Modernity is an Oxymoron
In a world that must navigate the complexities of climate change and truly sustainable consumption, it is becoming increasingly clear that we must harmonise our cultural values with the greater vision of a truly regenerative society. My soul, a wanderer and a witness, has sojourned through the silent boreal forests of Sweden (I lived in Södermanland County for three years), the tranquil mountainous elegance of central Switzerland (also three years), and vivid industrial landmarks of Great Britain (childhood in Wales). I never wished or set out to be a "career nomad", much like Bilbo Baggins content in his home under The Hill, I never really wanted to leave the rolling hills of North Wales. I liked my cups of tea and spent my school holidays helping out on the family farm or on a friend's farm. But my journey in Physics and first job ploughed an unexpected journey and I often feel like Frodo wanting to return to the shire. Until that time comes, I feel that my journey through life to date could offer a journeyman's perspective on our need to cultivate a truly regenerative economy - which is something that is certainly "worth fighting for".
I know now folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going because they were holding on to something. That there's some good in this world, Mr.Frodo, and it's worth fighting for. - Samwise Gamgee (The Lord of The Rings)
This is especially resonant for myself, as a father of three (the third only two weeks old at the time of this writing), the need for generating a more sustainable, equitable and regenerative society is something I am particularly passionate about.
As described in "Soil and Soul", the premise of a regenerative transition begins with land reform, which is a complex matter within this confluence of "landed power" and the historical nucleation of societal wealth to the few. It is indeed a complex challenge, but something we must overcome as a regenerative society. In the cacophony of chatter that accompanies any great shift in age or industrial revolution, the literary giants like Tolkien and Chesterton, have much inspiration to offer us.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” G. K. Chesterton
Drawing upon inspiration from the contrasting imagery akin to Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I embark on a journey through the alluring Elven halls of Switzerland's wealth, the robust Viking ethos of Sweden's industrial virility, and the Dwarven industrialist cunningness of modern Britain. Today, we navigate a world of contradictions. On one hand, we have made astronomical advances, reaching into the very depths of space. On the other, we grapple with earthly challenges of poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. It’s a paradox that calls for deep reflection and concerted action. This essay aims to explore the need for a collective revaluation of our tenets, highlighting the importance of fostering strong communities, ethical stewardship, and a collective love for the Earth we call home. Each voice, including those grounded in spiritual, philosophical, and scientific perspectives, is essential to shape a world where human and planetary well-being are at the core. The challenges we face are as multifaceted as the solutions they require.
Amidst the alluring landscapes that echo the elegance of Elven splendour and Viking virility, lies a tale not of enchantments, but of the divine "triad of old" revived in new attire; Mars (power), Mammon (affluence), and Aphrodite (pleasure), garbed in the garments of the modern epoch, lead the silent procession of the unseen forces that steer the post-Enlightenment vessel of modernity. Today’s culture, liberal and bold, claims a victory over the celestial; a freedom from the “divine tyranny” of old. That "ancient otherness" in the heavens has been carved out from the mainstream narrative of educational institutions, workplace coffee rooms and, in many cases, the home dinner table. Sadly, mystery and moral conscience is seemingly becoming the new fairytale within the progressive tenement halls of today. And yet, in this dance of emancipation, new masters have risen; not in heavens yonder, but in the human heart. It is a dance of power, affluence, and pleasure, echoing the hymns of Mars, Mammon, and Aphrodite, a triad of gods from an age we claimed was behind us, and yet they linger, elusive and yet ever-present. A recent paper, published in Nature, serves as a poignant reminder of this creative tension. The paper unveils the unfolding challenges of escalating urban water crises, where elites' unsustainable consumption amplifies the discord, calling for an urgent, conscientious revaluation of our water usage and social equity.
"A billionaire emits a million times more greenhouse gases than the average person" - Report - Carbon Billionaires: The investment emissions of the world’s richest people, Oxfam