Letter: How can we build back better?
Few of us enter the world through a Garden of Eden. Born into an inhospitable corner of the world, we soon become aware of our fragility and our insignificance. Nature is a dynamo generating new forms of life for each niche and our evolving planet caring nothing about which survives and prospers. Our societies provide methods we use to distance ourselves from our human condition. Among these evasions are myths of a hero/protector such as the shepherd of the 23rd Psalm. Arming ourselves can give us an illusion of power. Joining political organizations suggests that we can control events. When we try to manipulate others into adopting our preferred avoidance mechanisms, genocide, murder and mayhem result.
During eons of scarcity, physical labor conferred significance because laborers produced the necessities of life. In our age of surplus, human and material resources are often used to produce results that are harmful to other men. Such work provides profits to the plutocrats but robs the laborer of significance. To motivate laborers, plutocrats promote the idea that a rising tide will lift all boats, deferring laborers’ demands for an equitable distribution of wealth and power. Our current arrangements result in producing more stuff for the haves while failing to provide food and shelter for the have-nots. Meeting the basic needs of other beings is imprinted in the human psyche. Truly caring from your brother requires that you help your brother to discover his truth, not ape yours.
Rather than trying to avoid the human condition, we could embrace nature’s mysteries and miracles. Science is a game the scientists play with nature. Each disclosure she allows presents us with new puzzles begging for solutions. One needn’t be an intellectual to find beauty in nature as thousands of birders, rockhounds and artists are proving. Many of these nature lovers dedicate themselves to rehabilitation of our damaged planet. Active support of their efforts would be less harmful to people and the planet: an excellent way of building back better.
John E. Gibson