us should derive some strength from the fact that this message comes now from an array of economists, spiritual leaders, thinkers and ordinary folk. People like Naomh Chomsky, Bruce Nixon, Meg Wheatley, Richard Barrett and many others all conclude similar things. We need to connect the dots, see the whole picture and then do something about it.
And this means does not mean tinkering with the status quo, which usually is all that happens with changes of government because the tectonic plates will not shift this way and they have no interest in transformation. We need to be radical. We need revolution, peaceful and determined focussing on the common good. Ghandi proved the success of this approach and Occupy has had its moments. We need to reclaim democracy, redefine needs rather than wants, focus on the common good (including looking after planet) and stay determined. We need to:
- Collectively speak up about issues you feel strongly about – and here technology helps us. See http://www.change.org for instance.
- Satisfy our needs rather than hanker after our wants.
- Define ourselves by who we are rather than what we have.
- Serve our communities, particularly those less fortunate than ourselves.
- Engage in true dialogue rather than debate.
- Find ways to collaborate rather than compete.
- Buy local wherever we can.
- Stay steadfast – it wont happen quickly
Nobody said it would be easy. Please do something!
If you would like a reference work to help you on the journey please read Ignition –from global crisis to a world of abundance.