Walking along the edge of the open Papeete waterfront, passing the ‘waka’ club and all its Polynesian canoes, then past the well maintained picnic area with all the local families enjoy their open air dining time, I was off duty and enjoying Papeete and its many memories for me….. The small craft marina was ahead and I always like to check out the yachts and maybe even get to talk to the any transient yachties.
A guy driving a 30ft open motor cruise pulled up to the wharf and let off three passengers who looked distinctly like visitors like me. Now alone in his boat, as I walked by he looked up and as we made eye contact he said “Bonjour”, and asked how I was in French? I gave him a strong Bonjour back, and a Par-le-vous Anglaise? In a strong French accent he said he did, and clearly wanted talk.
Turns out he was Jean Paul, from Toulouse, I estimate about 45-50 years old. He proudly pointed out that Toulouse was the HQ for Airbus, and also some globally significant satellite company. He had retired early and moved from France to Tahiti to get away from The System, and was now running a ‘hobby’, tourist water taxi business. He soon was positioning himself for offering me a tour of Papeete and pointing to Cap Capricorn I moved the conversation to ships and flying and ‘my work’!
He understood the whole footprint cost of flying thing, and most of The Facts of our Ecological Crisis. It was crystal clear that he taken his view of it all, knew it was serious and significant, and had his strategy for dealing with it. He didn’t rise to any of the debates, in fact going so far as to say I should not worry about taking a container ship, but rather just fly and ‘have fun with life’, the way he was.
To my utter surprise he then asked me if I had kids?
Now 98% of men his age, that I meet have kids, and so I was wondering where this question will lead?
I gave my standard One Point Zero, Howard answer: “No, I have no kids mate. There are too many people in this world……. and turned the question to him: “What about you, do you have kids?”
Surprise, surprise, he said he didn’t and then went on a huge rant about how having kids is the cause of all the problems in the world, and, “All this sustainability stuff you are worrying about wouldn’t be a problem if people didn’t have kids and their kids didn’t have kids.”
The guy quoted population figures and family tree numbers that made me realise this guy has thought deeply about all this. I wish I had recorded some of his quotes as it would have made good content for ‘Our Crowd Success’.
As he took a breath, I butted in leaning forward to shake his hand saying: Good one mate, I don’t often get to meet guys like me who don’t have kids, so glad to meet you. I said I agree the population is a huge problem, but not the main problem, and we should be careful to just hide behind a fact, that is a fact, and there is little we can do about. That’s when he told me his name was Jean Paul. We shook hands again, in a delayed, but now kindred spirit, new introduction.
The handshakes were just enough space for him to start his next level rant aimed at totally destroying my compromise position. He really challenged me as to why, when I don’t have kids, am I’m even worrying about any of this stuff. I sense he thought that in travelling by container ship and adopting a ‘No flying’ stance I was seriously compromising my travel and freedom goals, and with me not having kids well this was absolutely crazy!
The statistics started machine gunning out again, and it all pointed to him defending his view to not worry about any of this society stuff as all the people with kids are to blame and they should be doing what I am doing and they should be paying more taxes to cover the damages etc… But that he has nothing to do with The Problem, nor its solution, becuase its not his problem.
Moving up to a nation / global level he pointed to the Chinese governments controls on family size, how effective they had been and the rest of the world needs to follow suit. This guy was adamant there were solutions and while difficult it was up to those with kids and governments to implement and bear the pain and suffering.
In closing his second rant, he said he long time ago stopped worrying about any of ‘this’ and just does what He needs and wants to give Him the life he wants. He is a good, law abiding citizen, isn’t a taker from the government, makes an honest buck, he has a nice house, his boat, isn’t greedy, but likes the good things in life.
The guy seemed a bit unsettled by my ‘stupid stance’ and ending off with a very paternal and seemingly well-meaning rant about how I was the ‘least responsible’ person for all this, and that I should not worry so much, just forget about it all, and go and have as much fun as possible!
He even ended with ‘Jo-live’! We shook hands and I don’t know why I said “Merci” (Thanks) and added the “au revoir”!
Somehow in this final rant, directed at me, and its ‘liberating directives’, I sensed he was ‘lonely in his views’ and wanted me to join ‘his crowd’. He wasn’t totally at peace with my lack of acceptance of his seemingly easy ‘solution’! We parted ways probably both affected, yet oppositely by the other….
