Opinions of Peter Belmont
Speaking Truth to Power

Overreaching and the need for humanity to back away

by Peter A. Belmont / 2013-03-24

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By “overreaching” I mean what people do when they do too much which is agreeable to them (or do too little which is unpalatable to them) and thereby endanger themselves—or, more often, endanger others or the environment.

Why do people overreach? Greed, vanity, desire to have or to demonstrate power, laziness, fear, ideology, religious dogma, social convention. Probably other reasons. Overreaching is always a refusal of responsibility. In many cases, the cases named herein, “overreaching” may also be said to be caused by the very human desire not to be disturbed from doing what has become customary, easy, regular, normal, and “of right”.

One of the very hardest things to do is to come to grips with the fact that something we do “as of right” is a great “wrong”.

Examples of Overreaching and the Need for Backing Away

What am I talking about in this essay? What are some examples of “overreaching” and “backing away”?

The Unhindered Continuation of the Fossil-Fuel Economy

The foremost example today of “overreaching” is mankind’s (but, principally, industrial mankind’s) continuing in full force with our fossil-fuel-based economy after we learned (far more than merely sufficiently) of the on-rushing, irreversible, ever-worsening, and presently observably on-going apocalypse of climate change. By “backing away”, in this context, I mean “backing away”, and far more quickly than comfortable, from the fossil-fuel-based civilization.

Unhindered Human Over-Population

Another example of “overreaching” is human overpopulation and the need for a “backing away” in the form of speedy population reduction. This would alleviate much. It would alleviate the over-fishing of the oceans, the over-cutting of forests, the over-use and shortages of water for household and agricultural and industrial uses, the over-use of environmentally harmful pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture, and many more things. In short, if there were fewer people, people—even if doing per capita what people do now—would do less harm. And since humanity does (did you know this?) live in the environment, when we harm the environment, we also harm ourselves.

Israel’s Occupation and Settlement Program

Another example is the “overreaching” of Israel’s occupation-cum-settlement program, begun in 1967, violating international human-rights norms w.r.t. the Palestinians and violating international law and agreements, since 1967. The Israeli “backing away” would be a voluntary Israeli removal of all settlers, dismantling of the wall and settlement buildings in occupied territories.

Since the whole world has “overreached” by ignoring its responsibility to defend international law and agreements, and to defend the defenseless Palestinian people, this situation since 1967—partly from pressure from the USA and international capital, partly from laziness and unconcern—the appropriate “backing away” from such unconcern would be international pressure, sanctions, upon Israel to cause Israel to do under pressure what it clearly will not do voluntarily.

The Political Control by Global Capitalism

Another example of “overreaching” may well be the project of global capitalism as practiced nowadays, with its capstone (in regard to “overreaching”) of political control, such as the near total political control in the USA by the global capital oligarchs such as BIG-BANKS, BIG-OIL, BIG-ARMAMENTS, BIG-PHARMA, and BIG-ZION, to name but a few.

A necessary ingredient in “backing away” from this oligarchy (and I am here ignoring the economic as contrasted with the political aspects of global capitalism) would be—in the USA and any other country subject to political control by big capital—a revision of law and practice whereby spending money to achieve political purposes—whether by bribery, campaign contributions, job-offers, political messaging to voters, or otherwise—would be forbidden at law and discontinued in practice.


To conclude, let me say that my list is intended to hit the high points. Not everyone would put Israel/Palestine on a list of important world problems. Others might add organized fundamentalist religions—especially fundamentalist Christian, Jewish, and Islamic religions—as examples of problems or ideological (religious) “overreaching”, contributing to overpopulation, to the ignoring of human responsibility to the environment and to non-human life on earth, and perhaps also to war and terrorism and human-rights violations.

My purpose here is not to identify all prominent examples of “overreaching” and of the human need for “backing away” from human behavior, but merely to start a discussion of what seem to me to be a collection of problems of enormous consequence—and enormous difficulty—which share the similarity I have named “overreaching” and the other similarity I have named—that the correction of the problem might be seen as a “backing away”.

Good luck to us, humanity.


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