This is a picture of my home in Nelson, on the northern coast of the South Island, NZ. I have been living on Allone since arriving back from the three months, Trumped by Nature, adventure to the USA. Yeah, a bit of an odd home many would say, but for me it’s just what I need. In so many ways, and particularly in the ‘Just Enough, is Enough’, context. A month back I passed my 12th year anniversary of being without a car, nor TV set, nor DVD / Entertainment centre, and all the other stuff normal developed world, successful people seem to need…! Ha-ha the theme of this blog hey! That dark blue object on the front deck is my kayak that is my one means of transport, and out of view is my bicycle that is my main means of transport if ‘we’ aren’t sailing. Maybe I ‘cheat a bit’, because Fiona my Nelson based girlfriend takes ‘us’ away now and again in her car….
At the back of my boat on the left of the photo are my two sources of power. The wind generator is sticking up just to the left of that cloud, and then just below it, a bit hard to see is a big bank of solar panels. That boat next to Allone is a custom power boat which the owner uses for pleasure cruises for his family and friends around the area. Between the two boats on the jetty and on the extreme right is a grey box that provides electricity and water to boats at the jetty. The marina charges a fixed daily berth rate and then one can use as much water and electricity as one wants without paying extra. The perfect situation to study human behaviour when restraint has no tangible / material benefit, and greed has many pleasure / comfort benefits, and Nature’s role will depend one ones ‘Environmental Identity’….! (How one personally relates to Nature.)
Yesterday it was an overcast day, and blowing quite hard, and so I turned the wind generator on…. It makes a bit of a whirling noise, particularly at high wind speed, and over the afternoon a few people came over and wanted to know if I was testing my wind generator? I said: “No I wasn’t, it was just that it had been overcast and so the solar panels couldn’t do a lot, and with the batteries going down I needed to top them up.” As if pointing out that I could use the jetty power they one by one said: “Why do you not just connect to the shore power, it’s for free you know?” I replied: “It’s not actually for free you know?! it’s really expensive, because its stealing the future away from the younger, and yet to be born generations!”
Adding my ‘selfish’ reason I said: “You know what?: I really enjoying living within Nature’s capacity allocation for me, and by not being connected to the free electricity it really makes me mindful of the fact that it isn’t unlimited and for my unrestrained consumption. The power I use, really is for free, but it’s not unlimited, nor totally dependable and in understanding that I live graciously within what Nature gives me for free. Some days I get more, other days less, but each day I manage within what Nature gives me. I believe that’s my responsibility to Nature, and it feels good within my soul. I never feel like I’m short or my life is being compromised: Funny, it’s quite the opposite, I feel I’m ‘long’, bigger, and life is richer, as a result. I do know few would believe that, and point to a misdirected inner stoic or masochistic need for suffering…… It ain’t that it’s just about belonging to a liberating bigger picture, spiritual connection…
I was chatting to the owner of the boat next to me, and the conversation moved to One Point Zero, and my recent trip to the USA by ship, taking the ship because I am being responsible to Nature and not flying. He was visibly shocked when I told him The Facts and that we are today a One Point Six and ever increasing humanity. Contextualising it for him, I added that while New Zealand overall is pretty good, I can almost guarantee that many of the wealthy / elite of Nelson, have multi-planet lifestyles, and care nothing for any responsibility to nature or our common Good. Emphasising the point, I continued: “ …and the elite in Auckland, like the elite all over the developed world are definitely multi planet lifestyle people. ”
Realising he was now also probably part of a multi-planet lifestyle, he turned the conversation and spotlight to a friend of his: “Yeah I have this friend of mine who is a ‘Greenie’ like you, and he talks about all this but then flies extensively around the world!” I turned to him and said: “Mate I’m not a ‘Greenie’, far from it: I’m just a responsible human being who doesn’t want to use more of the Common Good than is fair from a humanitarian moral and ethical point of view! Its part of my spiritual belonging on this Earth”
Just so he knew the extent of my conviction I had to take him further along the learning journey by adding: “Mate, I hate saying this, but I’m independently wealthy, like you appear to be, and so you won’t find many, if any like me: ‘Walking the Talk’, man: I can afford to live a multi-planet lifestyle, and many years ago I did, but have found a new form of success by living within a Responsibility to Nature.” I saw how the words actually sunk in, as he scanned his memory bank and he said: “No you are right, I don’t know any wealthy people who do live like that”. I saw a moment of pain in his expression as he slipped out of the One Point Zero hoop and was ‘free’ in saying: “Mate, you are wasting your time thinking things will change, those people won’t” I wondered if he counted himself in “those people”, but in that statement he seemed free of any discomfort, and I wondered how I friendship would be affected? Fortunately we both took a break to talk about rugby and the invincibility of the All Blacks! There was no disagreement on that, even though we were standing on opposite sides of The Chasm. He is a delightful guy, and I sense we bonded as more than boat neighbours, and I sense it will be only me who feels the pain of The Chasm between us.
