172: Dinner with Satish Kumar
About this episode
Welcome to another episode of Outrage + Optimism. As always, we examine issues at the forefront of the climate crisis, interview change-makers, and transform our anger into productive dialogue on building a sustainable future.
This week, we have a bonus episode with something a little out of the ordinary. Join us for a dinner conversation at Tom's house with peace-pilgrim and activist for ecological regeneration, social justice, and spiritual fulfillment, Satish Kumar.
Tom opens the episode from...a train heading to London. He’s due to pick up his visa at the Egyptian consulate in anticipation of attending the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27), the UN’s annual climate conference, in a few weeks.
Of course, COP is the high-intensity event on the global climate calendar. So, in preparation, Tom suggests we take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy this pre-dinner conversation with Kumar and a few mates at Tom’s in Devon.
DINNER WITH SATISH KUMAR
Indian-British life-long activist and former monk Satish Kumar has inspired global change for more than 50 years. He’s Indian by birth and was ordained a Jain monk at nine years old. Deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Bertrand Russell, Kumar underwent a global peace pilgrimage over concerns about nuclear war. In his 20s at the time, the monk walked from his home in Southern India to many of the world’s atomic capitals.
Over four years, Kumar met with world leaders in Moscow, Paris, London, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. He eventually settled in Devon and established Schumacher College, a progressive educational college for ecological studies. Kumar also edited Resurgence magazine for 30 years. He’s now 86 and, as he puts it, a happy activist.
While everyone is seated around the table, Tom opens the conversation with a question for Kumar. We’re approaching a moment of inflection, at which point the world’s climate will change in a way that can’t be reversed. As anxiety levels increase, its human nature for people to move apart.
“How do we think about the moment we’re in?” Tom asks. “And how can we come together in [this] moment of emergency rather than drift apart?”
“All great movements have been successful because people put away their minor differences,” Kumar says, citing such examples as India’s independence movement in the 1940s. Key players Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel had different ideological approaches, but they agreed on independence. Another great example, he says, is the River Dart in Devon, which is formed by various small tributaries that have joined together.
Tom sets up a follow-up question. Because things are getting so urgent, all sides are getting angrier and angrier. Climate activists say, ‘We shouldn't even speak to fossil fuel companies given the damage they’re inflicting.’ Meanwhile, the CEOs of those companies see the activists as ‘Wanting the moon, tomorrow.’
“Bringing [conflicting factions] together seems really hard,” Tom says. “Do you think it seems harder than some of those other issues you talked about?”
“Not necessarily,” Kumar says. “Mahatma Gandhi talked to British people. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to white people…We have to talk to [all sides]…Talking to your friends is easy.”
Rosa, among those joining Tom and Kumar for dinner, takes up the conversation and asks about the role of dignity, especially as a tool to help people change their minds. People are more likely to change their minds if you give them a dignified path to do so, she says, referencing Kumar’s book “Soil, Soul, and Society,” and asks him to compare his framework to that of corporations who focus on people, planet, and profit, though perhaps, not in that order.
Neither people nor nature should be viewed as a resource to make a profit, Kumar contends.
“HR should not be human resources. HR should be Human Relationship. That will transform your business,” he says.
A reorder of these concepts puts the planet一closely followed by human dignity一as the ends and the profit or economic growth as the means to achieve them. We must move our worldview to ‘planet, people, profit’ in that order.
Fraser, another of Tom’s guests, questions how to reconcile short-term, results-driven corporate behavior with the future we need to create.
According to Kumar, it’s a question of thirds. Business has three equally important stakeholders: shareholders, workers, and nature, without which it couldn’t exist. Thus, profits must be split equally among them, with a full one-third going to restore nature.
The group also discusses Patagonia (the apparel company), Interface, a carbon-neutral carpet company, and eco-anxiety among the younger generations. Robert, who is also joining for dinner, asks what would Kumar say to an influential CEO across the table to draw out a more long-term, holistic approach to our situation.
In such a situation, Kumar would simply ask: “Are you happy with what you are doing?” Assuming that most CEOs would prefer not to destroy biodiversity, pollute the water, and create waste, he would tell them: “Use your courage. Be courageous and drop your fear.”
Kumar is referencing the understandable fear of shareholder response, business reconfiguration, lost profits, and so on. Take small steps, make small changes, he advises.
“That,” Kumar says, “Will make you happy.”
