Mindfulness and the Transition to a Sustainable Future

What does the future look like?

This question has evoked the full spectrum of human emotion since the dawn of time: it encapsulates within it the totality of human experience. Planning for the future is what makes us human. While most species remain locked inside an endless process of genetic cycling, many of us lay awake at night wondering what tomorrow will bring.

To any rational observer, tomorrow appears to be something to avoid at the moment. Record levels of suicides, drug overdoses, and depression haunt the population. Economic prospects are bleak for all but a privileged few. Most live paycheck to paycheck, and struggle to pay routine expenses. Worse still are the recent economic forecasts, as many predict an impending recession. Couple this fact with an inevitable wave of automation, and suddenly Mad Max looks like a documentary ahead of its time. As if matters couldn’t get worse, all of this takes place within a collapsing petrodollar system, and a collapsing environment. The universe clearly hates us.

While this information is disturbing, anxiety provoking, and discouraging, it misses one very important detail: none of it answers the initial question.

At this point I’d ask you to stop and think about your daily routine. We all have habits, some good and some bad. How does one break a bad habit? The first step is always the same: recognize the habit as counterproductive, and work towards breaking it. In other words, one’s ability to change behavior is always contingent upon the initial awareness of it.

We have many bad habits here. Imaginary lines in the ground are drawn and used as justification for murder. Fellow human beings are ranked in their importance according to arbitrary characteristics such as skin color, gender, and sexual preference. Perhaps most amazing of all is the economic system, one in which the vast majority of the population is forced to justify their existence through the acquisition of green pieces of paper, without any regard for its effects on either the physical or mental environment.

Fortunately, it appears a group of us have recognized the deleterious nature of the habits mentioned above. Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has assembled an impressive coalition of supporters to his campaign. A close look at his constituency reveals cohorts from across the political spectrum, all of whom are ready to shed the conventional wisdom of the past. Most encouraging of all is the global nature of the movement to change our economic system away from a destructive force: a cursory glance at geopolitical events yields trials for basic income, applications of human centered metrics, and an interconnectedness across peoples never before seen on earth. The old enemies of progress, once hidden within “respectable political discourse” have been exposed for all to see. Even many once proud gatekeepers of the status quo are appalled by the regressive nature of our current representatives, both home and abroad.

Within the vaccum of that consensus enters the aforementioned coalition: one that learned to shape a better tomorrow from an ugly today. They are ready to break the old routine and redefine the human condition forever.

Before birth, most babies are comfortable with their circumstance. Nutrients are readily available, the environment is safe, and little is required of them to maintain themselves. This all changes at birth. Walls close in, and the world they once knew no longer exists. Despite its harrowing appearance, this event is called birth for a reason; it’s the beginning of something entirely new. There isn’t an analogy more apt to the situation we currently find ourselves in today.

The future, once gestating within the darkness of the mental realm, is about to birthed into the light.