For a New Conscience

I.

When the foundations upon which a world system stands face an unprecedented crisis and shows fissures through which the fragile have already fallen, but which will surely engulf all sooner or later, every individual is bound to question the very roots of that system and what it holds as undisputable truths.

Although we cannot quite name nor the cause nor the solution, we all feel that we are driven into the unbearable state of a new world. Although its direct cause is something that is not human, the limits of our all-too-human organizations, governmental failures, and responsibility for our ways of life, loom up before our very eyes.

This is a world in which each individual has become the victim, the beneficiary, the tool and the silent partner of mass consumerism, meaning a relationship to life, needs, leisures, knowledge or care reduced to an immediate and ephemeral satisfaction, to be renewed as quickly as possible so it can feed/stoke the exponential growth of profit. We have so internalized this way of being that we find no other tongue in which to speak our aspirations for happiness or prosperity.

Restless and ever-growing competition within all spheres of human activity has increased inequality and encouraged an unacceptable treatment of both humans and other living beings. What threatens each and every one of us today shows these inequalities in clear/crude light and is offering only a temporary and artificial relief to nature.

We have become trapped in a state of material, economical, energetical, intellectual and emotional dependency to which we have consented. And we have deserted the faith in our ability to change it.

II.

Yet in the course of history, humans have risen to the challenge of drawing a line between the acceptable and the unacceptable. We have shaped societies and personal conduct to new principles. And we have shown that no order of things is unchangeable.

There is no right way or time to make determinations of change. Change is spurred on by necessity, and by the one and only choice between survival and extinction.

We cannot stand aside from the crisis now facing our world, hoping from our window to soon “go back to normal”.

I will not.

Yet what shall I do? How can I invalidate what most of my fellow-citizens take to be high truths? How can I combat the underpinnings of the most powerful forces of this world? All I can do is acknowledge the limitations of the beliefs on which my world is founded, recognize my own responsibility, state new principles by which I ought to live, then act on and defend them.

I shall aspire to a happiness that shall not lie on the destruction life or human dignity. Thus I shall set the limits of my individual freedom. Though cherish freedom I do, as a most valuable legacy of past struggles. But I know how it has become an excuse to ravage life and trample down human dignity.

I shall not make of my life a puppet act set to the credo, Work to earn the money that will allow you to buy things and rest from work.

I shall breathe time, find meaning in my work, cherish moments with beloved ones, ground myself in neighbourhood, and cultivate my connections to nature.

I shall see children and elders as cornerstones and pillars of our society, and not its passive elements.

I shall search out ways to eat, move, shelter, educate, enjoy, inform, and govern, which respect human dignity and nature. And I shall support all who are already working this way.

I shall seek in reading and listening to those who think and express the world, tools to redefine what is and what is not essential, to distinguish what is acceptable from what is not.

Of policymakers and administrators, I shall demand ways of pursuing human activities that do not destroy nature. I shall require that they protect autonomy and respect all professions essential to our survival in social harmony. I shall ask for other forms of governance in which citizens become active.

III.

These principles will not remain remote ideals but shall become the moral compass by which I govern all aspects of my life, both high and ordinary. They shall empower me to decide on the world that I wish to inhabit and how I shall contribute to it. For I  know now that every single thing I do, and everything I do not, shapes the world.

I am aware that these principles will demand that I thoroughly rethink my comforts and my habits. They will force me to question what I take to be self-evident and recast the order of my priorities. All this I stand ready to do. The future depends on it.

For what does not flow directly from my personal choices, I will still bear responsibility. I will demand, with the strength of all my conviction, that those who have the power to take action do so, be they my family, neighbors, colleagues, employers, teachers, or political representatives.

In stating these principles, I reclaim my awareness, stolen from me, of belonging to something larger than myself, of being at one with humanity and the community of living things and I reaffirm all my rights and duties arising from this state.

IV.

Without denying the specificity of individual affiliations, sense of belonging, culture, language, or community of faith or conviction we all belong to the one community of the living, and hence have equal rights to healthy food, pure water, decent housing, healthcare and dignity.

Let us create new social organizations that do not compromise human dignity or the natural world, while respecting cultural specificities. Let us stand ready to embrace a new relationship to each other wherein individual freedom no longer quashes the common good.

Let us have, once again, the right to say that tomorrow shall be a better day, and so pass on to a new generation, to humankind, and to life itself our right to another world.

And let us not rest until this task is completed.

 

 

 

special thanks to R. Cosgrove for helping with this text

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