Rosa asks what tools Kumar would take on the journey we seem to be heading on一not toward a 1.5℃ warmer world but one closer to 3℃, 4℃, or 5℃ warmer. She likens it to being in a boat, heading toward a big storm, and it’s too late to change course.
“Why,” Kumar says, “I’d turn back!” The room erupts in laughter and applause一sometimes the best answer is the simplest.
Tom closes the pre-meal discussion with the podcast’s signature question to all guests: “What makes you optimistic, and what gets you outraged?”
You’ll have to listen in full to hear Kumar’s thoughtful responseーso find a seat, grab a glass, and enjoy the conversation!
See you next week, bye!
NOTES AND RESOURCES
To learn more about our planet’s climate emergency and how you can transform outrage into optimistic action subscribe to the podcast here.
Discover more about Jainism.
Hear Kumar Speak about Schumacher College or visit online.
Learn more about Resurgence.
How to purchase Satish Kumar’s book, “Soil, Soul and Society”.
Get a head start on all that’s to come at COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Tom: [00:00:00] Hello, everybody.
Tom: [00:00:03] First of all, I apologize for the fact that it sounds like I'm speaking to you from a train. The reality is I am speaking to you on a train and I'm doing this because I completely forgot to record this intro yesterday before I got on the train and came to London. And Clay is going to kill me if I don't get it over to him this morning. Quite rightly. So, sorry to Clay, sorry to all of you that there's a bit of background noise and I hope you'll forgive me. It'll only go on for a couple of minutes. So right now I'm on my way to London to get my visa from the Egyptian consulate so that I can get a COP27 in a few weeks time, feeling fairly anxious about what that COP is going to deliver, but hopeful that many of the brilliant people who are working on it will do what they always do and deliver something effective. But it's going to be tight and there's a lot of anxiety around that outcome. So in the lead up to that moment, we wanted to bring you a bit of a different experience this week, an opportunity to sit back and take a deep breath. And what we are bringing you is a quite fascinating conversation with a completely brilliant man, and we've done it in a totally new way.
Tom: [00:01:05] So give me a minute to just explain it. First of all, the person on the podcast is called Satish Kumar. Satish is a very old friend of mine. I've known him for probably, thank you, probably 20 years. He's Indian by birth and he has probably the most remarkable life story of anyone I've ever met. He was a Jain monk. He ordained when he was nine years old, lived in a monastery in southern India, and then when he was in his twenties, he became extremely concerned about nuclear, the threat of nuclear Armageddon as many of us are now. But he decided to do something about it. And inspired by the story of the civil disobedience of Bertrand Russell, he hatched a plan to walk from his home in southern India and visit the great nuclear capitals of the world. And, if possible, speak to the leaders of those countries and encourage them towards temperance and thoughtfulness. And one of the ways he did that was he took packets of tea. And whenever he met those leaders, he said, if you ever think about pressing the nuclear button first, sit down and have a cup of tea and think about what you're doing to the world. So he left with no money, with one companion, and they walked together.
Tom: [00:02:19] It took them four years from southern India, first to Moscow. Imagine walking all that way with no money, relying on the kindness of the people they met to provide food and shelter to Moscow, to Paris, to London. In each of these places, they met the leaders of the countries Khrushchev, I think de Gaulle. And then Bertrand Russell bought them boat tickets. They went to New York and walked to DC and met the president. And then after that he settled in Devon. So he lives near to where I live in Devon and started Schumacher College, which is the college, the ecological college on the Dartington estate in Devon that has been so consequential to my life, and many others, including Paul Dickinson and Nigel Topping and loads of other people who whose lives had changed. So anyway, that has been a big part of Satish's legacy. He also edited the magazine resurgence for 30 years, and this Saturday, Resurgence has an international festival of wellbeing, which is online. You can join from anywhere. Christiana is speaking together with her daughter, Naima. I'm doing something with Oliver Jeffers. There's great other speakers like Ed Miliband and Nick Stern. So if you like this conversation, you'd like to have more of that type of discussion. It's going to be a great event on Saturday.
Tom: [00:03:30] And to just also let you know that this is sort of the ultimate lazy podcast episode, because what I did was Satish was coming around to my house for dinner and I invited a group of local friends to come and join us for dinner. And little did they know that when they turned up, I had microphones, sat around the table, and before I gave them anything to eat, we had a conversation. It starts off with a couple of questions from me, and then I invite my friends who are all incredibly thoughtful people in totally different ways to ask Satish questions. So so that's this week's podcast. Well, that's this week's bonus episode. I hope you enjoy it. Welcome to my house in Devon. Welcome to dinner. Sorry you can't join us in person, but I hope you enjoy this discussion. Sorry again Clay, for forgetting to record the intro. I hope this makes up for it and we'll see you on Thursday where we're putting out an episode, which is when I went on Jo Confino and Pham Huu, whose podcast The Way Out Is In a couple of months ago. We're going to post that in our feed on Thursday. It's a great conversation. Those two are obviously brilliant. Join us then and for now, thanks so much. Bye.
