Growing up as a child in the mid 20th century in New Zealand, I learnt a common kiwi satirical saying. ‘I’m all right Jack’ referred to those us New Zealanders who believed everything was going well for them and they didn’t care how anybody else was managing. The “I’m all right Jack’ kind of guy would do anything he/she liked and didn’t concern himself with the consequences of their actions for others…Back then we lived in a relatively closed island community, shipping was the primary transport in and out of New Zealand and radio shortwave from the outside world, our society was a social welfare community; an understanding that our government and citizens had a responsibility to support and protect those who were more vulnerable than ourselves.
It was certainly not the perfect society; monocultural, intolerant of difference and non ‘white’ races, with hidden seams of family abuse and violence. Some things have changed for the better over the years, but the ‘I’m all right Jack’ culture-though no longer a phrased commonly used, is rampant as it is everywhere across the globe. It is an Ayn Rand socio/psychopathic kind of culture: I have a right to do whatever I wish, and to hell with the consequences for anyone else.
But today, more than at any other time in history, individual humans can no longer avoid the collective impact of their actions. There are simply too many of us on this planet – there is no other refuge, no unexplored wilderness, where we can go when things turn out badly.
The urgency for all humans, particularly those in the West, to dramatically change the way we live our lives has never been more immediate. Despite all the hype, we can not ‘grow’ our way out of our environmental catastrophe (climate change and biodiversity loss). Neither can we stop that catastrophe from ocurring; but we can at least even now limit the extent of the damage.
We must return to a simpler life; a happier more content life, and a life that celebrates all other living things. We can either choose this new direction or we will be forced upon us against our wills.
This planet will survive; the question is will humans and other species living here now, survive the cataclysmic changes to our world that are upon us?