• Facing long-term disaster
    June 28,2013

    Facing long-term disaster

    The stories coming out of our short-term disasters such as the Oklahoma tornadoes remind us of our humanity and capabilities. We face a long-term disaster. The Dalai Lama teaches that humanity will need to grow its capacities for compassionate altruism to deal with it.

    I am not talking about the challenges of Medicare, Social Security and similar issues. They are relatively easy to solve. I am talking about the self-evident truth (although many if not most of us fail to recognize it) that humanity can not continue the pattern of the last 200 years of our Industrial Revolution for the next 200 years in terms of growth of population, depletion of the world’s resources, and the production of “illth,” the opposite of wealth. I have read too many articles that say economic growth is a major solution for our current problems rather than their cause.

    Fortunately there are a few, especially in Vermont, who address our long term disaster. The Montpelier Bridge’s special section “Building a New Vermont Economy” often referred togrowth as a faulty solution. John Snell’s and Stanley McCrystal’s opinion pieces in recent Times Argus editions advocate for increased community service in our society and imply a re-balancing of the freedom and community paradigm toward community. Unfortunately, the Tea Party’s stress on re-balancing that paradigm toward freedom gets more coverage.

    I first heard about re-instituting the model of the “commons” to provide a sustainable way to use our physical and cultural resources at lecture at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library by a UVM professor — a promising approach and one that needs more letters and study.

    As a believer in evolution, I ardently hope that we humans evolve to be more compassionate and more capable of both envisioning our long term challenges and resolving them. Harris Webster


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