Forty years ago we received the first ever images of our planet taken from outer space. From that moment, our consciousness was changed, for it was then that we more fully realised that we are travelling on a living spaceship in an enormous solar system. Our destiny is a common one, and is dependent on a fragile planet we call home.
How magnificent that picture looked! What a marvel it is that we live on such a beautiful orb. While the word may have been trivialised by common usage, our collective home is most certainly awe-some.
Much is made of our current financial troubles; yet while viewing our situation from the perspective of this planet, we can see that money is virtually meaningless. Certainly we give money a great deal of power. We worship (literally, “give worth to”) the economy. Tragically, this has resulted in our consuming the planet. In the bigger picture, however, our home is far more important than money. Money is worthless without human life, and this planet is the only place upon which we can live.
Thus, any sustainable vision for humanity and the well-being of the planet as a whole must clearly place the economy in service to both, not the other way around.
What might this reprioritised outlook be like?
Firstly, we would not worry about passing financial debt on to our children. Since money is almost entirely composed of digits on computers, these digits can be changed at will. The damaged integrity of the planet, however, cannot easily be healed. This is the true debt that is being foisted upon our children.
Secondly, money should be created by states, not corporations. When corporations create money out of thin air, and then charge interest on it, the financial system is forced to continually convert more of the earth’s resources into money in order to keep the system from crashing. Such a system, as we have seen, impoverishes the planet and most of us. Instead, when states create money interest-free, full employment and economic stability can be accomplished – without the need to endlessly and mindlessly expand.
Thirdly, instead of having possessions at the centre of our existence, we can focus on relationships with each other, nature, and the Spirit/Energy-force that makes life possible. Mother Theresa observed that “loneliness” in the West is a worse problem than the diseases she regularly saw. This is a direct result of our broken relationships, isolation and fear (to name but a few).
Imagine a life in which we could slow down, truly be with each other, celebrate life and live in communion with the planet! This is doable. A failure to earnestly move in this direction today will certainly bring about the demise of both our financial system and our home. Being able to tell our collective children and grandchildren that we did all we could do to make this vision a reality makes life meaningful and positive.
Our beautiful planet is calling us to be faithful.
Ian Gartshore is a fellow traveller.