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I used to think the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy. And to deal with those we need a spiritual and cultural transformation. —Gus Speth

There’s a powerful force for change in America but powerful forces oppose it. It’s a battle that is as much spiritual as political. Dr. Serene Jones

In my view, knowing about climate change adds a much broader context and many new layers to our understanding of justice: It is about rethinking what matters in society and how we should live, and this discussion must include all voices equally and fairly. Dr. Marit Hammond

I agree with what these people say. It is time that as individuals and as a culture we take a serious look at how we live. We need to ask some deep questions: What matters? What’s important? Are we happy?

We are a culture steeped in capitalist ideology and practice. We put more emphasis on competition than on cooperation and collaboration, more importance on the individual than the collective, and certainly more value is given to money than to Life. The Earth is being destroyed and used up. Not only that but most people in America are struggling to make ends meet, and millions live in poverty. I am reminded of Frances Moore Lappe´s article about our essential human needs once the basics are met: namely, meaning, agency and connection. These days, meaning is mainly given to how much stuff, or money, or fame or power we have. As for having power over our lives—agency—we have just a token democracy as power and control is in the hands of wealthy individuals, and corporate and special interests. We aren’t encouraged to have connections with other people because other people are considered likely to be obstacles to getting what we think we want and need. So we have to see that the system is working against our best interests and the common good, and most importantly, the planet.

As Annie Leonard points out in her delightful and poignant style in the films, “The Story of Change, Why citizens (not shoppers) hold the key to a better world." and "The Story of Solutions", if the game doesn’t work for most people we not only need to change the goal of the game but also to change the rules. And if people who are running the game like the rules the way they are then we need to rise up and challenge the rules. As Greta Thunberg says, If standing up against the climate and ecological breakdown and for humanity is against the rules then the rules must be broken.

In the U.S. and many parts of the world the goal of this game of Life we are playing is MORE. Our current economic and political system values more — power, more money, more status, more stuff — as opposed to better — quality of life, diversity, opportunities, relationships, quality of things. The rules of this game are destroying us and the Earth. Why do we continue to play? We have been told and have come to believe that these things will make us happy.

"Change the direction in which you are looking for happiness." This is the counsel of Father Thomas Keating, one of my most important teachers, now deceased. Where and in what do we find happiness? Will those activities be harmful, neutral or beneficial to Life? What values underlie whatever we think, say or do? Now is the time for looking deeply within and bringing about a healthy life for all.

"Growing Up as a Species, Accepting the Worst, Realizing the Best," by Frances Moore Lappe´.

“The Story of Change, Why citizens (not shoppers) hold the key to a better world."

"The Story of Solutions"

[Gus Speth is the co-founder of National Resources Defense Council and co-chair of the Next System Project]

[Dr. Serene Jones s the President and Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy at Union Theological Seminary, New York City.]

[Dr. Marit Hammond, lecturer in Environmental Politics at Keele University in the U.K.]


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