Tom: [00:04:42] Everyone, take a seat. Oh, I'll just be small. You're very welcome to stay there. And nobody has to be stressed about. Sound like you don't have to, like, be super quiet. The mikes are really directional, so. But you are going to have to endure a podcast recording before we give you dinner, so. Yeah, exactly. So we're going to have a chat for about half an hour and then you're very welcome to come in and ask questions. We've never done this before on Outrage + Optimism. Thanks, Theresa. Okay, so listeners, welcome to this special episode of Outrage + Optimism. This is something that we've never done before. We're having a chat round the dinner table around my dinner table in Devon with some good friends and with a man who has had an outsized impact on my life since I first met him 20 years ago. Satish Kumar and I just introduced Satish a few minutes ago, but he's got the most remarkable life story. And we're going to get into some of that now. But Satish, welcome to our age of optimism. We wanted to have you on the podcast for a long time. So it's a huge pleasure to be with you now.
Satish Kumar: [00:05:38] It's my pleasure and honor to be on your podcast.
Tom: [00:05:43] So, Satish, I'd like to start by getting into an issue that we've been dancing around on Outrage + Optimism, and that is the world is at a moment of profound departure where the future looks like one way or the other. It's going to be very different from the past, and particularly given the summer we've just had in the UK and other parts of the world. Look at what's happening in Pakistan. People increasingly feel like we're crossing these invisible lines and if we keep crossing them, then the future becomes more determined. And as a result of that, there's this kind of breathless anxiety that's coming up in people, Oh my God, what's going to happen? What's going to happen to the future? And one of the things that we observe in the climate movement is that that impulse makes everybody double down on what they've been doing before, right? They go big. They want to keep going. Now, this is serious. Now they need to do something. So as a result, activists get more demanding and angry and business leaders get more focused on sustainable growth, so called, and everyone sort of moves away from each other. And this moment of collaboration seems to be drifting further away from us. So I'd love to just start by asking you, how do we think about the moment we're in and how can we come together at a moment of emergency rather than drift apart?
Satish Kumar: [00:07:02] That is a very good question, Tom. First of all, I would like to say that the climate change is not a future issue. It's an issue of today, as you mentioned, the flood in Pakistan and the wildfires and and heat waves. Now how we respond to these situations. All great movements have been successful because people have put aside their minor differences, minor kind of ideas of how the world should be and have come together for one single issue as a common ground. If you take a history. India's independence under Mahatma Gandhi, there were many, many different opinions. Nehru had different opinions. Patel had different opinions. Many other people had different. But one single issue of independence brought them together to collaborate and cooperate and leave aside their minor ideological differences. Anti-apartheid movement was the same. Martin Luther King's racial, racial integration and harmony was the same. So at this moment, we need to follow that example. And rather than our eccentricities and our particular approach and particular idea, leave them aside, come together and say. Any great movement has to come together as a co-creation. If you take a great river like in Devon, we have River Dart. How the river is made, small, small, small tributaries join together. They don't put their own ego, sort of as a prominent thing, but they let their ego disappear or dissolve and join the River Dart, and then River Dart becomes a big river. So in the same way, we need to leave our ego, our eccentricities, our personal particular, kind of passion, and join together for this climate issue, which is the most, as I mentioned, most urgent and most important issue of our time. And so all great movements are co-creation and are mutual. We work together. All thriving is mutual. All success is mutual. So we need to leave our personal ego aside and join together.
Tom: [00:09:53] So I really love that and all sorts of questions that begin with the word but come up in my mind as I hear you saying that. Right. So. So you're right. Of course, I completely agree with you. But just to go one step deeper into that, one of the things we witnessed at the moment is because it's getting so urgent. There is and this has always been the case to a degree, but it's getting more, more extreme. Activists will say, well, we should no longer even speak to fossil fuel companies. They're committing genocide on the future by selling a product that is going to kill future generations. Yeah, that would be one perspective, right? And another perspective would be that CEOs of those companies would say, well, those activists, they're so unrealistic, they call for the moon tomorrow and they can't really see a way through. And so there are very different views on what we should do now. And bringing them together seems really hard. Do you think it seems more hard now than it did in some of those other issues you talked about? And if so why?
