a shift of perspective

21.1.08

I've been taking time to think about where I stand on key issues that affect my life. I've been pursuing cool technology and social initiatives to write about for a few years now. While its been fun, the process has given me an insight into why the world isn't changing the way I'd expect with all of these new developments and how people generally react to change. My personal life has also demonstrated to me one of the major issues that humanity faces in coming to grips with change and a world which increasingly requires focused attention and utmost intelligence.

People are constantly in a position of trying to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads while governments and innovators discuss large scale dreams of national and global proportions. When the challenges of meeting ones financial commitments are raised, I've often seen those with the ability to do something about it suggest volunteer work or internships as a way of expanding opportunities. Humanity still faces a battle of survival as it has since we used to use very basic tools and simple methods to harvest local foods for our families and communities. If you look in other parts of the world people still do this to get by. This is a delicate game where we aspire to much but settle for what the world gives us while the few go about building new systems.

I think the biggest disconnect people have today, is between those that are financially capable of doing something and those that are not. If you are funded to do something innovative but can only seem to say that something should be done, perhaps that money should have been put into a community where people needed an infrastructure upgrade for a new micro-hydro power station so they can stop burning diesel to keep the lights on.

The sickness that I see in the world is not a climate problem. It is a lack of a combination of vision, clarity, action and leadership concerning what holds people in a place where they are unable to change: unable to act differently, unable to change their lifestyle. As a result the environment is polluted, people are poor, and hunger, inequality, and war are maintained. Wealth, not just financial, is not being distributed evenly or fairly neither is the power to act to create change.

If you look to what constitutes a world change and in that process you think about the movie "An Inconvenient Truth", then you like many others are interested in change but may not know much about how to do anything about it. If you think that perhaps you too should go out and make a film, I'd reconsider. If you think you should stop driving your car, I'd reconsider. If you think you should buy solar panels, I'd reconsider. You should go out and come up with a way to solve a real problem by mobilizing your community and collectively do something about it.

Al Gore has made a heavy impact of the global psyche, however the impact he has made is not to do with our understanding of the environment. It is a starkly portrayed ugly truth about humans and the way our societies have been structured. It is as factual an analysis as any newspaper that accounts for the centralized corporatization of globally scaled industry. The knowledge that should be drawn from Gore's inconveniant truth is that he had to lose the American Presidency in order to make an impact. Had he actually been elected, this movie, and his presentation would more than likely have been passed off as rhetoric. If I made a movie, I'd been seen as someone looking to make a point, not someone changing the world, and that is a big difference.

Even though I have a firm stance on the environment, Al Gore's impact has mostly been just that, rhetoric. Gore has become one of the highest paid lecturers while attempting to finance projects that can actually make some sort of difference in the world. Ironically, the greatest difference he could make might be to give his money to people that have to take the jobs in the factories and industries that are creating the very problems he speaks of. And yet, we have yet to see the Gore "employment program" . Despite everything Al Gore says, until he spearheads an initiative that employs American, Mexican, Canadian and any other global citizen to create the cars of the future from sustainable materials sourced locally that don't destroy an ecosystem in the process, I'll continue to see his lecture as an entertaining version of my climatology 101 course I took in University.

My experience these days with the stories in the news and global initiatives to solve one or another social or economic crisis, is that each one gives me the same dull feeling of stagnation and pointlessness. This comes mostly from the fact that many are short sighted and still maintain the same structures and institutions in society that create the problems in the first place. This has led me to a conclusion about power and the class of individuals that maintain it currently. The generations that hold power in Canada are nearly finished in their effective leadership. There will be very little meaningful leadership left from the people that still pursue the concept of an "American Dream" and lifestyle ideology from the early 19th century. This is also the case with American, European, and potentially other world power centers.

When world leaders begin talking about the future and the changes that need to be made to save the future, really what they are saying is that their time of leadership is over. The future is a younger generation with ideas that go beyond our own stomachs and pockets. Unfortunately the younger generations are in no position to take up power and so we continue on the paths that have led us to this juncture in human history. Whats worse is that I think almost everyone knows this. We are at an impasse. The ideas that have driven us to this point are quickly becoming methods of a past that maintains a stranglehold on ways of living that harm people and the environment without a concern for the future. The generation that is almost expected to solve these problems that the previous generations have created is instead looking right back with an un-easy gaze and statement, "I didn't do this!"

Within my own immediate family, I have seen language change in the past five years around this topic. Though I'm sure fewer people are saying it now, "the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and I won't have to deal with it but my grandchildren's-grandchildren will", has become a statement that unifies and defines a whole generation of people. If this statement were about politics, which it is, and a silent and inactive group of voters, which it is, then some people are about to have a very unhappy awakening. What is at stake is the acceptance by a younger generation that until now their lives and those of their decedents, the future, were worthless enough to destroy.

So when you overhear comments about why a younger generation isn't getting into politics, why we aren't voting, we don't seem to be changing systems, and particularly how we seem to be selfish, you may want to answer with one of these boilerplate questions; Why is it that university education is 3 times more expensive and the retirement age was just pushed back? Why hasn't minimum wage been increased to keep people above the poverty line? Why is it that the housing market prevents a large majority of the population from developing equity? Why are cellphone networks charging money for what equates to a public utility? Why is pavement not permeable? Why are cars so expensive and run on gasoline? Where did the fish go? Why can't I drink this water?

I look at strife, and instability in foreign countries and I think very narrowly about the generation that is making this possible. I watch during the summer as the air turns yellow and I breath fumes from inefficient machines that we slave for and I think narrowly about the generations that didn't do anything to stop this. I look at the food I eat and the residential developments in newly clearcut forests and I think narrowly about the generations that continue to think this is a wise decision for economic reasons. I look at the next 30 years and the extension of retirement age, and I think narrowly about the generations that have created a false impression about social security and how their children will be taking care of them and picking them up from golf games.

I havn't blogged in a month because I sit a crossroads and wonder where this is all going. My impression is this: call it what you may, the next 30 years of innovation will be driven not just by guilt, but for the sake of retribution.

And there is a lot to answer for.

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