What are the most important lessons of history regarding true progress which really brings welfare and happiness? What can we learn from this to resolve the most serious survival crisis faced today in terms of the basic life-nurturing conditions of our planet being threatened by man-made factors?
These are big questions which may require big answers. However if the essence of the answer is to be captured in a single word, just a four-letter word that is easy to remember, then this can be called JEPP, short for a path based on justice, equality, peace, protection of environment and other forms of life.
The world has been changing fast in so many ways. But JEPP is a point where history and future meet—in the sense that the JEPP path has been found to be the best for human progress and will remain so in future—including for the most crucial task of resolving the survival or existential crisis before it is too late.
In our highly diverse world the precise form in which JEPP will evolve for a country or community will differ from one situation to the other. This is a task that must be pursued with all sincerity, honesty and determination and in this process the JEPP path most suitable for any place or time or community can evolve, particularly if democratic processes are followed which provide for wide consultations, decentralization, transparency and for early corrective actions if at some stage things start going wrong.
The five JEPP precepts –commitment to justice, equality, peace, protection of environment and protection of other forms of life are entirely in harmony with each other. Problems arise only when mistakes are made in application of these key concepts. To give an example, someone may suggest a distorted version of conservation which leads to displacement and eviction of a large number of people. In such cases, there should be adequate space for wider consultation to resolve the disharmony that has arisen in two key precepts entirely due to human error. Democratic consultation and processes should result in the emergence of solutions (in this particular case ways of supporting conservation oriented sustainable livelihoods) which avoid such disharmony and seek the harmony which certainly exists.
In the present day context the bigger challenge comes from the high possibility that the communities or even entire nations that try to evolve their JEPP path with deep sincerity and commitment face external opposition, or even violent repression by wider or more powerful forces.
This is unfortunately still very much a reality of the present-day world, persisting even in this stage of the survival crisis, although such a distorted state of affairs must have been corrected a long time ago.
Hence given the present –day sad realities, the communities and nations which follow JEPP precepts with sincerity and determination should be prepared to face the hostility of powerful forces and to plan for their (by and large) peaceful resistance and protection. Such efforts worldwide will be strengthened by the greater, increasing unity of all those forces who believe in the basic JEPP principles of justice, equality, peace, protection of environment and other forms of life. The broader and stronger the unity of those who are committed to JEPP path, the higher the chances that they can protect themselves, their fraternity and their path to a better and safer future. What is more, as the JEPP path involves so much of very creative and interesting experimentation, there is so much for various groups walking the JEPP path to learn from each other and this unity also helps in the process of learning together and learning from each other.
The values and value systems, common thinking patterns so prevalent and widely rooted in the present day world, in its educational and community institutions, are frequently not in keeping with JEPP precepts and are instead closer to aggressive pursuit of narrow self-interests. These often emphasize dominance while these should be emphasizing cooperation for the common welfare of all. Hence JEPP path also involves deeper work with continuity at the level of communities for evolving social values which are supportive of JEPP precepts and path.
The JEPP path is easy for communicating to more and more people, and those who spread these ideas should retain this simplicity, speaking always in the language of the common folk, instead of inventing a language full of their own terminology.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders and Man over Machine—A Path to Peace.