Asking ourselves, are we contributing to a fair and sustainable society?
I have been, until a couple of years ago, quietly ignoring how “the systems” of the world function and focusing on my individual ambitions and my day-to-day. Arriving at this “woke” state, as my husband puts it, took some time — in retrospect, I was climbing the Maslow’s Pyramid. I am now asking myself and colleagues who work with me these questions, in particular, how do I fit in this big global system, how does anything I do, impact the society and the environment, how are the gaps between the rich and the poor created.
In essence, the big question I started asking myself is: Do we live in a fair and equitable and sustainable world? If not, what needs to be done?
Of course, I am not an early starter to ask this question. In fact, I am quite late to the party and there are many, like the early me, still climbing their needs pyramid, unaware or just inconvenient to shift their behaviors. What I would like to do is, help spread awareness among consumers but also among corporates and find ways to help easily change the behaviors of people like my early me, to integrate small behavioral changes.
The Economics of it all
I did research and this exposed me to the works of the likes of Kate Raworth with Doughnut Economics. She presses the need for “Economy” to be redefined. The economy must not strive for unlimited growth (which Kate points out, in human bodies, unlimited growth is tumor, and in gardens, it’s weed) and assume that there are unlimited resources on the planet, but asks the world to operate within the “doughnut” — within the planetary boundaries while addressing human needs, globally. But also doing so equitably and in a fair way, for example, are the chocolate companies paying their cocoa farmers fairly?
Really, how can we help all humans on the planet climb and fulfil the Maslow needs hierarchy? But to do so equitably and sustainably. The doughnut economics is a simple and great framework to change the mindsets of current generations but shape those of the new generation.
Start asking questions about the world around you
The summary of what is required of us in essence is to start asking questions:
As individuals and citizens
- Question our consumption habits: where and how do things that I use come from? Has it been produced fairly and sustainably? Where does the waste go?
- Question equality and basic humanity — not to live without worrying about consequences, but point out and correct inequality.
As corporates and governments
- Are we operating in the “old” centralized (shareholders’), profit-maximizing paradigm of economics or in the new balanced paradigm of distributed design and equitable society where profit is a means, not the end.
- Are we intrinsically human organizations? Using technology and machines, but, to the benefit of humanity and not mere “corporations”
- Are we measuring the right things? For example, New Zealand is redefining success by adopting “Well-being Budget” to measure its success. Whether this is the right measure or not, the conversation has started to replace GDP as the absolute measure.
As education providers and parents
Do we practice and teach these sustainable thinking and practices to the future generations.
Do I work for an organization that is doing the right things? If not, how can I help change that?
We may not always find the right answers, but asking questions will lead us down to thinking and searching for answers and eventually finding it. Remember, we live on “Spaceship Earth” (ref., Buckminster Fuller). We are in this together.