Why We Will Succeed

at creating sustainable ways to live

Creatures with far less capability than humans have lived on Earth for tens of millions of years. We should expect no less.

This link looks at qualities that should enable our kind to live on Earth until the sun burns out. It also identifies why our prospects sometimes look bleak.

Why Humans Should Survive:

- Thumbs: our ability to hold, carry and otherwise manipulate objects enables a vast array of actions.

- Observation: our senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste are well developed. When aided by telescopes, microscopes, geiger-counters, spectrometers, thermometers and other technical extensions, our ability to notice what is going on around us is extraordinary.

- Pattern Recognition: we have a highly developed ability to recognize patterns in the observations we make. This leads to understanding and makes it possible to predict many consequences of events and actions.

- Memory: we have a well developed ability to remember past observations which we can compare with present information for identifying problems and finding solutions.

- Communication: not only can individuals share observations and understanding directly with each other; through print and other recording media, information can be passed to large numbers of people in the present and through time to generations following.

- Creativity: we can take the extraordinary amount of information available to us and use it to plan actions and to make things.

Humans have been around long enough to learn much. We could provide very well for ourselves a hundred years ago. Since then we have developed countless new capabilities, many of which make it easier to survive. In particular health care, psychology, communication advances, understanding of ecological systems, physics, cybernetics and the knowledge of techniques by which we can grow, design and manufacture useful items. Uncertainty about the future is not due to lack of ability.

Life Strives to Survive.
It is the natural aim of creatures to launch their young into life with as great a chance as possible for raising young of their own. The urge to care for offspring and thereby continue the species predates awareness of self and selfishness. It is at the core of every human being. All but the most dedicated of those who seek salvation through making money recognize the well-being of future generations as the ultimate good. This basic drive in billions of people is more than capable of transforming civilization. It awaits only the hope that we can shift our priorities for collective action from the competitive economics model to sustainability.

Proponents of economic expansion still tell us that the best results will come from everyone trying to make and spend more money. Economies are trying to grow everywhere, yet, prospects for the future are diminishing for many people and many other living things. A review of the economic expansion goal is surely in order.

Greed is often identified as the human quality that will bring about our demise. There is no question that greed and competitiveness are components of human nature, but so too are caring and cooperation. For several generations we have been cultivating self-interest and competition as engines for economic growth. (See The Invisible Hand) All around we can see the consequences of these values becoming entrenched in our belief system. The impact they are having on families and communities is sufficient to question their encouragement.

What would life be like if our societies were to cultivate the qualities of care and cooperation? Would they flower and penetrate every aspect of society in the same way that self-centeredness and competition have?

For hundreds of years people have worked and organized to assert their right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. Democracy is established in principle. It is time to try it out on a question of basic direction.


Why do our prospects sometimes look bleak?


Following the invisible hand of the market may have worked before mass persuasion technology and the appearance of ecological limits. Today, however it is increasingly difficult to justify decisions on the faith that if it makes money it is good.

The coexistence of people in need and people who have nothing to do is evidence of bad management. The disappearance of fish stocks, destabilization of the atmosphere, diminishing soil fertility and the expanding gap between the rich and the desperate speaks of more than just misguided notions of order. By threatening large portions of the human family, the management practices that expand these problems are treasonous.

For civilization to be endowed with the extraordinary capabilities we have and to face this wide range of potentially lethal problems is bad management. The management principle of letting the market decide how society will unfold can no longer go unquestioned. It is time to bring this principle forward for public review. Please join us in asking the Question of Direction.
"The marketplace has been constantly evoked over the last quarter-century as the source of freedom and democracy as well as the only possible force to lead us back to growth. But after two decades of having their way, the exponents of this theory have no results to show us. . . . they have held and continue to hold the levers of power, and they have not produced. This is a very long trial period . . ."
- John Ralston Saul