On April 13, Professor J. Gray Cox gave a talk titled, “Let’s Make The Earth Great Again: A Gandhian Response To Our Global Crisis.”
This talk was a part of the Socialist and Marxist Studies Series (Controversy Series) Spring 2017.
Cox is a professor of philosophy and professor of political economics, history and peace studies at The College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. “He teaches philosophically grounded courses designed to prepare students to collaborate effectively in interdisciplinary projects dealing with human ecological problems in a wide variety of complex contexts and cross-cultural settings. He continues to do research on ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, peace studies, language learning, artificial intelligence and futures studies,” according to his biography on The College of the Atlantic webpage.
“It would be nice to live in a world in which our federal government would gather taxes and make policies to, as the constitution puts it, ‘form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,’ but that is not our world,” he began. “We have to move from protest to power, we have to start governing the world from the ground up and Gandhian principles and practices provide key guidelines and models for doing so.”
Before Cox went into his next point, he sang a song that he wrote that he shared with the audience to get him in the right mindset. “I’m gonna slow it down so I can get there sooner,” he crooned.
“I’m sure you all can tell stories about the ways in which the environment has dramatically changed and is being dramatically degrading. We all see the statistics, but we also feel it when we travel around and see how different the world is, how much pavement there is, how many toxins there are in the environment, what’s happening to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia,” Cox said.
Cox talked about three crises that we face. He said there is an ecological crisis, a governmental or military crisis and a technological crisis. “I think that all three of these crisis are interconnected and that one way to understand them is the kind of thinking that’s involved in ecological exploitation, national security and the technological development that’s moving us increasingly to a smarter planet,” Cox stated.
“Gandhi has a notion of ‘clinging to truth’ in which individuals that engage in action in which they make self sacrifice in which they put their own values and concerns at risk in order to bare witness to what they see as some fundamental truth. That kind of witnessing can provide a way of testing our own convictions and it also provides a way of providing a compelling persuasion of demonstrating to others,” Cox said.
He ended by saying, “If I start to cut my personal consumption and I take the money that I would’ve used buying ‘stuff’ for me and instead use it for acts of solidarity for people who should be consuming more, or socially responsible investments into organic agriculture or in solar panels or in political and social change, then that money is still circulating in the system, it’s just transferring where it’s going and it’s reducing my carbon footprint and helping us into a transition into a fundamentally different system.”
He ended with an opportunity for audience members to ask questions and make comments. The next talk is on April 6 in the Bangor Room in the Memorial Union at the University of Maine. The topic is “Toward A Humble Ecology: Phenomenological Investigations Of Depth In Deep Ecology” by Don Beith, Professor of Philosophy.