Friday, March 20, 2015

Breaking Down the Rhetoric

Rhetoric is great isn’t it? It makes us feel angry when needed, makes us feel safe when we want to turn a blind eye, and it makes us feel empowered when we want to do nothing. The Internet is full of rhetoric, isn’t it? Including this little blog you are reading, we too are guilty of perpetuating rhetoric.

 Here’s a good piece of rhetoric from GreenBiz.com:

In this time — the blink of an eye in planetary time — we have achieved many amazing things. We have created unprecedented infrastructure, sanitation and education. We have transformed natural resources into everything from this laptop I am writing on to the sumptuous afternoon cakes we were tempted with at the forum. We have been prolific and imaginative, resourceful and creative.

During the session, we reviewed some high level graphs which showed that with the acceleration of many indicators of progress comes a similarly steep acceleration of our draw on our earth’s assets.

While we have pulled millions out of poverty, the global population has grown faster. Millions — in fact, more than 2.2 billion people — lived on less than $2 a day in 2011, according to the World Bank. 

Let’s break this down a bit: Sure, we did create unprecedented infrastructure, sanitation and education. But are they really worth praising? How much resources we have wasted creating unsound and unsustainable infrastructure? How much pollution we have created in the process and how many species we destroyed in that same process? Is our sanitation system really worth mentioning given that it is the exact pipeline that sends our pollution to nature to worsen the natural infrastructure we were given by the planet in the first place? What about our education? Are we teaching our kids the right things or are we breaking them down from their natural curious wisdoms to teach them to be clever and giving them knowledge that will only make things worse?

Yes, we are transforming natural resources to create laptops (including this one I’m using to communicate with you) and creating the “sumptuous afternoon cake” that is so tempting. But are most of our consumer goods really necessary to live a healthy and balanced life? Sure, super connectivity and inter-global collaboration are great, but amassed behavioral patterns can accelerate the good and the bad and that’s why we are in our little unsustainable predicament in the first place isn’t it?

Are we really “prolific and imaginative, resourceful and creative”? Or are we the fool to self-praise for the sake of avoiding our fear that we’ve gotten it wrong in the first place?

I have no answers and these are the questions you must answer for yourselves. I struggle each day to unlearn what I’ve been told to rediscover what are the right things to do while I enjoy my precious time on earth. The hardest part is I can’t do this alone and getting past the rhetoric to the real matter of things is difficult when everyone puts up the facade and conditions the global forum with this rhetoric pollution.

To unquote great Taoist teachings: learning is easy but wisdom is impossible if we do not abandon our perception of “knowledge” first. Unlearn to become a blank page and then adding what nature gives us is beyond the rhetoric of anthropomorphic praises – that is what global conversation about progress forward should really be reflected in our own minds.

To be fair, the above GreenBiz.com quote came from an article written by Dave Knight titled  "How to finally take science-based goals from rhetoric to reality". I have nothing against the article other than what I have mentioned about unlearning the rhetoric.

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