David Suzuki certainly pulled no punches in his address at JCU last Thursday. Suzuki was in Townsville to launch his latest book “The Legacy: An Elder’s vision for our Sustainable Future”. Ian Frazer gave a great summary of what Suzuki had to say in Saturday’s Townsville Bulletin.
Suzuki opened his talk by saying “…while I am still alive I would like to offer a gift with no hidden agenda – the truth that comes from the heart. A lot of you are still young but it’s worthwhile for you to ask what life is all about and what you hope it will be for future generations”.
Suzuki has nothing by scorn for the current political wisdom that places the economy above all else. The economy is a human construct he reminded us – for lots of human history we did quite well without it. We invented it so we can change it.
Suzuki said that the true bottom line is not governed by the laws of the economy but the laws of nature. If we ruin the environment and exhaust the natural resources on which our survival depends then the economy is not going to help us.
In Suzuki’s opinion humans, recast essentially as consumers since World War II, must find a new story or self-understanding to regain harmony with nature and save the day.
I wonder what that “self understanding” might be. The clue might be in something else Suzuki talked about when he demonstrated to us the amazing redistributive power of nature. He cited as an example the atmosphere where it is possible to show mathematically that some of the air molecules that you and I are breathing at this moment were actually breathed by Mahatma Ghandi, Jesus Christ and the Buddha.
I remember years ago being very excited by this miracle of connectivity. I raced into a Maths class that I was teaching at the time and mathematically proved this fact expecting the class to share my reaction. Sadly the only reactions I got ranged from “yuk” to “so what?”.
Albert Einstein said there are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Maybe this is our task – to help those around us to see the miracle of our very existence. Maybe then we could regain the sense of reverence we need for the universe that sustains us. And maybe then we can begin to live in a truly sustainable way.