New Sincerity Manifesto
by Oleg Lega
Meet Fedya. He is three years old. Like all children, he is from the future.
More precisely, though, our future becomes his present. This means that we can affect what awaits him and other children. Meanwhile, they cannot, they are defenceless against us. And my choices directly impact the world in which they, our children, will live.
A child is a wonderful part of our life: we continue in them, egotistically (as we transfer our genes), and altruistically (as we unconditionally love them).
And since we love our children so much, let us ask ourselves a question: what world will we leave to them? And just as we can understand the horrors of slavery of ages past, future generations will look with horror at the gigantic landfills and mountains of plastic we are leaving behind. So I go back to my question: do we love our children, or are we simply in love with the gratification they give us?
How can my child be happy in the future landfill of a world, stripped of all resources? Am I willing to subject them to future suffering, increase in natural disasters and unclean air to breathe? Will my children be able to achieve their very best, live happily or live comfortably? Which ideas will ignite the fires of inspiration for them? And what do we need to do for that to happen?
I believe that there will be demand for more honest ideas, companies and relationships than the ones we have today. And I want to hope that our children will be more sincere, and our world will be more sincere with-them. In many ways, this is already happening. The world has become more transparent; lying to yourself and the world is becoming more and more uncomfortable and unsustainable. Even giants like Volkswagen, get instantly caught in their lies when they lower emission figures and their shares crash.
This New Sincerity in the world prompts us to be authentic, instead of simply trying to look good. Our civilization no longer has any gurus, and every human being searches for their own answers, every day. The issues that we face become more and more urgent every day too.
This is true even for a serene Buddhist who seeks inner peace, and is used to viewing what is going on without becoming affected-by-it or having to label things one way or another. Because if I am a serene Buddhist (as much as I seek to become one), how can I distance myself from such facts as, say, garbage floating by in the river? My meditative contemplation of industrial waste and non-judgemental attitude to carcinogenic substances that we increasingly breathe in – don’t all these things matter to me? At that point is it still passive contemplation or does it become irresponsibility on my part?
This is where we finally come to the main idea. What I am going to say, will not be easy. First and foremost, for myself.
We have a word in Russian, ‘lichnost’ it means a person who transcends basic human identity to a higher level of social and collective responsibility. I was surprised to learn there is no English equivalent, so I will be using the term Transcendental Identity. I am hoping to get it into the dictionary soon. When we ask hard questions about the present (and, in fact, the future of our children), we expand the context of the modern understanding of the human Identity.
The Transcendental Identity appears when we rise above our biological nature, that is, daily work we do to become something more than just a physical body used for survival and propagation. And then I ask myself if I can refer to myself as having social responsibility as part of my identity, when I refuse to bear any responsibility for the world and the future. In other words, when I am not eco-conscious? After all, while 50 years ago our influence on the world around us was relatively minor, now what we do directly affects what awaits our children. And indeed, only those who make conscious choice, can be said to have a real Transcendental Identity.
Most people find it obvious that we should not pass by an adult who is treating a child badly. But what we need to grasp is that allowing the depletion of natural resources and the increase in global temperatures is directly causing exponential suffering for the children of the future. What was passivity or neutrality in the past now becomes neglect. When I put my groceries in a plastic bag, that is neglect. When I wash my face with products that contain micro plastics, that is neglect. Do I have enough critical thinking to see the following connection: the fewer resources and the more pollution we leave for future generations, the fewer chances that the same child I would save from violence when passing by, would survive and be happy beyond that moment?
Will it not be hypocritical on my part to say that I have a Transcendental Identity, if I read Dostoevsky, Goethe or Eckard Tolle but do not try to cut down on the amount of garbage I produce or do not recycle waste products? Or if I cannot teach myself to bring my own cup along so as to throw away 365 fewer plastic cups or bottles, each year?
And if the moral aspect of this has had no effect, then maybe the monetary ramifications will. Without eco consciousness in the very near future, all businesses, including mine and all of yours here today, will be of no interest to those who had only recently not considered ecology, and they will vote with their wallets in some other place. Not only do the children of the future rely on this New Sincerity, but our future businesses do too.
New Sincerity is the path to integration into today’s reality. How to be happy, whilst being successful. How to be successful, whilst being sincere and honest with our loved ones and ourselves. Or how to be both happy and successful, whilst not contributing to the death of our oceans and increase in pollution. After all, we are only able to contemplate happiness once our survival is ensured and our need for success is satisfied. Finally, I need to emphasize: I am not talking about ecology in the traditional sense at all. I am talking about the survival of our species. About our common world.
This is the call to be sincerer, to reengage with our own sincerity. This is the awakening to our higher potential of care for ourselves, our communities, our planet. The concept of New Sincerity is not about reproaching others or yourself for being wrong. It calls for transformation, for creating the ecology of our consciousness, the ecology of our consumption, the ecology of our behaviour and waste responsibility. How can we achieve Transcendental Identity? How can we become more mindful, more responsible, more loving when we observe ourselves doing things? How can we find it in ourselves to leave the world to our children in the condition that would make us happy today and them tomorrow?
This is the way of the New Sincerity. This is our call to be sincerer.
Oleg Lega, serial entrepreneur from Russia, Founder of BUSHE Group of companies, living in Amsterdam, member of Living Cities Russia, Strategic Council.