How to Save the Globe
In the last issue of Ny Tid (9/2021) ecological re-organisation was a main topic, and there were at lest 4 contributions concerned with it, none of which, though, presented a clear idea what to do. Which I thought a pity, especially as one of the contributors (Amanda Pasanen) is an active politician, and just of active politicians one would wish that they had clear ideas … . I had dearly liked to reply to her piece, but for that the text would have to appear in the web edition (which it has not done up to now, and a mail to the redaktion asking to please put her text to the web edition did not result in any action, so that I am now writing my ideas here).
Well, what should (especially in Western society) be done to establish a form of society which would be pleasant to live in while NOT destroying the environment and the climate? In fact there is something like an example of such a society, namely the kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas: the culture is Buddhist, the government does not count its success (what ever that is) in terms of the BNP but in terms of the happiness of the inhabitants (and seems to be reasonably successful with that). Income to the country comes to quite some degree from the sale of electricity (which is produced by hydro power – for which the southern slopes of the Himalayas are a VERY good region) and from tourists who come to admire a well-preserved and beautiful nature.
It might not be so very easy to turn Finland into a Buddhist society, but what one in fact COULD do would be an increased stress on psychology in education and public life. Better knowledge of psychology would counteract what we experience as “conspicuous consumption” and addictions, make people also less susceptible for propaganda and advertisement, and make people quite in general more capable to handle their lives, themselves and each other in more reasonable, healthy and friendly ways (the latter also providing compensation for joys which one otherwise might have tried to experience by consumption). A precondition for THIS, in turn, would be a BETTER psychology (and more respect for it), which could be achieved by considering also ANIMAL behavior (in spite of possible protests from the side of humanists) and principles of ZEN Buddhism (which I consider to be a collection of principles FOR teachers based on observations BY teachers, and very helpful for the ways how to meet people in general – I have occasionally given presentations about it).
Zen Buddhism would also encourage people to be open-minded and welcoming to new ideas, also technical ones, which in turn would be very helpful for the job to earn the money to support the society (e.g. by producing goods which can be exported for a profit – preferably while not being harmful for people or the environment). I would myself have to contribute a number of technical ideas which (at least I think) could be good and helpful in Finland as well as elsewhere, but up to now the experience is that the political decision makers are thinking in too short-run terms: if there is a problem they just tend to look for a firm who can sell them a “READY” solution, whereas the even experimental development of NEW ways to tackle some problem does not appeal to them (and is, accordingly, not even given a chance). – Well, there are not many politicians with a Zen education or even Zen tendencies, nor are there many who would follow the suggestions of such politicians (it is one of the problems of the Capitalist – or primate – concepts of “leadership”).
Altogether, what (I think) would have to happen are SERIOUS efforts to develop a better psychology and teach it at school, which would also result in a more development-inclined attitude among decision makers, which in turn would result in more (and environment-friendly) technical progress, which would help to earn the money needed for giving people more reasonable, healthy and friendly (by that, more pleasant) lives.