Thanks for your interest in what Kairos Coalition is trying to achieve in Vietnam. Someone asked me the other day to describe in a single sentence the vision of Kairos Coalition. I answered that I could do better than that…I could do it in two words…“time travel”. That response got a pretty funny look, but if you think about it what we really are talking about is very much like the plot of that 1985 movie “Back to the Future” with Michael J. Fox and the Christopher Lloyd. Let me explain what I mean…
In the last decade or so, Americans have really just begun to wake up to the realization that public policy and individual consumer choices over the last fifty years have had horrendous consequences for public health, the environment and the social fabric of our communities and families.
The economic impact of the obesity epidemic: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/causes/economics.html
The environmental impact of factory farming: www.sraproject.org/factoryfarms/issues/economics/impact/
The adverse health impacts associated with overuse of antibiotics in food production: http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/antibiotics/
The risks associated with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO): www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_19260.cfm
We are now paying a terrible price for our unchecked consumer appetites and an unwillingness to look ahead to where the road we have chosen will inevitably take us; towards a poisoned environment, crumbling communities, economic malaise and a public health crisis. But what if you could go back in time, and, like Marty McFly, intervene and alter the course of history?
Vietnam today stands at the same developmental crossroads where the United States stood a half-century ago. They will soon similarly face challenges and decisions about the nature of development and modernization…and the course they inevitably choose will have consequences that will remain with them for generations, for good and ill. Our hope is that by introducing a culturally-relevant Humane Education program, we can help Vietnam’s next generations re-imagine the range of possible solutions to the most pressing challenges of industrialization in ways that could prevent decades of unnecessary and destructive abuse in the name of uniformed and rampant commercial consumption and misguided public policies.
The Spanish Poet George Santayana once remarked, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." By examining our present situation, Vietnamese youth can learn from our experiences and then work towards a brighter, healthier and more compassionate tomorrow. Humane Education is an investment in Vietnam’s future.
Imagine what the United States would look like now if we could go back fifty years and retroactively apply the lessons of the last half-century’s struggles for social justice, animal welfare and the “green” movement. What would today’s generations think about the exploitation of the environment and animals for food, for entertainment or for clothing if they had only learned a different set of ethical possibilities from the very start, knew the ultimate price they would have to pay for their appetites and thus chose an entirely different path? Imagine that altered reality. That possibility still lays ahead for Vietnam. Doc Brown once told Marty “The future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.” I say time travel is possible. Want to go with me?