In contemporary civilization, individual success is often measured by such parameters as social and economic status and the level of wealth one has achieved. Those who are looked up to as models to be emulated have accrued a remarkable degree of luxury and live enshrouded by all manner of conveniences. They are propelled forward in life with the goal of satisfying essentially selfish desires. They are often driven by a ferocious ambition, and, to their credit, exhibit a remarkable level of creativity, ingenuity and motivation.
The world of humans and the natural world that we are an integral part of cannot be sustained if the focus of individual existence is rooted in acquisition. The price that humanity collectively pays for comfort, convenience and an utterly false sense of personal security is enormous.
There are over one billion individuals on planet earth that subsist of one dollar a day. Tens of millions of people have already died from AIDS because they do not have access to the drugs that could sustain them. This same disease has produced millions of orphans. Millions of men, women and children die annually from the gruesome process of starvation not because there is no food available, but because they do not have access to the food that could give them life – they cannot afford to live. The economies of many of the nations of the so-called undeveloped world have been encouraged and coerced to produce commodities for export to the developed world at the expense of their own indigenous people. Vast armies of individuals throughout the world work endlessly performing mindless tasks in frightful factories so that those more affluent can fill their lives and homes with stuff purchased at megastores filled with this seeming cornucopia.
Our addiction to the "good life" not only imperils the human world, but is having disastrous consequences in regards to the natural world. The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is already having a marked impact on the global environment – profound ignorance will not change this indisputable fact or its inevitable results. The diversity of life on planet earth is inexorably diminishing as a direct result of human activity.
What price are we willing to pay for the lifestyles we have chosen? This to me is a central question of the age. We are all the children of history and the future will unfold as a direct result of the choices we make. We can have a world where we honor and uplift the lives of all rather than accept a world where the lives of the many are sacrificed for those of the few.