Does the future of our changing planet threaten the prosperity of humanity?
On the 5th of October 2021 an article with the headline “The election shows: The individual prosperity is still more important to many than the protection of the climate.” This article, written by Timo Steppat, focuses on the material aspect of fortune. The individual tendency to strive for a good life in prosperity seems to be in contradiction to the protection of the ecological systems surrounding us humans. To justify this position, the underlying presupposition is that wealth is mainly made up by materialistic goods. A kind of prosperity which is driven by consumption and possessions. But doesn’t this position leave much aside, which is substantial to the human condition?
Is the individual wealth really in a contradictory relation to the climate? What really defines Wealth to us? What gives us the feeling of security, which is one of the reasons people strive for wealth? Is it just a matter of the accumulation of materialistic goods? The materialistic claim can not be rejected fully, as it is to a certain extent the pre-supposition of the human body and life. To maintain and to take care of the human body therefore requires a level of access to materialistic goods.
But then, what defines prosperity? Is it a feeling, a state of being? To which values does a society subscribe itself when the main goal is the accumulation of wealth? How is it in contradiction to the promise and the importance of individual human rights?
How can a society view certain rights of human beings as their moral foundation and act accordingly?
To many people change is seen as a threat, because to change means always a shift in meaning. Because to really change implies to change daily habits and common ways. Because habits slowly become just memories. And the new is never not scary.
But has not the common also been new someday?
What does it imply, when the momentary comfortably prosperity is at threat by the changing conditions of the world?
Prosperity – noun
: the condition of being successful or thriving
The word prosperity is mostly seen in an economical context. In this context it is often possible to measure the success of both individuals and states with total numbers. A thriving economical actor is usually related to one in a situation of growth and accumulation of capital. But does this truly correlate with the thriving of a human life? Is it justified to only measure the prosperity of an individual with the amount of materialistic goods the person was able to accumulate? Or is the state of a thriving human life, a good human life, not a combination of many factors which are combined to the sense of a good life?
The wealthy person in a material sense, is someone who regulates a big number of instruments of power. These instruments can be money, or other goods which manifest in a restricted access to materialistic goods. The perspective of the wealthy person enables this person to view the world and its inhabitants from above: With the decision to allocate means to certain ends, this person is able to control parts of the surroundings.
The in a material sense wealthy person is in a way a possible dominator of the world, in another sense he is also possessed by his possessions. In some notion he is subordinated to the possessions he owns, because these possessions take possessions of his life. They take possession of his life in the form of occupying time. In the most extreme form these material possessions and its demands to take care and manage them takes a dominant part of the materialistic wealthy person. The thoughts and ideas are focused on the solely action of owning things and to exercise control over them.
But what makes a good human life? How is it situated in-between the accessible materialistic Resources and the indulgence in natural ecological systems? How can a life be rich without a constant growth of access to material resources?
Is there a way, by which we can feel the serenity of a modest, prosper life without the constant expansion of our belongings? A way to enable the chance to live a good life to the majority of humans without confusing further destruction with the illusion of safety?
How can we shape a healthy future of relating to wealth and the world?