It doesn't really matter which religion we are "brought up" in or which country our forefathers originated from, or which language we speak, or what level of education we have attained, if any, or what historical biases are barnacled to our national, regional and familial cultures, we seem, as a species, to be seeing our time and place on the planet in terms of, if not precisely instant, at least too quick gratification, both individually and collectively.
For those millions in the Philippines, following the devastation of typhoon Haiyan, who are just barely existing and struggling for food, water, shelter and medical care, their plight has not only moved us all, as have the many signs of their coming to the aid of those in greater need. There are literally dozens of sites across the globe where people are struggling just to survive. And while our hearts go out to all of those suffering as refugees, war wounded and displaced, those in danger of an impending epidemic because of a natural disaster, or a protracted military or terrorist conflict, those are the people whom we see as the metaphoric canaries in our global coalmine.
These are the people whose lives are hanging by a thread, or whose limbs have been severed, or whose homes have been razed and whose lives will likely never fully recover.
And while there is currently a massive relief effort, of considerable proportions from many divergent quarters, to help those in the greatest need, in Syria, in Haiti, in the Philippines, in Somalia, in Nigeria, in Mali, and elsewhere, there are some troubling signs about both the length and depth of the commitment of the world community to a plight that could become shared by all of us, given our obsession with living lives dependent on fossil fuels, eating foods and drinking beverages that are clearly counter-intuitive to health and wellness, over-committing to military and hard power expressions of influence and seemingly refusing to commit to long-term urgently needed collaborative measures that would obvious balance the wealth more evenly, and assure access to clean water, clean air, nutritional foods and adequate and affordable health care.
And we are also living lives whose depth perspective into the future is about as long as a nanosecond, in meta-historical terms.
Got a pain, find a pill to eliminate it!
Got a political problem in our town or city, find the quickest and least costly Band-Aid to fix it, so that we can all get re-elected.
Got a provincial problem, find as many expressions of circumlocution, in order to achieve maximum confusion and detachment so the opposition will have to fight through the fog before they land any real blows, and by then, most people will have either forgotten about the problem or moved on, because they were bored with that problem.
Got a national problem, chant a "talking point" to death, over and through all the probing and penetration questions so that no one will grasp the full import of what kind of policy we are really enacting, and by the time we leave, everyone will have forgotten what this current 'dust-up' was about in the first place.
Got a really serious, even profound, problem that deeply impacts every person on the planet, generate so much opposition to whatever long-term, mutually beneficial and obviously healthy measures that would alleviate the problem, so that no one really knows what to do, because the "evidence" is "unclear" or equivocal and hold another conference like the one currently underway in Warsaw, on climate change and global warming, where the Philippine delegate in holding his own personal hunger strike, in sympathy with his devastated people, devastated he believes, because the world has not really addressed the profound need to reduce carbon emission from the atmosphere, one of the main reasons, he believes, behind the typhoon and the many others that have hit his homeland just this year.
Sea levels that have rise some 2 inches, may sound like a paltry problem, unless you are living on land abutting the sea, and then you are already starting to notice the changes. If the sea levels actually do rise approximately 8 inches by the end of this century, as some conservative scientists are predicting, that will spell more devastation for millions now living in locations that will eventually become uninhabitable....and while cities like New York may be taking steps to "protect" themselves from such exigencies, that city stands almost literally alone, among world cities in that regard.
We are, as a human race, simply either like those adolescents and young men and women who consider themselves invulnerable and not in need of health care insurance, or are in "gimongous" denial of our own impending, and self-inflicted potential catastrophe...multiplied and magnified and reverberated around the planet...or perhaps a little of both.
We are like the joke (sad but very true to life) about the man who sat on his roof in the middle of a huge storm, as the water levels rose, calming refusing a car and rescuers, a boat and more rescuers, and finally a helicopter and rescuers...and when he got to heaven he asked God why He let him drown there on the roof, to which God reportedly replied, "I sent a car, a boat and a plane and you refused all three!"
When will it be time, fashionable, politically correct and even, God forbid, conventional, and therefore not risky or dangerous from public ridicule, for human beings to "get it" that we are in the process of generating an inferno of self-immolating proportions, that only we can limit, reduce, and perhaps even eliminate, if not for our own survival, at least for the survival of our grandchildren and our own children?
There are, and will be, hundreds, if not thousands of rallies, protests, sit-ins, even barricades and arrests, jail sentences and probably broken bones, if not actual gunfire in the battle to awaken the political class to the need for and campaign for collective, collaborative and consistent actions, not in the nature of the wimpish Kyoto accord, but with teeth, and consequences and public disclosure of those countries not prepared to "pay the price" of taking "responsibility" for their stewardship of their country's long-term, not just the short-term, politically expedient, narcissistic needs of politicians, but of all the people for the foreseeable future.
And we the people are obliged to provide the leadership because, we already see, that given free reign, the political class is either impotent or unwilling to take effective, immediate and sustained action on our behalf.