Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

The World Is Our Ponzi Scheme

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Spirituality, Environment, economy, Ponzi schemes, Chronicle of Higher Education, Prospect,

The WorldHumans are treating the natural world like a giant Ponzi scheme, according to David P. Barash in the Chronicle of Higher Education. He writes that a small number of investors are cashing in on the earth’s natural resources, constantly paid off by “more suckers, more growth, more GNP, based—as all Ponzi schemes are—on the fraud of ‘more and more,’ with no foreseeable reckoning, and thus, the promise of no comeuppance, neither legal nor economic nor ecologic. At least in the short run.”

Treating the environment this way is unsustainable, like all Ponzi schemes. According to Barash, people cannot continue to rely on the next technological advance to come to humanity’s rescue.

The problem is that the unsustainable, consumerist mindset can’t simply disappear. It needs to be replaced with something, Amitai Etzioni writes for ProspectA mass dialogue is already underway “about the relationship between consumerism and human flourishing,” that could redefine humanity’s relationship to work, consumption, and the definition of the “good life.”

“We need a culture that extols sources of human flourishing besides acquisition,” Etzioni writes. He suggests people focus on communitarian pursuits, that value human relationships, and transcendental ones, like spirituality, art, and philosophy. Whatever people choose to focus on, Etzioni writes that society needs to value pursuits enrich people’s lives, rather than extract from the earth.

Sources: Chronicle of Higher EducationProspect 

earth healer
9/10/2009 11:59:58 AM

I have asked myself what can one person do to start changing the mindset of humanity. I will try to show that Earth is sacred - not our grab-bag. You can do this: gather a group of friends, go to a place you love, and do a blessing ritual. Make that place sacred. If you are asked what you are doing, say you are healing the Earth one place at a time. Tell others to do the same. Spread the idea. It's a place to start, and it just might catch on! Sow seeds of reverence. Imagine little groups of people all over the planet, blessing places, creating a network of awareness, of reverence for Mother Earth.


tom hendricks
9/10/2009 10:58:04 AM

There is much in the art and media revolution that addresses this issue. I encourage UTNE to report on it. We live in a country who's religion is less an emphasis on heart and soul, and more on buy and sell - with holy days being the day after Thanksgiving, and super bowl ads! And above all else, we seem to more and more exist only for the well being of the god named the "ECONOMY". That god has failed us. Maybe that awareness is one good thing that has come out of these hard times.