Golden Age

Reacting to a Warming Planet: Staying Mindful

Arctic sea ice is disappearing. The temperature of the planet is rising at a rate never before witnessed in human history. Research has definitively linked these changes to human activity, specifically the activities that have taken place over the past 150 years.

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But beyond an immediate and natural sense of anxiety in the face of this information, what can be considered a healthy and meaningful response? How should we react? These facts challenge the limits of our imagination; the earth as it is represents the sum of all of our accumulated knowledge, and it’s the only home and the only reality that we and our ancestors have ever known. To accept that the planet itself is changing requires us to accept almost impossible truths and engage in thought exercises that exceed our mental capabilities.  

And WHY would we do this? Why would we choose to face these facts if our response starts with anxiety and ends with helpless despair? What enlightenment can we expect to gain from this painful process if we, as individuals, have no social influence and no ability to change the course of these upsetting trends? If we aren’t high profile politicians or oil company executives, why torment ourselves in this way?

Here at Just Atonement, we can’t provide a universally satisfying answer to this question, but we can offer a simple idea that can encourage regular people (like you, and like each one of us), to gather our courage and keep staring into this challenging void without rationalization, paralysis, or retreat: We recognize that we are links in a vital chain. We stand between the world that came before us, and the world that will continue on after we’re gone. It’s true that we—as individuals—don’t have the power to mandate change on a global scale, and few of us are likely to invent a device or solution in our basements that will bring instant and total transformation. (Though it’s possible!)

Instead, we recognize that every current of action, energy, ideas, beliefs, and lifestyle choices must move through us in order to reach those who come after us. The current flows through us in order to live on and travel from past to future. The dismal and destructive habits of the past must be actively taken up by us if they live on into the next generation and the next. Every time we reject them, or choose an alternative, or speak out against them, we break one link in the chain. Every time we decide to make a positive choice, even something as small as changing a personal habit, we block the current and refuse to serve as a conduit. And when we take a stand and speak out—even to a very small audience—we encourage others to do the same.

We are small, but without us, destructive currents of commerce and consumption-- the currents that perpetuate waste, toxicity and injustice—cannot pass on. Stand with us and help us to stem the flow and break the chain, even if we never live to see the long-term results of our efforts. We can’t fix broken systems all at once, but we CAN refuse to perpetuate actions and habits that we know are unsustainable.  Contact our office to learn more, become an intern, take on a leadership role in your community, or join our team.

A Golden Age for Humanity: Is it Possible?

In addition to defending those who are vulnerable to the environmentally destructive actions of big business and government, our team works to advance a system of justice that transcends national borders. For example, leaders who participate in or condone acts of genocide, exploitation, or human trafficking are rarely held accountable by their own governments. But a strong and reliable system of international justice can prevent such individuals from justifying these actions or refusing to face those who have been harmed.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), centered in The Hague, has come into existence within our lifetimes—a major advancement in the course of human history. And while the institution has yet to gain the strength that’s more accessible to criminal courts established by individual nations, we believe that this goal is on the horizon. Here at Just Atonement, we live in two worlds: First the present, in which a complete system of international criminal justice has yet to be shored up to put to the ultimate test. And second, the future, in which such a system is respected and feared by would-be tyrants and opportunists.

We also believe that an established system of international justice forms just one pillar of a golden age that may be within reach for humanity—And maybe, like the ICC, this golden age might be attainable within our own lifetimes.

Despite the threats that currently face our shared environment and despite populations around the globe that struggle with hunger and lawlessness, 2017 can be considered an excellent year for advancements against poverty and human suffering. Check out this useful collection of data points.

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Globally, more people than ever before are living above the extreme poverty line of two dollars a day, more people have access to electricity, and more have access to clean water then in years past. Vaccinations and simple life-saving treatments for common ailments are more available than ever before to isolated communities. And while the environment is certainly in peril, access to information and education are improving, and hopefully, the more we know about how to protect the planet from ourselves, the sooner we’ll transition to renewable energy and find ways to limit waste and environmental exploitation.

Here at Just Atonement, we believe that a golden age lies within our reach. Our goal: a world in which health, hygiene, literacy, access to justice, and freedom from fear are available to all people in every part of the world. We imagine living in balance with a planet that can safely and sustainably provide for all of us, and when we add up the numbers, we recognize that this is not a mathematical impossibility. If you have the skills or training to help us move forward toward this goal, we’d like to hear from you! Contact our office and find out how you can contribute to our efforts.  

JAI's mission: to create and sustain a golden age

At JAI, we have incredibly lofty and ambitious goals about what non profits should be doing in these times.

Record breaking heat waves in California and storms in Texas and Bangladesh this past weekend are yet another reminder of the need for immediate action to stabilize carbon emissions, and create a more sustainable world.

The science has been clear for many decades: carbon emissions need to be reduced, and societies need to adopt alternative forms of energy and economic systems in order to ward off the worst effects of climate change and global warming.

So if the science is so clear, why is it so hard to get people to adjust to these realities?

The problem may be a simple one of messaging.

Telling people they have to give up something triggers loss aversion, and people hate to give up something they've already gained, even if they received it for free or by luck. 

Current messages on climate change are just that -- that people are going to have to give up their big cars, their cheap gas, and all the luxuries that come with a carbon-emitting lifestyle. No wonder it's tough to get people to change.

In contrast, maybe the message should be that the crisis of climate change presents a remarkable opportunity to build a world with more happiness and freedoms -- a Golden Age.

Imagine a world where renewable energy is so abundant that it is practically free, helping power basic needs to everyone all over the world.

Imagine a world where forests, coral reefs, and other important ecosystems are rebuilt and strengthened, halting the Anthropocene Extinction and repopulating the earth with thousands of species that are now at or near extinction-level events.

Imagine a world where governments have been so successful at cooperating with one each other in managing the climate crisis, that it inspires new levels of trust and innovation between countries and different peoples. Conflicts are settled peacefully, refugee crises become a thing of the past, and humanity is inspired to cooperate together to take to the stars and use the same technologies that are managing our ecosystem to create human-friendly ecosystems elsewhere.

This is a world that is eminently possible. No new technologies are needed to create such a world -- just a shift in world view, and the push by committed individuals to build such a planet.

This is what we're hoping to do at JAI.