A post on facebook was an article from the Gisborne newspaper in New Zealand. Plenty of food for thought in the face of the world economic situation.
Growth with Maori worldview
Tuesday, November 01, 2011 • Peter Jones
IT seems that at no time in recent history have people had as many questions as they do today.
How can we live in harmony with nature? How do we stop climate change and the destruction of ecosystems? How can we provide security and create sufficiency for all? How do we restore an ethic of care for people and for the Earth? In short, how can we put human and planetary well-being at the heart of all our decision-making?
Modernist culture values economic growth above all else. Such growth “works” in the sense that it brings short-term material wealth to small groups. It creates jobs too but the emphasis on economic growth at all costs has encouraged us to deny the consequences of always using resources and never giving back to the communities and eco-systems from where they come.
We tend to equate happiness with success, and in turn define success as material possessions and external achievement. We emphasise constant activity and visible, measurable wealth over experience and reflection.
Maori culture recognises the value of having “enough” and using it gracefully. It is about being economical with what we have, without wasting resources or effort, but without being stingy either.
Many of us recognise the value of “enough” but also receive strong messages to keep growing. In the contradiction between these messages lies the potential for wisdom.
All societies today need a fundamental shift in values and worldview. We need to converge around the idea of deep security based on equity and justice: sufficiency for all, without excess for some and misery for others.
It would be easy to dismiss Maori Sovereignty as an attempt to halt progress or reclaim the past. It’s really about different kinds of human growth. It’s about creating “a culture of enough” that would judge human progress in diverse ways, not just by GDP numbers.
Such a culture would always attempt to balance our scientific achievements with an increase in our moral, ecological, spiritual and emotional development.
Markets, money, trade, technology, competition and profit — all the elements of modern growth economies — are good, creative activities that can be harnessed for the people and the planet, if kept within moral and ecological boundaries.
Our indigenous Maori culture can be adapted for this purpose. Part of acting responsibly is to look within and ask how we can promote other ways of knowing the world and acting in it.
We cannot know all the aspects of “Maori Sovereignty” without actually doing it. It is a way of being in the world, not a simple set of rules for living.
We can use “Maori Sovereignty” to create the conditions that will allow a critique of growth. Human behaviour can be adapted to give at least some of the earth’s ecosystems a chance to renew themselves and at the same time allow social justice to emerge.
We need to rid ourselves of the idea that only experts can lead us. A leader is anyone who wants to help and leadership is an everyday thing. It’s not confined to those who have decision-making power in institutions or states.
Irrespective of age, occupation or role, we can all regularly ask how we should live, what is good, how we can achieve well-being for all, how we can respect the Earth and how we can take the long-term view and try to see the whole picture. We can engage in conversation with others about these issues.
A society that does not cultivate the art of asking questions cannot count on finding answers to its most pressing issues.