Fires, floods, pandemic, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, drought, inflation, war, abuse and exploitation, we’ve had them all this year, and a common culprit stands behind them: man. Change man, and you have changed the world. The task may not be easy, but knowing the cause and what we need to do will go a long way toward enabling improvement.
When you think about all the bad things that happened this year, it is almost instinctive to say “Good riddance!” But we should be smarter than that. The catastrophes mentioned in the opening paragraph will seem like a gentle breeze compared to the ones that will come next year and in the years to follow unless we are determined to get to the bottom of the crises and solve them once and for all.
When people think of last year, they think of all the things that happened. I think we must go deeper than that; we must look at what induced those things, as well as other negative developments.
We already know that every element is unique and irreplaceable in Earth’s ecosystem. When you deplete even a single element, you throw the system off balance. When you throw a local ecosystem off balance, it affects its neighboring systems, until eventually the entire planet is disrupted. Just as Covid-19 has taught us that any strain immediately spreads around the world, so, too, is the case with everything we do, say, or even think. We are all parts of that one system.
We already acknowledge that we are dependent on each other and influence one another by the way we conduct ourselves as consumers, what we eat, our travel habits, and other aspects of our lives. We see that irresponsible and inconsiderate behavior depletes common resources and everyone suffers as a result. The UN and other organizations have international panels and conferences discussing this topic day and night.
Yet, not a lot is changing. In fact, matters are getting worse. So far, the only thing that has truly managed to contain our reckless behavior is the coronavirus. Once it forced us to go into lockdown, the air was clean, the water was clear, animals roamed where they had never gone before, and people rediscovered their families.
But a lockdown is not a way of life; it is an emergency measure. We need a sustainable solution that will allow us to go on living on this planet, our only home, without destroying it, and without it destroying us in retaliation.
To do that, we must change the core element that is causing our reckless behavior: our selfish human nature. When you look at all the issues plaguing our planet—from natural disasters to human caused crises—they all have a common culprit: human egoism. Therefore, change man, and you have changed the world.
Here lies our biggest problem. We can readily agree that we need to change our behavior. It is also evident that our behavior causes problems. But changing the cause of our inconsiderate behavior has far fewer advocates, since no one willingly admits to bearing the guilt for the world’s problems. Yet, we are all accountable.
The biggest challenge facing humanity as we enter 2022 is not curbing gas emissions, restraining the use of plastics, or reducing the use of fossil fuels. Our biggest challenge, the most obstinate disruption to our efforts to clean up the planet, is our own nature.
We cannot tell ourselves that our own nature is our biggest problem. However, we can create an atmosphere where everyone participates in building a new nature for humanity—where solidarity and kindness win acclaim, and conceit and narcissism induce admonition.
If we do this, all of us together, we will not feel like we are denying ourselves anything, like we are uprooting something from within us. Instead, we will feel that we are adding a good supplement to our lives, something that enriches our lives and gives them direction and meaning. Gradually, the more social mindset will become the dominant one since it rewards more generously than narcissism. If we do it together, it will be an easy and smooth transition.
Therefore, understanding where we are, why our world is the way it is, and how we can spare ourselves the adversities that are certain to come unless we change our ways, is paramount to our survival.
As a bonus, we will also win a wonderful life that we did not believe existed until we adopted a mindset of solidarity and cast behind the common culprit of our woes—our own egoism.