HUMANIST CORNER October 2019
“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong the current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” Marcus Aurelius
“The trouble is you think you have time.” Guatana Buddha
Maybe it’s lazy, old age or just lack of imagination, but I’m plagiarizing myself this month. Actually no, I’m not. What follows is a piece submitted to our local newspaper. Whether it sees print or not is beside the point! As another year winds down, it’s unlikely I could have come up with anything of more “spiritual” in nature. Hope you’ll agree…
“Could we just drop the identity politics, anti-capitalist, pro-socialist clamor etc. for a moment? The Trump mess. Even the Brennan Center of Justice report “Red” states have purged 17 million voters since 2017.
Financial advisor Margaret McDowell touched on some of it. Love her musical lead-ins too. (“Free money, work and crumbling infrastructure” Sep 29: “Global aging crisis: We’re all getting on” Oct 6)
That still falls way short of many real issues facing humans on this page of the human story. The tasks ahead are far beyond “revolutionary” in nature; calling for change on an absolutely “evolutionary” scale. Presently we’re about one-eighty out of phase, leading to so much fear and anger.
The late TV chef/adventurer Anthony Bourdain was visiting Shanghai. Across the table sat a renowned, Chinese economist. The old gentlemen posed a rhetorical question to Tony. One you may very well have asked yourself during some 3:00 AM sleepless interlude.
“What, then, shall we do with people?
A question of enormous significance considering the trials cast upon us worldwide by new climatic normals – whether land, sea or air. So, permit me please, to be yet another croaking canary in the coal mine. At a highly, personal level, how are humans to “make a living?” Many lack living wages, or any wages, already! Ever watch them building a Mercedes, Audi, or even those Chinese electric cars? Notice how few humans are on the floor? Building, food, commercial venues, all increasingly automated. Make your own list. Notice even the professional fields, always considered secure, increasingly swept into the domain of artificial intelligence?
Putting an equally heavy thumb on the survival scale, current economics that are burying us ever deeper in production, profit and consumerist demands. Insatiable “WANT” messages impinging on our senses 24/7! Spawning over-production crushing our planetary home and its limited resources. Technologies often more focused on destruction than creation. That very technology that can rescue the planet and creatures dependent upon it.
One solution lies in time itself, so rapidly running out. What sensible system provides for billionaires, yet others whose time is considered literally valueless? But clues have always been there-
Universal basic income. One wealthy, presidential contender already suggests a supplemental income of $1000 monthly. In Kenya, basic income and all commercial transactions are conducted on that small machine in your pocket or purse. Already many “time dollar” exchanges, coops and trade operations have sprouted up here.
Perhaps not so palatable to our “conservative” readers, but only a panel or Nobel Laureates and other experts could formulate “time” payments on a grand scale. Only one entity is capable of shaking up the status quo, establishing alternative economics. A more just and equitable world order. The world’s meeting hall. The United Nations! Birthed in 1946 by a world weary of endless war, horror and suffering. Incidentally, what true religious community or order could possibly object to economies based upon true mutual and planetary need?
The little Swedish girl was right. How dare we allow our children’s world to have become such a mess?
HUMANIST CORNER October 2019