Do you believe in the value of money? Do you believe that you pay for what you get when you buy cheap gadgets on the market; or when you pay for your food, apples fromEnglandsent toSouth Africato be waxed and send back to theUKto be sold at1.5 poundthe kg? Who is paying for it?
Do you believe in money, profit and economic growth to solve our problems? Do you believe that the World Health Organisation for instance is about healthy citizens when its main aim is to make profit; that we will care for the people and the earth when every progress is measured solely by the profit we make? A tsunami that hits the country means economic growth; a river is polluted, more bottled water sold – economic growth; a country goes to war or sends weapons for wars – more economic growth. Looking after the elderly, the children, the disadvantaged, all of that is institutionalised today. We found ways to make environmental conservation and social service profitable, very rarely however it is for the sake of the environment or society itself that these essentials are considered.
Some people in the world work with the soil, knowing how to improve it, they live with the earth. Look at those people planting trees, catching and storing, bringing water back into the landscape, regenerating the ecosystem, growing food in a natural way in tune with the environment. Every year they store more wealth, more capital in biomass, water, in saving seeds for the next planting season and for coming generations to be able to provide for what is most important: a healthy way of life, healthy food produced through healthy soil and a healthy environment. It’s not complicated; it’s the essence of life, connecting to the earth. People have been doing it for thousands of years.
Look at the people who have relationships, whole communities working together on their lands, many of them producing food for their neighbours, sharing, caring. Look at these wealthy cultures that we in our western civilisation often call poor. Profit, obtaining a yield has a different meaning for them. Look at their wealth, diversity, yet so much simplicity and time, relationships, family, smiles on their faces, health and dignity.
This doesn’t mean that I think we should all live in communities surrounded by forests. I feel a bit overwhelmed and even annoyed when people come to me and preach about what it takes to change the world, “it would be so easy if all of you could do this and do that”. For myself I need however some clarity for what is important in my own life, what makes me healthy as a person, and what I can do that makes the people around me as well as the environment and through that my children and the coming generations healthy and happy. I do recognise that all of that is interlinked and society influences my well-being and vice versa. I am interested to startle thinking, make people observe themselves and their society around them and then draw their own conclusions. Doing this over and over again will inevitably lead us to action, because there’ll be things that we want to change, there’ll be reconsideration and reorganisation of values in our lives. Do we want money to guide us around, or do we want our values to do that for us. What is sustainable? Can we build a society where values like mutual understanding, empathy, self-responsibility and cooperation are part of everyone’s life? Is common welfare a possibility? Can we build capital that lasts?