THE SHIPíS BOY

Roger's Workshop 
@ Spaceship Earth

 

This page is in answer to the question:  "Who do I think I am?"

I image the world's nations to be like ships on the high seas - a few well out in front, most lagging behind, some in tow - but all sailing more-or-less in the same direction: on a non-sustainable, materialistic course towards rocks (Earths finite carrying capacity) and disaster. Although most people refuse to see or face up to it, we are literally plundering our planet, stealing its natural resources ("natural treasures" as they are called in German) from our children and coming generations and squandering them. And if that is not crime enough, in the process we are decimating Earth's biodiversity, and disrupting its climate and the life-supporting ecosystems, on which not just our children's future prosperity, but their very survival, depends.

I have spent a lot of time wondering about my role on board ship (in society).  Iím certainly not an officer, nor even a proper member of the crew (I haven't made a career for myself or learnt a profession). Am I a passenger, or stowaway perhaps?  I don't feel like a stowaway, but a passenger certainly, in some respects, as we all are. 

The nearest I can get to describing my role and status is that of SHIP'S BOY. Although at 56 maybe SHIP'S OLD BOY is more like it.

Perhaps it is because I am only the shipís boy that I am able to see, if not perfectly, at least more clearly than most of the officers and crew, whose own dependency on the existing socio-economic order (environment) and their positions (niches) in it makes them blind to (the extent of) its fundamental non-sustainability.

Not that I'm the only one, of course. Others have been pointing out for years the non-sustainable course we are on.

Nor have the warnings gone completely unheeded. Nowadays most people know that sustainability and protecting the environment are important; but this is not allowed to interfere with conventional economic wisdom and its demand for unceasing economic growth to meet the demand for jobs, increased wages and salaries, investors' profit expectations, and Earth's 6 billion plus inhabitants' desire for ever increasing material wealth.

We all like to think that we see the world with our own, unimpaired eyes, but in fact each of us sees it through a unique pair of very strong glasses, the highly complex, distorting lenses of which we have acquired from our parents, peers, books, the media, and society at large.

Although I believe that I see some very important things more clearly than most (otherwise I wouldn't be writing this), my glasses are not uniformly less distorting that those of others. The lenses are very complex. Some things, I'm sure, I see more distorted than others. 

No ship's captain, of course, wishes to be told that the course he is steering is wrong. Certainly not by the ship's boy.

More insightful members of society have been trying to persuade world governments at least since the early 1970's of the need for a radical change of course, towards sustainable economies and lifestyles, but to very little effect. The captains and their officers continue to steer their ships resolutely towards catastrophe - politicians foolishly assuring their electorate that they can have their cake AND eat it (i.e. sustainability AND ever increasing material wealth) -, confident in the observation that the course we are on has always proved navigable and above all profitable in the past, and that every other ship is also heading in the same direction.

There is a natural, but in this instant fatal, human propensity to see what is "normal" as also being correct, okay, or at least, not too bad (see Uncommon Sense vs the Insanities of Normality).