This is a true story of an incident that happened whilst I was on holiday on the lovely Greek island of Corfu. As I wandered towards the beach one morning I saw this beautiful butterfly and as my eyes followed it I caught sight of a huge pleasure yacht moored in the bay. It made me realise how humanity has seemed to have lost its understanding of what is truly precious.

White butterfly

The butterfly and the super-yacht

How improbable and yet how magnificent and beautiful. A large white butterfly, sunlight sparkling off the thousands of cells coating its fragile wings fluttered in front of the crowd of onlookers peering into the bay. All were too captivated to appreciate that something extraordinary was passing before their eyes, after all there were many butterflies but very few had seen what was sailing into the bay of this ancient Greek island.

The crowd’s behaviour was in no way unusual. It is often said that familiarity breeds contempt and if this is perhaps too harsh a judgement on the gathering crowd it was quite evident that it had bred indifference. What had so captivated their attention was a huge manifestation of one man’s desperately needy ego, his extraordinary need for self-aggrandisement and his slavery to greed. There could be no better example of humanity’s worship at the temple of mammon and its ultimate folly than this giant multi-million pound super-yacht.

Life on Earth is astoundingly improbable, the combination of so many variable factors that it seems inconceivable that such a thing could ever come to pass. The Earth is a sparkling gem in the vastness of the universe, so rare and unlikely that its ability to evolve and sustain complex life forms may yet prove to be unique amongst the billions of galaxies.

Humanity has evolved to be the dominant species on this fragile island of life. With this comes a huge responsibility to celebrate, protect and nurture the fragile ecosystems that sustain it. What indeed could be a greater or more rewarding purpose for our human existence?

How then has humanity responded to this extraordinary privilege and grave responsibility? Rather than revere and respect the Earth and the complex life forms with which we share the planet we see it as an exploitable commodity to feed our insatiable hedonistic desires. We plunder the Earths scarce resources, poisoning the land, sea and air, wiping out thousands of species and irrevocably damaging the environments that sustain life for temporary trifles that all too soon turn to dust.

Such behaviour could perhaps be forgiven if this systematic destruction of the Earth was part of some conscious plan to fulfil an overarching purpose in the evolution of the universe. The sad and tragic reality is that we are destroying this unique miracle of a planet simply to fulfil the cravings of our addiction to greed. We collectively act like some deranged parasite that in its hunger to consume its host destroys the very entity required to sustain its own existence.

Humanity is sleepwalking towards its own demise and the demise of so much that is precious unique and irreplaceable. We seem unable to find a greater purpose in life other than to succumb to hedonistic cravings and desires that merely act as temporary distractions from recognising the true horror of what we have become. The path of greed leads to inner emptiness and a hunger for a sense of purpose that can never be satisfied.

'Money to burn'

We live in a trivial materialistic consumer world where our politicians and the rich plutocrats that control them deliberately appeal to the very lowest properties of our human nature so that we become complicit in our own exploitation. On mass we allow ourselves to be deliberately manipulated by those addicted to the path of greed and destruction. We are choosing to embrace the base values that have led us to the brink of our ultimate demise rather than consciously waking up to the reality the true horror of this destination.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is an alternative Pantheistic path that we can each choose to follow if we can harness the inner strength and self-awareness to do so. We can each choose to embrace our responsibility to future generations and the complex life forms with we share our small oasis in the vastness of the universe. This is the path of true joy, inner harmonisation, fulfilment and happiness. This is the path of generosity to others, kindness, empathy and compassion. This is the path of rejecting short term satisfaction and embracing a viable long-term and sustainable future. Many wisdom teachers through the ages have tried to steer humanity onto such a path but sadly this has been to such little avail.

I hope for a very different future for humanity and our miraculous and irreplaceable planet. In this future there will be many more beautiful butterflies and people will have learnt to celebrate and nurture these miracles of nature. The super-yacht? It is my sincerest hope that it will have become a historical footnote in a discarded path that so nearly cost humanity everything of true value.

 

 

 

I remember how depressed I felt back in 2013 when I read that the Pink Star diamond, that’s only value and purpose was to flatter the egos and vanity of the obscenely wealthy was sold for $83 million. At the time there had just been a terrible typhoon that had ravished the Philippines and I just couldn’t believe that the buyer thought this was the best use of this vast sum of money. This money could have transformed the lives of hundreds of desperate people, instead it was spent on vanity. I wish I could say that the world has changed but greed and inequality is even worse today than it was back then. Sadly this article has withstood the test of time.

It is time the few individuals who have sucked up the vast majority of the world’s wealth through corrupt and broken capitalist systems are held to account for their actions.

How many nurses would $83 million dollars buy? How Many schools? How many lives in the Philippines could be saved if this money was used for disaster relief? Billions around the world are subject to misery, starvation, malnutrition and death while a perverse minority fritter away scarce assets on meaningless trinkets in a futile attempt to put some meaning in their empty lives.

It is time that every human on the planet realises that the wealth and privilege that they enjoy has an opportunity cost for others. The wealthy would tell you that their wealth benefits society through the trickle-down effect. The financial crisis was directly caused by complicit politicians removing the constraints that limited the exploitation of society by the greedy. This has rubbished the trickle down myth once and for all.

In our current world the lives of humans, the planet’s ecosystem and the extinction of irreplaceable species all take second place to the right of a greedy minority to indulge their pathetic obsession with wealth. It’s about time this stupidity ended.

Read more of my thoughts on greed in an extract from Consciência