Our belief in reincarnation is one example of our concern for the future. If you think that you will be reborn, you are likely to say to yourself, I have to preserve such and such because my future reincarnation will be able to continue with these things. Even though there is a chance you may be reborn as a creature, perhaps even on a different planet, the idea of reincarnation gives you reason to have direct concern about this planet and future generations.
In the West when you speak of “humanity,” you usually mean only our existing generation of human beings. Past humanity is already gone. The future, like death, has yet to come. Western ideas usually deal with the practical side of things for only this present generation of human beings.
– The Dalai Lama
I don’t have much belief in reincarnation, but thinking about it does leave me curious: what is at the heart of Western culture’s general disregard for what sort of planet we leave for future generations? And is religious belief in an afterlife in heaven (and not on earth) at the root of it?
I’m also curious about the many connections between environmentalism and all the different fields of thought I’ve been into lately:
- Buddhism – connected to environmentalism through the main tenet of non-harming. Climate change is affecting many “sentient beings” and causing species extinction.
- Minimalism – connected to environmentalism through the impact of all the stuff we buy and we don’t need.
- Entrepreneurship – the private sector must take the lead on the environment given the political turmoil around the world. It isn’t near enough to the top of politicians’ lists.
- Politics – although the private sector is probably most important during the Trump administration, there’s no solution to environmental issues without politics.
- Computer science and technology – although many of the solutions to environmental problems are technologically simple, there are many ways that technology can and will help.
- Behavioral economics – why do we make the choices we make? That’s at the core of it as well.