Why go for a green lifestyle and invest in future generations? Perhaps the more important question is, how to go for a green lifestyle. And why for future generations?
The answer to this second question is fairly simple. When we want to go for a green lifestyle, this can only be achieved with major disruptions to our personal lives. This is why we have to start to dream about our green future, and with this dream in mind make small steps to get there. But where do our dreams start?
On a boarded-up building in Santa Monica in California (USA), is written: “After The Plague Came The Renaissance”. The slogan is illustrated with the two hands of “The Creation of Adam”. These hands are part of a painting Michelangelo made between 1508 and 1512 on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
This is a quote full of hope. The message is clearly meant to lift our spirits. Although the current pandemic is hardly comparable with the plague that during at least 5 centuries in wave after wave killed millions of people.
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What will our Renaissance be?
Is there a Renaissance in store for us? If so, what would our Renaissance look like? The core idea which emerged during the Renaissance was that ‘man is the measure of all things’. This idea, no doubt, founded the individualism that still dominates our present way of living.
What idea or ideas will dominate the ages to come? The maxim we hear frequently is: “After the virus, we go back to the old normal.” Does this really inspire us? Are we really that much easier to satisfy than the Europeans of the post-plague era?
Most of us are already happy to celebrate the holidays with the family members on Zoom. So I am inclined to say yes, we are much easier to satisfy, compared to our ancestors. But is this the best way to invest in powerful future generations?
The Second Renaissance
In retrospect, it wasn’t difficult to explain the rise of the Renaissance. Although it’s a widely debated concept. At present, now we’re still in the middle of the pandemic, it’s truly different.
Predicting our future has always been a challenge. Under the current conditions, it’s even more so. To wrap up our current life with a future poignant characteristic is an interesting challenge though. The question is of course: Will our future be as uplifting as the Renaissance?
What will be our measure of all things? Assuming that ‘back to the old normal’ is not what we aspire. However, what do we aspire to achieve? What do we crave for? Will our efforts, and inspiration be able to launch The Second Renaissance?
The Era of Dyson
In the #13 issue of The New York Review of Books of 2009, Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) reviewed Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science. Freeman Dyson was a theoretical and mathematical physicist, mathematician, and statistician. (Richard Holmes’s book is a ‘must read’ by the way.)
Dyson is known for his wide area of interests and his creative and precise ideas. At the end of his review, he predicts a new and future age of wonder. An age in which artists create “genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses”. These genomes would produce “an abundance of new flowers and fruits and trees and birds to enrich the ecology of our planet.”
Wealthy entrepreneurs, academic professionals, and “a worldwide community of gardeners and farmers and breeders”, are supposed to make the planet beautiful, fertile and hospitable “to hummingbirds as well as to humans”. Let’s call this the first type of The Second Renaissance: The Era of Freeman.
The Era of Esther
Discrimination against women started with the first stories told in the Old Testament. Adam was the first human being. Eva was made from one of his ribs. We now know fairly well that this must have been the other way around. Adam was born from the womb of Eva. Although this offers a bunch of new dilemmas, it sounds more logical.
At present, it becomes more and more clear that women perform better than men on all accounts. They’re better politicians, better pilots, better doctors, etc. The countries led by female leaders did better during the pandemic.
Even one of the most influential persons in the computer world is a woman: Esther Dyson (yes, the daughter of Freeman Dyson).
Apparently we, more specifically women, already with some success shook up the gender bias (a euphemism for the discrimination of women). Of course, the measure of all things must be women as well as men.
However, for the time being, it does no harm to call the second type of The Second Renaissance: The Era of Eva. Or The Era of Esther, when you want to keep it in the family.
The Era of Color
Let us try to be a bit more creative, and expand our ideas. The ambition is that every human being is the measure of all things! No matter whether they are black, blue, brown, green, red, yellow, or white. As you can see, the Black Lives Matter movement justifiably put some priorities in the order of color.
When I was young I had many friends whose parents originated from Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Java, The Moluccas, or Surinam. Back then, I never made the link between my friends and Dutch colonial history. Only later, with a growing political and historical awareness, I realized something was definitely wrong.
Not that they lived in The Netherlands, because I always appreciated their friendship, their different culture, and the delightful food they made. What was and still is wrong, is that at school they taught us how good and beautiful the Dutch colonial history was.
Perhaps this has changed, but I don’t trust the Dutch educational system enough given the tremendous amount of discrimination against people with different cultural backgrounds. For now, it is enough to emphasize that in retrospect our Second Renaissance will perhaps be called: The Era of Color. That would warm my heart.
The Era of EVE
Together with my two grandsons, I’ve seen the PIXAR animation movie WALL•E twice. WALL•E means “Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class”. It’s the last robot left on earth. On earth, there are no humans anymore.
The robot is programmed to clean up the planet, “one trash cube at a time.” After 700 years, WALL•E developed one little technical anomaly: a nosy personality. He is also lonely. Then he meets EVE. EVE is also a robot. She is however very different from WALL•E.
EVE is on a search mission. The goal of this mission is to find out whether planet earth is inhabitable. EVE discovers that WALL•E found the solution. Although he is not aware of this. EVE immediately returns to her home base in space to tell the good news. WALL•E follows her.
On EVE’s home base, a space station, live the last humans. These humans are young children. Together, EVE and WALL•E go through many adventures on EVE’s home base fighting the space station’s central computer. Finally, they are able to control the space station and return to earth, with the intention to colonize it again. End of story.
At present, most billionaires are interested in artificial intelligence and space travel. This makes the story of a space station, as the last refuge of humankind, rather credible. Will our Second Renaissance enact in space?
In prospect, if this space-age ever materializes let’s call this The Era of EVE. What more could we wish for than that our Second Renaissance is named after a female robot who offered a second chance to humans on the planet earth?
The Era of Gaia
The phenomenal Foundation sequence of the science-fiction writer Asimov is part of the vast and ageless fictional literature featuring a quest. From Arthur’s knights searching for The Holy Grail to On The Road of Jack Kerouac, this search will probably never end.
When it comes to the quest for our future, which is the era we want to establish? How much room will we offer future generations to search for their own holy grail? From the present outlook, this future looks rather bleak, and what we have to offer our grandchildren and their children can hardly be called a present.
Go for a green lifestyle
This is why we must fight now for the Era of Gaia:
- We have to shake off the idea that humans are “the measure of all things”;
- At the same time, we are personally responsible;
- Restoration and conservation of biodiversity must be our main goal;
- Food production must completely be tuned to this goal;
- We all must start living green;
- Sustainability must be at the center of our green lives;
- We must convince each other about the truth of our green agenda.
How can we together contribute to each other’s green lifestyle? Please write your suggestions in the comment box.
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