So what does The ‘Parable from Jean Paul’ all mean????
We have all heard these views, options and suggestions, and over the years I have thought deeply about these issues, seeking my own moral / ethical clarity on what could / should be the right way forward.
It was all pretty simple when Freedom was my ‘only’ goal. I made my life decisions for me, and I respected the rights and desires of all others to make their own life decisions as long as they didn’t compromise mine, nor mine theirs. I tried to live within that framework as a simple nature centred human. If someone ‘chose’ a path to be a billionaire and live the High Life which goes with that, well that was their prerogative.
Similarly if someone wanted ten kids they were free to do that provided that they took full responsibility for their decision and all its consequences. I stopped short at being part of charity / humanitarian initiatives that attempted to treat symptoms at a ground level, rather that forcing responsibility back to the root cause.
I was, and still am, totally against initiatives that immobilise individuals, communities or cultures, by forcing unsolicited foreign solutions on people who haven’t identified a problem themselves, or have not taken primary responsibility for its solution.
Essentially I was an Anarchist believing in Freedom for all, or as many as possible. People mustn’t tell me what to do and I won’t tell them what to do. In the process water would find its own level for each of us: Life would be as grand as we made it, and if it wasn’t we only had ourselves to blame! (I hate boxing my personal views into others, but sort of an Ayn Rand view of life, mixed with Oscar Wilde’s: ‘The Soul of man under Socialism’)
A few years back when ‘my facts’ started looking like ‘The Facts’, and the whole ecological challenge became clear this Freedom view for me and the world was shattered. I sensed Freedom without a common moral compass would be disastrous, even worse of a One Point Zero Challenge than we have today. This rocked the very core of me, and while not only forcing me to re-orientate within me, I had to look at how my moral compass that I had for society would be impacted. That debate is still on-going within, but one of the issues was ‘The Crowd’ and with me not having had kids, what my stance would be on ‘The Crowd’ and its huge, past present and future, contributions to ‘Our One Point Zero Challenge’?
In launching One Point Zero, I was without debate that this challenge is for every single human being. None to stand up and say they aren’t responsible because others have done this or that etc. Pro-creating is human, and society needs a future generation. I have no issues with that, but where I sense the debates are going to get heated is when ‘we’ start debating how we share the problem, but more specifically how we divide up the scarcest resource of all: The Bio Regenerative capacity of the planet? That is critically, 70% short today!
The approach I have taken for myself so far in arriving at this ‘No Fly’ decision is that I have accepted that all humans are equal in our right to the use of that capacity and so I divided the total Global Footprint Network Capacity figure by the world population and got my allowance. This is the result, I used in the ‘allowance limits’ I pointed to in my blog of 6 days ago: ‘Fairshare Allowance’.
There will be an arguments against that some will say that’s far too generous as I have been part of a developed world life that has caused all scarcity, others may say it’s far too onerous as I am dependent on 1st world infrastructure and can’t change that, etc, etc…..
This carving up of the scarce capacity is for future debates, but I pop the question to start your debate: Should a billionaire have more than you? What should determine who gets more than the general allocation? Should the elite get more or less, than the average?
All emotionally charged issues, and yeah our Freedom would go sliding away from us! Anyway back to kids and their impact.
At this point in my One Point Zero Challenge, and long before ‘Jean Paul’s Parable’ I have accepted my equal responsibility for the problem up until the time I became fully aware and accepted ‘The Facts’.
I will not take on a reduction in my bio regenerative capacity allowance for any further increase in population beyond 7.6 billion!! That’s my line in the sand! Those who decide to have kids in the future must somehow delve into their personal allowance, don’t ask me to help!
Anyway nobody, not even the Planet, nor one nation, has even near a legal allowance amount, and her the ‘little boy’ is finessing his allowance!
In wrapping this up: This post is about kids and future kids, and One Point Zero: Somehow someone has to do something about The Crowd side of things. I can’t help any more than I have done! Maybe one of you will start up a whole Activist branch of One Point Zero to drive the thinking about how to solve that whole ‘branch’, while the rest of us work on the easier stuff!
Thank You Jean Paul for the interesting ‘Parable’ teaching opportunity!