Opinion: What I view as important for a sustainable system
The modern world faces many issues, such as climate change, wealth and income inequality, poverty, hunger and wars. There are solutions to these problems, and I’m certain that a vast majority of those who read this already know about a public figure who is known for either proposing solutions or pointing out the problems we face.
In this article, I will give an insight into my mindset and what I consider to be important for a sustainable system. As I’ve said before in other entries, English isn’t my native language, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes I make.
Embracing the Complexity of the Issues We Face to Solve the Problems
One of the most important things is to address the complexity of the issues we face. There aren’t simple answers to the problems I mentioned in the introduction, and that means that we have to view the problems from various perspectives (e.g. climate change from the scientific, economic and societal position). In the example I mentioned in the brackets, it is of utmost importance to listen to the scientific evidence and scientists who worked and studied in their respective field for decades. Then, the knowledge we’ve gained must be applied to the economy (i.e. What can be done right now? What is feasible? Where does the government need to invest or incentivize? How do the tasks of private companies change?; How do we protect the workers? How is the re-education of workers from a dying industry (e.g. oil) managed? What needs to be done to address and reduce the psychological problems that unemployment brings with it?) and society (How does the individual benefit from an environmentally friendly economy? What price would the average citizen pay if nothing is done (e.g. air and water pollution)? How can the wealth be distributed to eliminate poverty and thus make an environmentally friendly living style possible? etc.)
As you can see, there are a lot questions that need to be answered – some of which may already have answers which didn’t reach the public yet. The task of the politicians and parties is to implement long-term solutions and find a common ground to avoid major changes on the way to a sustainable system. Moreover, the public should be included in these discussions and regional differences taken into consideration. Sure, it will take longer than just pushing policies through, but this procedure ensures that no one is being neglected and mistakes largely being avoided. After all, we should plan ahead for seven generations at the very least and improve the life of the future citizens of our country (and around the world).
Continuity in Policy
Of course, a good plan is of no use if the next government scraps it and implements something entirely different, that’s why continuity like a clockwork is extremely important.
As I have mentioned in the section before, the politicians and parties need to meet on a common ground – a strategy they all can follow along with. They may have slightly different priorities, but all of them internalized the same goal: sustainability.
Some may argue now that the parties would ultimately melt together and there would exist hardly any differences, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, the policies set must be regularly examined to ensure that they are still up-to-date and working as they were intended too. It’s also entirely possible that the approach of one party (e.g. a more liberal-minded) is good at one point in time, while the approach of the opposing party (e.g. more centralized) is useful at other times. There are still going to be conservatives, liberals, progressives, capitalists, socialists, etc. – a change of the mode of production, how we consume goods, and else won’t have a major impact on these ideologies (exception is neoliberalism which is an unsustainable system, as we were able to see for 40 years).
During the process of finding solutions for the various problems we face, the different politically-minded groups actively engage in constructive discussions. Perhaps, it may even increase mutual understanding and why some want to live more traditional lives and others modern lives. In the liberal democracies of today, both should be possible and acceptable.
Of course, it always needs to occur on a voluntary basis.
Take the example in Germany: in the post-ww2 era, chancellor Willy Brandt (SPD, social democrats) started „Die neue Ostpolitik“ („New East politics“) to normalize the relations between the Federal Republic of Germany (West-Germany) and Eastern Europe. The conservative government of the CDU continued these policies instead of making a u-turn. This continuity would later make it easier for a unification of East and West Germany.
In short: the political willingness for a sustainable system must exist on both sides.
The Role of Science and Involvement of Society
In a previous article, I wrote about the importance of science and that it is necessary to understand its fundaments. The scientific method is self-correcting and, if new data comes in that contradicts old information, self-updating. For that to work, the scientists and the scientific institutions should not be politicized under any circumstances. And the more people know about the procedure, the less ignorance is going to exist.
That requires the press to not just communicate results and shift the spotlight also on the research. Politicians and the economic players need to understand it as well to make the right decisions, and – as I said before – to keep in mind to not politicize science.
Only through the scientification of the economy, society and politics we will be able to overcome many of the ills we see nowadays (e.g. creationism and anti-vaxxers).
Scientific articles should be made publicly available, albeit in a compact and comprehensible manner. A more active engagement of and with the scientific community also reduces misconceptions and prejudices. Something that is hopefully also going to happen when the various parts of society engage more with one another – from immigrants to religious groups.
Furthermore, society needs to appreciate „low-skilled“ jobs as well and understand that jobs like garbage collectors and health workers are essential to a civilized world. That’s why a network of exchange and information needs to be created to make not just political discussions easier, but also the internal-societal exchange between the various groups our nation is made up of.
As you can see, it is going to be a mammoth taks for all nations to change the system we currently live in, but it will be worth it. As long as it is done in a controlled and coordinated manner, with all aspects and views considered, there are going to be only minor problems in our way to a sustainable system.
- We need to embrace the complexity of the issues we face to find adequate answers
- A continuity in policies is required to keep the course, that means one party mustn’t nullify the common ground strategy that was set up by the others
- The scientific method and the fundaments of science must be spread to reduce ignorance and increase the appreciation – our modern world is build upon science, therefore it is a necessity to do it
- There needs to be a network for not just political exchange and reliable information, but also exchange between the various groups (e.g. Christians and Muslims)
- All of it needs to be strictly controlled and coordinated, and everyone needs to be involvement for the best possible outcome
It is also important to view health measures, such as vaccination, as a public good rather than a personal choice (after all: it affects a lot of people if one isn’t vaccinated).