Satish Kumar: [00:10:46] Not necessarily. If you take the examples which I have given you. Mahatma Gandhi talked to British people, Martin Luther King talked to white people. So we have to talk to CEOs, companies, businesses who are damaging the world, who are polluting the environment, who are putting carbon into the atmosphere. We have to talk to them. We cannot ignore them because they are not necessarily doing with bad intention when they started their company, perhaps they didn't know what they were doing, they were ignorant and now they are stuck in their position. They don't know how to get out of it. So if we ignore them, we don't talk to them, we start to hate them. That's not the solution. So I am an activist. I have been working for the climate justice and an ecological sustainability and regenerative culture and agriculture for all my life. I'm 86 years old and I'm an activist, but I am a happy activist, an optimist activist. If you are a pessimist, you cannot be an activist. Maybe you can be a journalist, but you cannot be an activist. And so to be an activist, you have to be an optimist. You have to have a hope and you have to accept that people are where they are and they have to make that change, that transformation, their move from whatever they are towards a more climate stability and this climate problem. And I'm an activist and as an activist I speak that this had been building up and building up over a long period of time.
Satish Kumar: [00:12:32] So this change has to come. I want it fast. Yeah, I want it today or yesterday. But I have to be also realistic that I say change will come step by step, like you climb Mount Everest, although we want to climb quickly, but still we have to climb on foot. We don't want to go with a helicopter and and be on the top of the Mount Everest. We have to climb it. In the same way, our movement has to be built up by talking to oil companies, talking to businesses, talking to governments, talking to everybody, and by being radical like Martin Luther King, like Nelson Mandela, like Mahatma Gandhi. Those are the three heroes that I have to learn from that our environmental movement, ecology movement, regenerative movement has to be built with compassion to all those who are in the kind of wrong direction. Because talking to your friends, talking to people who agree with you is easy. We can always do that. But talking to people who disagree with you and who are looking at you as, Oh, you are too extreme, too optimistic, we have to talk with them and try to convince them. And and even if we don't get results immediately, still it's worth communicating with them. It's worth talking to them and worth doing. So that's what I do. I go to B-Corp conferences. I went to to European Commission last week in Brussels to speak to them.
Satish Kumar: [00:14:04] I speak to bankers, I speak to Unilever, I speak to everybody. I say to them, if I don't speak to you and I say, you are wrong, you, I hate you, and you have made the mess of the world. That is not the answer. So I will say that as an activist, I'm an optimist, but I'm also robust and I will speak my truth to power. And that's what I can do and I must do. And the people who are business leaders and they say, oh, these are two extreme activists, they are also wrong. I think they have to talk to Greta Thunberg. They have to talk to Extinction Rebellion. They have to talk to people who are in Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF and all the other organisations. And then we have to say how we can transform the world in such a way that good for the planet, good for the people, and we can make a new kind of economy, which is more cyclical economy, which is economy of nature. In nature there is no waste and no pollution. Nature is our teacher and we can create an economy so that there is no pollution, no waste, no carbon emission and everything. But we take from nature once we have used it goes back to nature. So the cyclical economy as an alternative to modern economy, to stop the climate destruction and the carbon emission and the climate change.
Tom: [00:15:28] So I'm going to invite friends to ask a question in a minute that this is really helpful to teach. I'd love to just ask you to go one level deeper on the practical advice about how we do that. Right, because I think many people would listen to this and say, I agree with that. We should be compassionate. But there's also, as the impacts get worse. People begin to lose the balance of their minds to a certain degree, Right? There was some data that came out the other day that said between 16 and 23 year olds, 42% in OECD countries spend more than 6 hours a day worrying about climate change and its impacts on their lives. That's a massive experiment in anxiety that we're conducting on our kids. 50% believe that humanity is doomed in the short to medium term. So when that's where you're coming from, how can you inject enough sort of space into that anxiety? And other people have their anxieties, too, in order to try and sort of like, you know, it's that wonderful saying, slow down, I'm in a hurry. You know, you sort of need to do both at the same time in order to accelerate, we need to take a breath. What advice would you give to people listening to this? Who are caught in that.