In reflection time I have concluded beyond any doubt, that I could never say I had real Freedom if I wasn’t living within this Responsibility to Nature. Yet many seem to claim freedom on the basis that not even Nature is their Restraint: They have none, no constraints. Through money, technology and network power they perceive they have even conquered the restrictions of Nature. Many others claim to be ‘Successful’ and yet a long time back turned their back on any Responsibility to Nature, or a respect for Human Restraint on the use of the humanity’s Common Good?
So the big question for those ‘developed people’, ie those who are beyond daily survival struggle is: Are Human Freedom, and Human Success conditional on a responsibility to Nature or Not?
In answering that I can’t help think one needs to have a view on whether Nature and Natural resources are part of society’s Common Good. Also, maybe how that Common Good is apportioned to each of us in the context of humanity both current and future? This latter context is all about one’s Environmental Identity: What is Nature for you and what is your relationship with Nature.?
“We can argue that all people—rich and poor; living in developing or developed countries—depend on ecosystem services for their well-being” (UNEP, 2005, p10).
I sense it all comes down to one’s Moral / Ethical framework within, and how closely one lives according to that framework. All heavy stuff, hey?!
I have been reading a few books on the history of slavery, and how those upholding the System of Slavery came to see the immorality of their ways, and walked away from a disgraceful formula of success that made them who there were in those days. (I think there is huge similarity with One Point Zero and many of the elite, today. In the case of slavery, yes there was increasing resistance from members of the slave community, but there was also ‘the odd’, lonely ‘Master’ who saw the immorality of what they were doing, and decided that the purity of their soul and the Common Good for humanity was more important than their short sighted, selfish success. I say “lonely” because while many knew it was unethical / immoral they choose to deny the situation and pretend there was nothing wrong so they could continue increasing their ‘Success’.
It took a courageous person to first confront the truths, then accept responsibility, and finally take action and the consequences of destroying a system that was core to their personal success. Add to this, was the real pinnacle of loneliness of knowing that by moving outside of ‘The Crowd’, and not subscribing to its well understood yet unspoken, ‘Untruths’, one would become ostracised by one’s ‘friends’ in ‘The Crowd’.
Many years on, with slavery abolished and to where we are today, I sense there is not one member of ‘The Crowd’ of those days: The Crowd mystically disbanded, and I sense none who would even own up to ever having ever been part of it!
I believe that the One Point Zero humanitarian crimes, are more complex, and yet more serious, and that’s in no way undermining how disgusting and almost unbelievable slavery and its related inhumanities were. (I was involved in apartheid and the transformation that occurred, and this has helped me see the unlikely similarities with One Point Zero and how this time I will not be a ‘active bystander’, hiding in the self-serving obscurity of ‘The Crowd’. I made that decision more than 12 years ago, and with the knowledge and spiritual strength I have gained, I am just gaining confidence to work as an outsider, inside ‘The Crowd’. In many ways I can associate the path of the lonely slave master I describe above: The one who steps out from ‘The Crowd’, is the path I’m on, have been on for many years and am now the path I am destined to live out the rest of my life on…. But somehow there is huge Freedom in that knowledge and its destiny ….. I’m busy adjusting to the loneliness as each ratchet up on the One Point Zero activist road shows me more…
All of us want ‘Life Success’: Success as we imagine it for us, and The Developed world has a very clear and well defined definition of what the hierarchy of Success is about….! For the so called less developed communities of the world, The United Nations has a very well defined definition of what Development means. The two, Development and Success, are related because the Developed countries are the force behind the UN, and used their Definition of Success, to create the foundation of what defines Development with that Success in mind.
As I look at my journey in pursuit of Life Success, I see that per these measures of Development and Success, it would be concluded that I have a life trajectory of reducing Development and Success!? Maybe that’s fact, or maybe there is something missing? Ha—ha that is quite extraordinary hey! A seemingly successful and developed guy, voluntarily decided to un-develop and become less successful! I best see a brain surgeon!
I helping solve this I found this quote is very relevant as One Point Zero and the huge Chasm between Humanity and Nature is now beyond doubt and ever increasing:
“On a very fundamental level, human development is what sustainability proponents want to sustain and without sustainability, human development is not true human development” (Neumayer, 2010)
Within my One Point Zero context, it is obvious to me that the developed World’s success is far from being a valid model or THE aspiration for Success. Almost without exception, the successful of those successful developed countries, mostly the elite are the furthest away from ecological sustainable living than anyone else! In terms of the pure wealth / material success that was sort of acceptable, as their success could be linked to society’s consumption growth and economic expansion, which was success, but in an ecological context, this is a disaster and wealth and that success is not the way! ot that wealth per se is the problem its the associated life style that demands unfairly from the planet.
