Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Isn’t Gandhi wise?
Yes, these lead to violence—a considerably less than desirable outcome—but they also lead to purposelessness which causes despair. Let’s look at the seven blunders from that perspective. [And then next week, let’s come up with seven wonders!]
Wealth without work
Sure, it’s a great fantasy to inherit $quillion$ or win the lottery, but meaningful work is something we all need. It gives our lives uh … meaning.
Pleasure without conscience
Sure, pleasure without conscience or consequence is also a fun fantasy, but that inner voice that speaks to all healthy folk is what makes us aware of our effect upon others.
Knowledge without character
Sure, information is power—we’ve all encountered that idea, and it’s all about domination—but character is what lets us use information for power with, or to empower others.
Commerce without morality
Sure, rampant capitalism has brought some economies to where they are today, but Naomi Klein’s new book makes a great case for morality in our economies. When morality guides economy, we all win—including the environment.
Science without humanity
Sure, pure science has a reputation for neutrality or objectivity, but humanity in science lets us use the discipline for others’ good as well as science’s sake.
Worship without sacrifice
Sure, worship for its own sake is seductive—look at how we treat our sports figures in the West—but the sacrifice that genuine worship requires makes us aware of how we play a part in worship; otherwise we’re just spectators and that’s not worship, it’s spectacle.
Politics without principle
Sure, … uh maybe I don’t even need to address this one? Just watch Fox News for a few minutes—that’ll say it all. No, really, politics without principle is exactly why our legislative branch is stalled, in neutral (not really, more in puffery), and getting nothing, but nothing done. Principle is what keeps politics honest.
Did you notice a theme to these? I did.
Every single one of my answers takes others into consideration. We share this small marble with more than SEVEN BILLION OTHER SOULS, my friend. If we don’t take them into consideration, we do so at our own peril! And that of the planet!
Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, is a paean of wisdom on how we have to get it together to take care of Earth. Earth is the context for each of these seven blunders. Without taking care of our home, our environment, our context, not one of these blunders matters. Without Earth, there will be no wealth, pleasure, knowledge, commerce, science, worship, or politics.
I haven’t finished the book yet, but I am so impressed with her thinking—just like Gandhi’s—that I quote the description from Amazon here in full,
“The most important book yet from the author of the international bestseller The Shock Doctrine, a brilliant explanation of why the climate crisis challenges us to abandon the core ‘free market’ ideology of our time, restructure the global economy, and remake our political systems.
“In short, either we embrace radical change ourselves or radical changes will be visited upon our physical world. The status quo is no longer an option.
“In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and healthcare. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.
“Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.
“Can we pull off these changes in time? Nothing is certain. Nothing except that climate change changes everything. And for a very brief time, the nature of that change is still up to us.”
Gandhi’s seven blunders are part of what Ms. Klein addresses. Can any of us handle climate change on our own? No. Not possible. But we can practice wealth with work, pleasure with conscience, knowledge with character, commerce with morality, science with humanity, worship with sacrifice, and politics with principle starting this minute.
When each of us commit to these sorts of changes right where we live, in our own businesses, in our own homes, in our own communities, we begin to shed light where darkness has prevailed for so long. These are the sorts of things that change everything.