Satish Kumar: [00:16:36] My advice to listeners is very simple. Worry will not solve the problem. It is the action which will solve the problem. So you can worry, worry, worry. Then what? What is the result of the worry? So our young people who are spending 6 hours or whatever time you said, worrying about the climate change, worrying about the state of the planet, worrying about destruction of biodiversity, worrying about all the things that we are worried about, worry will not make any difference. Worry will always only make you nervous, numb and anxious. And any change comes only by action. And so action can be at three levels and three levels together. First, action is that we must protest. We must say truth. What is truth and speak truth to power? And. And that's why I support Extinction Rebellion, Fridays For The Future. Greenpeace. All the other activists who protest against what is wrong. But I always say that protesting is not enough. We also have to protect what is already good in the world. Indigenous cultures are good. Beauty is important. Arts, crafts, nature. What is already left? What is destroyed is destroyed. But still a lot of nature is left. Rainforests are still standing. Some rainforests are still standing. We must protect. So conservation and protecting should be complemented with the protesting.
Satish Kumar: [00:18:11] Just protest is not enough. Protesting should follow the protecting. And the third thing, which will free you from the worry, is building new initiatives, new action, new business, new enterprises, new universities and colleges where you learn about ecology, about Gaia, about environment like Schumacher College and new businesses, like box schemes for vegetables, organic farms. So protesting, protecting and building. All these three actions should go together. Not only one or not, but some people will do protesting, some people will do maybe protecting, some people do, maybe building. But they should see as part of one movement and they should support each other and not see that all you are protesters. That's not good. Or you are only protected. That's not good, or your only builder that's not good. These three things make together a big movement and do all with love and all with compassion. Without anger, without fear, without anxiety. Anxiety will make you weak and numb and fear will make you weak and numb and worry will make you weak and numb. And we want you not weak and numb, but are you happy and joyful activist because I want to see happy activists working in the movement rather than miserable activists or worried activists.
Tom: [00:19:34] I love that. A happy activist, right? We have some very thoughtful people around the table. Would anyone like to come in with a question? Yeah. Load More
Natasha: [00:19:44] I'm Natasha and I teach at the Dartington School of Arts, and I was very privileged to have Satish speak to our students today. And one of the things you spoke about was living your life as an artist. And I think, I hope I'm not misquoting you. I think you said everybody is a special kind of artist. An artist is not a special kind of person. And I was really moved by that idea of how we could all live our life in that holistic, generative way. And it just follows up on what you were saying about the way that you can live your life free of anxiety and bring that joy to your activism and make it into a practice. And I wonder if you could speak a bit more about that.
Satish Kumar: [00:20:24] Yes. As I spoke to your students, that all our work should be a work of art. So I would like to say that activism, activism. Working for the climate protection. And climate justice is a work of art and and every movement should be a work of art. And even Picasso was painting doves as a work of art, so he was using his art for peace. So if we can transform our activism as a work of art, then I think we will find our activism joyful and creative and imaginative and also effective. That's what I would like to say. But in general, I would say, as you quoted me, an artist is not a special kind of person, but every person is a special kind of artist. What that means is that we are not just consumers. We are not just a kind of victims of all the consumerism and materialism and environmental destruction. We can transform and we can become makers that we can composers. We can be constructive workers. And so if we use that that consciousness and that understanding, then we can be part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.
Natasha: [00:21:54] Thanks, Satish.
Rosa: [00:21:59] Hi, Satish. This is Rosa from Leaders Quest. I work a lot with companies and we talk about trying to help people to change their minds with dignity and not make them wrong. And I love your book, Soil, Soul and Society. And I wondered how that Trinity, you know, companies have people, planet and profit. And I wondered how that Trinity can help people to really be part of the movement towards change that you are speaking about so eloquently.
Satish Kumar: [00:22:29] Yes. Yes, I like that, Trinity. But you just said I would like to put the order planet people profit. Profit at the third element. You know, the the Soil, Soul, Society Trinity is like that. Soil comes first, planet comes first. Because without the planet, without the soil, without nature, we cannot exist. But you talked about dignity. Businesses look at people and and their workers and their staff as human resources. Businesses have a department called H.R. Human Resources. I say to them, change that. Humans are not a resource for running your business or making profit. Humans have a dignity. Humans are the source of life, source of inspiration. And therefore, HR should not be human resources. HR should be human relationship. And that will transform your business in the same way. Nature is not a resource for the economy. We say human resources and natural resources. Nature is also source of life. And so business consumption, production and profit. Economic growth should be a means to an end. The end is integrity of nature and human dignity and the protection of planet. That should be the end at the moment. Nature has become a resource. Humans have become a resource and profit and economic growth has become the end goal.
