Seven Essentials of Sustainable Success

The poor and semi-poor and nearly poor get much more poor as fast as the economy is either inflated or deflated, as the 'rich' get much richer much faster. Why?
For anyone lost in the financial swamp of severe recession or stealth depression, economic theories seem irrelevant. The world seems out of control and headed nowhere good for them or their families. Are they right?
Successful cultures are composed of healthy, successful communities. Healthy, successful communities are composed of healthy relationships, primarily thriving families. When 1% of the population get away with big scores, spiritual illness, global disaster, and ruining the lives of 99% of the families of the world, that smells of cultural decay, not success.
Five of the basic factors affecting the fate of civilizations were revealed in Dr. Jared Diamond's best selling book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Here are those five determining factors:
1. environmental impact
2. climate change
3. neighboring allies and enemies
4. loss and gain of trading partners
5. society's responses to all the above

The first two processes are interactive. Agriculture, construction, industry and wars have caused massive deforestation and radical climate change, aggravating and accelerating disaster. All the factors relate to our use of our brains as much as anything.
The failed empires of Europe, Asia, the Middle-East, Africa, Polynesia, and the ancient Americas had terminal defects, misconceptions, misunderstandings, misuse of inner and outer resources, and missed opportunities in common. Diamond also covered several societies that faced severe crisis, responded effectively, adapted and succeeded.
Though typically officially ignored, two prerequisites foster the five other determinants of cultural health and longevity, giving us seven essentials of sustainable social success. The seven essentials are:

1. A viable paradigm, a biocentric conceptual context supporting a sane worldview

2. Loving respect for nature, sustaining loving care and commitment to the commonwealth, joy, and wellness of children, elders, enlightened spiritual leaders and wise guardians

3. Biocentric awareness and empathy, compassionate sensitivity to environmental conditions, fostering and supporting optimal quality of life for all generations

4. Consciousness of climate change with active commitment to eliminating or mitigating contributing factors and circumstances affecting its severity and rapidity

5. Commitment to sustainably positive, peaceful relations with neighbors, allies and enemies alike, fostering constant improvement with Win-Win strategies and dialogue

6. Thriving through ongoing development and maintenance of beneficial policies, strategies, and enterprises that foster and support lively cultural exchange with economic allies and competitors, while minimizing negativity, risk, damage, and losses

7. Positive, creative cultural responses to whatever challenges sustainably healthy success

With a valid paradigm and abiding commitment to a lively commonwealth and general well being, success can grow out of near disaster. We, the people, decide to rise or fall. Sane, healthy people observe, investigate, and analyze the motives and dynamics governing their decisions, their lives, and their leaders. A society lacking a sane, valid conceptual base, lacking effective concern for the wellness of children, elders, nature and humanity as a whole, lacks a stable basis for making consistently wise decisions and life-sustaining responses.
Defective societies fail. Is the global Consumer Society choosing to succeed? Do a majority of consumers consciously choose anything or are they really just stampeding towards Walmart like a herd of panicked cattle heading for a cliff? These issues are extremely important for anyone who cares about their children and/or their own quality of life. These issues and the collective mix of decisions for or against cultural success and ecological sanity are determining our fate, our future, now.
Dr. Daisaku Ikeda's annual world peace proposal for 2010 brings our current dilemma into clear focus:

"The sense of decline is characterized by a pessimism and a nihilism that differs from the experience of people during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when socialism was at least seen as offering an alternative to the prevailing system. Today's pessimism would seem on the surface to be the opposite of the frenetic energy of an inflationary bubble, but it is in fact simply a different aspect of the same underlying phenomenon.
     "The French political scientist Emmanuel Todd has offered the following analysis of what he calls 'the logical culmination' of finance-centered globalization: "While desiring to 'free the individual' from all the constraints of the collective, it has succeeded only in creating mediocrities who, trembling in terror, seek safety in the worship and hoarding of money."
     "The flipside of mammonism [rule by greed] is, in other words, nihilism. Aspects that would appear to be diametrically opposed are in fact the inevitable twins born of modern civilization. Both are the product of an era that might be termed an interregnum of values, in which no measure of worth other than the monetary is recognized. Even discussions of the negative aspects of globalization, such as poverty and income disparity, are cast solely in terms of monetary values, making them needlessly sterile and soulless."

