Practice now to cope later

Whether you look to the emerging global environmental crisis, the emerging global financial crisis or the spiritual and cultural crisis that may come from the two, I think life is going to be harder for most people as time goes on. Of course, for millions, the hardship may be fatal or at the very least cast them (or us) into unrecoverable decline. Just take the alarming increase in the price of rice as data point, but there are many others. How are we to survive, much less flourish?

I have been very grateful lately for my upbringing which put a practical (perhaps moral) value on thrift, inventiveness and freedom from debt. I grew up thinking it normal to strip off all the buttons on a shirt that’s being reduced to a rag; I still do. Grateful, too, for my faith which buoys me against loud (but not compelling) distractions and appeals to selfishness.

Another concept. I think it’s important to maintain institutions — local farms, American or regional manufacture, rail travel — even if its value isn’t immediately profitable, because without which we won’t have the capacity or experience to make an orderly transition to a more survivable state. There’s been a lot of talk (say, around ethanol as an auto fuel) about “having it all” in a new and green way, but I’m not buying it. I believe the solution come far more from character than technology, and it’s important to maintain and restore capacity there, too.

Blogger and Anglican priest Andii Bowsher (Nouslife) draws the line between (two of) the points about something that’s been bothering me, which he drew from an op-ed in the New York Times.

Do we have the capacity to cope? Perhaps not, or not yet.

But better to stretch and understand what the Times writers call willpower than wait until we need more than we can possible muster.

Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind” by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang. (April 2, 2008)