We inhabit a world of abundance where people are starving. This is a problem shared by well-resourced and underdeveloped nations alike. Starvation and hunger are not supply issues; the world produces enough food to feed everyone.19 Local and global hunger is a crisis of politics and logistics. The same may be said for clean drinking water. Politicos empower corporations to drain reservoirs while the communities they support go dry. These challenges of our own making are compounded by the crisis of extinction, which will rapidly reshape what foods can be grown where and our access to available fresh water. Ensuring every human being has secure and consistent access to food and water is perhaps the most obvious of the eight dignities. Without them, the individual is trapped in a perpetual struggle with no hope of individual actualization.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines four dimensions of food security, all of which must be fulfilled simultaneously in order for food security to exist. The four dimensions are the physical availability of food, economic and physical access to food, food utilization, and the stability of these three dimensions over time. Collectively we produce enough food and could produce more if we wanted to. Industrial farming leverages scientific precision agriculture to significantly increase yields and reduce waste. At this moment, many smaller independent farms lack access to the technology. This isolation of the most advanced technologies and practices to a handful of producers is enabled by our present frameworks of property and contract. In a systemically actualized society, collaborative frameworks of law and property ensure that all individuals and groups directing their focus and energy toward a specific vertical have access to the most advanced forms of production. Our present arrangements intentionally deny this knowledge spread, but a global food DAO would be a primary facilitator of access and agency for farmers. Improving utilization requires prioritizing the elimination of food waste, which can be addressed through the streamlining of logistics and transportation systems as well as the mandating of food producers and preparers to donate excess food instead of destroying it. An individual’s ability to access food may be limited by their lack of capital, geography, or the political regime they inhabit, each of which must be addressed independently. Most of our foodstuffs fall under the control of large, for-profit corporations with a long history of causing public health problems while simultaneously doing everything in their power to avoid the responsibility of addressing them.20 Our present arrangements only serve to increase instabilities surrounding production, access, and utilization.
Water is a consumable that many enjoy with blissful ignorance of the struggles ahead. Today, about one in nine individuals lack access to safe drinking water21, and many more lack access to water for sanitary purposes such as a toilet. Present strategies for addressing the climate crisis will leave populated areas throughout Earth uninhabitable because of heat and lack of water. It will force people to migrate and place greater strains on the remaining but ever diminishing water resources. Water, like food, suffers from the burden of private control. Corporations with massive economic and political power openly work against the classification of water as a human right, despite understanding water as an absolute necessity for the survival of any individual.
Binding access to water to wealth—an economic technology of our own creation—is in direct conflict with our core values of relation, equity, and awareness. It binds survival to birth lottery and directly opposes our vision of systemic actualization. To embrace the relational universe is to extend a great empathy and genuine concern toward the well-being of others. Beyond access, the privatization of water is also extremely inequitable in its extraction methods. Lawsuits of past and present by tribes, states, and nations have fought to prevent and seek compensation from private water conglomerates for over-extraction, theft, and pollution. Our embrace of equity as a core value guiding the human experience is incompatible with profiteering off an absolute need we all share. Whereas the diversity of food offers multiple directions in developing the global food DAO, the limitations of available freshwater provide only one—the acquisition or seizure of water assets. While securing the public global ownership of water is perhaps the most important of the eight dignities, it may prove to be one of the most difficult to secure.
Ensuring that food and water are protected and sacred rights for the individual extends beyond the organization and management of a DAO. Each individual must choose to resist the crisis to the fullest extent of their power and knowledge. This includes shifting our diets away from the consumption of meat. This is easier said than done, as many consider their dietary choices an extension of ego and identity. This dogmatic approach to food is a self-imposed ignorance encouraged by the present arrangements we inhabit. Meat is the second-largest source of pollution in the world and is the primary contributor to the destruction of our rainforests. Consider beef, whose production causes about one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the principal land user and source of water pollution. Beef also requires significantly more land and irrigation water than the average of the other livestock categories,22 all of which require more water than vegetables. Speaking from personal experience, transitioning to a vegetarian diet is a lot easier than it sounds. Plenty of free recipes exist to ensure that you’re always eating something new. Almost every restaurant has vegetarian options, and meal planning and prepping can make the process incredibly easy.
My partner and I have saved money by switching, and I’ve lost a few pounds. Not every person will have the ability or means to do what we did, but those of us that do bear the responsibility to change our dietary habits. We cannot genuinely resist the crisis of extinction without recognizing the need for personal sacrifices beyond our comfort zones. Putting aside our individual egos and wants for the betterment of our species shouldn’t be so difficult, but for many it will be. Personal choice begins with recognizing the fact that our consumption of meat is a major component of the actions driving us toward our crisis of extinction.
Consider also the inherent cruelty in our methods of meat production. It is easy to go to the grocery store and purchase neatly packaged steak, bacon, or chicken breasts. Wrapped in Styrofoam and plastic, these lumps of muscle and fat appear far removed from their origin in our minds. They are what they appear to be: food for consumption at our leisure. The individual seeking self-actualization in alignment with the single truth and the relational universe must ask, can we ever genuinely express relation with the external infinity when our systems of survival are built upon the misery of other species? There is no separating the brutality these creatures endure, often from birth onward, and the food systems prevalent throughout the world. It is also scientifically understood that cows, pigs, chickens, and even fish are intelligent, sentient, and emotional animals.* We cannot claim ignorance that the organization of humanity’s food supply chains is an immense source of pain and anguish.
