Ecoreligion, taxes and climate change

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Pablo Edronkin

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Shall we continue a Byzantine discussion or start thinking with a perspective of a thousand years?

How long will we further discuss what is already obvious regarding climate change? Are we going to remain witnesses to our own disaster?

We need to transform our awareness of this problem into something as solid as a religious belief in order to attain a balance against the mixture of political and economic interests that slow down any attempt to preserve our environment. That is, we need a ecoreligion.

No matter if you believe in God as a Christian, Jew, Muslim or otherwise, or do not believe at all. Without a world to inhabit there would be no religion to speak about, and no place for those who do not believe in religious matters either. Paradise is nice, but here can be nice too, just if we keep our home peaceful and in order.

In the long run, no policy or economic criteria are worth following if the well-being of our planet is not taken into account as a priority. Anything that would be irreplaceable if lost should be given priority in any sort of judgement. We can't build or get another planet, at least for now, so we have to care for the one we have.

Without Earth there is nothing, and we are nothing. We still can not travel to other solar systems to populate other Earths, and the day that we finally do that, we can not travel there with the intention of squandering those worlds.

It is necessary that our attitude towards the world around us is equated with the technological possibilities that we have developed That's the difference between what a surgeon can do to save a life with a scalpel, and a chimpanzee with the same instrument.

As we are, as the result of our evolution as a species and society, we have attained the power to do many things, but that power is still not enough to truly care about our world, and we see that every day: the world is overheating, we know, and yet, we do nothing effective enough about it. If we did, the trend would have already been been reversed. The problem is in our attitude, not our knowledge.

Suicidal behaviour is ignorance. Imagine if you find out that you have a deadly disease and must take a certain amount of antibiotics, but chose to do so but with a much lower dose, or if you build a roof that covers only half of your home.

But ours is not technical ignorance; we know pretty well what is happening. Our ignorance is of a different type. We ignore the value of long-term thinking. Our ignorance makes us seek always immediate benefits, buy now and pay later. This form of ignorance has superseded our past, scientific and technological ignorance. In the past, we just didn't know; now we know, but our present ignorance doesn't let us do anything about the problem.

Science, spirituality, philosophy and other systems of thought tell us yell - in every possible way that we have to do something, but superficiality seems to be stronger than thought, and we risk to lose even the superficial.

Therefore, to look after our planet should have priority over everything else. It is a concept as important as the difference between good and evil, as religion or the origins of man and woman. And one of the things that we have to fight against is the inertia of our present form of ignorance.

In recent weeks we have seen polar cold in regions, which not long ago were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. We have also seen massive floods in Venezuela and Brazil. The U.S.'s NOAA has said that the years 2005 and 2010 have been the hottest of all years since they have been collecting statistics, and we have also a number of confirmations, incontrovertible evidence indicating that the change is real.

There is global awareness of climate change but it seems that the decision or the tacit approval of governments to combat it is similar to what is being done with addiction to tobacco: Things are done very slowly, so as not to represent problems for the treasury, because it should not be in doubt that doing something to alleviate this problem will have fiscal consequences for all governments around the world. States do not oppose fighting climate change, but they don't want to lose money in that fight.

Lest the politicians suddenly find themselves without money to continue their political careers! And those are the politicians we vote, so, despite ostensible comments regarding the matter, facts speak for themselves: it is us, people, that do not seem to care much for the question.

It is true that changes must be gradual to avoid collateral damage, but the fact remains that solutions need to be found in time. It is useless to cure a patient too slowly so that he feels better, if he dies in the process because of the lack of speed of the doctors and nurses.

If we evaluate the matter based on the results we are obtaining regarding global conservation, we can conclude that we are only paying taxes to support political and bureaucratic systems of very short-sighted, very expensive leaders that seem only to meet in international conventions to agree to disagree, and we don't even have the right to complain because they are in their seats because we wanted them to do so once we voted for them. The change will not start ever by the will of such leaders because they become part of a system that is saturated with vested interests.

The change must come from people, from culture, from the thinking elites, and that requires roots deeper than those of political ideas; what we need is a feeling so strong as deep as religion itself. No political system has triumphed over religion: Communism tried to replace religious beliefs it with its own form of socialist spirituality, and failed. Hitler tried to wipe out the Jews, and also failed.

Then, instead to looking forward to eliminate religion, it would be much better to supplement it, to enhance the horizons of all religions under their common theme, which is so obvious that it appears as very, very strange that religious ideas have been used to separate people instead of bringing all of them together under the same basic concept: Without Earth, our home, there would be no religion to enjoy.

So it is conceivable that transforming ecology into a concept and value of the same depth as spiritual religion, no interests of any kind will be placed in front of it, ever. Thus, the interests of the planet itself as a system will take precedence over anything else. That's why we say there must be an ecoreligion, not to worship any saint, martyr or hero, to go on processions, pilgrimages and penances, but simply to preserve our home.

Thinking a thousand years in advance would hardly be bad; all great things of humanity are built by thinking in advance, while large, destructive events occur quickly. It takes a lot to grow a tree, but a couple of minutes to cut it down. Building a better world, thinking about how to do something positive, is to grow trees; politics filled with vested interests is cutting down forests. You will not ask loggers to grow a forest while they are cutting wood.

