Common worldview and value system in eco-communities

This post is the second in the little series about my research on solving the ecological crisis. In the previous post I wrote about the first conclusion of my research. That conclusion was that people would have to live in local ecological communities in order to solve the ecological crisis. That would be the way of sustainable living. This post is about the second conclusion: the importance of a common worldview and value system in eco-communities.

So, it is also important that members of these communities share a common value system ​​and worldview. However it is not only important to have a shared value system and worldview. It is also necessary that it contain a conception about the transcendence. That element of the worldview can be the basis of an essential idea in the value system. That idea is that happiness does not lie in the accumulation of material goods and pleasures. Instead it lies in the attainment of a higher, transcendental goal.

The general elements in an ecological worldview and value system

The higher purpose basically stems from the view that individual human beings and communities are inseparable from nature, or if we take a further step, from the transcendent. They are organic parts of it, just as cells are parts of the body. Cells play their role in the body. They are subsystems in a larger system. Similarly individuals and human communities must keep in mind the state of their environment. Since the environment is the larger system in which they live. They need to work together with each other and their environment in order for them and the future generations to live a balanced life and for their environment to survive in the long run.

This systemic approach is essential for communities so that they can have a sustainable attitude towards their environment. That attitude means that they produce only the necessary quality and quantity of goods from natural resources and not more. And just as they take into account the capabilities and limits of the natural resources available to them, the capabilities and needs of members of the community need to be kept in mind. This means that everyone in the community should do the work they are naturally attracted to.

The universal presence of the principles

These principles of the ecological worldview and value system can be found in the scientific literature about sustainability and resilience. One overarching example is the Gaia-theory. But they occur not only there, but they are there also in the anthropological descriptions about traditional societies. In most of the cases indigenous people had some kind of a natural ecological knowledge. Moreover we can discover them in the scriptures of different religions, for example in the ancient Vedic scripture, Bhāgavata Purāṇa. According to the scriptures, these principles originate from God. Actually they are the laws of nature, like gravity and other physical laws and cannot be ignored. Otherwise we get unexpected results, like an ecological crisis.

Research on solving the ecological crisis

For the past two years, I have been commissioned by the Bhaktivedanta College (Budapest) to look at the question of what the real solution to the ecological crisis can be. I would like to briefly summarize the results of this research in this post and in the next few ones.

The research meant that I read a lot of literature on the subject, books, articles, studies. I tried to find common points in them, to synthesize their conclusions. Most of these were Hungarian and English scientific works written by ecologists, biologists, environmental scientists, sociologists, economists, anthropologists, etc. However, there were religious works among them as well. Most of them came from the Vedic scriptures, and in particular from those of Vaisnavism. Such are the Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. I chose mainly the scriptures of Vaisnavism because I myself belong to one of the schools of Vaisnavism, Krishna Consciousness.

The works I have read included reports on individual research and works that summarized, synthesized previous results. Among Hungarian authors, I would like to highlight András Takács-Sánta. He is the director of Eötvös Loránd University’s Master’s degree in Human Ecology. In his work, he presents the subject of sustainability in a comprehensive and straightforward manner, for example in his book A közlegelők komédiája (The Comedy of the Commons).

Surprisingly, despite the wide selection of what I have read, I have found almost entirely consistent conclusions and suggestions for solutions in the various writings. And not only the conclusions of the scientific works were similar, but also the conclusions of the scientific and religious writings.

What were the conclusions about the ecological crisis?

Firstly, one of the main points in common was the finding that people would have to live in relatively small so-called ecological local communities in order to solve the ecological crisis. These communities are ecological and local because they produce to a large extent locally the material resources they need. Furthermore they take maximum account of the carrying and sinking capacity of the natural resources and sinks available to them.

It is not a complete self-sufficiency, since in most cases, beside the basic material goods, they would have to produce others that the natural resources available to them are unable to provide, at least in the long run. How do they get the missing part of their needs? From other communities that have access to other natural resources and thus can produce other goods in a sustainable way. It follows that these ecological local communities should also be organized into communities, communities of communities.

So that was the first conclusion. I will write about the followings in the next few posts. In the meantime, I wish everyone a pleasant community building!

Reduce your meat and dairy consumption to save the future

The ecological crisis is here, we live in it. And it’s getting worse day by day in spite of the big climate conferences and summits. It seems that these politicians and other leaders are too attached to their old ideas, positions, money and power to see the obvious facts. Or if they see it they are just not able to act accordingly. Greta very strongly expressed this to them at the 2019 UN climate action summit in New York. The question arises what is it that one can do in this situation? There are many things (see below). But, according to a paper, titled Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers by J. Poore and T. Nemecek published in Science, the most effective way to decrease our environmental impact, to save the future for the next generations, is to reduce or, if possible, terminate our meat and dairy consumption.

Even if we don’t stop eating meat and/or dairy products completely, if we only reduce it by 50%, it will still have a huge benefit. Of course, it is better to stop eating them, or at least meat and the products of the dairy industry. If one only reduces her consumption, it is also important, that she should buy what she eats from local farmers. If we don’t eat meat, but we eat dairy products, then – according to my belief – we should buy them from local farmers who don’t kill the animals and who don’t send them to slaughterhouses.

The most important method, still not accepted

The conclusions of the above mentioned paper are well supported scientifically. It’s not really a question if these conclusions are true or not. Anybody can read all the details in the paper and draw the same conclusions. The problem is that many politicians and even scientists don’t want to accept and talk about the fact that if we changed our diet, it would make the biggest difference.

Of course, there are many other things what we can do and they are also important. We can reduce the amount of our waste, collect it selectively, we can compost our organic waste, we can produce our own food or buy it from local farmers, we can walk or use bicycles or public transport instead of cars, we can reduce our water and energy consumption in our homes etc. These are all important things and we should do them. However reducing our meat and dairy consumption has a much greater impact. So this is the most important method of decreasing our impact on the environment. If we don’t do anything else, we should do this. If we want to start somewhere, we should start here. Poore and Nemecek prove this in their paper. Still, many politicians and even scientists don’t accept it.

It can be understood that this is not so easy. It can be very difficult to change our old habits. However, the fact is still a fact and if something has to change, it should, even if it’s difficult. The situation will be much more difficult in the near future if we don’t change.

The shortcut to change our old ways of thinking and habits

The shortcut, the most effective way to change our difficult-to-change old habits and ways of thinking is autosuggestion or meditation. By meditation we can reprogram our minds and start to think and behave in a more beneficial way. If you are interested, you can read more about meditation at my other blog.

To show the important role that meditation could play in sustainability, I mention another necessary change we should make somehow. That is to create and revive real human communities. This is also a difficult task, because it is very far from us to live in communities. For this we should develop such qualities as selflessness, tolerance, truthfulness etc. But meditation could help in this regard too. By it we could make the necessary changes in our minds and in our behavior in a relatively short period of time.