Satish Kumar: [00:24:14] I want to change that and I want to say economic growth and production consumption be the means and the human dignity and human well-being and nature's integrity and planetary well-being should be the end. So the means and ends are correctly understood. Our problem of climate change and destruction of biodiversity and pollution and waste and all the other social injustice, all these problems will be put in a proper perspective and proper context so that that worldview has to change. We need to change policies. We need to change business practices. We need to change economics. But we also need to change our worldview. If we continue to think that technology will solve all the problems and humans will remain, resource and nature will remain, resource and technology will solve the problems of a climate change. I think that is not going to happen. Climate change is not just a problem to be solved by technology. It has also to be solved by our change of perception, worldview and understanding. And that is where I say what are the means and what are the ends? You have to understand that.
Fraser: [00:25:32] Hello, this is Fraser from Argan Solutions. I'm loving this. We have a podcast. I'm not going to talk about it on this one. I'm loving the kitchen podcast layout. Satish, it's lovely hearing what you've been talking about and what I, what I was quite interested in. So I work in I'm in a, in a business, but it's not a public business. It's just a, you know, a small business. But if I was a CEO of a publicly listed business, right, and I've got shareholders every quarter or investors every quarter sort of asking me, you know, you've got to be growing quarter on quarter on quarter, where's my growth? And even personally, I, I believe in in this this future that we need to create. What's the message, do you think, for these people who are under pressure from the system that we've created, the shareholder system, the growth system? Yeah. How do we how do we get them to kind of enable that breakout?
Satish Kumar: [00:26:36] We have to understand the business has three important and equally important stakeholders, shareholders, workers who work for the business and nature. These are three important and equally important shareholders. So if you have a £100,000 of profit, one third should go to shareholders, one third go to workers who without whom there would be no company, no business, and that should be in addition to their salary. The share of one third share of the profit should go to workers, and that one third should go to restore nature, restore the land. Because to your business activities, you have made some pollution, you have made some waste, you have kind of damaged soil or you damaged trees or damaged the environment. So one third should go to restore nature. If you can convince your shareholders that, look, your money is good, important, we recognise it. Without your money, we will not have business. But without our workers we will not have business. And without nature we will not have business. So how can we give you all the share and profits, shares and not nothing for workers and nothing for nature? So divide your profit in three parts equal parts, one third for shareholders, one third for workers, and one third for nature. Then I think you're making a little bit of profit is good thing.
Fraser: [00:28:11] Yeah. Question you for that. Thank you.
Katie: [00:28:19] It's lovely to speak. Satish. I always enjoy hearing you speak. I'm Katie. I'm actually a psychologist, but just came here for dinner tonight who wasn't expecting this at all. But I just I was hearing a really interesting person speak today about the Patagonia business. Yeah. And and what an inspiring CEO, the leader of Patagonia, is as a as a business leader who invests his money, well, who set up a charitable trust, I think with the with the proceeds of his business. And and when he goes to sell a jacket, the first byline on the jacket is don't buy this product. Think about the environment. So I just think just wondering, you know, if you knew of any other inspiring CEOs of big businesses, really who maybe more people could look to for ideas and inspiration and leadership.
Satish Kumar: [00:29:37] Yes, there are not many businesses like Patagonia which say that don't buy this product or buy only if you really, really need it. Otherwise don't buy it. That's a very good example. But there was a a carpet company which said to people that don't buy the carpet, we will just lend it to you or you can hire it. And then when it is worn out, we'll take it back and give you a new carpet and we'll recycle it, reuse it, there'll be no waste and no throw away. I think that was a very good company. It was a carpet company, Interface. That's right. And what was the name of the CEO? Ray Anderson? So, Ray Anderson, thank you for reminding me. Started this Interface carpet company. And and that was a very good way that anything you have the company make a producer manufacturer of that item that product should be responsible for taking it back and recycling, reusing and not putting all the landfill. So if we can have that as a model for all the businesses, then the amount of rubbish we put on our landfills will be reduced, but everything will be recycled and reused. At the moment, only one third or one quarter of rubbish is recycled and rest. It goes on the landfill, which is very, very dangerous for the environment. So there are some companies like that, but there are not many. As far as I know. There are not many companies who have that ecological environmental consciousness.
