Across our world there’s a ticking time-bomb. Maybe that bomb is about to explode?
We see it starkly in the horn of Africa. Accelerated climate change, which has brought storms to other parts of the world, is bringing drought to Somalia. Eco-refugees make their way by the thousands to the camps in Kenya, through windswept, barren and dusty plains dotted with makeshift shelters. They’re hungry, frightened and exhausted.
And what can we do about it?
Yes we can dig deep in our pockets to give aid. But will that ultimately solve the situation? Can we really feed the world? And if so, with what?
Just a band aid
I remember when the song “Feed the World” by Band Aid came out and thinking how truly wonderful that was. It seemed to deeply touch the hearts of many people. Especially charismatic was Bob Geldof — a scraggly punk rocker who touched something deep inside himself, opened his mouth and let his passion rip through the red tape that was preventing aid reaching the starving people of Africa. His magnanimous and compassionate calling helped motivate millions.
That was in 1984.
We are now a generation on and I ask, What has changed?
What’s changed in my view is a relentless increase in consumerism and industrial agriculture. What’s changed is an increase in global trade, fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. And as a direct result, what’s changed is that the world economy and global population have expanded while the farmland required to feed us all has dwindled. A tragic combination.
On the surface it may seem like a truly compassionate and charitable act for people in rich nations to give money and send food aid to the starving millions of Africa. But really, what’s wrong is the very system that plunders the earth, expands the global population and destroys the land needed to feed us. That is, robbing Peter to pay Paul and then Paul shipping back the crumbs from his heavy laden dinner table.
That seems pretty nonsensical.
I remember when I experienced an awakening. It was just after the turn of the millennium and my immediate feeling was one of compassion to my fellow man.
I began to donate, as much as I could, particularly to the impoverished and orphaned children around the world. And then a while later, when the magnitude of the insanity in which we live struck home, I realized that what I really needed to dedicate myself to was a shift in consciousness.
Can you see the irony in the situation?
The starving people of Somalia are making their way into neighboring Kenya – the very place where some of our supermarket chains have made deals with factory farms to stock the food shelves of the developed world. These same supermarkets then throw 25% of that precious imported food away simply because the growers’ runner beans aren’t straight enough for the average western household, the oranges aren’t orange enough, or the apples have too many spots on them.
Western society uses an over-abundance of oil to plunder the resources of the many to feed but a few. And in so doing, we’re ratcheting up global warming, destroying growing lands and by the use of industrial chemicals for intensively farmed crops that destroy topsoil.
Wouldn’t it be better if we stopped shipping food half way around the world and instead found ways to help people sustain themselves locally where crops can truly flourish? Isn’t that the natural order of life?
Maybe it’s time to teach a man to fish.
A shift in consciousness
Initially this seemingly intractable problem had me revolving in circles. My heart went out to the people, my compassion and yearning to help welled up from within my being. But at the same time, shipping money and goods out to places where life was becoming increasingly unsustainable made increasingly less sense. Especially when you consider the only reason I have money in my back pocket and food on my table is because, like many people in industrialized nations, I’ve subscribed to the very system that robs the poor to pay us, the rich. We’ve done it by taking the resources through our oil based economy which is destroying the environment for everyone – and especially those we’re now sending aid to.
Every time you and I go to the supermarket, every time we fill up at the gas station, every time we spend money with a globalized company, we’re fueling this disharmony, this imbalance, this insanity!
What’s really needed, the aid that will really help, is this shift in consciousness. The approach I’ve taken is to reduce the amount I consume to a minimum, and to be very careful about what, where and with whom I spend my money. But it took a shift in consciousness.
I remember all too well leaving home when my marriage broke up. I remember taking several black plastic bags of unwanted junk to the local landfill. As I dumped the last bag, a plastic plant pot from a DIY chain fell out on the ground in front of me. It had cost £1.99, was made from oil, and was equal to the price of several meals. From that day I resolved to consume less.
I don’t claim to be perfect and I observe that practically my every step within the Matrix (while it still exists) is a compromise that potentially damages the earth by consuming resources. But now I do so consciously. My consciousness has shifted and I try to tune into my soul on everything that I do, and especially, what I consume.
A collapse in order to reform
Yes, to me what’s needed is a shift in consciousness. More and more people need to wake up and realize just what’s going on.
Right now, governments in Europe and America are still using oil-based money to prop up economies that want to collapse. When will they get it? When will WE get it? Using oil to artificially drive global trade to create unsustainable lifestyles is simply not working. As the Corinthian columns of Greece topple because of unreported debt and an excessive welfare state, is that not a prophecy to us all? Is it not right that we let these artificial bubbles burst?
Prior to the industrial revolution, the global population was a mere 900 million. Back then, people who lived in local communities, grew their food locally and got whatever energy they needed (which wasn’t much) from local sources. It took several million years for the human population to reach that naturally evolving sustainable number.
Now, after the oil exploitation boom, the global population is nearing seven billion and by the middle of this century, if it continues at its current expansionary rate, it will be nine billion. In less than a century, the global population will have expanded tenfold.
Sit and contemplate that for a moment. Surely that’s not aligned with the natural order of life?
My emotions would like me to think it is sustainable and that we can truly feed the world. But my heart — which always speaks the truth to me, no matter how unpalatable — tells me we can’t.
My heart tells me we’ve created an artificial bubble which is now beginning to burst. And although I know it will cause me great pain within, what I see is that the global system needs to collapse and reform. Human numbers must reduce. We need to find balanced and sustainable harmony with the earth once again. And here’s the thing, whether we choose it or not, that realignment is going to happen. There’s simply no way to avoid it. I’m not afraid of it. In the years ahead, I know it will touch every single one of us.
And so it brings me — and us — back full circle to where I began this article, to those brave souls marching into Kenya right now. My heart goes out to you, my compassion, my love…
I will cry with you tonight,
and I will feel your pain as if it were my own.
But my compassion is all I can give you right now.
I did not consciously choose the conditions in which I live,
and I live on this earth just like you, on the edge of life.
I’ve come to accept that as a human being, there is no certainty.
I do not know if I will live to see tomorrow.
I have worked to find inner peace with that, my peace with God.
In so doing, I am fortunate. I have realized an eternal soul.
I reach out to you in the hope and the yearning
that you too will find your eternal nature.
I reach out with an open mind, one that continually questions reality,
I reach out with an open heart, that won’t let lies fester in the darkness,
one that is absolutely vulnerable to the inconvenient truth.
I reach out to you with the love and compassion of a brother
offering an open hand to help point the way into the light.
In these times of great change these are my gifts…
the only ones of true value that I can reach out to you with.
I have no bandage for this kind of wound. All I have is my soul to connect with your soul, to align with the truth, and to experience the absolute trust in benevolence, that this disharmony that mankind is enduring right now will unwind itself, that all sentient life will find acceptance as that re-balancing happens and that we’ll realize the only eternity is beyond this physical world and its constraints.
Let us look for that now. In this moment and always.
Cross posted from the OpenHand Foundation.
— Chris Bourne for Transition Voice