The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
As I stated last week, the development and economic resuscitation that we pursue must not perpetuate the cycle of decay. We must not lose our unique value in a misguided notion of what constitutes progress. We must never become so blinded by wealth that we miss the long-term effects of what we are doing to achieve it.
Ever since coming to Saipan and falling in love with its natural beauty, I’ve been working on some concepts to help everyone, not just those in power, maintain what we may often take for granted. I call them The 10 Commandments of Paradise:
In the pursuit of progress, we must find solutions and make choices that ensure our survival, sustain our environment, honor our traditions, conserve our resources, respect our culture and preserve the right and ability of every generation to enjoy their lives in a natural environment in the same or better condition as that of the previous generation.
1. We shall not allow industrialization to assume more importance than the individual, nor, in the pursuit of wealth and profit neglect what is in the best long-term interests of our own nation and its inhabitants.
2. We shall not let the unchecked depletion of natural resources nor the manipulation of the natural environment destroy our access to, nor our enjoyment of the pristine beauty of our land, sea and air.
3. We shall not allow another nation’s political agenda to subvert our allegiance to truth and justice, nor influence us to make decisions not in our best interests.
4. We shall not allow another nation’s interpretation of history to distort our own perspective, nor limit our right to advance our own.
5. We shall not allow another society’s language, religion or education to overshadow our own.
6. We shall not allow misguided ideas of health and medicine to undermine time-honored traditions, nor our reliance on proven, natural methods of healing.
7. We shall not allow another society’s concepts of entertainment, fashion, beauty, food or lifestyle to replace our respect and reverence for the fruits of our own culture.
8. We shall not allow another individual’s or nation’s concepts of morality to distort our own.
9. We shall not allow another individual’s or nation’s choices to influence our own sense of ethics.
10. And, in the pursuit of solutions to the challenges we will surely face in implementing all of the above, we shall endeavor to offer the world a new paradigm of progress, one that protects while it profits, one that elevates while not excluding, expands without exploiting, so that we can preserve paradise in the way we found it.
So, yes, you call me an idealist. I’ll wear the badge with pride. But I also believe that at the heart of idealism must be ideas. So I’d like to be part of those offering ideas for progress that don’t perpetuate the negative aspects of capitalism. See, the trouble with capitalism is that it has traditionally been based on the depletion model, without regard to, or simply oblivious to the effects of the thrust for more and cheaper. As a result, our global society now experiences the effects of over-farming, overproduction, over-foresting, etc. on land, sea and air in the form of global warming, depleted soil, lowered air quality, rampant livestock disease and a host of ills.
Saipan, its leadership, and the new wave of Saipanpreneurs, in developing plans for the region, the economy, as well as the working and living conditions of its citizens, must develop ideas that preserve as well as profit; export without exhausting; selling without selling out.
And again, while I don’t have the daunting task of leading a nation, creating economic models, or planning a society, I do know that in the implementation of any ideal, where there is a will, there is a way!
I believe that the old way is on its way out. I predict there will be a shift and a crumbling of industries and thought forms based on the depletion and exploitation models of progress. It’s already happening in many areas. The people are ready for it. Indeed the world, as an entity, is starved for it. The old models will be replaced with models of sustainability, eco-friendliness, emission-reduction, etc. The CNMI can be one of the regions that shows the world the way.
So the questions we ask must change. Do we have anything other than cheap labor and tax incentives to offer investors? How can we preserve the balance and beauty of our islands even as we offer access to increasing numbers of tourists? How can we replace and improve even as we mine and export? How can we, as doctors do, practice our craft and reach our goals while doing no harm? How can we profit and leave things even better than how we found it? These questions have answers. The answers can be found by those brave enough to ask the questions and seek the optimal solutions outside of traditional ways of thinking.
Here’s an example of something called CARBON TRADING, from an article I read online by David Oglaza, the founder of the Green and Ethical business.
The basic premise of carbon trading is this: Firms are set quotas on how much carbon dioxide they can produce per year, if they produce more than this allowance, then they buy an allowance from another firm that has not reached its quota on how much it can produce in one year! The idea of the carbon-trading scheme was to raise the cost to firms of continuing to pollute while creating a market to give an incentive to become more environmentally efficient. Units of these quotas are traded in a similar way to buying and selling shares. The potential benefits of such a system for developing countries would be that poorer, developing countries can “sell” their “surplus” carbon dioxide to richer countries. This income could stimulate much needed economic growth. They could also achieve their Kyoto commitments at the lowest possible cost as the money needed to invest in cleaner technology can be funded by the trading on carbon units.” For more details visit http://www.guidemegreen.com.
Finding answers like this is imperative, for if they are not found and implemented, Saipan may find itself richer in one sense, but with brown waters, dimmer skies, manicured landscapes and with a surly population coughing and sneezing as they snarl their unhappiness at unsuspecting tourists and citizens alike. We would lose the very things that make this paradise. And that, my friend, would make us woefully poorer in the long run.
Have any ideas on how we can meet this challenge? Send them to me and we’ll publish them here!
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Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!
Walt F.J. Goodridge is author of over two dozen books including Turn Your Passion Into Profit. Walt offers coaching and workshops to help people pursue and profit from their passions. Originally from the island of Jamaica, Walt has grown several businesses in the US, and now makes his home here on Saipan. To learn more about the Saipanpreneur Project and Walt’s philosophy and formula visit www.saipanpreneur.com and www.passionprofit.com)