An Open Letter To Presidential Candidates, the President, Congress and the World:
Whether we acknowledge the reality of global warming or not, most of us sense and acknowledge the stresses of a world that is drastically out of balance. The variety of ills our countries and cultures face is at odds with how the world ought to be given the good will, kindness, patience and effort most of us already exhibit on a daily basis.
For evidence of a world out of balance we need look no further than the electoral system in the United States, broken by gerrymandering and Citizen's United, and the gridlock in Congress, which like the dysfunction of our daily lives, have become standard fare and deny citizens the effect of their vote even if the favored candidate is elected.
The gridlock of government is reflected in the hundreds of petitions that regularly accumulate in my email inbox addressing a diversity of issues. One more way that we, as individuals, are asked to demonstrate resilience and pick up the tab for dysfunctional government and economic systems.
The myriad issues that need to be addressed include the prison-industrial complex, black lives matter, militarization of police, starvation and homelessness, the immigration and refugee crisis, health care, education, social security, endangered species, unrest and war in a number of countries, and an increased frequency in natural disasters caused by an increasingly unstable environment.
The need for, not only individual, but systemic change has reached a critical, code red, level.
Photo of Hurricane Patricia from NASA via @NEWeatherWx
The need for, not only individual, but systemic change has reached a critical, code red, level. One way that government and corporations have attempted to address the crisis -- and another way that individuals are picking up the tab -- is an invasion of privacy that borders on harrassment of every citizen in the name of surveillance and datafication for corporations and the NSA. Furthermore, the convenience promised by the computerized wireless system that increasingly runs our lives is quickly belied by frustration when the underlying infrastructure causes errors which no corporation has clear responsibility for and the individual is forced to take extra steps to correct. If more individuals could take time out from their day-to-day activities we might hear a collective scream in response to this parasitic invasion of our minds and lives.
It shouldn't be a surprise that as individuals we need more from our governments, the United Nations, and NGOs than a greater diversity in the colors and slogans for our t-shirts and magazine covers to address the above issues and the disasters of the day, though it is not my intention to be disrespectful of great sacrifice. Celebritization of our politicians rewards rash rather than reasoned behavior, is financially wasteful in astronomical proportions and distracts from the serious problems at hand rather than working toward solutions. Especially in first world countries the cost of the infrastructure and logistics on which we depend to live our daily lives exceeds what the individual is able to produce. We have reached a point in the story of humans as a species in which no amount of meditation, yoga, recycling or individual planning will pull the human race and the planet back from the brink.
The brink of what? The Anthropocene, an epoch in our planet's history in which the boundaries of sustainability have been exceeded. World-wide systemic change at the levels of governments and corporations is needed to support individual effort. Without drastic systemic change our governments, militaries, the United Nations and NGOs are, in effect, lost in debates and uncoordinated efforts to plug up the cracks of a pressure cooker of a planet and society that will give rise to increasing levels of devastation and, in a generation or two, most likely will burst.
In the writing of this special thanks go to Matthieu Ricard, David Chandler and contributors to #spir700, various individuals of the San Franscisco Zen Center, and Joe Weston and group.
In this group everyone is included!