This editorial was published in the fourth issue of Tribe, our digital magazine. It’s a better reading experience in the app. You can read Tribe now on Android or iPhone. Become a Tribe subscriber here.
The Future We’re Planting
“How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words and yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are dying. We are at the beginning of mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?”
Hearing the 16-year-old Greta Thunberg saying these words at the UN Climate Summit two years ago was for me a shocking signal that there’s something very wrong in the world.
Our society has lost its purpose, and we’re failing the next generations. Yet it was obvious for me that I, as part of the majority of the world’s population, had this issue on the shelf.
Greta’s speech at the UN was directed to the world leaders. Yet, it resonated inside of me as: “how dare you care so little and live in inertia, consuming, polluting, feeding the system and doing nothing to change it?”
I am now 46 years old, and I feel at the edge of the future and the past. I can still have some impact in the world, but the future belongs to those yet to come. They’ll be here when I’m gone, and they’ll have to harvest, like it or not, the future I’m planting today.
Politicians and capitalists received Greta’s words with a mix of skepticism, disdain, and mockery. “What does this teenager know about the world where we live?”
Greta Thunberg talks about equality and ecology, and for sure some of her ideas will sound naive in the adult’s world. Slowing down economic growth, reducing industrial production, having developed countries reducing their growth and letting sub-developed countries develop for the sake of equality – it all sounds far from the brutal reality of the capitalist system.
The global economy is built as a battlefield. Countries, banks, and gigantic corporations are the main players in an economic war of catastrophic consequences. Yet, we not only ignore the war, but we call it progress.
The rules of the capitalist system are easy to comprehend. You must eat your competitors before they eat you. If you don’t grow enough, you’ll be surpassed, and whoever surpasses you will do their best to dominate or annihilate you. Every country and all corporations are subjected to the same rules.
In this game, the players may use whatever resources are at their disposal. If the US decides to stop creating chaos and exploiting the Middle East, Russia or China will do it or, even worse, the Middle Eastern countries will grow to the point of becoming a threat to the US.
If Monsanto decides to turn into a green company and stop trading transgenic grains from deforested crops, Bunge will just take this piece of the market abandoned by them. Investors, who prefer profit over sustainability, would leave Monsanto to invest in Bunge. Maybe, after Monsanto is devalued, Bunge would just acquire and incorporate it. That’s one of the reasons why Monsanto, Bunge, and all the other corporations will never prioritize sustainability over economic growth. Because, in the competitive and ruthless capitalist market, it’s not sustainable.
The capitalist game is costing us our forests, rivers, oceans and atmosphere, but its players keep accelerating their path towards the abyss of mass extinction.
The teenager Greta Thunberg sounds much more adult than the players who became completely addicted to the game to the point of ignoring its consequences.
I personally respect and admire all the activists who are in the battlefield pushing the governments and corporations for change.
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Yet, I believe that the change we need is not coming from governments or corporations. It’s coming from people.
The system we have is created by us. Contemporary capitalism is just an evolution of our primitive ways. Greed, domination and thirst for power are part of human nature. We’ve fought each other and exercised our power in the most ruthless ways since the early days of our species.
Yet, we also have enough love, fairness, and compassion in our hearts, and we can create a beautiful world from this amalgam.
If there’s destruction on our horizon, there’s also hope. There are seeds for an equal, sustainable and harmonious world being planted right now.
More and more people are reconsidering their relationship with the environment and coming up with new and creative ways to live a sustainable life.
B Corps, or companies that balance profit and purpose, are flourishing everywhere.
Clean energy and green technologies are already a reality.
Permaculture and syntropic agriculture are resignifying our relationship with land and food.
Rooftop farms and green buildings are starting to paint the gray landscape of the big cities.
The list goes on, bringing electric airplanes, bioreactors that capture carbon from the atmosphere and turning it into biomass, and many other proofs of human capacity for building a better future.
At this very moment, we have options. That’s what we want to show here. We can plant destruction, but we can also plant respect and care.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to stay neutral. The primary threat to our environment is not the big corporations but our inertia. People like you and me can make a difference right now. But if we’re too lazy or too busy to change our lifestyle, we’ll have to face the consequences of our negligence.
Maybe there’ll be a moment in time when balance, respect to nature and sustainability will be natural in our society. For now, it’s not. It requires some effort and creativity for each of us to find our way towards a better future.
We dedicate this issue of Tribe Magazine to our children, grandchildren and to all our future generations. We hope it can inspire and show you paths and possibilities for enhancing the contribution you can give them now.
Together we can plant a beautiful future.