Monday, February 27, 2006

Wanted: the courage to explore new ideas.

  Posted by Picasa We all know that Christopher Columbus had the courage to sail in to the unknown and ‘discover’ the Americas. What is not so well known is his discovery allowed European cultures to ‘gather’ the resources to enable them to revive their failing economies.

What we need now – now that the world natural resources have all but been despoiled, is to leave the well known tracks and have the courage to develop some new ideas of how to develop a sustainable world as there are few natural resources left to discover that will save us.

Wouldn’t it be great if New Zealand were to lead the way? The problem is since 1984 the world wide epidemic of monetarist 'market forces' has captured the minds of our politicians and the chance of new ideas emerging is going to be difficult. Today short term greedy self interest infects us all as we turn a blind eye to the disastrous effects we are collectively are having on our environment. The greedy lack of ethics of the business world rule almost unchallenged and politicians are to busy softening the effects of ‘right wing’ thinking to think of real alternatives.

And this is all the more difficult in New Zealand because, since 1984, our country has been seen a ‘leader’ in implementing the ‘market forces’ mentality, dismantling everything in its way to create efficiency and wealth for the few.

As a result we now have a society of a few winners and lots of losers and the gap widens everyday, and this is ‘echoed’ throughout the world – where a few people own more than some countries and there are more people in the world starving than ever before!

Add to this the inevitable end of ‘big oil’, the effects of man-made climatic changes, and world overpopulation, which currently stands at 6 billion – the last 200 million arriving the past 3 years, and we are all in big trouble.

In the meantime we wait vainly in hope for the myth of progress to solve the problems for us.

Some courageous thinking is required not collective blindness!

New Zealand, a country with the least spoiled natural environment (which says something for the other countries) could take the lead to develop a new vision; a new sense of direction; a vision one that could inspire other countries to put a sustainability ethic above national or financial interests.

I guess you would have to be a supreme optimist to believe our current politicians could rise to the occasion but if they did what a great opportunity.

At the very least the government could start the debate about the kind of country ‘we’ want to be; what is the collective identity we want to develop for ourselves; how do we want to be seen? Maybe this could be introduced as part of republican debate or even a new flag?

Democracy, as we currently experience it, is a ‘thin’ experience. We need to debate how we can develop a more expansive form of democracy by pushing responsibility down to community levels leaving the ‘big picture’ for the national government? And we need to debate the need to value our cultural diversity – we are no longer a British Colony in the South Pacific!

We also need to debate as to what values should underpin our society to replace the individualism, the corrosive hedonism and greed, that seems to be the current ethic? There must be more to life than market forces and materialism? Certainly we need something to replace the powerlessness and alienation that too many current citizens currently feel.

How can we redesign education, welfare and local government so that they provide personalized services, placing responsibity in the hands of the people concerned – and in this process develop new helping roles for those who provide the services?

For our economic survival what do we need to produce as a country? In a world of low cost mass produced goods we need to tap into every person’s innate creativity to develop well designed imaginative products. How can we lead in the area of developing sustainable industries?

How can we transform education to play a central role in developing all students’ talents and love of learning so as to develop inventive, caring and creative citizens?

The answers to such ideas provide an opportunity to shape our own destiny – rather than being passively shaped by globalization, ‘market forces’ and other outside influences.

It would seem to me that by having such conversation, and by spreading such ideas, New Zealand could become a world leader?


Anonymous said...

According to Prof Lloyd experts say oil 'peaked' about 2005 - others say 2008 plus or minus two years!

Oil is the basis of our food production/pesticides etc and if it were to fail we could not produce enough food to sustain our current population(in NZ).

And we currently transform 3700 hectares of our best farmland into suburbia - 3 times the land currently in grapes. And when oil runs out driving will become too expensive!

As wright says, 'we are clever but not wise'!

Anonymous said...

Your suggestions are too much like common sense for our pragmatic 'survive at all costs' politicians who can't see past being re-elected.

The fact that today our Feb balance of payments deficit is 7 billion must cause alarm bells to ring? When divided by every person in NZ that's a lots of money down the drain!

Anonymous said...

Vision and the current Labour Government - an oxymoron!

Anonymous said...

The New Zealand Parliament is more about muck raking and scoring points than working together for the future of our country! No time for real thinking or new ideas.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem we are winning the future using traditional ideas - time to open a new front The old generals ( or narrowly focused policy analysts) have had their day!