Tuesday, August 06, 2013

It's time to be kind

My first attempt at this blog post was to make another plea for environmental sustainability, to find a better way than the fracking currently being championed by the oil industry and the government it has in the palm of its hands. But recently I've come to realise the problems in the world all stem from more fundamental issues. If you can't address those, you'll never do anything about the environment, inequality, suffering or anything else. In other words, fracking and all the other ills are symptoms and we should be treating the disease, not the symptoms.

The other day I posted on Twitter that I longed for a simple moral code for people to want to live by. It's been a long time since I was a Christian, but some Christian values - primarily those attributed to the words of Christ himself - do resonate with me. "Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself" is the main one here. It seems like that's a moral that's not open to interpretation, not easily twisted by religion or individuals looking to promote their own selfish aims.

It's a good start. It feels like a call for positive freedom, where individuals are free to do whatever they like until their actions start to impact on those around them. It might put an end to the escalating incidents of anti-social behaviour that plague local neighbourhoods, for example. Imagine a world where people actually considered the consequences of their actions, were able (or even just willing) to empathise with the other person's view and put themselves in their shoes. Perhaps the world's richest one per cent might wake up and realise the concentration of wealth in their hands is hardly in this spirit - how many people have you exploited or screwed over to get to where you are now? Does it truly make you happy? I suspect not.

You might find adopting a less selfish world view would result in fracking being abandoned, because while some people accuse others of NIMBYism, perhaps they'd come to realise that, actually, they might be NIMBYs themselves if the frackers turned up in their back yard. But rather than sweep the problem under the carpet, they might even face up to the need to start supporting the development of longer term projects - that we give up some of our so-called comforts now to ensure a brighter future for our descendants.

That might translated into people accepting they should reduce their energy usage while championing more sustainable, long-term ways of producing energy, however far-fetched or long-term those ideas might be. Imagine channelling all that money thrown at banks or the oil industry into developing renewable energy forms. Just think, the UK might be able to not only produce all its own power from wind, solar and tidal power, but help provide power for our European neighbours too.

People say, "Oh nothing I do makes a difference." And yet it's everything we're doing now that is making a difference, the wrong kind of difference. Perhaps you won't change the march of history towards even tougher times ahead, but I suspect if you were to embrace kindness for kindness' sake and to try and think of others as much as yourself, you might find life just that little bit easier to bear. And who knows, you might be in the vanguard of something truly amazing, the realisation that for humanity (never mind anything else) to survive long term means we drop the selfish gene now.

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