Dr. Ikeda's grasp of the essentials, the governing dynamics, the scope and nature of the problem and causes makes the whole proposal well worth reading but, in the next two quotes, his assessment of the root of the problem seems fitting here:

"We need to develop the awareness that the standard of values that judges human worth solely on the basis of economic capacity is what Todd calls the value system of mediocrities; or rather, that it represents the effective absence of values. We need to ask ourselves why there is such pervasive pessimism and nihilism in advanced industrial societies where the standard of living, judged on a strictly material basis, surpasses that of the monarchs and aristocrats of the past."

"...modern civilization and especially the system of modern capitalism was, as Max Weber (1864-1920) saw it, characterized by a way of life in which some degree of stability was secured through the functioning of Protestant ethics acting to direct and rein in otherwise unhindered desire. In other words, value-based questions--'What is the purpose of hard work, of effort, of accumulation?'--were an integral aspect of daily life. This lent a degree of balance to the human spirit and people's lives. When this steering wheel and brake cease to function, all that remains are the excesses of what Weber called "specialists without spirit,
sensualists without heart." It could be said that what is today condemned as supercapitalism--uncontrolled avarice [unbridled greed]--represents the terminal phase of this process in which desire and intellect have broken entirely free of any ethical framework.
     "The credit bubble that gave rise to the current financial crisis was rooted in the expansion of the highly speculative market in derivatives, which were developed using cutting-edge financial engineering. One can only wonder if any larger questions of purpose or impact ever impinged on the consciousness of those who were passionately focused on turning the world's financial markets into a giant casino."
For the whole text, see >> http://www.sgi.org/assets/pdf/peace2010(2).pdf

As I pointed out in early 2008, in part 1 of The Economics of Compassion, the casino is crooked, rigged to give 'the house' the majority of the winnings, but who teaches that?  Who factors that into their economic equations?  Insatiable greed, malignant egoism, grandiose delusion, normalized disrespect and hostility now openly rule the world with fear, corruption, numbness and arrogant nihilism. We see increasing decline of America's integrity, stability, and ability to succeed in global competition with Asia, Europe, and Latin America. In his classic Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Matter, E.F. Schumacher left little out of his deep analysis of the decline and fall of Rome and the expensive, unsustainable causes and consequences. Schumacher's diagnosis and green prescription for realizing the positive potentials of 'Western' civilization were prophetic. Obviously, somewhere along the way, Free Market economists lost their empathy, integrity, and capacity for understanding the real world and humanity. Their credibility is declining almost as fast as the quality of life and our standard of living. As long as we choose to succeed, we can turn the table--with new rules and effective incentives.
The first two essentials are really easy. We choose healthy sustainability by choosing sanity and healthy relationships. Choosing the way with heart, compassion, appreciation, and a healthy respect for ancient wisdom and millennial sustainability is truly intelligent. Failing to choose wisely, without compassion, appreciation, or respect is terminally unwise. We can choose either heroic compassion and personal victory or cowardly delusion and horrific karma. In this there is no sustainable middle ground. There can be no valid doubt about this, nor any serious debate of the essential point. Just in case, consider the odds.
Choosing wisely, in favor of sustaining the first two essentials of sustainable success favors the best possible odds and our best potentials for the healthiest possible biosphere in a greener future. It also fosters and supports best case decisions for sustaining the other five essentials of global success.
Choosing unwisely, failing to sustain the first two essentials favors the worst possible odds and our greatest potentials for total disaster, economically, culturally, and ecologically. Choosing not to sustain a heart centered approach to life, lacking compassion and appreciation, with no respect for anything but greed and winning--at the expense of all living beings--fosters and supports worst case decisions about the other five essentials of global success.
The following sections provide ways and means for fostering and supporting our best possible odds, wise choices and effective policy making by officials and professionals with children and/or heart. If we act accordingly, clearly, we can accomplish the Mission.

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