where does this path lead? where to, if we don’t realize what kinds of powers are raging within us? mankind is changing the face and character of this planet and life on earth to a far greater extent than all forces of nature combined into one. in less than a hundred years, we have cleared half of all forests, have looted half of the fish wealth in our oceans, have exterminated three out of ten species – eradicated them from the face of this earth for good.
where does this path lead? is this the future of mankind, to destroy, loot and devastate? soon there will be 8, then 10 billion people on this planet. every year, 80 million additional people come into this earth – a whole germany each year. at the same time, we are losing fertile soils the size of germany to the deserts every five years because of our agro-industrial activities – by steppization, karst formation, desertification. and this has a massive impact. our per-capita crop harvests are the lowest we have had in half a century. the stocks are empty. however, all people crave a worthy life, want to be fed, clothed, educated and transported. how is this supposed to work in the long term?
earth has become weary. for more than twenty years, we have been consuming more for the sake of our prosperity than mother nature is giving to us. we are no longer living on what will regrow again, but are “looting” the repositories. fields and forests, oceans and rivers – all of them have become industrial production sites for mankind. but the world is not enough. if everybody lived the way us europeans do, it would take three planets earth. if everybody lived like the us americans do, it would take six of them. in the long term, our tormented planet will not be able to take it. in the long term, us people won’t be able to take it. it’s not only skyscrapers and industrial sites that are growing every day, but also misery, desperation and sorrow.
is this the path of mankind’s development? or could we do it differently? when will we realize that planet earth and us people are actually one? us people have become the planet. we are earth. we are not just a part of nature, we are nature. stones, plants, animals are our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. today we are holding the sceptre. but for how much longer? we have become caretakers and gardeners of mother nature. and we want her to yield; we want her to bear fruit and mercy. we want to reconcile her. because in the long run, the misery and sorrow we are amassing within us are too much for people’s hearts.
earth is crying, and so are many people. it seems as though we had left our home, the soil that keeps us grounded. we create forests that are no longer able to regenerate themselves because we have made them hybrid, i.e. infertile. these dead forests give me the creeps. not only because their trees are mourning, but because we are messing with natural interrelations that would run perfectly well without us. however, we rather choose to make forests and people dependent on our genetic engineering laboratories. we are breeding pigs and are feeding thousands of these genderless – and thus faster-growing – creatures towards the conveyor belts of the slaughterhouses. we are burning corn in our engines and forget that every sixth person on this earth is starving. to starve means to cook stones so that the water at least tastes like something. starving people don’t give their babies names for several months – because that makes it easier to say goodbye to them.
despite all this, isn’t earth a wonderful place? a wonderful place that could hold three times as many people – ten, twenty billions of people. i’m positive about that. even today, our planet could feed, clothe and provide a home to ten billion people more. however, they would have to be “indian” vegetarians rather than “american” steak-eaters. because with the steak eaters come almost three billion cows that also have to be fed, and are permanently changing the world’s climate and pasture lands. a globalized industry of destruction is advancing without interruption. every kilogram of laptop computers devours five hundred kilograms of nature. and that’s not counting the electricity needed for operation, storing, internet and media. each european consumes about seventy tons of nature each year. people from the poor south only consume a tenth of that.
what kind of development is sustainable in the long run? in our advanced democracies, more people are participating in votes for tv shows than in parliamentary elections. for how much longer will our hard-fought democracies be able to take wars and ignorance, powerlessness and controlled propaganda? where have the social and the democratic gone? where are politics and justice when the gap between the rich and the poor is becoming wider and wider, when prosperity for one of us means reduction to beggary for five people in the south? above all, the grand winner is economy – the icon proclaimed by the anaemic leaders of downfall in the name of competitiveness and freedom of goods and finance.
how much longer are we going to make it? how long? why do we still believe the propaganda paroles of boundless growth? do we really want to keep building this metastasizing machine of acquisition? a machine that ever more blatantly shows us that “money eats world!” and why of all things do we believe in boundless growth when it comes to our economy, believing in it like in eternal life? have we already pushed death so far away that we have forgotten how everything starts and ends? or is our culture one big escape from death? is this form of economizing, which has never learnt about shrinking, organic decay and thus rejuvenation, even fit for the future?
for how much longer do we think this regime of organized irresponsibility will be able to reign? when will we come to our senses? the world is waiting for every single one of us. every sensible act saves. and everyone who saves himself and his next saves the whole world. life keeps on asking when we will start to do that. honest discussion and management-ethics have to guide our activities and can help to give the right answers. not sugar-coated speeches. responsible, meaningful action finally wants to bring about salvation. let us come home, come home to human size, to human speed and human proportions!
because in the end, only what benefits everybody will benefit us as individuals! this recognition is a supporting pillar of profound sustainability. steady sustainability wants to serve everybody and not just a select few. especially when we’re talking about serving – in politics or economy – we often feel forced to serve several masters at the same time. and it would be baleful if we had to choose between sustainable and non-sustainable decisions. without a doubt, we wouldn’t be able to survive this kind of scenario - not as humans, not as a family, organization or democracy, and not as a planet. it’s up to us to decide whom we want to serve. however, we can only stay true to ourselves.
how is the whole supposed to heal again? the whole, as the ancient greeks used to say, is made up of three aspects: the good, the beautiful, and the true. if all three communicate in a harmonious way, the noble is created. these three aspects can be compared to the three dimensions of sustainability, to nature, society and economy, or to equality, freedom and fraternalism. all aspects have their own quality and dignity, their own strength and logic. the whole becomes whole when no dimension dominates the other ones. one aspect isn’t worth anything without the other ones. just like we have learned to appraise the good with our hearts, the beautiful with our eyes and the true with our minds, we have to apply different standards to nature, society and economy. only then will one single economic value turn into a variety of different values again, providing us with hope and a home.
i love earth. i love its people. i believe in those people – happy, satisfied, laughing, singing and dancing people. i also believe in those who cry. i believe in heedful and beneficial activities, if they are done in a dignified and merciful way. the nature of mankind is grand and loving. it is us who connect heaven and earth. and the angels, they say, envy us for it. so let’s start a new era in the name of humanity, let’s unfold a new dimension. the magic of a new beginning will protect us and the power of change will lead our way.