A Future World Vision
The Reform of Common Sense in the 21st Century
By Richard Smith
edited by Andy Thomas
From Chapter 9: The Existentialist Planet
How often have we discussed amongst ourselves and heard the following: “We only use about 10% of our capabilities; if we used the other 90% what could we achieve?” The exact percentage we use is a matter of conjecture, but let’s use 10% for a brief analysis. There are 8,766 hours in a year (365.25×24). If we take an eight-hour sleep period in each 24-hour cycle, this reduces to 5,844 waking hours in a year. 10% of these hours will give 584.4 hours annually, or around 96 minutes per day usage of the engineered design.
This is a pitiful usage rate of the finest engineered product in history. Even so, this statistic is, in the opinion of many observers, wildly optimistic, making the proposition even more ludicrous. The wastage is simply phenomenal, assuming that we can agree that we could actually function to the maximum capability all the time. We appear to both acknowledge and be happy with this underperformance. We seem to spend very little time exploring the potential of the unused time that we often acknowledge is wasted.
The institutionalised human
I would suggest that by the age of 10 we become ‘hard-wired’ into the domestic environment in which we are raised, hard-wired into our parents attitudes and, above all, hard-wired into the so-called education system into which we are thrust. Chapter 4 covered education questions of this type.
All this ensures an extremely limited field of creative thought and latitude, and it can take us many years, if ever, to understand the linear and confining scope of formal education. Further, I suggest that if we are cognisant and able, then by the age of 50–60 years our conditioning can be both questioned and eventually unlearned, or released. Welcome to an idea of ‘consciousness’.
Are we admitting to a collective embarrassment at our poor performance? Are we justifying our shortcomings to an in-built design failure? By accepting an under-use of capability without properly knowing the potential of the whole design, we demonstrate an incredible level of both arrogance and stupidity. We cannot know everything, and if we did, would there be anything worth knowing after all?
I wonder if at that point we would technically descend into total and complete stupidity, since we would all know ‘everything’. There is a strong possibility that we would take for granted all possible knowledge. If we knew our full capabilities, we would have boundaries that we do not have now; nothing would be possible, only probable, then definite and absolutely without risk.
This is an interesting question to which nobody appears to have a clear answer. It might be worth some basic speculation, if only to eliminate various hypothetical options. This speculation might lead us to reasons which explain why we are the way we are. The human species is, as far as we are aware, the only species concerned with reason in addition to simply surviving. This we cover in Chapter 14. Let’s take it for granted that the human being is capable of both mental and physical activities. We can only guess at other species’ capabilities, which undoubtedly are present, but we simply can’t discuss this with them.
Physically, we are fully aware of our limitations. We cannot fly unaided, we cannot run particularly quickly, we can move in water unaided, but not especially far. We do therefore seem to accept the limitations of what we can and cannot do in the physical world. What we wish to achieve we invent things to accomplish if necessary, and it seems that we have a pretty fair handle upon our physical-world capabilities. This is not true when we consider our mental capabilities.
Since Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, the authority of passed-down oral tradition has been in steady decline. Written history is usually clear enough in terms of recorded fact, but it is not always capable of illustrating the necessary and timely ‘spirit’ of those facts. Small wonder that subsequent written tradition – in some cases labelled as history – is often misinterpreted.
What we now call ‘reading between the lines’ is not a problem in oral tradition because appropriate emphasis can be given where necessary, but the printed word often forces us to assume a spirit of authorship. A period of time over 500 years will more than cover the original tracks of any story, so we are often left with just writing or, perhaps more accurately, the printed words.
So where is this mythical 90% of unused mental ability? Who proved that it is, or was, there? Why do we think that it might exist? This is where we need, at the very least, to consider seriously possibilities of external intelligences such as extra-terrestrials and the secret programmes apparently undertaken in North America, unknowingly funded, as we indicate in Chapter 12, by the taxpayer.
If we are to believe a small percentage of highly credible witnesses, ex-employees at Groom Lake, Indian Springs and other facilities, we are cooperating with either extra-terrestrial beings or forces of future-human origin, and have been doing so since the late 1940s. These beings appear to have advanced capabilities and an understanding of the physical world that we have yet to grasp. It is all too easy to be cynical and write this off as fantastic: ‘they’ wouldn’t do that to us would they? And so on. Yes, ‘they’ would, and yes, ‘they’ may well be doing so. I can only urge the reader to take a detailed look at this information and come to your own conclusions. As an indication of just how limited our own horizons are there can be no better demonstration.
