I was visiting a good friend the other day and he was in an upset state about what he believed was the ‘loss of heart’ in worldly matters. What a big concept ‘worldly matters’ is but it got me thinking about the ‘heart’ of the malaise in economic, environmental and social politics.
The current way of deducing value is based on a measurement and profit assessment. What is put in or taken out, must result in a marketable profit at the end. Goods and services are not valued at their core root, rather the projections of what the intrinsic value is, is measured against what the straight cost of manufacture is.
The remarkable missing link in all these projections of course is the natural ‘capital’ of an item and what the cost would be if that item was suddenly to disappear. Take for instance water. In no balance sheet is water considered as an irreplaceable asset. Without that value, its vital contribution is ignored; or in full hubris of man, considered ‘manageable’.
Without that factor, what is produceable can be sold to you at a ‘profit’. This makes sense to a point but then you pause and wonder; what is the true ‘cost’ of what I am ‘buying’? As the trend of ethical consumerism is on the rise it will cause a ripple effect and urge pause for thought for the consumers out there who do consider the full value chain of what it is they are buying in to.
I am one of them and gone are the days when I could just go and buy some washing powder, or heaven forbid, milk. The way in which it has been manufactured and brought to me becomes a very real consideration as to whether I will engage with that product or not. And as a result my current choices for every day goods are very limited.
I was chatting to an editor friend of mine who runs a much more challenging publication than this and he said to me (jokingly), “After you have read what I have to say you will hardly want to buy or eat another thing, ever again.” This is a paradox I have to escape. Of all things, what I choose to wear, eat and fill my home with should not come at a cost of the values that I wish to see espoused in the world. Why should I be caught up in a paradigm of the ‘lesser of two evils’ when all around there are solutions for a remarkable and healthy lifestyle that can actually contribute to the planet?
As I write that I question my lifestyle; how I work, eat, participate, contribute and consume. This is the condition that comes from being active in the paradigm of economic and social awareness linked to environmental custodianship. Being conscious is not without its contradictions and as I run a hot bath in the face of a freezing day I acknowledge the many who can not do such a thing. As I drive to work and balance my ‘no-car’ day, I acknowledge the many who rely on a volatile pubic transport system to get them to the place they earn their living. As I walk past racks of meat in the supermarket, slaughtered in the conventional way, I block my ears against the injustice of factory farming and the heinous cruelty the mammals that feed so many have to live in before they end up as dinner.
Yet when the wish to change these practises is enthused, the black board reminder about the ‘economics’ of the impact of the decision takes the classroom stage. We are told that unless it makes sense on the balance sheet it will never be considered.
As I listen to this reasoning, my heart beats like an untimely clock and it asks loudly, “Who decides the value of the heart of things? At what stage does the unquantifiable overtake the bottom line of an accountant’s balance sheet and the health of an ecosystem or the value of a creature extend beyond that of a currency note and a shareholder’s limited interest?”
At what stage do the hearts that make up this world find a common reasoning to live with intent and the cause of common good, rather than profiteering and the concept of loss if we have a change of heart? What does that change of heart cost?