Faith in Taranaki: What to do about the scary 'sci-fi' changes impacting on our world

Living in a digital world more and more controlled by organisations focused solely on profit, with only lip-service to ...
Shannon Stapleton

Living in a digital world more and more controlled by organisations focused solely on profit, with only lip-service to the well-being of our communities and our planet, requires continued examination of societal values.

OPINION: My daughter is a dairy farmer near Diamond Harbour just outside Christchurch. Actually she is an organic dairy farmer who sells raw milk to her very loyal and supportive local community and customers.

What I love about her way of dairying with her small herd, is that each of her cows are named, and in her monthly bulletin to her community she will talk about each of their personalities and characters.

When she dried off the cows for the winter, she invited the community to come along with food gifts for them and to thank them. It was a fabulous occasion which celebrated something deeply spiritual, rooted in the mutual relationship of these animals with us humans and the earth which sustains us.

Her herd provides delicious and healthy milk and much more. They have become the core of a dream of a community farm, where local people share in growing and sustaining their physical and spiritual well-being through enjoying the pleasures and challenges of getting their hands in the soil, connecting with the animals and honouring the land that feeds us.

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How worthwhile is that in our increasingly vacuum packed, disconnected, ordered through the internet  and delivered to your door world!

I read in an article in the Listener recently of how the multi billion corporate giant Amazon is, from what it seems to me, aiming to take over the whole world, or at least virtually every aspect of our consumer needs.

Soon to move into Australia, with us probably not far behind, this internet giant will be able to provide for us with almost every consumer need that we have and more delivered to our doorstep, at prices which could see the savaging of malls and high street stores.

I know I'm getting on for 70 and could be seen as crusty and  out of touch with today's realities and aspirations, but the thought of living in a digital world more and more controlled by organisations focussed solely on profit, with only lip-service to the well-being of our communities and our planet, scares the pants off me. 

It's real sci-fi stuff and if this is what is beginning to play out I fear for our very soul as a species.

You see, I believe that human beings are relational animals. We need and are nourished by the relationships we have with other human beings, and we are fed as we connect with the physical environment around us.

We New Zealanders of all people, know just how sacred our natural environment is to us, and how much it refreshes us and inspires us. We also know that there are some values and principles that have guided us in the way we have sought to build our civil society.

In this last election campaign, it was encouraging that that the issues of community well-being came to the fore in our debate as to who we wanted to govern us – dealing with poverty and the increasing gulf between rich and poor, housing and homelessness, education and the status of the teaching profession, health and in particular the mental health of a nation with the developed world's highest rate of youth suicide; and of course climate change.

These issues speak to what our values are as a society. As Mahatma Gandhi said 'The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members'.

My daughter's community has decided to focus on what adds real value and well-being to their community. It is based on relationships which nourish one another and the environment in which they live, caring for the well-being of each other and the earth which is our home.

Yep, I have to own up, I'm a bit of a greenie, in fact more than a bit, because I care for the world which my children and grand children will inherit from my generation.

The digital marketplace so far seems to me to have no soul, its meaning value and purpose being about so-called convenience and above all profit. I believe we can do better than this.

There ain't no stopping the advance of Amazon and the like, but maybe, just maybe we the consumers can inject some human values and aspirations which speak of caring for our communities and environment, which can  be revolutionary in the on-going creation of a world where decency, peace and justice for all is our destiny.

These issues speak to what our values are as a society. 'The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members'.

 - Stuff

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