Robert: [00:31:20] Yeah. Hi, Satish. My name is Robert Luck and I'm a writer. Tom, Tom spoke to the amount of eco-anxiety, especially among the young. And it seems to me if some of the business leaders would stand up as elders and lead by example, that that would make a huge difference. And my question to you is, if you if you were sitting across a table, as I'm sure you do, with a very influential CEO who could make a huge difference, you know, one of the one of the really big wigs. But there's this big gap between where you are. You know, you're coming from a very soulful place and they're coming from, they're not there yet. What would you say to them? In addition to what you've said at a general level, what would be those really well chosen? One or two questions? You had put to them to try and draw out a more soulful response to draw forth the elder in them?
Satish Kumar: [00:32:21] Yes. First of all, I would say that. Are you happy with what you are doing? Mm hmm. And I suspect that most CEOs are not happy. Knowing that their action, their companies work, their business is causing climate change, destroying biodiversity, polluting our water, polluting our environment, creating so much waste. They are not very happy, but they are stuck in a system. And I would when they say are you when they answer my question. Are you happy? This question. Then I will say what will make you happy? To be courageous and use your courage to drop the fear. Because lots of people see you are full of fear. How will my shareholders respond? How will business work? Will profit be bare? All those fear, I said fear not. Fear makes you again numb and impotent. Be courageous and make small changes step by step. Rome was not built in one day. Even climate change is very urgent. Very important. Very crucial issue of our time. We need to make changes today. But journey starts today. So start your first step. How am I going to make small change today? But that change should be seen to be felt. Not just idea, not just wishful thinking that I will change, but it will take time. Tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow, not tomorrow or today. Time is now. Not tomorrow. Start to make changes today. Step by step. Next day, improvement. Next day, further improvement. Next day, further improvement. And that will make you happy that you are doing something for the planet, not doing something for the people you are not. And we are not just doing for this unknown shareholder profit, etc. the bottom line, etc. That is a kind of vague idea. But when you are making step by step change every day and improve your business in such a way that's becomes more cyclical, more environmentally sustainable, more regenerative, learn from nature. Nature is regenerative. There's no waste in pollution, nature why your business should be polluting and wasting. And so I would I think that's how I will approach CEOs and hope that they will understand and they will listen to me.
Robert: [00:35:04] Yeah, yeah. No, I agree.
Satish Kumar: [00:35:07] Yeah.
Robert: [00:35:07] Thanks Satish.
Satish Kumar: [00:35:08] Yeah.
Natasha: [00:35:16] Do I just say my name? Okay. Hello. I'm [00:35:20] Maia and [00:35:21] my question is, because there are some people who, like maybe even there are some CEOs who don't really know what's happening, like they haven't really had the right education about it. So what would you do to, like, try and help educate them about it? Because some are quite just ignorant to the fact that there is actually a climate crisis.
Satish Kumar: [00:35:45] If they're ignorant?
Tom: [00:35:47] If people are ignorant, they don't know about climate crisis.
Satish Kumar: [00:35:49] Yes. Yes. I mean, the thing is that if they are ignorant, they have to just open their eyes and see what is going on in the world today. If you take the example of floods in Pakistan, something like 30 million people are affected by this flood. If you take the example of heatwaves we have had this year one of the hottest years since the record began. It's 40 degrees, 35 degrees, 38 degrees in England, which is unheard of. And same was drought in Italy, drought in Spain, and the forest fires in California and many, many countries. So if you look at the examples, even in Germany, there was a flood. Even in Belgium and Holland there were floods. So if you look at the evidence, open your eyes and you will see that this is an unprecedented situation that we are facing today. Why is it happening? If you look at the science, if you look at all the sort of knowledgeable experts who are talking about it, they all say that this is because of the climate change. And so if you look at the evidence and the science, you will see that is not a hidden kind of idealism that we are talking about. It's a very evident. Everybody knows it, and particularly young people. We are destroying the future of the young people. Your generation. What kind of world you are going to inherit if our our climate is destroyed, our oceans are destroyed, our rivers are destroyed, we are going to have more and more heat and we have a shortage of energy.
Satish Kumar: [00:37:35] We cannot heat our houses. We cannot cool our houses, how the next generation is going to live? So for the future generations, for the for the generation of your age, we have to be alert and aware and wake up and say that we are going to change our economic system because we are living at the moment for a very short term gain, just economic growth. But what this economic growth does, doesn't make you happy. More money, you have more money, you want more houses, you have more houses, you want more roads, you have more roads, you want more airplanes, you have more that. Never enough. Time must come when we say we have enough, enough money, enough roads, enough houses, enough buildings, enough cars, we have enough. And now what we need is not more material and possessions and material things, but we need more love, more friendship, more family, more gardening, more cooking, more dance, more music, more poetry, more painting. And they don't produce a pollute environment. They don't cause any climate change and they make you happy. When you read poetry and write poetry, you make happy. When you dance and sing music, you feel happy. When you have friends and family together, you feel happy. So that will make you happy. Without climate change, without global warming, without floods, without fire, forest fires, without heatwaves. And you enjoy it. So why not use that enjoyable, good life and protect the planet and protect the future generations like your generation? So this is the urgent requirement for our time.
