Unfortunately, the pursuit of the common good these days is about as common as common sense, and most of us have seen first-hand how common that is!
What if we celebrated goodness, generosity and fairness over greed, cleverness and opportunism? Cooperation over competition? Conservation over exploitation? WE over ME?
What if we believed that our most important concern should be the sustainability of LIFE, not just our way of life; that it is our moral responsibility to ensure the continuance of diverse and abundant life on this planet, rather than a mere continuance of the “good life” for the few?
What if we knew that our sustainability—our ability to live without destroying the chances for future generations to do the same—reflects the law of reciprocity: the simple truth that we must learn to live in right relationship with the world and with one another, understanding that all life is connected and interdependent? It should be obvious by now!
What if it was well-understood that the base reality of all life is consciousness, rather than matter, as research across multiple scientific disciplines is repeatedly demonstrating? It is almost amusing how we ignore what we discover until it is far beyond obvious. Perhaps that is why we keep making the same mistakes repeatedly, even when we should know better from repeated experience.
A teacher of mine was fond of observing that our Earthly life is but a spiritual school, and it is important to remember that we are not all in the same grade. That is for certain. So, while we should have compassion and patience for one another, we are prone to disaster when we let the first-graders run the school.
What if we actually had the common sense to meaningfully address the most threatening problems of our time: potentially catastrophic climate change; massive injustice, poverty and social inequality; widespread deterioration of mental and physical health, rampant pollution, or the severe water and food shortages that are just around the corner… It’s a long list. Or how about the systematic poisoning of soils, aquifers air quality and entire ecosystems by moronic farming, logging and mining practices that value only profit, leaving a wake of toxicity and epic environmental destruction—not to mention dangerously poor food quality and epidemic malnutrition? None of these issues found their way to discussion in recent elections, did they? They are not even on most people’s radar. Yet each of these problems threatens to escalate beyond even the possibility of mitigation and eventually destroy everything.
What if we actually utilized the knowledge we have to solve our real problems, using what we now know to make life better for everyone, rather than propping up dysfunctional notions which have proven hollow and false with the test of experience, serving the powerful few at the expense of the many: like the notions that “business knows best,” that bankers and corporations can be trusted to regulate themselves in the spirit of honesty and fairness, that more technology will save us from stupidity, or that there is any such thing as Santa Claus or “free markets”?
What if something other than monetary wealth was the primary arbiter of value in our way of life? What if we decided we don’t need banks? Why do we need banks anyway? To keep the economy stable? (… long pause for chortling) What happens next time the banksters crash the economy? What incentive is there for them not to? Look how it worked out last time. I guarantee you they are back at it again.
What if we decided that “too big to fail” means too big to continue as it is: that the existence of such behemoth gluttons is a threat to everyone and everything else. Perhaps corporations should be subject to capital punishment for betrayal of the public trust. They are “persons” after all, right?
What if we woke up to the fact that greed knows only greed, like Narcissus in love with his own reflection, and that this is the key reason why business cannot regulate itself, and that it makes no more sense that we should expect it could, any more than first-graders could effectively run the school?
What if we were to actually achieve democracy? Real democracy, not the puppet show we watch on television. It seems obvious that democracy does not exist in practice any more than justice exists for those without the means to buy it, and for the same reasons.
I am wondering what that world would look like. Democracy? Equality? Justice? Fairness? Peace? Sustainability? Common Sense? What if we imagine it together? Shall we try?
If enough of us could conceive of such a world, we could install a new dream in place of the nightmare we are living.
What if we managed to stop the greedy fools who rule us from destroying Mother Earth in their lust for wealth, so that our great grandchildren might live?
Dr. Jim Redtail Collins is an ecopsychologist, energy healer, ceremonialist and elder of both Lakota and Laika medicine lineages.