Hamlet's 2020 ... To be or not to be
Whether or not you believe or participate in such things New Year’s resolutions or Valentine’s Day, I think they at least offer a chance to ponder and reassess life for ourselves.
If I were to ask you, what resolutions you made for this year and you were to reply that you didn’t, perhaps because you don’t believe in them, that’s fair enough. But, do you consider why? Why don’t people keep resolutions? Why don’t you keep them? What’s the deeper perspective? What can be learnt from this perspective?
Now, this may seem like it’s taking up too much hard drive space six beers deep on New Year’s Eve, but it has wider implications for our evolution and survival as a species and for our planet.
We tend to define socio-cultural aspects in relation to decades, so I spent some time recently contemplating the 10’s and wondered what the next decade will bring? Aside from deciding what I will wear to avoid embarrassment in decades to come (back to short shorts, guys, really?) I explored the current reality we are facing as individuals and collectively. Our health is intrinsically linked with a global reality, and our reality is the world is becoming more unstable and unsustainable. But, we do have a choice to invest in a hazy, dysfunctional world or a new one full of possibility?
Very recently I read the pleas of an author who, in 2007, recognised that life as we know it in ecological, economic, social, political and cultural arenas, had reached a fatal tipping point. Change now or perish was the message. Some 13 years on, I wondered what that author thought and felt of the world today? Was he happy? Have we done well? Was his warning heeded? The author’s name is Ervin Lazlo. Ever heard of him? He has written 83 books and twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.
In 2017, Professor Stephen Hawking stated humans needed to colonise a new planet and soon. We had around 100 years to keep our species alive. His expanded theory is that the chance of disaster on Earth adds up over time and because we’ve been relatively disaster-free, it’s a near certainty to happen. He had originally stated we had 1000 to 10,000 years but revised it down to 100 years to establish life on another planet and 600 years before we had to leave earth. He said, ‘With climate change, overdue asteroid strikes, epidemics and population growth, our own planet is increasingly precarious.’
In an interview with the BBC, Hawking also said, ‘ I fear evolution has inbuilt greed and aggression into the human genome.’
I believe there is a growing tendency for our lives to be veiled in a fearful and dramatic energy. I don’t watch the popular news for these reasons. With the rise of social media the term ‘disaster fatigue’ has arisen, highlighting our loss of motivation due to prolonged exposure of news coverage. It’s important to recognise this fear factor in our immediate lives and lives at large and make a choice to move beyond it. From a health perspective, fear is at the base of many illnesses and pain. It starts early in life and is exacerbated by our experiences and environment. I believe most of our search for meaning involves shedding these fears to reestablish our true sense of self that we came into the world with before it was bombarded with fears and threats to our survival. There are enough fear based situations in our early lives that we already take on as part of who we are. These don’t need to be accentuated by social and environmental factors as we grow older. Conversely, we also don’t want to make individual contributions to a global consciousness of fear, because it affects entire countries and the planet as a whole.
Anyone who doubts the planet, and therefore our health, is changing, needs to get seriously invested. The fact that our lives and the climate are changing, is beyond doubt. The debate seems to exist around whether this is a natural cycle of things or whether we as humans, are contributing or causing this? The earth is now the warmest it’s been in 120,000 years. Part of the consequence of this is rising carbon dioxide concentrations. However, are we as a species contributing to this? The answer is yes. For example, 18 of the last 19 years have been the warmest on record and concentrations of carbon dioxide are the highest they’ve been in millions of years. Despite attempts to reduce carbon footprints, in 2018 carbon dioxide emissions rose 3.4 percent in the US over the year prior.
We, in Australia, don’t need to look to far afield to notice the effects of climate change. This summer, the devastating effects of a significant proportion of the country being on fire has been overwhelming. The collective response by everyday Australians to disaster relief has been outstanding. I believe this is in large part because it’s who we are as a nation, but also because so very many have been unable to escape some personal association, whether it be because of the heat levels this summer, the sensationally poor air quality and smoke laden skies, the lack of rain, dust storms, reduced crop availability in supermarkets or rising vegetable prices …
What if, in the near future, you order your morning latte and your barista says to you, ‘that’ll be $20 thanks’, will you hand it over? Currently 60% of the planet’s wild coffee species are facing extinction due to disease and pests (higher temperatures), climate change and deforestation. Whilst it hasn’t yet affected the world’s coffee supply, it’s likely it will. This will imply developing (genetically modifying) the coffee bean to resist the consequences of these changes. You may still be able to get your fix, but just not as nature intended.
Change is no longer something that may happen in the future, It is here now and we are experiencing it on a daily basis in one form or another. Change is not an option and it’s something that you and I have to make a reality for not only for generational survival but for our current state of health. To assume that things will take their course and be ok, is suicidal.
Please think about this as we begin our new decade.
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?