Material wealth, big business — are they that important? Is the attention we give them going to end up killing us all?
In a July 29 lecture at the Imago House in Price Hill, author David Korten suggested they might.
"Moving to another level of consciousness," Korten said, is the necessary step for people to move away from the need of material wealth and start understanding how to live in harmony with the planet.
We live, according to Korten, in a "suicide economy," in which big business uses the earth's natural resources at an alarming rate to produce profit
"The money system is a system of power," he said. "The global money systems runs the planet."
This global system, if left unchallenged, will eventually ruin the earth, Korten said.
"It's making money while destroying life," he said.
In Korten's analysis, capitalism is one of the main enemies of the environment. Corporations make more money while the rest of the planet becomes poorer and the earth's resources are destroyed.
This is the suicide economy.
"A person making money sees that we are getting wealthier — when in fact the human species is getting poorer," Korten said. "In a suicide economy, financial assets are growing while the earth is dying."
Korten does not use the terms "suicide" and "dying" as metaphors. He argues that if we keep heading this way, the human species will not last even another hundred years.
"For the species to survive, we need to reinvent ourselves," he said. "We have to learn to live in balance with earth."
By Korten's count, some 50 million people in the United States have opened to this new level of consciousness. This represents good news and bad news, according to Bob Staggenborg, who attended the lecture.
"It is very exciting, (but) in another way it is very disillusioning" Staggenborg said. "If there are 50 million people who think like we do, then why the hell is nothing going on?"
Korten would also like to know. He stressed the need for people with the new consciousness to come together and work for the same goal, teaching new people on their way.
Cincinnati has such a group in the Imago House. The environmental organization works on making the community a better place. They fix up neighborhoods. Programs are set up to teach people young and old the beauty of the earth and how to maintain its luster.
This summer Imago has offered a series of camps and events such as rock climbing and ecosystem hikes. The members of Imago House are trying to teach people how to find balance between themselves and the planet earth. Members work to get people together to make a difference, trying to change the way we interact with the earth.
"What is useful to us is finding there are other people in the community that think like we do," Staggenborg said. "That is very empowering. There are other people who are working on things and are trying to bring together different pieces of the community."
That consciousness, Korten said, is our best antidote to the suicide economy and the best hope for saving humanity.
"Will it ever happen?" he said. "If we sit around asking this question, it will never happen. We need to make it happen. Every one of us counts. We need to come together to bring balance of all things on this planet, to maximize life as a whole."