Before 1439, we have to seek out the more permanent options of how our history was recorded. Hieroglyphs in the ancient Egyptian genre demonstrate a desire to record for posterity. More difficult, but possibly just as important, are the colossal monuments in Britain such as Avebury, Callanish, and Stonehenge, which, because they were constructed of stone, have survived for thousands of years. Here is where 90% of the ‘unused human capability’ mystery might begin to be explained. Why were these dolmens erected, and why in such a specific manner and place? Life in this era really was nasty, brutal and short. Why then devote such effort to apparently ceremonial construction? It seems fairly certain that shelter was not a design criteria.
We need to ask, were these monuments actually so non-essential? Why on earth were they built? For example, Callanish is a very imposing construction, and located on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides miles from any current population density. In ancient times there is ample evidence that the local population was far more numerous than it is today, which would justify construction in terms of the number of people it was built to serve. Even so, why were these enormous monoliths erected? How were they shaped and assembled? We are entitled to both wonder about this and to ask these questions, since our forebears must have had sincere reasons for going to such lengths of time and effort to construct them.
Consider the largely forgotten world of ‘earth energies’, respect for the elements and the incredible achievements involved in raising these structures. Contemporary technology cannot lift more than 200 tons. How were blocks in excess of 1000 tons moved in ancient times? No satisfactory answer is forthcoming. What tuning mechanism existed to connect the folk to their environment? We understand now, courtesy of the dowsing fraternity and other ‘connected’ people, how the earth is crisscrossed with subtle energy lines. This energy is with us all the time, and it would seem that our forebears were far more connected with this energy than are we.
Did they actually use much more of their brain capability than we are used to doing today? Were they really tuned-in to earth energies in a way that we are only now beginning to comprehend? It may be that early man was far more in empathy with the planet than we know, and knew the importance of a truly close understanding with his environs. Are we somehow able to recall a lost capability, which we intuitively feel is there, but have forgotten how to access? This may explain our phenomenal stupidity when we look at how we have abused Planet Earth. Simply put, did we begin to remove our communication cord with the planet when we began to cover our feet?
Metaphorically, has everything that we clothe ourselves with, including our attitudes to our environment and towards the other species with whom we share the planet, removed our natural cooperation with what surrounds us? We have become greedy, domineering and numerous. We believe in our apparent ability to control everything else. We have become arrogant and over-confident towards everything. We have become used to using available natural resources to the point of outright plunder. We have set about dominating the planet, and anything that obstructed our way towards complete domination has been obliterated.
The natural cycle
Much is written about climate change but, again, there are enormous amounts of sometimes conflicting data available offering information on what exactly might be going on with the world’s climate. There are some incontrovertible truths, whether or not you are of the opinion that we face an imminent Ice Age, or that we are destined to perish in heat of our own creation. The polar ice cap is said to be melting at an unprecedented rate, but is it? Hasn’t it melted before? Many are of the opinion that it has, and that we happen to be seeing part of a natural cycle which the planet has experienced before.
This time, however, we happen to be here to witness it and be a part of the changing circumstances. Regardless of the natural historical perspective, and whether or not we do contribute anything to the current changes, we still owe it to the entire global community of all species to behave rather better than we have hitherto, and to make the place vastly more comfortable for both humans and the other inhabitants. Our position in terms of consumption is critical. It is crucial that we are completely aware of the environmental consequences of what we do.
Is global ecological degradation the necessary impetus for the evolution of our sensitivities? When we realise that we are only one of many species on our planet, which is full of great diversity, we should have more respect for the impact of the evolutionary part we play. Most informed commentators have arrived at a similar conclusion that we are doing our habitat few favours. New scientific thinking has pretty well concluded that everything is connected, and seems to confirm that for every action there is very definitely a reaction. Whilst this general conclusion has seemingly yet to reach a wide enough audience, even the most reclusive media-resistant individual will know that unless we change our behaviour, the portents, particularly for successive generations, are far from good.
It is now common knowledge that we should be responsible for the successful maintenance of our environment. If we genuinely care about our habitat, we have to begin to consider alternatives to our current profligacy and our attitudes to the space we occupy. We can be certain of one thing – demand for change, not political platitudes, must come from each one of us. We have a window of opportunity before our potential to damage the planet becomes irreversible. We need to stop the senseless wasteful behaviour that has become habitual, and stop assuming that we can behave as we like without negative consequences.
