It is the year 2050. Several old codgers are sitting around a levitating table in a beautiful garden. Hummingbirds zip back and forth and the air is full of bird songs. The table glides from person to person providing food and drink whenever they want it.
One youthful looking centenarian proudly comments on the news of the day. A leading international news agency just released a report on how their generation has been feted as the “greatest generation”. The article goes on to say how after years of profligate abuse of resources on the planet, humankind was finally able to understand that civilization was in a death spiral. Then, almost miraculously, this generation was able to change direction. It is now clear to everyone that they acted just in time to save our civilization from self-destruction.
Tom, the oldest of the centenarians, slowly turns to the other old codgers and asks “How the heck did we do it?” After pondering the question for a few moments, they share their views with one another.
John claims it was the common man who made the difference. Individuals became so concerned that they finally stood up and took responsibility for their actions. They reduced their consumption, their waste, and the amount of energy they used. Almost overnight they chose to get off fossil fuels and to move toward cleaner forms of energy. They also decided to create healthy and diverse habitats in their own backyards, and around their schools, places of worship, parks, and waterways.
Tom agrees and points out that communities grew stronger during this time. They realized that their long term health depended on the heath of all of their citizens and the health and diversity of their environment. These communities came to realize that clean air, clean water, and healthy food were a birthright for all of us.
Doug argues that the marketplace led the way. Businesses were quick to predict the change in human sensibilities and started marketing better choices. They created reusable products and helped to create the demand with their educational and marketing efforts. They also re-engineered their operational processes to become more sustainable organizations and that helped to stabilize the financial markets.
Max counters that although governments were the last to respond, those that did, made a big difference and others were quick to follow. They were able to help accelerate the transition from the older, harmful ways of the past to the healthy and productive behaviors of the future. They were able to find ways to lower costs and improve the health of their citizens by switching to alternative sources of energy and restoring our environment.
Each of the codgers takes another sip from their drinks and looks at one another reflecting on their lives. None of them had been known as a leader in the Great Change, but then again no one person had been the leader. Great changes had occurred as a result of little changes in the daily behaviors by each and every one alive in the first half of the 21st century. As individuals recognized their negative impacts, they realized that they could – and in fact must – make a difference. Like similar great generations of the past, they did what had to be done. They did it without fanfare, they did it with integrity, and they did it with the interests of their children and future generations in mind.