I used to think that top global environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought with 30 years of good science, we could address these problems, but I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy, and to deal with these we need spiritual and cultural transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.Rabbi Yonatan Neri, and Rabbi Leo Dee in the Eco Bible quote Gus Seth, former dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, which I have taken from Christine Sine’s Meditation Monday – New Creation Is Emerging
God/The Universe’s timing is amazing, I think, if we let ourselves go with where our hearts are leading. I don’t normally read Godspace before taking the dog for a walk. It is usually a quick cuppa, Morning Pages, and out the door. But this one morning I decided to read Christine’s Meditation Monday post and this quote stuck with me and left me pondering the “problems are selfishness, greed and apathy.” I’ve actually struggled to find the quote because that was only that bit that stayed with me. Again trusting God/my heart that I remember what I am meant to remember.
I was just coming to the end of my walk that day when I met a friend who looked awful. It turned out his company was halving his team, even though the team was really busy, had done it quite ruthlessly, and he was hurting because he had to tell two men who were his friends and he didn’t want to. It turned out this was a move to save the company money. And the thing that hurt him most of all was that the CEO’s starting comment “don’t worry you’re job is safe.”
The reason this jumped out at me was that phrase about problems of the world being selfishness, greed and apathy. Here was just one company out of many [and it fits in with the company I mentioned in the previous post who did not care members of their staff were miserable because their desire was to make a bigger and bigger profit] only looking at profit and encouraging their employees to be greedy and selfish, as in “your job is safe”. This does not create a caring community to work in. It creates a dog eat dog, looking after self, community.
Yet what do we do about it? As the above quote says we need a spiritual and culture transformation. Not a shift, not a slight different way of looking at things, but a full on transformation.
I occasionally hear about community projects that are going on in my role as freelance writing workshop facilitator. All of them focus on trying to change their community and yet the culture of both the application process and the various areas themselves have that underlying ethos of competitiveness, which of course leads to selfishness and greed. There are also a lot of freelancers out there chasing the same pot of money. But it isn’t transformation. It is sticking plasters. And if the wound is big then eventually it will burst around the sticking plaster. This in turn actually leads to increased apathy rather than change.
But this also attitude of selfishness, greed and apathy bleeds into our shopping habits, our uses of plastics, our not really worrying where our food, clothes, electronic goods, etc come from. We want them cheap [selfish and greedy] and we don’t care how that happens [apathy]. I know for myself it is easier to click a “sign Greenpeace petition” than to move forward to changing my lifestyle. And I am someone who does try to reduce waste, shop local, only get what I need, but there are times when I just cannot be bothered.
So today’s thought to leave you with is — How do we get away from fear, from selfishness, from greed, from apathy? How do we have this spiritual and cultural transformation? Because according to Gus Seth this is the only way we are going to save our planet and ourselves.