What do we care about? OK, so it's a bit of a rant.
Last update:16 July 2020

Juukan Gorge

The destruction of irreplaceable history in pursuit of a common mineral led me to question the values of modern Australia. Come to think of it, I'm led to question whether the nation in general has any values beyond avarice. Juukan Gorge was not the first such desecration. It was not intended to be the last.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone

Joni Mitchell

In the case of any heritage that  stands in the way of profit, it seems some of us know what we've got, but most of us are denied the knowledge until too late.

Enthusiasm for endangering public health to benefit the economy reinforces my doubts. That isn't all, but I'll leave it there.

First, some basics

Though I might quibble about which term is which, this forum post is a good start:

Most of us seem to conflate cost and price. Some evidently have little concept of value.

To me:

I might put it that the price is what we're charged in money. The cost is what we pay in reality.

Seven generations

Some evidently have difficulty thinking beyond the immediate. Sadly, they often end up in positions of authority.

The Seventh Generation Principle is codified in the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy. Similar sentiments are common among First Nations people worldwide.

Briefly, the principle holds: “that in every decision, be it personal, governmental or corporate, we must consider how it will affect our descendants seven generations into the future.” The term "generation" relates to terms approximating the longest human life - far longer than commonly defined in Western societies.


 “We wake in the morning and leave our homes and we work, work, work, to keep the great global chain of procurement in place. Then we throw 40 percent of everything we just accomplished in the garbage. We can never get those hours back. Our children grow up, our bodies wane, and death comes to claim some of those we love. All the while, we spend our days making things for the purpose of discarding them.”

Hope Jahren

Author, scientist; on food waste

Food is not all that we waste. We dig stuff from the Earth. After a while, we throw it back into a hole in the ground. In Capitalist terms, that's efficient. In real terms, it's cheap. Cheap for some, because much of the price is paid by others. They pay in terms of health impacts, environmental degradation and cultural destruction, among other things.

Australia is naturally rich. There's plenty to go around. Yet we waste, largely so that the already well-off can grow ever more wealthy.

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 5:10

If we aim to recycle every molecule that we win from the Earth, then how much richer would we be? That target might not be achievable, but the effort would employ people, make optimum use of our resources and minimise our environmental impact. The rich might not be so disproportionately wealthy, but the nation's population could be more prosperous overall.

Of course, we're wasteful in more ways than the material:

“When government makes opportunities for any of the citizens, it makes them for all the citizens. We are all diminished as citizens when any of us are poor. Poverty is a national waste as well as an individual waste. We are all diminished when any of us are denied proper education. The nation is the poorer—a poorer economy, a poorer civilisation, because of this human and national waste.”

Gough Whitlam


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