"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Abundant food or parched earth? Where is our empathy? Where is our compassion?

Over the last few weeks I have written about the essay by Ervin Laszlo on “The World’s Health Problem: an Integral Diagnosis” in A New Renaissance – Transforming Science, Spirit and Society. Laszlo concludes: “the world is (1) socially, economically and ecologically unsustainable, (2) saddled with irrational behaviours and (3) governed by obsolete beliefs and aspirations.”

I have covered the four obsolete beliefs in previous recent blogs: that we think the planet is inexhaustible, that we believe that “nature is a mechanism,” that life is a struggle where only the fittest survive, and that Adam Smith's free market will distribute the benefits of economic activity.

Now I want to move on to Laszlo's list of Irrational Behaviors.

Number One: "Millions are suffering from overeating and obesity and a thousand million go hungry."

We have an obesity epidemic in the developed western world. Indeed obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the USA. An estimated 65% of U.S. adults, aged 20 years and older, and 15% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Around 34% of adults are obese. That amounts to c. 59 million people! The figures elsewhere are not much better. In 2006 24% of the adult English population were obese, and in children up to 15 years of age the figure was 16%. And both figures are increasing. We can all see it all around us.

The truth is that we have forgotten how to live simply and sustainably with totally unselfish regard for those around us. We have lost the ability to generously share, to ensure that everyone in the same household has had their fill before going ourselves for second helpings.

We have abundant food. Others have only cracked parched earth.

Where is our empathy? Where is our compassion?

We need to find more and better ways to adapt to sustainable living in a world where we can be sure that our good fortune is shared, where everyone has their basic human needs met, where hunger becomes history.

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