It doesn't have to be this way

I've never been diagnosed with depression, but when I lost my first business (and came close to losing our home) I had depression. It lasted six months, and then I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. That led to a personal walk out of a dark place I don't care to return to.

I have reached the place (old age) where I realise just how much we accept as part of "the way things are" when we don't need to. The British Empire once dominated the globe. Slavery was commonplace. The Soviet empire crushed people who did not conform. The Berlin wall separated families. Apartheid crushed the people of South Africa. China doesn't accept that human rights matter - just ask the Uighurs and the people of Hong Kong.

The fact that bad has been done away with doesn't mean that good reigns supreme. People behind old systems still often long for them. People behind new systems often introduce new horrors. And people - that's you and me - feel much more comfortable with that they know. Keith Green and it so well of the Egyptian Exodus.

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where it’s warm and secure. Are you sorry you bought the one-way ticket when you thought you were sure? You wanted to live in the Land of Promise, but now it’s getting so hard. Are you sorry you’re out here in the desert, instead of your own backyard? Eating leeks and onions by the Nile. Ooh what breath, but dining out in style. Ooh, my life’s on the skids, give me the pyramids.

The point I take form these major changes is people thought they would not change in the foreseeable future. China (so far) hasn't, but change is inevitable - even when the cost is high.

Of course, change doesn't just happen overnight. Even the relatively dramatic changes mentioned above are the culmination of many efforts by many people over a period of time. There are always those at the front, many follow, and a few bring up the rear. But change is inevitable. As Mark Lowry said, This too shall pass.

I only read "Small is beautiful" by E F Schumacher in 2019. It was written a year or two after I studied economics during my first year at university. If he had been given equal weight to his colleague at Oxford (Keynes) (rather than being belittled by a Prime Minister encouraging us to "Think Big") we'd have a different world today. Time magazine called the book an "eco bible". So economics doesn't have to be the way it is.

Politics has degenerated to left vs right. I did an analysis of most parties portfolios before the 2017 election. I supported with roughly 50% of the policies of all parties - except one I had thought might do better. (They only scored 25%.) These days parties often vie for the middle ground. But sticking in the middle misses the benefits at the edges - and really helps no-one.

But there is hope. Some of it comes from people with distorted motives. I rue the wasted efforts but am pleased meaningful action is finally close to being taken (it hasn't been yet - especially by governments, but real action cones from people). It's nearly 50 years since Schumacher wrote his book, and close to 15 since I heard a US scientist asked (at a home schooler's gathering) to name the top three issues facing the world. I forget his third point, but the first two were water - fresh and salt. It's taken a while, but people are now at least aware of the damage we've done.

Of course, that's in the natural world. In the social world, we still have giant companies taking water for their commercial gain, irrespective of the needs of the local people. This first came to my attention in South America but is happening in other parts of the world. It's even happening on a much smaller scale (and generally not by the same commercial interests) in Aotearoa.

But now that people are aware of issues - natural and social (including the obscene wealth amassed by a few at the cost of so many) - it is only a matter of time before change occurs. I used to think the only way out was a bloodbath (even if it didn't involve actual blood) but now can see genuine hope. People are not stupid - we just have to step out of our Matrix.

Last Modified

Last modified: 05 December 2020.