What is the place of education to act in the defense of the environment?
It is a key factor. I am thinking of an education that would not necessarily be directed primarily towards the younger generations, often the most aware of the issue of climate change, but rather towards older generations. The 40-70 year olds have never had to think about “all these problems” and have few “natural” reflexes with regard to the important actions to be taken or the essential reflections to be carried out. Yet these generations are at the helm of the ship-world today and must make the very crucial decisions that will decide the future of all of us.
A final key factor, correlated to the previous one, is the issue of overproduction and overconsumption. We have created consumerist societies that cannot last. This overexploitation of resources weakens all ecosystems and this cannot continue without creating a general collapse. We talk more and more about the scarcity of all resources. Once exhausted, they will no longer be available. We must therefore change our modes of production and consumption. It's urgent.
How to adapt now to the effects of these changes? Where to start, how far to anticipate?
Realizing that the transformation of our ways and conditions of life is already underway is the first thing to do. This will allow us to be more flexible in our thinking and prepare to lessen our needs. We can consider giving up a number of things and anticipate the losses that we will inevitably experience. Buddhism teaches us to reflect or meditate on the death, and therefore to consider the path that leads to it: degeneration, loss and pain. When you prick yourself with a needle, there is pain and then, if you are distressed, there is the pain of pain, which is suffering that is added to the pain already present. We suffer twice instead of once!
"At a time when mutual aid is a salutary prospect, the other cannot remain the stranger..."
The analytical meditation proposed by the Buddha teaches us, for example, to really observe facts and situations, without mixing our usual uncontrolled emotional reactions (catastrophism, anxiety, fear, self-destruction, etc.). This makes it possible to have appropriate answers, which are thus adapted to each one. Non-governmental organizations (mostly) already have answers on what and how to do at an individual level. But we must not neglect the importance of changing our mentalities in order to be able to properly support the evolution of our living conditions.
Mutual aid is presented by collapsologists as one of the solutions for surviving the collapse. What do you think ?
It is obvious that in an increasingly populated world, reflection and the action communities are essential. For the Buddha, the first of the efforts to be made is interior. “Before you change the world, change yourself,” he taught. Then, realizing that all beings around you suffer exactly like yourself, is a first step towards a real openness to others, to their sufferings and to their needs. Without this openness, it is very difficult to talk about mutual aid...
Moreover, there cannot be real lasting solutions without a real understanding of the other. How many times do we talk to someone without really understanding them and without them understanding us? However, respectful understanding on a large scale will be decisive in helping us to overcome the major crisis into which the world has now entered. We will have to learn to compromise, to give without idea of return, to share.
In a society that is still strongly marked by individual success and happiness, this path begins with the discovery of compassion. Thanks to it, we realize that sharing the sufferings of the other does not make us suffer more, but on the contrary allows us to accept our own sufferings much better. And we can transform this suffering into an energy that will allow us to overcome our limits, our fears.
At a time when mutual aid is a salutary prospect, the other cannot remain the stranger... In the Buddhist world, this is precisely the principle of a Sangha, of a community of people gathered for the same purpose: Awakening, the end of all suffering. I think that is what the world needs today: to constitute a real Sangha, moved by the will to alleviate the sufferings of this earth and of all the beings who populate it. Some are already talking about “Green Buddhism”. On this subject, I recommend the work of Stéphanie Kaza, Green Buddhism, Practice and Compassionate Action in Uncertain Times. Why not talk about Green Sangha and above all start building it up?