Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On bridging the macro and micro

One of the goals of this blog has been to explore the interconnectedness of the issues that face us, from war to medicine, food to poverty, law to nature. The problems facing us in each one of these "fields" or "bins" of thought are one and the same, they stem from the same trunk. They are branches connected to the same base, and the morality and ethics that feed any one of these branches are the same morality and ethics that feed the other. Indeed, we cannot tackle any one issue in isolation; that is the sort of reductionism that has lead to the issues and problems facing us. To paraphrase Wendell Berry, we cannot do one thing without doing many things, we cannot undo one thing without undoing many things.

More important to me, however, has been trying to articulate our role and our complicity in the creation of these problems, and to hopefully allow us to be more introspective about our positions in the world, and the power that each and everyone one of our choices, individually, have in either patronising systems of oppression and dominance over nature (and consequently people), or in taking a stand against these systems, and taking them down. Meaningful change can come from nowhere else but from within one's own life. Furthermore, the change on larger scales that we advocate for is a reflection of our willingness to be the models of that change. For example, it is entirely plausible that someone that is willing to give up something like plastic out of sacrifice and respect for the environment cannot envision the world without the existence of plastic. Consequently, when it comes to thinking about what this world ought to look like for everyone, we may have limited our imagination to a world with plastic as a given.

Now, as I recognised in a previous post, these issues are complicated, as we are stuck in systems that necessitate ecological degration. These systems are ingrained in our culture and act on scales much larger than our individual lives. Yet, each one of our lives serves as a microcosm for these systems. We form the DNA and RNA of the system, and it is our choices that determine what is commonly accepted and what isn't. In a cell, the DNA and RNA dictate the responses of the cell to stimuli. These cells in turn form the complexity that is our body. While our bodies operate at a scale much larger than our individual cells, it is the choices of the individual cells that determine the overall health of the body. In the same manner, if we, as individuals, lead lives that are healthful and respectful, caring and kind to the environment, there is no way these systems of oppression cannot be taken down. After having talked with a friend yesterday at length about the nature of the writing on the blog, I can see that I haven't continually addressed the "micro" side of issues, which to me is of utmost importance. Introspection on the micro scale is the goal, and I will try to write more consciously toward that end.

1 comment:

  1. I think many problems can be solved with the micro approach and I applaud your efforts on this front. I believe you have done an amazing job addressing an effective micro approach. In regard for the need for a macro approach, I think the of...ten mentioned Jevon's paradox is relevant. Here is an illustration of my concern: let's say 90% of people reduce their impact to nearly nothing. This reduces the demand for energy and resources, which drop their price and like in Jevon's paradox people will find a way to be more wasteful. So if the 10% of people left over decide to use the affordable energy and resources 10 times more, we have ultimately had no net effect. I think if there aren't economic incentives for changing our behavior there will always be the danger of that careless minority exploiting the opportunity to be wasteful.