Monday, August 18, 2008

THE FUTURE'S FUTURE (Guest writer)

An OWYP colleague from Nigeria and I were recently discussing all the societal divisions we face, all the prejudice and discrimination. We were equally frustrated with parallel situations in our parts of the world. We asked each other: Would it ever get better?
I saw a 15 year old boy freaking out once because he too saw the burden our generation faced. He was on the verge of tears because he saw it only as a burden. Yes, it is a burden in one way. But, the beautiful side of it contains a truth that is almost too overwhelming to admit to ourselves and perhaps this is why we do not yet fully own it. That this generation and the ones coming right after us have the gift and the challenge of re-imagining the world for our great-great-grand children, is there anything possibly more important and exciting?

If I had to put a theme to this I would say: curing human detachment and the precipice on which our generation finds itself resting. Though that sounds really bold, I claim no profoundness or shocking insight, only observations. Some very smart people told me that this all happened not all too long ago. That it arrived with the Industrial Revolution, the age of Colonization, and genocide of indigenous peoples. They said that we started internalizing this new story of human existence around the time we did not need to be directly connected to the land to survive. Paul Hawken says the crux of it all really comes down to oil. That once we discovered what we could use it to make, without having to use the actual energy, we spiraled fast in a direction that most now label as progress.

Our lives and world were transformed. And, it is all incredible in its own way. I can stand in Las Vegas and love it just as I can stand in the Redwoods and love it. But, it doesn't change the fact that something is wrong. If I dare venture to define what is wrong I would say: (1) Somehow in the process of so much growth, we have become detached from what it is to be human. (2)Our current ways of life are utterly unsustainable. The reason it matters is because we are pushing humanity toward a premature extinction. Our global economic system has detached us from the basic essentials of life, methods of extraction, production, consumption, and waste. This disunity allows for great injustice. According to Van Jones, "Two problems confront us: social inequality and environmental destruction. Both problems are reaching crisis points. We act as if they are separate problems, but they are linked economically, politically, and morally."

Around the globe, people are starting to do in their own ways, in their own communities what has to be done; we see this in the influx of NGOs, and even in the media's relatively new attention to "being green" and promotion of community service. Out of necessity we are going to have to literally change the world starting with the way we interact with it.

Guest Writer: Jessica Rimington,
Founder: One World Youth Project.

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