Why are we living with wastage and pollution?
Each individual bears responsibility for the welfare of Planet Earth. We are exhorted to constantly remember:
- Don’t waste food, use leftovers.
- Don’t leave the water running when you clean your teeth.
- To turn off the lights when we leave a room.
- Turn off gadgets, rather than leave them on standby power.
- Only use ours car when we have to, otherwise walk.
On an individual basis one could add to this list ad infinitum. When we receive unsolicited junk mail our reaction is “here’s more wood wasted” or “how many trees did this lot take to produce?” There is a danger that the individual contribution we can all make may stop at a little more recycling and a little reduction in car use – all of which are valuable and make huge collective sense, but these efforts are simply not enough to make the big enough difference in our behaviour that the planet so obviously needs. Letting other people make the effort isn’t going to help at all – this involves all of us doing more. How?
You might like to conduct a survey of your own – how much uninvited waste does your household take in, then put out again? For example, ten years ago my monthly bank statement consisted of one A5-sized piece of paper, containing all the information I needed. Now, they send me four A4-sized pieces of paper which contains the information I need, and much more information which I don’t need and for which I didn’t ask. This is unnecessary. Waste concerns us all, and we can do far more to stop it.
Sophisticated packaging is an elderly person’s nightmare, and in later years I will surely wonder how on earth I can open the packaging to some product that I have purchased. We all have, or should have, dearly-held ‘grumpy old men’ or ‘grumpy old women’ views on the sheer pointlessness of much of the packaging waste that is generated around us as a result of buying consumer products.
(Meanwhile, you don’t have to be grumpy, or old, to realise the patronising stupidity of the famous packet of peanuts bearing the warning “caution, this product may contain nuts”. The day that I buy a packet of peanuts expecting to find inside something else other than peanuts will be my last – the world has truly to find another more sensible way of stating the obvious.)
Environmental abuse is a much-covered subject, and huge quantities of data are available to the dedicated researcher. It is extraordinary to see the advice handed down to us through the media in times of hardship. The blindingly obvious advice we are given bears testament to the enormous waste that would appear to be normal in everyday life. What is difficult to believe is how on earth have we embraced waste with quite such enthusiasm? It seems that only when we are hit in our pockets do we finally pay attention and change our behaviour. If that is truly what it takes to gain the collective attention, economic hardship will indeed contain a silver lining.
The challenges for us to deal with are numerous. How do we stop polluting-behaviour whilst maintaining a level of sensible economic activity, sufficient to keep realistic expectations and hopes of the expanding world population alive? As discussed earlier, the more we realise what our true needs are, and try to consume accordingly, the nearer we are to determining what action truly needs to be taken. The dawning realisation that if you do not have the money then you cannot obtain the product is putting a brake on unnecessary consumption. Lack of available credit annihilates false confidence and you have to face financial facts.
No buy, no make
When we don’t buy an item, and countless other people don’t either, production of that item will cease. Jobs might be lost and a period of manufacturing adjustment will be inevitable, but there is no other sensible choice or option. We might then begin to see a world economy based upon needs production, with potentially exciting consequences for our expanding world population.
This may be seen to be a lofty ambition, but we have little choice but to embrace this sort of change before we have change forced upon us. In any climate of economic hardship and restraint there will be an unintended silver lining. Pointless consumption will certainly be on the decline, as unnecessary expenditure subsides. This must be a good thing for the planet. This must be a good thing for landfill sites. This must be a good thing for all of us.
Travel costs and the freedom to move
It is just as important that we pay a real price of travelling to where it is that we wish to go, either by car, aeroplane, train, bus, tram or horse. Every method of transportation has some cost. It is totally indefensible that we can take commercial aeroplane flights for nothing other than government taxes on aviation. This type of flight was available in the old Soviet Union when a flight from Vladivostock to Moscow cost almost nothing. This was more a reflection on old communist inefficiencies, rather than the business plans that now make such journeys possible at modest personal cost.
Are we prepared to accept curbs on our freedom to travel, because of our inability to pay what our journey really costs? Do we know the impact our journey makes on the atmosphere by polluting aviation emissions? Do we care? Everyone who acknowledges that this is a problem has a moral dilemma; voluntary restriction simply will not work fast enough. Travel by car often proves to be an inelastic demand; for example, we may have to use it to go to work and we have to pay what it costs regardless. There are many things we may not want to do without. Is optional leisure travel one of them?
