Autonomy. Shaping the Future Together
Let us halt for a while. However, is a halt possible at all? Don’t you too feel you are being pulled along in life? That the standards we have to meet as parents, workers or students are higher year after year? That your search for the good life looks more like a contest you can never win?
To me, it sounds all too familiar. What especially strikes me is that we no longer ask ourselves a number of questions that might well touch the core of human existence and of civilization. Questions about what we believe matters in life. And whether we are organizing society adequately to match that core. Let me share some of these questions with you. Let us reflect together about our future. How we can take it in our own hands, how to get a grip again on our living environment, how to reclaim our autonomy.
Evidently, some of these questions are not new at all. Even the Ancient Greeks reflected on what is the good life. Yet, these questions could hardly be less relevant today than ever before. New questions have come up too. For the first time in the history of mankind, the human impact on the earth has been the greatest agent of change. We no longer live in what’s called the Holocene. Recently, scientists baptized our geological era the ‘Anthropocene’ since it became clear that the human impact on the climate and the atmosphere is dramatic.
Something rather bizarre is going on in this respect. Almost everyone agrees that human life on earth is at stake. Even the World Bank mentions 4°C global warming if policy does not alter. At the same time, I hear more and more people worry if their children will be better off than they are. This is an important concern, which I as a parent share with them. Only, we do not really link these two matters. If ‘better’ means ‘more of the same’, viz. Faith in Progress, which in our narrow vision is achieved by piling up (and throwing away) material stuff, the future cannot possibly be ‘better’. Then there will be no more progress. The crucial question, therefore, is : What do we mean by ‘better’ today? Do we answer this question ourselves in a dialogue with others? Or do we leave the answer to others, giving up our own autonomy in the process? Below are four questions presented as a brain-exercise ...