Reflections On The Moral Compass

September 3, 2019



It's really quite daunting writing about the moral compass:  There are so many different drivers for us as individuals - culturally, socially, emotionally.  Not forgetting too, life experiences along the way!  Talking about this casually with people I know, brings different, plausible reactions and responses:  Some are deeply-moved by the natural environment and actively-engaged in  buying local, growing local, eating a plant based diet or predominantly plant based one, cooking from scratch, contributing to a conserver society rather than a consumer society.  They are supporting efforts to maintain and protect natural habitat in their neighbourhoods and further afield.  Many feel a deep connection with our world community.  Others are so busy with life in general, that this is given little attention at all.

Being honest, I also sense a profound despair at the state we are in as a nation (I feel strongly a frustration that Australia  has no big picture or vision and this wasn't always the case) - and I sense complacency.  Are the two related - despair and complacency?  Is it because the issues we are facing are so massive, the human brain has trouble processing them or better still, finding ways to go forward knowing these issues and actually do something about them?  I think this is part of the problem.

How do we then press ahead, keeping our communities strong, engaged in open communication and learning, knowing full well that environmentally things will get far worse before they hopefully get any better?  Somehow it still comes back to us as individuals taking some responsibility and in so doing, pulling ourselves out of this 'collective amnesia'.  No blame-gaming, no pointing the finger, just getting on and making the necessary changes.  Noone is any better than the other in this 'moral compass assessment'.  We are a common humanity sharing a planet that has a deeply-uncertain future.  If we are fortunate enough to live in a first world country, there is an even greater responsibility.

At this point I think I should come clean about my own moral compass:  Nothing to do with my environment or upbringing, I was lucky enough to be born with a great love of animals and the natural world.  It has always held me in good stead, even though at times there were feelings of being on another planet!  What this did was cultivate a strengthening of personal resolve, an inner strength I am enormously grateful for, as well as opening a door to the world of animals and the richness of their lives.

I gave up eating meat decades ago, a natural and easy progression and have attempted to refine this over the years. How fortunate I was not to find this problematic. I know some people battle with giving up meat, or even eating less meat, which is why the new-era plant-based meats (especially those in supermarkets placed alongside meat products) are so important.  My attempts to buy in bulk are getting better,though for whatever reason, I do forget to take back paper bags for reuse when shopping at our local food cooperative! Clothing is predominantly natural fibre/preloved/vintage and repaired as necessary.  While still minimising packaging around toiletries and cosmetics (have recently switched over to toothpaste powder and shampoo bars) but still a long way to go here.  Perhaps  I will never stop purchasing costume jewellery! It is a bit of a passion of mine.  Don't know where this fits on the Moral Compass!  At least this costume jewellery is never thrown out.  It is enjoyed and at times some pieces are passed on to others.

Having come clean on my own moral compass, consistently I read about the necessity for our world community to at the very least, eat less meat and it concerns me greatly.  It is a huge issue, affecting the very existence of life on earth.  It is very, very serious.  I read last week every 18 months, the number of animals slaughtered for consumption is more than the entire human population that has ever existed on earth.  Massive. So much suffering.  We must dismantle this complete insanity and do so in a way using powerful alternatives.  We have them.  Incongruous then that Australia, the driest inhabited continent on the planet, one of the biggest consumers of meat in the world (often no 1) is the world's biggest net exporter of water via crops, livestock and industry. Yet, we have no national policy (here is where complacency comes in) on a National Transitioning in Farming program.  This should be aimed at empowering everyone in the farming sector to produce smarter protein (for example, plant based protein such as pulses in some areas and cellular meat as it reaches commercial viability) in  a hotter, warmer dryer environment.  There is a looming global protein shortage in dire need of being addressed by 2050. Australian farming needs to be part of the solution.

Naturally a mosaic of approaches will be needed.  It is complex and requires considerable thought and planning for now - and the future.  Collective wisdom and knowledge will be important.  Traditional time-honoured and earth-respectful farming practices will stand tall alongside newer innovations.  

As we become increasingly more urbanised, it is predicted farms will generally be smaller and 'smarter', using the best of available technology where appropriate. Will we have more contained, energy efficient, enclosed vertical farming systems, even in urban areas, growing our leafy greens and microgreens?  I think so.  It will also be necessary to pay some farmers in marginal areas to leave their farms and develop retraining programs for these farmers in advance.  We know that globally we must retain our wilderness, our forests and refrain from any more land clearing.  This is no more farmland to be had.  There is no other planet.  Rewilding and rehabilation of land will become increasingly important to keep warming down, rebuild soils/biodiversity and create rain.  What IS Australia saying about any of this?  Where IS our forward planning on any of this?  Where IS Australia's Moral Compass??

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