So as scary as it may seem, we have no inspirational Success beacon that meets the Responsible to Nature (or Sustainability) criteria. Worse still: The beacon of Success we do have is possibly the worst one we could have used….: If everyone achieved that ultimate Success and lived like the current ‘Successful’ today I’d hate to think of the tens of planets we would need today! Obviously, a society is designed with a view that not all will achieve the highest level defined success, and that there will be a spectrum of success, but one would hope that societies are designed on the basis that the more who do achieve The Success the more successful the community will become…?
Well in the case of the Western model of Success this is exactly in conflict. The more people becoming successful, the more planets we need and so the more successful a society the more in conflict of Nature our very lifeblood we become …. We need a Success that enables more and more to become successful, and as this happens we become more and more Responsible members of Nature’s team.
What is abundantly clear to me from my own personal trajectory of Development and Success is that before we worry about development programmes we should be begin by redefining the Success that is real Success, and then work out what is the appropriate development foundations that will deliver that Success. Continuing development with the wrong vision of Success is tantamount to humanitarian crimes. Back to my little world at Nelson Marina:
When talking to my boat neighbour, with his two houses, one in Nelson and one in Australia, the big motor boat, and self-claimed ‘busy lifestyle’, I am pretty sure he seems himself as Successful. As we talked I felt he deemed my living on board, no house, no car, no ‘anything’ life as not as successful as his…. Many would conclude that in saying this I have a self-esteem or grudge problem, but hey I know I really am free and don’t.
The issue I have is that I have chosen a quite different Definition of Success, and that confuses people, because they can’t see how what I am pursuing could remotely be Success.
From many discussions with many people all over the world, and from many class groups, I have a good feel for people and how they relativize Success, in the context of the well-known, Western world measures of Success. Well without coming across arrogantly, when I talk to people who are leading ‘multi-planet demanding’ lives, and their mindset is one of no responsibility to Nature, I actually see them as having almost a slavery based Success. It’s a little bit like playing a game of sport, when you don’t adhere to the rules but your opponent does, and you win hands down claiming success….
On more of a humble note, I have spent many years coming to grips with how I achieved my Success in ‘The Crowd’, working their lies to my advantage, and asking myself whether I am the cheating player described above too…? I have concluded that ignorance is excusable, but only just! However once one knows the untruths of The Crowd one belongs to, and is knowingly ‘cheating’, one is an accomplice to the Crowd’s untruth Crimes, and a tacit supporter.
For me, each time at this point of knowledge has been reached, my soul rebelled, and I felt the moral / ethical conflict, and each time I chose exit from ‘The Crowd’, no matter what the consequences. ‘The Crowd’ is often so manipulative that one doesn’t know one is part of its crimes, but once one knows one is faced with the ‘Liberation’ or ‘Accomplice’ choice.
The Facts of One Point Zero are making it ever harder for multi-planet lifestyle people to deny their truths. The untruths of ‘The Crowd’ are being increasingly exposed and made public, and so increasingly people are being personally presented with the pseudo slavery, moral and ethical choices. I believe that Liberation is always the best option, and no matter what the cost the cost to my soul and its loss of spiritual belonging would be far greater and impossible to live with….
I have been part of morally / ethically wrong in my life, and in many cases hindsight reflection has required me to go back and apologise to those that I’d ‘unknowingly’ disadvantaged / exploited when I was a member of ‘The Crowd’. I have apologised to many for my passive role in apartheid, even though I played a very active role in the transformation once I became ‘aware’. Even today, I regularly apologise to the younger generation for my role as an ‘average greedy capitalist’ and a successful member of ‘The Crowd’, playing by its rules. I like to think I was a responsible capitalist, but still when I see how capitalism and the western Success formula is responsible for the ever increasing Chasm between Nature and Humanity, I see I was an active part of the problem. The mindfulness and apology has freed me from my passive ‘crimes’
This opting for Liberty approach to life has stood me well and while this One Point Zero Crowd’s ‘bad behaviour’ problem is by far the largest I have ever encountered the signs are the same, and I made my liberty decision long time back me and me and my soul are nicely at one, having just made it to Nature’s side of The Chasm. I just wish I could be more effective at getting others, members of the elite to follow the morally and ethically right path to personal liberty. This will help increase the pace of change to a better Society and one that can accommodate all.
Be courageous: Embrace The Facts, and make your choice: Liberty or Accomplice…..? If you have already done that and are living on Nature’s side of The Chasm, then help spread the message… Humanity desperately needs it!