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Christmas / Bedtime story


Everybody seems to agree that the world cannot go on like this. That's because - in time - multiple systems within our society have become essentially faulty. To name a few, the  market-, monetary-, educational-, health care-, cultural-, political-, energy-, constructional- and transport systems.

Humans compete about whose problem gets to be the number one and thus funding. And that, essentially, is probably the most important problem: To survive, every human instinctively feels the need to display a coherent and preferably more impressive and beautiful story or identity than any other human being.

How this 'identity building instinct' brings us our prosperity and our downfall, can be learnt from the following true event from recent history.

Once upon a time …

"Once upon a time there was a small Island, let's call it Easter Island. In the recent past, people who dared to build ships to sail the big seas, discovered this island. Easter Island was such a sunny and beautiful tropical place that the adventurers stayed.

Back then, huge palm trees grew on the island. They were five times as high as the normal palm trees you see in TV-commercials for exotic holidays nowadays. The newcomers agreed it would be best to rule the island by dividing it into 12 independent states instead of just one. Just like we do now with our provinces, states or counties.

Then the people decided it would be best to not fight with each other, as wars only caused sorrow, grief and sadness. People where free to travel everywhere on the island. Just like we can do now in Europe or the USA. At one of these meetings a big, tall man raised his hand and asked: "But how do we know which group is the strongest?"

To see who was the strongest and the smartest they came up with a very prestigious annual competition: who can build the highest building? Just as we do now with buying big SUV cars or building mile-high skyscrapers, yachts that are as long as 20 football fields, etcetera.

For the construction and realisation of these buildings, they used the huge palm trees. Just like we use Earth's resources now, like: iron, copper, oil, phosphate, etcetera. But these trees did not grow back as quickly as they were cut down. And after a few hundred years there were no more trees left on the island.

Sadly, people on the island started to feel hungry, as they could no longer build strong ships to go out onto the open sea to catch big delicious fresh fish. Neither did they have wood to build a fire to cook the food on.

But they did not want to look foolish and lose the prestigious competition and kept on building the big buildings, just as we are doing now. 500 years later, there weren't many people living on Easter Island any more.

Maybe you know what they should have done?"


So in 500 years there weren´t many people living on Easter Island any more. Maybe there will not be living a lot of people on Earth in the future as well.

At present, even if the human populations of Asia and Africa did not exist, it would be impossible for the North Americans and Europeans to maintain their current way of life. And that is because this lifestyle is depleting the resources of North America and Europe as well as those of the developing countries (Diamond, 2005, p496).

Maybe the reason for the collapse of the human civilization on Easter Island applies for our current society? Every human being instinctively possesses a thing that wants to grow and grow, almost like a cancer. It is called identity, ego, self or 'personal story'. On a cognitive level, identity is nothing more then a set of cognitions that enables a human animal to make sense of its surroundings. Identity brings us our prosperity ... and our downfall.

So this bedtime / Christmas story addresses the most sighted question by people of our time: "The world can not go on like this but what an we do about it?

A good friend of mine told me once - while we were on a search for the best place to start an Eco-Surf Hostel in Portugal - there is nothing more difficult then asking the right question. The words that are used to formulate the question form the frame in which the answer will be searched. Therefore:

The question: What can we do about all those great problems in the 21st century?

Is reformulated: How can we develop our individual identity in a more sustainable (Social, Economical and Environmental) way?

And to ensure that the direction of the general solution is understood, it is equally important to word the answer in practical terms. This eBook is an attempt to answer this reformulated question and it also describes the practical implications of it for our contemporary society: Sustainable-ID.nl

De Sthiel

The Sthiel collects and provides solutions to improve the sustainability of the world. The Sthiel is committed to share and implement these solutions and their scientifical foundations with - and in - the world.  

The Sthiel looks forward to the sustainable IDeas that your child and yourself come-up with!

Creative Commons License
Boarding (Work-title) by Thie, Stefan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sustainable IDeas?