The article talks about things that readers of this blog are likely quite familiar with: that we are increasingly outstripping the carrying capacity of our planet, and that we in the the 'western' world are the worst debtors of all in this regard.
A quick internet search revealed that September 23rd was this year's Ecological Debt Day - the day that the people of the earth had already used up the planet's capacity to generate resources and absorb waste for that year. In 2008 we will consume and excrete 140% of what the earth can give and take. According to the Global Footprint Network, humans first exceeded the earth's biocapacity in 1986, and each year we exceed it earlier and earlier.
This 'financial crisis' we're going through in the world now really pales in comparison. When we're cannibalizing our planet and poisoning it at the same time, it seems pointless to get too worried about some numbers on a scale that go up and down each each day, representing some kind of abstract derivative financial 'product'. How is it that the surreal and abstract became so important and the real and concrete faded into invisibility? Paradoxes like these always stretch my brain.
The Tao Te Ching is full of paradoxes too - maybe that's why I like is so much. I came across a modern interpretation of this text a short while ago. Here are a couple quotes to ponder from that version - I've bolded some of the lines that seem to get to the crux of the matter for me:
Get rid of sanctity.And from Chapter 24:
People will understand the truth
and be happier.
Get rid of morality.
People will respect each other
and do what's right.
Get rid of value and profit.
People will not steal
if they do not desire.
If that's not possible, go to Plan B:
Be simple. Be real.
Do your work as best you can. Don't think about what you get for it. Stay focused. Get rid of all your crap.
Keep your feet firmly plantedIt's way past time we stopped gorging ourselves at a buffet that was meant for everyone, for all generations, and rediscovered joyful moderation. And, of course, it's time I took my own advice and stepped up what I can do to only use my fair share.
unless you want to fall on your face.
Learn how to pace yourself
if you want to get anywhere.
Don't call attention to yourself
if you want people to notice your work.
Nobody respects people
who always have excuses.
Nobody gives credit to people who always take it.
People who hype themselves
have nothing else to offer.
Think of being in touch with Tao
like eating at a buffet:
Take only what you need.
Save some for everybody else.