Looking at The Big Moral Question (116)

pm116_580“What’s going to happen to our kids?” When Bruce Anderson read “The Limits to Growth’ in the 1970s, he learned that nothing in nature grows forever — including the human economy. As we rapidly use everything up, we’re now reaching those limits and entering a crisis of adaptation. Bruce raises the moral, ethical and emotional aspects of a challenge humans have never faced before. He feels we’re up against limitations of thought, of the heart, almost at a mythic level. He asks: Can we mature from our childish consumerist narcissism to compassionate adulthood? Will our ingrained caring for our children propel us to take action so they can have a future? While facing what’s before us, how can we keep our spirit and heart alive, and not succumb to denial or despair? Episode 116. [forthefuture.org]

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  1. Iselin Celestine says:

    This show elicited significant response. I think that the whales are as much our family as our children – as well as all of the other species. I wish everyone thought/felt similarly. Very different viewpoints expressed here. I wonder how the government can be considered the problem when the government is, at least, some of the people. Further, now the government is largely the corporations which are also some of the people. And, how could affluence not be an aspect of the problem? In the seeking/satisfying of material wealth…will there ever be enough for all? Beyond this, if natural resources are not limitless, how can continued seeking of affluence be a viable or acceptable choice? With our resultant worldwide population growth, consumption, etc. (particularly by those of us in wealthier countries)…how can someone perceive that this ‘model’ can continue to suffice? Just reading Stuart’s second response – how apt a summation. “Greatest nation in the world?” Whenever I hear this uttered, I think it reflective of arrogance and egotism. Nations are groups of people. There are many factors (length of time established, history, population size, resource availability, relations with neighboring nations, etc.) that influence how ‘great’ a nation may or may not be. And, ‘great’ is a perception. Founded on the precepts of an old story? I see that Stuart makes mention of all of this as well as the observation that we Americans appear to be sadly lacking in our awareness and willingness to face our burgeoning crises with any significant degree of attentiveness. And, given the divisiveness of our population with regard to major issues – have we not the need to first recognize some common concerns, and the necessity of working together to address them, in order TO solve our problems? I found Janaia to be as participatory as Bruce in this segment. I further think – having watched many PM conversations by now – that this was Janaia’s ‘finest hour.’

  2. Lola Terrell says:

    I feel that Dr. Anderson is so right on! This is a crisis of mythic proportions. I think those are connected to our being a part of nature, and not a-part from it, are the canaries in the coal mind who are warning of the coming devastation. Wake up world. 1/5 of Pakistan is covered in water! Massive fires in Russia – there is unprecedented natural disasters unfolding all over the world and they are growing exponentially. To survive this, there indeed has to be grand change from being so left-brained that we’ve lost our spiritual connections and touch with our true natures. I feel this in my bones. I don’t need to be some intellectual scholar to see what is happening right before my eyes. This is the beginning of ‘armageddon’ and more are beginning to wake up to it, and it does indeed take a real waking up, to see it, get it, let it into our consciousness (the hardest part!) and then act to help ourselves, one another and the earth. Thank you. It’s a change in our consciousness that it being called for by energies greater than ourselves. We need to tune into that energy (whatever you want to call it – God, Allah, Universal Intelligence, The Force, etc. etc.) and start listening to what can be subtle messages from it into our own hearts and souls. If we can do that, we can’t help but become humbled by it, and begin to change ourselves and how we are living and doing and being.

  3. Jamie, thanks for your interesting comments. It’s nice to see some of these conversations coming back to life after a long time being idle. I agree that some of the founding fathers of the USA were very wary of organized religion and were sure to “enshrine” separation of church and state in the constituion. I am an atheist and have been heartened by the increasing popularity of Richard Dawkins and other scientists trying to defend Evolution against the efforts of Creationists and ID’ers to inject religion into America’s schools. But unfortunately, a recent PEW poll shows 63% of Americans don’t believe in Evolution and believe in some version of a religious “young Earth” creation theory instead. Many believe they will be “raptured” at the last second, just before the Earth meets its doom. This belief encourages a head in the sand approach to the world’s problems and reliance on a pie in the sky rescue.

    Judging by the politics as usual in Washington, DC, the government is just spinning its wheels in the mud, trying to give the appearance of doing something. I agree that we can’t rely on being rescued by government and should start looking after ourselves and our neighbors at the local level. I wish you luck with your endeavors to do so and will continue to read the interesting conversations here at Peakmoment TV.

    The only good news from Washington, DC, is that there are significant funds in the Stimulus package for increasing America’s energy conservation and efficiency. Sec. of Energy Chu is a big fan of renewable energy and enhancing energy efficiency. I hope the money doesn’t disappear and does some good this time. I’m not holding my breath, though.

