We are reaping what we have sown. The current economic implosion is not merely the consequence of foolish or unscrupulous practices in the world of big corporations and high finance, nor is it simply the fallout of the policies of a particular administration (i.e. Bush), nor the result of the reign of a particular economic ideology (i.e. neoliberalism). We are bewildered, frightened, and angry, and we want to know who to blame, but we need look no further than our own backyards. The present disaster is ultimately the result of the way we have chosen to structure our political and economic relationships to the earth and to each other, both in our personal lives and collectively as human beings.
This is not just an economic crisis, it is an ecological crisis, it is a political crisis, and, at its root, it is a spiritual crisis. This crisis didn’t begin with the sub-prime mortgage debacle, not with Bush, not with the dawn of free-market corporate capitalism. We have been in the midst of the current crisis for a very long time.
So why now? If the problematic nature of our political and economic relations to the earth and each other stretches way back (maybe all the way back) then why is everything going all haywire right now? The answer is globalization. This is a new era in the history of humanity. The expansion of the scale of human activity, power, and presence within the finite context of the planet earth has crossed a critical threshold. The earth can no longer absorb the consequences of our actions. The impact of our presence on earth has outstripped the capacity of evolution to adapt in a way that can sustain life. The reduction of friction* and increasing interconnectedness of human political/economic relations, the consolidation of power in geographically abstracted mega-corporations, the creation of a globally integrated and instantaneous communication and information network, the fast movement of huge amounts of money, all driven by the power of computers, has changed us. We as human beings now exist in a categorically different relation to the natural systems of the earth that sustain us. We have become too powerful, too fast, too effective. Because of the integrated nature of our globalized world, the consequences of our actions become immediate and far-reaching. There is less and less delay in both space and time between the moment of action and its global effects. But our wisdom has not kept pace with our power. Lacking wisdom, we have become the monster, the economic Frankenstein, of our own creation.
But what is the essence of wisdom? Continue reading