Momentous decisions are being taken in many parts of the world at this time, from my own homeland the (dis)United Kingdom, to Iran, to Iraq, to Spain, to Lebanon, to Canada and the USA. The actions resulting from these decisions, and the future results, how today is affecting all our tomorrows are to a great extent unknown. Democracy is threatened. There is heightened awareness of our tenuous hold on life itself. There is outrage at rampant fires, fear of destruction and war. Rash decisions and actions. Peaceful demonstrations in the UK, unrest and outright rebellion in Spain, Hong Kong, Bolivia, for example, indicate that the people are unhappy with this apparent disregard of rights, of humanity, of hard won freedoms.
Little time or attention seems to be given to the long term effects of massive change which impacts on millions of lives. Many of us in our more mature years are concerned about the legacy for future generations, because it is hard to see how, in the longer term, life for these future generations is being affected. It’s disturbing and disheartening. Motivations seem to come from self-interest, fear and greed rather than from altruism, love and generosity.
It can be challenging to extrapolate decisions, the changes which are implemented now, into the distant future. It is possible, though, and rather than the short-term, selfish modus operandi where instant gratification and protection of the status quo provide impetus, we can look to adopt a different philosophy and set of principles.
I speak here of an ancient way, the Seventh Generation Principles. Indigenous peoples all over the world have had a version of this philosophy in place for many years. The Native Indians have had such a charter in place for over a thousand years, and every decision is made through the lens of what might happen seven generations into the future.
It says that in every decision, be it personal, governmental or corporate, we must consider how it will affect our descendants seven generations into the future. For me, this is hope, love, commitment, sustainability and truth.
A generation in our current society is considered to be 25 years, so the idea would be to project 175 years into the future and imagine the possible effects of our current actions. All new inventions, even if they appear benign, need to be scrutinised, amplified, even exaggerated to or beyond their ultimate capacity, so we can envision if they are fostering well being or inducing catastrophe.
This raises questions such as:
- How do we prevent basic human values and principles being undermined and ignored?
- Is isolationism as opposed to collectivity and unity going to ensure stability?
- How do we collaborate to preserve peace and prevent war?
- Can food sovereignty be maintained?
- If the population continues to grow rapidly can our planet support all its beings?
- Can current environmental conditions be sustained?
As an example, when Henry Ford developed the internal combustion engine and introduced the motor car, one of his good intentions was enabling people who lived distant from their families to be able to visit them more regularly and quickly. Whether he ever imagined the widespread global use of cars and the resultant need for petrol, or the pollution and overcrowding is unlikely, but it probably wasn’t his intention to create the environmental and social effects that rapid expansion has brought to the world. The same applies to the Wright Brothers, for whom the idea of over 16,000 aeroplanes in the sky at any given moment around the world might have seemed impossible. (See https://www.flightradar24.com)
All our good ideas and inventions can be dazzling and appear advantageous, but in the longer term, maybe they are too risky and detrimental to humanity, unless they are carefully managed.
A change in the way we make decisions and govern ourselves is vital, we urgently need to take a benevolent, loving and respectful perspective. Today, in the UK, a bill is making its way through parliament – no, not the Brexit Withdrawal, though that too is being subjected to exactly the kind of mindless, uncaring, dangerous decision making I have already mentioned.
THIS is a bill for Tomorrow, for tomorrow’s generations, the Future Generations Bill. It’s called ‘Today for Tomorrow’ and it deserves all our support.
I leave you with the words of a Shaman, Angaangaq, an ambassador for the Innikut tribe, who I met at the Spirit Of Humanity Conference in Reykjavik a few years ago; his concerns then about the whole world, not only the shrinking ice in his homeland Greenland, were great.
In the earlier times in my world, it was women who made decisions and the task of men was to implement these decisions. For us, it was equality.
When the beauty of grandmothers returns, then our society will change. My prayer is that the women will be willing
to take over this responsibility again.