We are reluctantly left with the price mechanism as the practical alternative, which must mean that the cost of travel tickets should reflect the real cost of taking us where it is that we want to go. It is right to expect that a fair profit margin be included in that ticket to the provider of the travel. Nobody wishes to restrict freedom to travel, but the fact remains that an unpleasant result awaits us should we fail to address this very real problem, which is one of too many people travelling at a cost that encourages more atmospheric degradation. We need to charge realistic consumer prices. We will then discover the true level of realistic demand.
We become part of what we are around
We do become part of what we are around, and these surroundings are a reflection of our cumulative everyday behaviour. We ought to remember that we are part of what we live on too, and that is Planet Earth. We have lost our innate ability to be a working part of the natural world that surrounds us, simply because we think we have found our way of doing things to be the ‘right way’ of doing things, and because all too often it has just always been done that way or it is simply easier.
Some form of return to intellectual realism might well be apposite; we really don’t have to know everything. This may sound heretical, but we are none of us inferior because we don’t know everything. Planet Earth has, after all, been here for a long time. We ought not to presume on her hospitality. We need to remember, constantly, that we are a part of the whole, not above the whole. We are all interconnected and we bear a collective responsibility for everything within and around us. Some humility may not be amiss. If enough people question and eliminate poor habits in their lives, we will be on the path of change. The skill for us all is knowing where to look for behaviour that damages the planet and, having identified the problem, act to prevent further abuse.
When we vote by our actions to stop nonsensical consumption, the production of pointless products will cease. This will force manufacturers to be much more in tune with what it is that we really need to purchase. Waste levels will drop dramatically.
Enough talk; positive action now
In order to comment with any degree of confidence about the ‘carbon issue’, which I have largely put to one side here, please see Peter Taylor’s book Chill. This seminal work appears to prove that the current economic thrust towards carbon reduction is both pointless and scientifically unsubstantiated. This doesn’t mean that we can relax our vigilant attitude toward climate change, but it does explain the facts, and we have clearly been misled from the word ‘go’. He confirms my point that elimination of waste is the top target. Furthermore, he seems eminently qualified to comment.
Polly Higgins, a lawyer who has launched the ‘Ecocide’ initiative, proposes a law for life and for peace, which places people and the planet first. This law would create an overriding duty of care, and make ecocide an international crime. This has highlighted environmental misuse in a manner calculated to attract a thoughtful and sympathetic audience. To present environmental degradation, ecocide, as a crime against humanity is masterful.
Our world is our only home. It is time we consciously acknowledged this. What wealth there is should be available to succeeding generations, not simply stolen now to mortgage the future. To use a boxing ring metaphor, the bell has been rung for the end of the round and we continue to fight; we haven’t heard the bell. Our behaviour has become so materialistic that we have utterly lost the ability to demonstrate the necessary gratitude for simply being here. We have distorted costs, generated waste and shown powerful disregard for our collective history.
We individually take so much for granted that this effectively removes us from the planet as surely as the soles of our shoes do the same thing. We are divorced from the whole and individualise so totally that we are no longer able to appreciate simplicity, to see the beauty in nature or in each other for what it is – the most amazing show on earth. Surely an element of refocus, a pause, an acknowledgement that we have gone too far, might be apposite? The planet can support the volume of population we envisage by 2050, if we care to manage the prospect in a common sense manner.
Whatever our view on climate change, the evidence suggests that we do need to alter our consumptive behaviour, pay realistic costs of consumption and perhaps accept that not every person alive has the ability or the wish to join in the madness of hyped materialism. If the mad dash to ‘become’ could transform into the slow realisation of how to ‘be’, we may have the time to fully appreciate the wonderment of where we are, of who we are and how we relate to where we live – once more, we are part of the whole and we may not step outside the natural world however hard we try.
Once we understand this, we know that the boundaries of all we are really are far bigger than we ever imagined and we begin to understand from within ourselves our true place in creation, our immensity and the value of our contribution to the whole. We have overstepped the mark; we are pushing our luck and we must stop doing so. If we can return to simple appreciation, simple gratitude and some mental relaxation, and take a fresh look at all we do and why we do it, we cooperate with our natural world. This is not an option – it is vitally necessary. Failure to change is not an option.