To achieve the moral goal of equality of opportunity for future generations and distant peoples we have rapidly got to change our way of living now and in the present. This will require the committed actions and participation of billions of people in every home and organisation on the planet.
This is not something that the mechanistic target driven culture of our politicians can achieve, any more than it has achieved higher quality education or better health care.
The moral climate that the ideology of the “free market” has engendered throughout the West is one in which commitment to the common good is no longer a respectable goal for public policy or private lives. Instead, each individual is called to act rationally in his or her own interests and by the magic of the market can selfishness be turned into increased welfare for all.
This mechanistic politics, like the mechanistic cosmology of Newton, and the instrumentalism of coal-fuelled industrialism, has committed us as a nation to an idolatrous simulacrum of political and social life that is also endangering the very future of human life on earth.
And so even when a government and parliament attempt to take the moral lead on an issue like climate change they cannot escape the disabling infection of the very monetary morass that is dragging the earth ever closer to irreversible climate change.
The Christian moral vision begins in the commandment to love God above all things and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Liberalism and neo-liberalism both promise that we can fashion a just society and collective welfare without the people sharing a conception of justice or acting for the common good. The government or the market – or some combination of the two – will siphon off some portion of collective goods to conserve a minimal common life while private companies and individuals are free to pursue their own interests without regard for the common.
But the climate system is a vast commons and our fossil fuelled civilisation commits every one of us to daily rituals that are continuing to lay waste to this commons.
Selling rights to carry on polluting it is not a Christian or a moral solution to this problem. Only by engaging the head, heart and hands of every citizen and every community and every corporation in every nation can we hope to turn our civilisation from its collision course with the carbon sinks of the earth.
And here is the telling point. When we hear people talking about “game theory” or “mutual conduct toward one another” or “utility” or “rational” and “logical” conduct, we see an approach (modern) of believing that information is the answer. That if one simply pours enough information into someone’s head, they will then go and do “good.” Well, the 20th Century is a testament to that failure of thinking. It is also very ironic that those who claim morality is subjective and we can rely simply upon our “feelings” to sort out “good” and “evil” tell us this within a narrative that is so boring, unimaginative, ugly, and wooden that it could hardly inspire a person to get out of bed in the morning let alone care about global warming.
Unless one can move people’s hearts, no amount of “theory” or information will matter. And the only thing (witness Martin Luther King, Jr. or any other movement of moral change) that moves people’s hearts is a grand narrative held to be objective and true for everyone. Obviously we need education and information, but such has to be given in the context of a narrative that makes it meaningful or significant. The Secular (as informed by materialism) robs information of any such value, because there can be no “ought” only an “is.” A sure recipe for cultural disaster and exactly where the secular has brought us.
Oh, and I forgot to mention in my title that the secular narrative also happens to be false. So there is that too.