  4. From what I understand that this string of conversation is going is that Government has done plenty to screw up what was left over to screw up by our own Economy. Our Economy is only driven to growing exponentially. The Government, with the backing of Big Business, is there to protect The Growth more so then protecting us. Government, by U.S. standards, was to protect us without interfering with us on a personal level (religion, thought, class, race etc.) People who say that this has always been a Christian based country are people who hae read the RIGHT kind of history books brought on by people who wanted to make it look as if it has always been religious. They pick the right kind of angle to history to make it that way. Forget that there were several of our founding fathers who thought that religion needs to stay out of Government. I know you’ll laugh when I say this, but they meant that in a good way. They wanted leaders to be moral enough to run the country without letting one religion dominate the landscape. If you think that everyone around you is a Christian in this country, then you are ignoring a big chunk of the country. And not everyone is religious, Atheists and Agnostics are growing in numbers in a phenomenal rate. If one religion took over this country than the minorities in this country will be targeted has breaking the law, they would be jailed.
    Change will only occur on the local level, just as it did with the Patriot Act. Many cities got rid of it because it only terrorized rather than protect. And to get out the mess we’re in is to work at it from the local level. State will follow suit, and so will the rest of the country. Until then, we have a lot of work to do.

  5. Stuart M. says:

    We can solve the Global Warming problem, if we are left alone? I guess all the rest of the Americans will be so impressed by Don Duncan’s efforts to cut his CO2 output, that they will voluntarily cut theirs too, right? You are trying to cut your CO2 output, aren’t you?

    How do I think the United States became the greatest nation in the world? This country’s greatness comes from its unique geographic position. European immigrants found a vast unexploited, fertile continent to settle. Modern America has been built on the back of cheap, abundant oil. Today, we are using 6 times as much energy as everyone else in the world does on average. I think things have been left alone too long!

    I see no signs (except here at Peakmoment, of course) of Americans showing any responsibility or taking steps to protect themselves. Reducing their energy consumption to the same level as the rest of the world would be the best sign to give.

  6. Don Duncan says:

    Reagan paid lip service to freedom. He did not deregulate, he regulated. The Fed is solely responsible for the present monetary fiasco. See Mises.org. When the middle class is destroyed and chaos reigns the politicians will not suffer. They have protected themselves, not us. You asked: “Will these problems go away?” I say again: “We are not children needing to be taken care of. We can solve all our problems, if left alone. How do you think we became to greatest nation in the world? Its time for us to take responsibility back and start protecting ourselves.

  7. Stuart M. says:

    Don, I would like to respectfully disagree. Maybe during America’s expansion across the continent in its “Manifest Destiny” days Americans were “truly free” as you say. The North American continent was wide open and European-Americans could seek their little piece of heaven on Earth (let’s ignore the slaves and the Native Americans for now) largely without the interference of government.

    But America has gradually “filled up.” We Americans have been bumping into each other for quite some time now. Government has taken an increasing role in our economic lives because we as a people have demanded it. From building the highway system, funding education, providing welfare, building public housing, to pork barrel spending, to subsidies for farmers, government has responded to each special interest making special demands. We created Big Government.

    About the last place in America where the “Wild West” still exists, or existed, was in the world of finance. Starting with Ronald Reagan, significant banking and finance regulations were loosened. What has been the result? The Savings and Loan debacle, the Penn Square/Continental Bank disaster, Michael Milken, the Dot.Com bust, the Enron Co. Bankruptcy, and now we are in the midst of the Subprime Mortgage Meltdown which has already bagged Bear Stearns and might yet eat Fannie Mae. People are screaming, and rightfully so, for some government oversight. Everyone is worried that their retirement savings will soon go up in smoke.

    Government clearly has the role of protecting Americans from disaster, whether natural or man-made. I agree with you it hasn’t done a very good job of it lately, but to say we would be better off left alone is not realistic. What about Global Warming? What about our dependence on oil from “bad countries?” Will these problems go away, if we are just left alone by government? I believe if Al Gore had been our President the last 8 years, significant progress might have been made in these areas, but no… precious time has been lost.

  8. Don Duncan says:

    I agree with Bruce that the fall of civilization is imminent. We are quickly approaching a crisis of worldwide proportions. I disagree that affluence or the pursuit of it is a symptom or cause. The call for sacrifice is unnecessary. The problem is lack of opportunity and incentive. America achieved an unpredicted rise in the standard of living, unmatched anywhere, anytime. How? We were the freest country. That started to change about 100 years ago. We have slowly drifted toward centralized authoritarian control. We were never totally free because we did not understand the importance. We did not understand because we had no complete philosophical system to justify our freedom. This allowed people to be conned into giving up freedom by the very people who were trusted to protect it, i.e., the government. The people do not need to be led or saved, especially from themselves. We are not the enemy. Left alone, we can save ourselves. But the government will not leave us alone. The more government “helps” us the worse off we get. Government is the decease, pretending to be the cure.

  9. Stuart M. says:

    Mr. Anderson hasn’t much to offer except pathos. I don’t take as much comfort in being a part of a Greek tragedy as he does. I would have preferred some answers!

    I also had problems with the veiled criticism of humanism. Humanism is often a code word for a secular, non-religious world view that generally is associated with academics, scientists, liberal intellectuals, etc. The USA has been and is a very religious country. Christian fundamentalism has set the political agenda ever since 1980. While consumerism certainly existed before 1980, I think the denial that has set in now, denying that an environmental and societal collapse is imminent, comes largely from the religious notion that we are God’s Chosen, and he just wouldn’t allow something like that to happen to us.

    If Mr. Anderson’s film project can stimulate some introspection on the part of these religious people, that maybe they are destroying the Garden of Eden that God gave them and He might not give them another, then I wish Mr. Anderson well.

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