No matter how you look at it, no matter how many differences there are, several, if not all, of the planet's major problems boil down to one form of business philosophy that has been shaping the world since its inception: capitalism. Born in Eastern Europe around 500 years ago, this philosophy has changed substantially, starting from a form of payment (capital) to a full-fledged, insurance and stock market and investment way of doing life. Wikipedia describes it as
"... an economic system that is based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods or services for profit. Other elements central to capitalism include competitive markets, wage labor and capital accumulation."
Investorwords.com has a similar definition:
"... Economic system characterized by the following: private property ownership exists; individuals and companies are allowed to compete for their own economic gain; and free market forces determine the prices of goods and services. Such a system is based on the premise of separating the state and business activities. Capitalists believe that markets are efficient and should thus function without interference, and the role of the state is to regulate and protect."
From reading these two definitions, one can see that the mention of animal, human, health and environmental welfare are nowhere to be found. This is because the very soul of capitalism is profits. It doesn't protect anything other than its shareholders; they are the heart and lungs of the system, the ones that are needed to make this economic system function.
Which brings me to my next point. Have you ever heard of or read the comparisons of the number of people who have jobs, have university degrees, own most of the wealth on the planet, and so on? Remember how only 8% of people own 80% of the Earth's resources? How can this be possible without poverty? This is the best explanation I can give of why there is poverty in the first place. If we wish to abolish this senseless way of living, we have to start by redefining capitalism, or create a new form of economy entirely. Giving to charities is still useful, but only as a short-term solution.
If we look at this closely, almost any form of activism fights a capitalist mind. Environmentalists fight against corporations destroying nature or making resources unsustainable; animal rights activists fight against companies that exploit and torture animals, as well as sell us a product that isn't healthy for us for the benefit of their own pockets; social justice activists fight for the rights of impoverished people who now lack resources due to the very same businesses that destroy the environment in their country and take what they claim is theirs - but is located in another country; and the list could go on.
Although some point to Marxism as the solution, I have to disagree. His system is by far the most perfect one that has ever been created... and that's where the problem lies. If humans are to use a utopian system, we have to become perfect. Several economists and historians blame this fault of ours - the one of having faults - as the main argument to explain why communism will never work, especially if the leader is far from being an angel.
So, what is the solution? A new way of thinking is needed. One that sustains the economy, sustains the world's population, and sustains the environment. Any ideas?
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Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)