How Humanity Can Save Itself (from Falling off a Cliff)

A few weeks ago I watched a 60 minutes episode about how the Comptroller General for the United States, David M. Walker quit his job to travel around the country and lecture about the inevitability of our country going bankrupt.  According to Mr. Walker the US will be flat broke (and in serious debt) in a short time. 

His estimations are based on the most basic and valid accounting science and no one in the government will take the time to deal with the very serious concern (even though no one disagrees with him).  So he is taking his presentation on the road and speaking directly to “the people” requesting change.

This got me thinking, how many of our established systems are in a similar downward spiral.  Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth certainly got a lot of people thinking about the deteriorating condition of the environment.  Just how much of what we are doing is unsustainable?  Here is a great proverb I heard many years ago which puts some perspective on humanity’s current situation:

The story begins many millennia in the past with a caveman who starts noticing that certain animals are able to fly.  Amazed by

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this ability and curious about the notion of flight, he begins to wonder if it is possible for him to soar through the air without harm.  Instantly, he makes it his mission to find out and walks to a massive cliff which falls tens of thousands of feet straight down.

Without hesitation, he leaps off the cliff and begins flapping his wings (arms) vigorously, falling straight down.  He smiles and laughs and bellows out loud as he flies through the air, because to him he was not falling, but flying like a bird!  He does not understand the concept of gravity and is not aware that the ground was coming closer to him and that imminent death was near.  He merely flapped his wings and flew care-free, like a bird.


Now imagine this cliff being extremely high where he would be able to fall for years and years, adding further evidence to his being able to fly like a bird.  What if our caveman could fall for most of his life without ever knowing the true nature of his descent (until the very end when it’s all over in an instant)?

The question I pose to you is this: Is humanity’s present course so different than this caveman’s leap?  Do we have the sensation that we are flying through the air, and that nothing can harm us?  Are we blind to the bold truth that some inescapable (and potentially tragic) end is moving closer and closer, but we have lost the ability and perspective to see it?

Regardless if you feel this proverb too strong, or if you think I am just being an alarmist, there are libraries of evidence which suggest that many of our current systems and practices are not sustainable.  (In The Progress Paradox, author Gregg Easterbrook refers to this phenomenon as “collapse anxiety”, and is very common in our society). 

But even if a small percentage of these [alarming] cultural studies have validity, is there anything more important than figuring out how we can make the unsustainable, well, more sustainable?

The great news is that if you are reading this, and familiar with the growing communities of conscious people and organizations out there, you know it is not too late!  Positive change occurs every minute of every day, and it is up to each of us to choose whether we want to make the effort to be part of the solution or not.  But is this really such a hard decision…?

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