John Maskell has been a member of CACOR since the mid-1990s when he was finishing a PhD at the University of Waterloo. His research concerned the pragmatic dimensions of the (then) new concept of Sustainable Development. His thesis was, and still is, that Sustainable Development cannot become a practical operational reality until and unless our human cultures abandon the set of decision making values based in vested self-interest, and embrace a set of values that emanate from responsibility for each other and stewardship for the natural environment.
Recently, two published items caught my attention.
The first was a piece by Peter Brown, a professor at McGill University about the need for revision to our models of economics. His presentation can be found YouTube Presentation Video…
I was particularly struck by one of his closing comments that we humans have to be extremely parsimonious in our treatment of the Mother Earth.
How simple is that?
I sat reflecting about that simple word … parsimonious!
What a grand sounding word;
How delightfully it rolls off the tongue;
Who could not want to be parsimonious
Words are symbols. They express ideas.
We humans have developed the extremely complex skill of thinking in symbols and ideas.
I checked the thesaurus for all the synonyms of “parsimonious”. None of them describe how we humans treat Mother Earth who gives us all the gifts of life.
At the end of the entry there is a reference to the antonym for parsimonious. It’s “spendthrift”.
I checked the thesaurus entries for spendthrift. They ALL describe our treatment of Mother Earth.
This is such a simple idea. It has such far reaching implications for the myriad solutions that we yearn for and spend endless individual and organizational time, energy and money contemplating and agonizing over.
Why can we not just embrace the simplicity of the solution idea … ?
We humans have to be extremely parsimonious in our treatment of Mother Earth.
Could it be that we don’t embrace it because of all the tangled images of the right to be spendthrifts that we embrace and justify instead?!
The second was by Phil Lawor who published a piece about the leaders of Europe under the title, No children. Phil Lawlor is the Editor of the Catholic World News. He wrote:
- Macron, the newly elected French president, has no children.
- German chancellor Angela Merkel has no children.
- British prime minister Theresa May has no children.
- Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has no children.
- Holland’s Mark Rutte,
- Sweden’s Stefan Löfven,
- Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel,
- Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon—all have no children.
- Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has no children.
So a grossly disproportionate number of the people making decisions about Europe’s future have no direct personal stake in that future.
Well Mr. Lawlor …
There are 45 countries in Europe, of which 28 are currently members of the European Union. You identify eight heads of state without children. It seems you assume that all the rest of the leaders have children. The eight leaders you identify are probably a minority, a point you do not address. Is this an example of the psychological phenomenon known as motivated reasoning, which shows a distinct preference for evidence that supports an established belief, rather than evidence that challenges it?
I don’t have any children either.
It’s not something I decided – it’s the way my life unfolded.
Does that mean I have no personal stake in the future?
Is that why I invest time, energy and money in belonging to CACOR?
Are people with children better than me?
Are they better leaders than I am?
Do people with children have more time, energy and money to invest in creating or protecting their stake in the future than people like me?
Are the parents of yesteryear, who had families of 4, 6, 8, 10 children, the real heroes and heroines of history?
What is the point of this curiosity about some of the leaders of Europe?
What is the source and validity of the “disproportionate” deduction?
For many people, having children is an impulse of being human.
For many people, NOT having children is a fact of being human.
What do the meanings of the words “many”, “impulse” “fact” and “human” have to do with a personal stake in the future?
I can only conclude from your comments that we in Canada and the US are in “safe” hands and can rest easy, assured that our “future” is secure because Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump have children!
To all of you reading this who have children, consider yourselves blessed … and to all of you NOT having children, consider yourselves equally blessed … simply because if you are reading this, you care – and that’s what counts.