All our advances add up in time

Editor-in-chief Seán Dagan Wood introduces issue 85 of Positive News

Editor-in-chief Seán Dagan Wood introduces issue 85 of Positive News

I love thinking about the vastness of time and space; how this puts things in perspective. It’s difficult to grasp just how long 4.5 billion years is – the age of the Earth.

Humans have existed for only 0.004 per cent of that period. But we may now be entering the sixth mass extinction event in our planet’s history; this time caused by us. An international scientific body will soon announce whether we’re officially in the Anthropocene – the name put forward for a geological epoch defined by the colossal impact we’re having upon the planet.

Thinking about this, small worries on my mind are replaced by an urgent and primal sense of care for life. It’s strange to consider mass extinction while also deciding the best placement of a comma among these words, for example. But how we deal with the everyday and how we impact the wider world are perhaps two sides of the same coin. One of the reasons for optimism is the potential for our increasingly connected societies to create change on a large scale.

In our cover story, we investigate how domestic workers, long exploited, are enacting their rights; uniting, creating awareness and influencing legislation.

In this issue we also look at how understanding is being fostered between different cultures in Brussels, between children and the elderly in the UK, and of people transitioning their genders.

We find out how, like our relationships with each other, our relationship with ‘stuff’ is evolving too. Instead of feeling consumer guilt, we can embrace our attraction to the novelty of new things through the likes of ‘emotionally durable’ design. And prosperity can be separated from destruction. As entrepreneur Jeremy Leggett explains in his Q&A, the world is now shifting inevitably towards clean renewable energy.

This quarter, our Solutions Lab section delves into the complex issues surrounding drugs and how, here too, the old patterns of cause and effect are being broken. Opium growers in Afghanistan are being supported to farm pomegranates instead, for example. Meanwhile, there’s a compelling case for addiction to be viewed as a symptom of a lack of social connection, rather than a cause for punishment.

The need to create a life-sustaining society offers collective purpose; an opportunity for shared meaning within our beautiful diversity. Imagine if it was towards this, driven by our care for life, that we channelled more of that colossal impact we wield as a species.

The arc of the moral universe is long, as Martin Luther King put it, but it bends towards justice. In the Anthropocene, time is against us, but we may yet follow that curve.