With the world facing two global crises, coronavirus and climate change, are our societies on the right track and how would we know?
Climate change and COVID-19, or coronavirus, are opportunities to reflect on where we are heading as nations, societies, communities, families, and individuals. These global environmental and health crises are a clear sign that something is not right. They are the result of the same root cause: we are leading toxic lifestyles; we have deviated from the natural way of living.
You only need to look around at the way our social and economic structures and systems operate to see that it is going against nature. We are encouraged to consume beyond our need, to overproduce, to oversupply, to waste products without thinking of the consequences. We have rampaged through our forests destroying plant life and making animals extinct. We have stolen minerals and resources hidden deep inside Mother Earth to make millions of dollars. We have dumped rubbish in our oceans and threatened aquatic creatures.
Do you bulldoze over the walls of your house without thinking of the consequences? Do you dump tonnes of rubbish in your bedroom? The answer is no. We wouldn’t do it in our own homes, so why would we do it in humanity’s bigger home, the earth?
As individuals, we are swimming against the current, making life difficult for ourselves. We work long hours, we eat unhealthy food, we live unnatural lifestyles wired by technology, and we are more diseased and depressed than ever before.
Is it not crazy that we act in this way? Quite simply, we need to stop our harmful behaviours and lifestyles.
This global health disaster, the regular occurrences of natural disasters, and the seemingly illogical way we are living our lives make it evident, today more than ever, that we need a completely different approach.
Time for change
It’s now time to embark on a new and practical way forward. As sisters and brothers of one global family, we all need to prioritize our personal wellbeing and our environment and take immediate and dynamic action. But what can we do?
Until now, our approach has been to rely on governments, businesses, advocates, academics, researchers, scientists, and many others to lead the way. We have done this either through good-faith, the electoral process, or protesting to call for stronger action.
At the same time, we cannot blame the lack of clear direction and action entirely on our politicians or businesses. They operate within an economic system and social structure that is ultimately averse to achieving environmental and global harmony. In the same way that many climate scientists are trying to repair the earth’s climate, and health practitioners and doctors are trying to save lives, so too many legislators, leaders, and businesses are also trying to take positive action. But without tremendous courage and a long-term commitment, more often than not governments and businesses are driven to align with the system, and their positive intentions result in what appears to be conflicting behaviour. When we, the general public, observe their half-hearted actions, we feel powerless and we feel as though the situation is out of our control.
Yet, there is a more personal and dynamic approach. If we feel that there is a problem and our leaders are remaining idle, then it is our responsibility to pursue a solution and do our utmost best to succeed. This takes courage and it takes commitment. If we all take a greater level of personal responsibility, we will behave differently in all aspects of life – socially, politically, economically, and environmentally. With this changed behaviour, we would begin to transform our lives, and these changes could eventually impact and reform the economic systems and social structures around us.
What would the world look like if we are heading in the right direction
There are many signs or indicators that we have the right balance and are living in the right way. Here are ten tell-tale signs:
1. Our hospitals are decreasing in size not getting bigger
Our healthcare system is based on holistic wellbeing. Hospitals are small specialised health hubs, for treating people who cannot undertake home-based care or remote interventions. Gone are the days when we build bigger and more hospitals. Children live in a caring environment with their family while they are being treated; when necessary, the entire family is supported financially and psychologically. Investment in disease prevention is significantly higher than treatment. When a person does report with an illness there is a holistic care team who investigates and addresses the cure as well as the psychological cause and lifestyle impact. Mental wellbeing is fully integrated with the provision of clinical services. Patients are provided with a plant-based nutritional diet, which is tailored for their individual needs.
2. Psychological resilience is taught in schools
From an early age, children are taught how to respond to their uncomfortable emotions and unwanted thoughts. This education and awareness are provided in the education system by teachers as well as at home by parents. A child’s mind is open to learning how to cope with loss, anger, sadness, jealousy, and emotional and physical pain. As a result, mental health issues for children, teenagers, young people, and adults are minimal. No child requires anti-depressant medication as psychological resilience gives them peace of mind and contentment.
3. Families live together and ageing parents are supported by relatives or family friends
Households are larger in size, rather than smaller, because families appreciate and value the benefit of living together to support each other, share resources and knowledge, and to learn and grow as diverse but connected individuals.
4. People only consume what they need to, not what they desire
Every person knows their individual needs and is aware of what impact their personal desires and consumption have on the lives of others (e.g. farmers and retailers) and the environment (e.g. soil erosion and pollution from transportation and delivery). Rather than buying more than they need, people give generously from what they have.
5. People work during the day and sleep at night
Individuals and businesses no longer accept working unnatural hours due to globalisation, the Internet, technology, and after-hour services (unless for essential emergencies). The wellbeing of people is paramount. The former 24/7 production cycle and economy that was based on wealth creation has been replaced by an 8-8-8 rule where people respect and desire balance:
- 8 hours for sleep and rest
- 8 hours for work (including growing your own food)
- 8 hours for family, wellbeing, and personal development
6. Remote and part-time work is the norm
People are content to live within their own neighbourhood. They grow some of their own fruit and vegetables, they exercise daily, and they spend time outdoors and with their family. Because people’s needs are reduced, they only earn sufficient money to cover their needs. All jobs are provided in essential industries as there is minimal demand for non-essential products and services.
7. People explore their own region and rarely travel overseas or interstate
Living in harmony with nature makes people realise that they don’t need to explore the world, everything they require comes to them. They learn, grow, act, and love from exactly where they are located. They feel gratitude for nature and they nurture the local environment around them. As a result, they have a deep sense of fulfillment and contentment in their lives.
8. Five to ten new trees are planted for every tree that is removed
National wellbeing and environmental impact determine the level and extent of infrastructure and development. If it is deemed necessary for land to be cleared for developmental purposes, for every tree that is knocked down five to ten new trees are planted.
9. Homes are smaller with more outdoor space to grow vegetables and to exercise
We live in small homes which contain a yard large enough to grow vegetables or households are partnered with a community garden. People exercise through working to provide essential services. Indoor gyms and gym membership are a forgotten industry.
10. People’s lifestyles are based around love and harmony
People value and nurture the land on which they live, the fresh air that they breathe, and the water that they drink and use for food production and hygiene. Each individual makes a conscious effort to give more back to the earth than what they take. There is no waste produced for landfill – people either recycle, reuse, or repurpose everything that is made. They eat everything they produce. They take care of the soil and never pollute it with insecticides, fertilizers, or pesticides. They don’t kill living beings for either food sources or revenge. Violence, especially family and domestic violence, is a non-issue as everybody treats each other with respect, kindness, and love.
How far off track is your nation?
In comparison to the social and economic structure of where you live, how well is your country doing against the 10 signs above? Are they heading in the right direction, getting close, or heading in the opposite way?
If you are interested in exploring what you can personally do to fix our environmental problems and change your own lifestyle, you may be interested in our short book The Environmental Fix: How Reprogramming the Mind Achieves Wellbeing and Resolves Climate Change – coming April 2020.
Copyright © James Golding and Leisa Golding 2020