Fraser: [00:39:23] Hi, Satish, Fraser again. So I work with a lot of people who are looking towards the future and thinking, gosh, we're not going to meet our 1.5 staying well below 1.5 degree target. We're going to go to a two, three, four, five, six degree world. And what will that look like? Incredibly different. And I was just in Denmark with a bunch of scientists and researchers who all believe that the world we're heading towards is much more extreme than perhaps those in the mainstream are talking about right now. And they see it a little bit like a storm where you're heading towards this storm and we're in a boat and it's too late to change course. You can see the clouds on the horizon and we're going into the storm and they're in that boat. Right. So I'm wondering what you would what tools you would take for that journey, whether or not you feel that you're in the boat with them, who knows? But what what are the tools that you would give them as they go and set sail into a big storm?
Satish Kumar: [00:40:23] Simply, I turn back. If you are on a cliff edge and you are driving a car and you put brake hard, stop and then reverse, you don't you don't want to fall off the cliff. So we humanity as a whole need to understand that we are reaching a cliff edge and now the time to stop and return and move back and move back to a more elegant and a simple and more ecological and more sustainable and more regenerative way of life. And that's possible. Nature is abundant. There's no shortage of food. There's no shortage of of of anything and no shortage of love, no shortage of anything. Nature is abundant. It's our greed which is driving us towards the cliff edge. So we just stop and we just return and go back. And what's wrong in living good life, which is sustainable, regenerative. And the family friends are culture, poetry, good food, good life. And this economy of nature is so regenerative and so cyclical that it can last for millions of years. But this linear economy take, use and throwaway, take, use and throwaway. This linear economy is going to end and what is going to happen for future generations, like the generations of Maia and her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. So we cannot afford to be selfish and just think about our generation, our economic growth now, because we have enough. America is one of the richest country in the world. Why do you want more money, more economic growth? Britain is third or fourth economy in the world. Why do we want more economic growth? Maybe a little bit more economic growth for countries, poor countries in Africa or Asia. They may need a little bit more economic growth within limit, but we need not more economic growth. We need to have a stable economy where we can just live good life and more families, more friends. As I said, already a more art and culture and not more, more goods and more stuff and elegant simplicity is the answer.
Natasha: [00:42:54] Amen.
Tom: [00:42:57] So, Satish, thank you so much for sharing with us. This has been a wonderful conversation. We're going to have to end now. Dinner's ready. So we're going to eat together now. I just wondered if, in closing, in honor of the name of the podcast, we can ask you the same question we ask all our guests, which is, as you look to the future, the things we've talked about tonight, the moment of extreme consequence that we're living through. What makes you optimistic and what gets you outraged?
Satish Kumar: [00:43:34] My optimism comes from the young people when I see people like Greta Thunberg and that's only one symbolic big name, well known name. But there are hundreds of thousands of young boys and girls around the world in India, China, Africa, Middle East, America, Europe, everywhere are raising their voice and speaking and removing themselves from the kind of education they are getting and they are demanding they want a better education, which is more sustainable, and they learn how to live sustainably and how to create a regenerative culture. So these young people give me hope. And I'm sure that in the next five, ten years, we will have a big change in our politics and in our economics. I'm hopeful. What makes me most outrageous is the politicians, like like our new prime minister in England, says Growth, growth, growth. We have to have a growth. We have enough growth. We need more kind of better distribution and sharing, sharing the wealth we have, sharing the products we have and making humans come first. Nature comes first. Growth is for humans and nature. So share what you have and we do not want more economic growth. So that makes me outrageous to all these politicians ignoring Greta Thunberg. Ignoring young people's demands, ignoring the urgency of climate change, and continuing the worn out old path that makes me outrageous.
Tom: [00:45:22] Satish Kumar, thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure to talk to you.
Satish Kumar: [00:45:25] It's my pleasure.
Tom: [00:45:25] Thanks very much.
Tom: [00:45:30] Thanks, everyone. Yeah.