The current economic crisis should not be any great surprise. The underlying weakness that is responsible for this downturn has been evident for quite some time. Futhermore, while the blame can be conveniently transferred to corrupt and greedy bankers, this will not resolve the difficulties that we face.
In my judgment, the real and lasting solution to this dilemma and many others that haunt us such as lack of adequate health care, insufficient housing, unemployment, etc. will only come about when there is radical change in the way we, as a people, perceive the world that we are in. Collectively, we need to think beyond fulfilling our immediate needs, longings and aspirations. We need to live in the present, yet ever mindful of the future. Our behavior must reflect the intention of leaving behind a healthy, viable and sustainable world not only for our immediate descendents but for all human beings.
The American people have learned to believe that personal fulfillment and progress is intimately tied to material success, regardless of the path to the satisfaction of that dream. Our economy reflects that belief; so much of the wealth that has been flaunted has been based on financial speculation and manipulation of the market. Wealth not grounded in real productivity is based on illusion and was bound to disintegrate.
We have become a nation of consumers looking for bargains without any real regard for the consequences of that behavior. We expect cheap prices without considering the real cost in energy and lives for these cheaply made items. They are often produced, in reality, by those men, women and children throughout the world who work long hours for abysmal pay so that we might have all that our material hearts desire.
We expect cheap energy without considering the real cost of fossil fuels to the environment and infrastructure. Those costs have always been there, but, until now, effectively hidden. We have come to expect the world to accommodate our wishes, and are willing to impose harsh punishment, war being an example, if there is any resistance to our intentions.
In my mind, this mindset has proven inadequate to the task of living successfully on a diverse and fragile planet. It is absolutely essential that individuals meaningfully consider the real consequences of their behavior and be willing to live a more grounded and intentional existence.