What about environmentalism, sustainability, global warming, peak oil, the energy crisis?
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Here it is, autumn of 2011, and I've been following the campaigns of the Republicans for President of the USA. I used to take it for granted that I was a conservative aligned with the Christian religious right, but more and more I am drifting to the radical left.
For example, as a true conservative, I always thought that the best economic system was free market capitalism but I am increasingly troubled by the horrific side-effects: the devastation of the environment; the utter lack of a plan to address the acute shortages of water, energy, and other resources; the exploitation of workers, of property, of farmers, and of the poor and disadvantaged of the world. Free market capitalism has led to poverty and starvation, obsession with materialism, immorality, obesity, sickness and disease. Clever and unscrupulous advertisers prey on human weakness to create artificial needs to sell more products.
This economic system is based on the foundations of constant economic expansion and continual population growth. But there is a maximum population that the earth can sustain; exceeding this limit will result in unprecedented war, famine, plague, and environmental devastation. I fear we have already gone too far.
Unfortunately, liberalism is no better. It is anti-morals and anti-Christian, and claims to be against monopolistic corporations while at the same time thriving from the big money of these same corporations. The government is to be large, invasive, intrusive, and is to mold the culture. Public education should be mandatory so that everyone has shared values and the same opinions about such things as abortion, promiscuity, homosexuality, religion in general, and Christianity in particular. Conservatives should be mocked and ostracized.
But I have to admit, that, in reading news and commentary from both liberal and conservative sources I find one common thread. They both demonize the other side in the most rude and abrasive manner possible. This is very unappealing.
Our current generation is at a crisis point; a tipping point. Things must change, things will change, for better or for worse.
We will someday run out of oil, the earth is warming, we are running out of water and food, the population is still increasing almost everywhere, and I'm afraid long-term global recession is here to stay.
We can no longer live the same western materialistic lifestyle as we have since World War II.
But someday the population will stop growing as it reaches a maximum, causing the current economic system to fail since it depends on constant growth.
There is some happy news. We will find and develop alternate sources of energy such as wind, solar, wave, geothermal, and nuclear fusion. And we will eventually convert from a fuel-based to an electricity-based energy distribution system. But providing adequate water and healthy food is a harder problem to solve as the population continues to increase. And global warming will do tremendous damage to humans and other species — the world will never be the same after this.
Sadly, neither liberals nor conservatives are addressing these problems adequately. They are tangled-up in petty squabbles, in political maneuvering to gain re-election, and in maintaining the status quo that provides their place of power in the world.
Here's my partial list of what must be done:
- Decrease world population in a moral manner. I have no idea how to do this. But if we don't do it; famine, war, and plague will do it for us.
- Each person must consume less, must commute to work using less energy, and must purchase products that last a long time. Unfortunately, the current economic system requires that we do the opposite; that we consume ever more throw-away junk.
- We must stop polluting and exploiting the environment. The true costs of producing products must be considered: including the detriment to the quality of life for those producing the product as well as those using it, the pollution, the effects of using the resources and raw materials, and the effects on future generations.
- We must allow for true freedom of expression in religion. It is wrong for atheists to hate
Christianity as they often do and to strive to eradicate it from public view.
- We must provide for the welfare of the disadvantaged members of society.
- We must live together in peace and defend ourselves against those who wish to harm us.
Perhaps we should return to the days of horse and buggy (but the stench and mess from too many horses can be a real problem).
Perhaps we should encourage small, local communities. But not every community can provide all its needs. How much long-distance trade is appropriate?
Perhaps democracy is not the best political system after all since the voting masses are so easily duped and the politicians are concerned only with getting elected, not in helping society at large. If they make bold changes for the better they will lose the election from an angry mob who has some cherished entitlement taken away. But I shudder at the alternative; if vicious, unscrupulous, power-mad tyrants gain power.
Although we should do everything in our power to improve the world and fix the problems, the goal of a utopian society will ever remain elusive and impossible. But we should not lose hope.
I dream of an unbelievable, utopian world in which everyone has what their heart desires; and love, peace, and joy rule supreme. People will no longer treat others disrespectfully and no one will go without getting their needs met. This will be a true community of spirit in which everyone seeks only the best for their brothers and sisters.
My hope is in a yet-future new heavens and new earth after Jesus Christ returns to judge sin and wickedness, and to remove its influence on this world. Those who accept the Lordship of Jesus and who worship him over this corrupt world-system will for all eternity live in the glorious world that our Creator-God intended for us.
Our current predicament is a test for each of us. Will we look only to ourselves to solve our predicament or will we call out to God for his grace and mercy?