What would it really mean to save the world and how would the world actually change? Big questions!
The polarities of human life are stark from whatever angle you look at them. From our own personal lives and the glimpses we get from time to time of our own anger and dysfunctions to the destruction that is going on on this planet is starkly juxtaposed by the immense humanity and love that all humans are capable of.
But the truth is when you look around the world it seems we are on an unstoppable path to self-destruction. Everywhere you look the world is a mess. There are never ending wars in the Middle East, terrorist movements are a constant reminder to the west to be vigilant about a possible attack on the freedoms we value, countries threaten to take up nuclear arms, the environment seems to be damaged beyond reparation, approximately 1.4 billion people live in poverty, every day people in the world starve to death, rape, murder, inhumanity and injustices are on the 6 O’clock news every night.
On the other side of the ledger there is a litany of different organisations claiming to be doing their part to help save the world, or to contribute to a better world, with the aim of bringing peace, or ending poverty or famine, or saving the environment. But is anything really changing, are we really going to be able to save the world?
I am not criticising these organisations, they are an integral part of the fabric of society and a balance to the destruction on the planet. A lot of them genuinely contribute to a better planet, and directly affect and save individual lives.
But the destruction and inequality goes on and on. Aid will be given to one part of Africa, only for another to become impoverished by famine, an uprising against a Middle Eastern dictator will occur in one country, with some democratic principles reinstalled, only for another dictator to take up power elsewhere, a terrorist cell will be snuffed out on one side of the world, only for another one to take up the cause against the west on the other, a whale colony will be saved by an environmental group in the Southern ocean, while the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed on the other. It goes on and on and on, and it seems that for all the good these organisations are doing none of them seem to have the answer that is going to really save the world.
The one observation in all of this carnage is that there is one commonality amongst it all. Humans are front and centre and certainly reoccurring as the causation of each of these terrifying global issues. This observation as stark and confronting as it may be, may also be the hint to the solution to how we do in fact go about save the world. I recently came across a very thought provoking essay, titled ‘How can we save the world?’ which was written by an Australian Biologist, Jeremy Griffith. He is suggesting that only by understanding our own selves, our behaviour and our capacity for all this carnage on the planet, are we really going to be able to do something that has any kind of capacity to change the current situation.
This article left me with an interesting question. Should we be spending all our time trying to solve all the individual problems on the planet or is Griffith right, should we be focused on understanding our human nature and behaviour. Certainly other biologists are on the same journey, like E.O Wilson the Harvard Biologist, who has recently published a new book “The Social Conquest of Earth” based on all his life’s work, here is a link to a review from the Washington Post. Can these scientists find an answer to why we humans are destroying the environment as opposed to trying to find ways to not damaging the environment as much as we are currently? I’m not sure.