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It’s a no-brainer that we shouldn’t go back to the way things were. The pandemic has made it clear that it’s the whole system—economic, political and social—that is unhealthy and fails to provide for the common good and the health of the planet. Do we need any more evidence that the way we humans live is unsustainable?

A system that is based on extraction, exploitation and waste by advancing consumerism and growth on a finite planet is stupid. A system that only benefits a few cannot and should not last. Not long ago a correspondent said she wanted “evidence” that corporations were not sustainable. Don’t we all see that production of plastic packaging is filling and killing rivers and the ocean? Did I really need to describe how our current industrial agribusiness depletes and poisons our topsoil and pollutes waterways? Did I need to point out that industrial factory farming meat production likewise pollutes the water and adds methane to the atmosphere, which is worse than CO2, and raises animals in inhumane conditions? Doesn’t everyone know that companies destroy forests to raise more beef and to grow food for those cattle when that corn should be /could be feeding hungry people?

No human being should be hungry! On my weekly grocery shopping trip I pass a Lutheran Church in Santa Fe. At 8 in the morning cars are beginning to park along the side streets and by the time I head home an hour and a half later, those streets are full, lined with dozens of cars as they wait for the church to begin distribution of food boxes. This scene is playing out all over this country. It is an outrage that in the wealthiest country in the world people go hungry, not just because of COVID-19, but all the time. One thing that reveals our failed food system is that food has had to be thrown out right now because there is no way to distribute it to people who need it. Read the “Sickness of Our Food Supply.”

Added to the gross social injustice of food insecurity in the U.S. we should look at the extent of other social ills like extreme poverty, addiction, drug abuse, suicide, depression, racial and wealth inequality.

We must also look at life-destroying environmental injustice: climate change, deforestation, toxic pollution of land and waters, loss of topsoil, plastic pollution, excessive greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of species.

Let’s not overlook political injustice while we’re surveying what doesn’t work. There are way too many issues to deal with here but essentially it has to do with corporate and special interest money running our government. And most recently, in dealing with the pandemic, we see how leadership in this country is playing politics with public safety and human lives. It is unconscionable. This article explains.

So if we don’t want to go back to the way things were, where do we go? Here are a few ideas:
Measure economic progress not by GDP and growth, but by well-being, good and useful jobs, environmental sustainability, happiness, good health, inclusion of everyone. A "New Bottom Line" based on caring, generosity, cooperation and responsibility to the good of all and the Earth.
Build a circular economy and follow the Doughnut Model. Many companies are reinventing themselves in this light.
Improve energy efficiency and further develop renewable energy sources.
Practice conscious consumption: Reduce. Reuse. Repair. Recycle.
Reduce food waste and eat less meat.
Reduce our carbon footprint.
Adopt a Global Marshall Plan

CLEAN THE FISH TANK: This refers to the analogy of not just saving the sick fish in our fish tank as we are doing with COVID-19 patients, but let’s clean up our environment and how we practice our lives so that the fish don’t get sick in the first place. It’s like watching dead bodies coming down a river and not bothering to go back upstream to find out why they are dying.

I want to conclude this piece with a quote from Bruce Berlin in his blog “The Struggle for the Soul of America:
This time of reflection led me to ask: How are we doing as a society? Why have we gotten so divided? Why can’t we live together? Why are people so driven to get as much as they can for themselves with no or little concern for how the less fortunate among us who are hurting, hungry, some homeless, are getting by or not?

It’s time for us to take a long, hard look at ourselves and our country. How can we inspire our country to live up to its honored values and highest potential for all Americans? We are in the midst of a spiritual crisis, as well as a health crisis and an economic crisis. Our country is at a moral crossroads: Will we take the highway to a better life for all, or the low road where it’s each one out for one’s self? This is the question we will answer in the fall election. But we can’t wait. Now is the time we must pave the way for a brighter, more equitable society. Read "The Struggle for the Soul of America, Going Within," May 22.

A New Bottom Line, by the Network of Spiritual Progressives
Global Marshall Plan, by the Network of Spiritual Progressives
"The Story of Stuff
The Story of Solutions
The Story of Change


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