Beautiful And Abundant: A Future Worth Living

| 12/28/2010 12:47:00 PM

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.In his new book Beautiful and Abundant: Building the World We Want, Bryan Welch challenges us to quit moaning and groaning about the environment, economic predation and a host of other uglies and instead take a proactive roleBryan Welch's new book Beautiful and Abundant in creating a future worth living. Welch's fundamental premise is that humans are smart enough to figure out how to make something happen, but when it comes to the future of the earth, and our species, we can't seem to get past just pointing out the problems and pointing the finger at those perceived to be at fault. Finger pointing and special-interest-agenda grinding will most definitely prevent any future world concept that's fair, beautiful and abundant or worth living.  

Vegetarians blaming beef producers and Prius drivers blaming Hummer afficionados for using up all the natural resources and causing all the pollution, or political pundits pretending there's no end to oil and that global climate change is just some pork-providing hoax, simply skirt and divert attention from the real issues.  Adjusting our consumerism to include guilt-salving environmental bandaid purchases like compact fluorescent lightbulbs doesn't make much of a long-term impact either. As with life in general, there is no environmental magic bullet that will keep our way of life going without us first carefully defining where we want to be and agreeing on a path to getting there.

Nope, a future worth living is not going to be conveniently purchased with a certifying body's stamp of approval, it's not going to wear some political party's slogan, it will challenge cultures, religions and traditional ways of thinking. Building the world we want is going to take honest engagement, cooperation among groups that have not historically cooperated, and untold lifetimes of dedicated work. Building a future that appeals to a common human vision won't likely be televised, but it may well be continuously streamed.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that creating a beautiful and abundant future is entirely within the human realm. As Welch eloquently points out in his book, humans visualized being able to fly for about as long as history has been recorded. The big breakthrough occurred in 1903 and look at us today. If we can visualize it, we can make it happen. So let us start visualizing how a naturally beautiful and economically abundant earth might look because it will likely take a while to get there.

One of the most compelling lessons for me in Beautiful and Abundant: Building the World We Want is that an amazing amount of human effort is being currently squandered in the battle over special-interest slices of the environmental issue. What a waste. Imagine where we'd be if that energy was aimed at a desirable outcome with near universal appeal.

If you are dissatisfied with the contentious and derisive wheel-spinning discussions of the present condition and how it relates to the future, I suggest you read a copy of Welch's Beautiful and Abundant. At the very least, you might be moved to think about the world and your place in it. But more than likely you will experience a paradigm shift in thought -- a ureka moment of sorts. It seems so simple: without a vision, our future is completely lost.

Cindy Murphy
12/31/2010 10:58:29 AM

Hank, you brought up some very interesting points. Lightbulbs aside, though I still contend that there are many environmentally sound products out there, I agree that there are perhaps just as many, if not more, that have a "green" label attached to them for the sole purpose of selling more product based on warm fuzzies. "Green" has become a buzz word; it's trendy to be green, and what happens when the trend passes? On a similar note, a couple of months ago I read a New York Times article (I'll see if I can find the link) about a number of communities in Kansas participating in community-wide clean energy and energy conservation projects. The towns participating recorded an average 5 percent reduction in energy use - pretty darned good; it was nearly three times more than what is considered a success. It was disheartening to me, though, that during the program's course, the term "global climate change" was purposefully avoided because, as you mentioned, it is considered by many in the area to be a "hoax". Instead, to get people to participate, project leaders focused "money saving", "patriotism", and religious beliefs. So, isn't this the same as a placebo that is used to divert people away from the real issue? How are we to have a vision, if we can't admit there's a real problem to address? Here's the link to the article: Happy New Year; hope it's a good one!

Hank Will_2
12/30/2010 8:59:07 AM

I am with you in principal, Cindy, and I respect your words but my belief is that in practice, without a common goal, all "green" consumerism does is let people buy the "feeling" that they are doing the right thing, when in fact their money and energy might be much better spent building a consensus and a model for where we want to be. This is particularly true because most people respond to consumerism messages, not first hand experience or knowledge, when making their selections. We still haven't accounted for the mercury and other metal issues with CF bulbs because consumers took so well to the warm fuzzy power-saving messages about CFs that saturated the media. At best doing what you can do today is a short term effort that may build to a longer term effort. I agree that doing something today is important and that small things add up, but it's also works as a placebo that diverts us from the real issues. I was there for the first Earth Day and as soon as energy got cheap, the masses, govt. and big business totally bailed on the real long term issues. Greed is a scary thing. Buying our way to a long term future isn't going to work, but savvy business folks recognize that there's profit to be made in the short term by claiming "green." Until we focus our attention on a long term goal, we'll be blinded and swayed by the "pay back period" of doing the right thing today. It's the Tragedy of the Commons 21st century style. :) Thanks for engaging this, I appreciate it.

Cindy Murphy
12/29/2010 6:19:32 PM

(continued) All of these small things singularly might not seem to matter much, but lumped together over time the impact is surely felt. The beauty of it, is that taking small steps leads to bigger steps and sets us on a path toward that beautiful and abundant world we want. The REALLY cool thing is that leading by example impacts our family, our neighbors, our communities, and perhaps most importantly, our community's children. It might be us taking those first small steps, but it's the world's children who, by learning now, have the possibility to make vast changes during their lifetime. I dunno - I feel that no steps we take now, no matter how small, are wasted effort. Every step is a step in the right direction. That said, is sounds as if reading Mr. Welch's book is another step that may seem small to start with, but has the possibility to make a lasting impact.

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