Una's Blog


Una’s little world 39. It’s all of us or it’s all over

by Una Hearne.

Covid 19 doesn’t respect country borders, it uses humans to travel across the world freely. Nothing in nature recognises human borders. The air and water we depend on circulate around the entire planet. The destruction of our environment is not contained within country borders, in either cause or effect. Nature will not discriminate in its response. Our actions could be ensuring our own extinction.

Chief Seattle said ‘Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man does not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.’

Or we could all pull together and take global decisions to save ourselves and maybe even thrive within the natural system.

But, for all our extraordinary progress, for all our amazing technological advances and evolution we have not solved the one problem at the heart of living in harmony. We have never figured out how to reliably reach agreement when we have different opinions.

Since the first cave man brained his neighbour with a club and stole his food/wife/land, we have essentially settled all disputes by appealing to a higher authority, by violence or by argument. Think back over your own life, we have all experienced over and over again the settling of differences to the dissatisfaction of one or all. Win/lose decisions do not create harmony.

We face global threats, our failings have global consequences. There is no agreed global higher authority to appeal to. Fighting it out on a global scale would simply hasten our end. As for argument, humans are capable of sustaining these for centuries without resolution or progress. So what are we to do when two people, two groups or two nations have opposing views and need to live together in spite of this?

Democracy is the best way we have found to make decisions at societal/ national level. And fair play to us for getting this far. But it’s still win/lose and can result in nearly half the population being desperately unhappy with the outcome. See Brexit and Trump’s America. In this situation people can easily be driven or manipulated to violence.*

What if we figured out a better way to get along in our own families, social groups, workplaces and schoolyards? I wonder if we could then do it as a planet. Suppose we start with the relationships around us and find new ways to reach agreement so that everyone is happy – or at least can live with the decision. Without seething resentment. Maybe we can create new patterns of behaviour right here in our own little patch. Things that work spread fast these days. What if we have the power here and now to change the way we operate collectively?

As long as we make it ‘them’ and ‘us’ we are doomed. When we realise it’s always ‘all of us’, and always has been, we have a chance.


*I wrote that sentence before January 6.


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