Letter: Time to build the bridges we need to cross


Mr. Hickey has made a number of false equivalences in his interpretation of what I wrote on Dec. 21. It wasn’t my intent to pit one party over the other, but to show that the U.S., and most societies around the world, have exceeded their ability to provide a sustainable relationship with the environment.

​Societies, past and present, use their technology to exploit the physical environment for survival. When societies degrade their environment to where it no longer provides for them, they either collapse or evolve in size and complexity to restore balance. If we are to survive our rapidly changing world, the political, economic and social changes needed are global. This means global governance with the authority to enforce environmental decisions. I go into detail in my book “Facing the Moment: Lessons from a Global Odyssey.”

​I agree with Hickey that the most effective economic system is capitalism, but regulated democratic capitalism, not unregulated corporate capitalism. Unregulated capitalism, particularly in the US, has metastasized into a system of exploitation of people and the environment. It has done so by controlling the political system through legal bribery (contributions) wherein those who have the most money for advertising, combined with no requirement for honesty, have created a corrupt and dysfunctional governmental system.

​Our species has a remarkable ability for self-deception, short sightedness and rigid thinking. It has delivered us into the predicament we now must deal with — inequality, social change and the climate crisis bearing down upon us. What Hickey describes is an authoritarian state, not a democracy.

​ In my global travels, I’ve observed that the societies that work best are those whose primary goal is to benefit all citizens rather than to increase the wealth for some at the expense of everyone else. Greed is the major reason why societies collapse internally. Striving for wealth and power makes many individuals selfish, dishonest and exploitive of others by gaming economic and political systems. Hickey states that Republicans want less taxes and smaller government. That’s true — less taxes for the rich and corporations, and fewer regulations to prevent exploitation of consumers and the environment; smaller government so that the rich can abuse the tax code and not pay their share of the necessary expenses for running a modern society.

​The extreme difference in wealth in our society is growing more obscene yearly. Hickey articulates the GOP trope that Democrats “divide the country by race, means, sex, ideology, (and) hatred.” This statement doesn’t pass the reality test. Ask yourself which party agenda is to create a better society and which one is interested in increasing the wealth of a few?

My main point is that collectively, we have larger global issues in front of us that if not dealt with, will cause our extinction. We cannot afford to continue bipartisan infighting born of outdated party-line rhetoric leading only to argument, agitation and ultimately stagnation. It’s time to find ways to build the bridges we will need to cross. Recently President Biden and Senator McConnell met on one of the most traveled bridges in the U.S. They agreed to fund its repair as well as to build a new one. It was an example of cooperative leadership that solves a critical problem and serves as a metaphor for the path we need to be taking, domestically as well as globally. Cooperation is, and always has been, the key to survival.

Terence Clayton