Killing someone has the cost of a bullet and takes the time it takes to pull the trigger. Giving life to someone and educating that person until it reaches adulthood, takes decades. And what we do with the world, our policies and interests, is more akin to pulling the trigger than to give life.

Practical considerations make it necessary to have states, but they are a necessary evil and therefore, nothing to be proud about, like a toilette bowl is necessary but you don't brag about the one you have at home. From an ecoreligious point of view, states and governments, without rejecting them completely, should be kept at bay as much as possible, in their smaller and less powerful expression, and with the least capability to do anything upon people, including the ability to raise taxes.

It is absurd and unfair that a government pretends to take a bigger portion of your earnings than what you reserve to buy a home, feed your children or save for the future. Nowadays governments pretend about half your money; they should do with no more than fifteen percent.

The same greed for the money of the citizens is what motors the government support for economic and industrial activities that are raping our planet. The best way to get away with all that is to change the nature of the state and the government, putting unquestionable limits to politicians and officials that now seem always eager to finance themselves with yet more taxes every year.

Their ability to raise so much taxes should be castrated. Their jobs are intended for the well-being of their citizens, not exploitation because taking away so much money is medieval. Just think that in the middle ages, serfs had to pay one third of their income as taxes. Now you pay even more, so you are worse off than for medieval ancestors!

If we do nothing about this, future generations will lament the destructive short sightedness of our society composed by people who vote for leaders whose only concern is to keep fiscal accounts in order, without understanding that if we do not keep in order the accounts of the environmental balance of our planet, there will be later no chance for authorities to repair the damage that will ensue. We have to learn how to continue developing our science and technology, and our political organisation and leadership in harmony with our world.

There is a phrase that states that nothing is certain except death and taxes; looks like a smart phrase but is actually a very stupid one. It is also a philosophical horror, an intellectual and religious blasphemy from every possible point of view, because in justifies putting at the same level an administrative matter and death, which is a plan of God or nature, depending on what you choose to believe. Is attempts to give priority to human constructions such as politics and money over nature, and never, ever, an administrative issue grown of our own bureaucratic needs could become important and transcendental than than a world that has five billion years of history.

Regarding that death is certain, just remember that Socrates demonstrated the immortality of the soul to understand that things are in reality quite different from what that phrase suggests.

And regarding taxes, well, the Earth survived for billions of years without them, so they are not vital after all, an humankind should one day find some sort of substitute.

I think it's time to stop seeing the state as an end in itself and turn our heads away, because the most important thing in our world is not who we are according to the definitions of nationalism, religion, language or laws, but where we are, because without that place we call Earth, nothing else could exist.

Earth can do without kings and their taxes, the kings and their taxes can not do without the planet Earth. Policy can never be placed ahead or even at a par with our environment because it is illogical.

We are responsible for the planet because we became the dominant thinking species on Earth and, in some ways, we are the consciousness and rational expression of nature, and as in the human brain madness is said to exist when the conscious actions of the individual are contrary to its self-preservation, there is a degree of madness on the part of nature that represent us, because we are doing things that go against our own home.

We have to get used to preserve, to save and grow, to think in longer terms: If we could really attain the level of wisdom that would allow us to think a thousand years of advance, those who may come after us in ten centuries will benefit from our attempts, and will be in a better position than us to think again over a thousand years from now, so that those that will come after them, two thousand years from now, will reap much more benefits and wisdom that we could ever conceive now.

It may seem exaggerated to think about thinking a thousand years ahead, but the Catholic Church and Judaism have done and do, and have survived and thrived for millennia. There are families that descend from no one else but King David himself because they still keep a promise written in Psalm 89 of the Old Testament (ver Outcasting Those Unsuitably Married). We have to imitate that model of perseverance in order to be truly ecoreligious. By keeping such long-term commitments and principles, sooner or later our society will be guided by wiser leaders rather than the banal people politicians who speak only about their next election campaigns from comfort of nice chairs on the beach where they spend their holidays.

Starting right now with that wouldn't entail losing personal gain for the benefit of people who isn't born yet: If you place in a chest a number of gold coins and store them for a millennium, those who will inherit your savings will get the weight value of the gold contained there, which will be higher today, and also the value of a historical relic. This box will be worth much more than now.

But you, as the one who saves the coins in the first place, will not lose anything because you will keep the chest all your life. Saving is never a bad thing.

That is, thinking in the long run makes us better people. Thinking in the very log run will make us, even better people, because the longer the term, the greater the capacity for abstraction, the more the depth of analysis required, the generosity and foresight necessary. These are all favourable qualities in any human being, enhancing them will never hurt and will give you a beautiful personal growth. They are necessary to become a real ecoreligious person.

Moreover: Saving and thinking a thousand years in advance could actually be the best way to combat poverty, which is one of the causes of contamination, despair and lousy industrial processes, greed and ideology. People are poor for many reasons that can be summed up in their ignorance and that of their leaders.

Ignorance can not be solved overnight, but we change the basic attitudes that define us as ignorants, with enough time we will cease to be that sand then we will eradicate poverty. If that happens, people will be in a better position to think about really constructive things.

If we cannot understand the importance of things like this, we may not be able to avoid the destruction of other worlds.

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