As a collective, we actively participate in great dishonesty with ourselves, pretending that our wants justify the cruelty we impose on the world. This isn’t a critique of our history, as the mass production of meat played a vital role in ending an era of rampant starvation. However, when considered from our immediate present and through the lens of the crisis and our relative abundance, we must reevaluate our approach. Consider also that this critique is not an attempt to group the small family farmer that maintains a small cadre of livestock with the industrial meat industries plaguing our societies. Our focus on alignment with the single truth places the need for dietary change away from meat as an opposition to our industrialization of the process. Meat can and should be considered a rarity in the human diet, accessible through local family farms with significant regulations guiding the life cycle of animals prior to their slaughter. Industrial farming of animals, as it presently stands, is a major contributor to the crisis of extinction and calls into question our core values of relation and minimalism.
Beyond the bulk raising of mammals and birds for consumption, we must also confront our approach to decimating our ocean life. Like an all-consuming horror, ships around the globe scrape the ocean, snaring up everything that crosses their path. They keep the life they can sell, killing that which can be used for bait and discarding the rest, which is likely to die in the process. It is unsurprising that a global society, whose systems are rooted in mythologies prioritizing death over life, would be so callous in its approach toward harvesting ocean life, but when food is a source of profit, what else would we expect? The construction of systems, in contrast to the values we choose for ourselves, squanders any claims to divinity within the moment, diminishing us to maintain our subservience to our own creations. Industrial animal farming and fishing are immoral and extremely harmful practices. They are two of the most direct contributors to our crisis of extinction. If we are genuine about our efforts toward transcendence, we must be willing to open our eyes to the information available to us and make decisions that look beyond our personal convenience and pleasure.
Our transition from meat to plant-based diets must also consider the rural farmer and fisherperson whose livelihood depends on livestock. For example, the majority of rainforest burning in the Amazon is done by poor cattle ranchers because it’s easier and cheaper to get permits for slash and burn farming to graze than it is to maintain the land sustainably. For these individuals, it’s a means to an end, survival. Our core values of relation and equity require us to recognize those who might suffer from our collective transition away from meat as a diet staple and include them as stakeholders benefiting from the transition. Fortunately, crops such as soy, rice, corn, and fruit all make more money per hectare than cattle farming.
Relatively small investments in individuals and communities could rapidly redirect our trajectory away from the crisis of extinction, if only there was a demand to support them. In a universe governed by the single truth, the choice to reimagine access and agency to the most fundamental aspects of survival begins with the individual. Only when we embrace the responsibility of personal choice within our individual preferences and our willingness to support others in transitioning away from these livelihoods do we stand a chance of establishing food and water as a cornerstone of the eight dignities.
The global DAO supporting access to food might begin its focus on developing independent production networks focusing on certain raw plant foodstuffs, through which members slowly but consistently support exclusively. Surplus is continuously funneled into developing new resources, ensuring that set percentages are dedicated to developing inclusionary programs for those unable to contribute directly. Our objective is not to remove all opportunities for innovation and creativity within food production and distribution, but to ensure that the raw materials grown from the Earth belong to all of its inhabitants. For example, the group that takes the vegetables and chemicals necessary to create a meat-alternative burger would still be able to privatize their ventures if desired but would ultimately end up supporting the public food DAO as a source for raw materials. Eventually, and in combination with the dignity of transportation, public food networks are established to further expand the reach of the DAO members and participants. Partnership networks may be formed to create seamless dining experiences for those working to realize food and water as a human dignity. The power of the eight dignities as global public works resides in our collective economic power. We must support only those organizations participating in and engaging with the collective ownership alternatives.
Our approach to developing a global water DAO to control and manage our collective water resources differs from that of food. Whereas with food the organization has several options to pursue to lay the initial frameworks of production and distribution, freshwater access only provides one—acquiring springs. Purchasing them will prove increasingly difficult as the impending climate crisis makes water a survival asset. Political lobbying against corporate water interests will prove difficult in the face of near limitless capital possessed by these multinational corporations.
The DAO might focus on advancing and disseminating filtration and desalination technologies. We can imagine a subcommittee forming to partner with successful local organizers focusing on combating water privatization at the community level. Another might support research and development of passive water collection technologies. A global water DAO would disrupt the present order by nature of its very existence. One thing is certain, the collective ownership of water depends on a movement larger and more persistently sustained than anything we are familiar with. For that reason, water is central to the first of the eight dignities.
Earlier we spoke about the misalignment of transcendence with violence and violent tactics. However, ignoring the writing on the wall regarding water resources would be foolish. Our environmental crisis continues to worsen each moment. If private interests are unwilling to part with their ownership rights and our political leadership is unwilling to seize the assets, violence is likely to occur. The hoarding of humanity’s most vital resource for profit in times of extreme need is unacceptable and should be overcome by whatever means necessary. No group has the right to deny others fundamental resources of survival. There are plentiful alternatives to violence, but unlike the imagination of new systems and processes, the individual cannot simply opt out of their need for water. A global water DAO would serve to facilitate and represent collective humanity’s best interests over those of the private individual and group. The eight dignities serve as a set of systems to free humanity from a past we had no say in choosing. Information networks encourage the individual's development in alignment with the single truth and the relational universe. Violence is not inevitable, but we must choose to redirect our individual and shared trajectory if we are to avoid it.
Food and water are dignities we choose to embrace as rights because they are foundational to our survival. Without a consistent and reliable source of either, the individual is stuck in a perpetual cycle of survival, trapped in a state of consciousness that cannot free itself from the most basic instincts. Systemic actualization is nothing if it cannot address the most fundamental shared needs, which is why collective ownership of food and water is central to its realization. All of us have inherited the Earth, and no one possesses a more rightful or just claim to its bounties than another. Through the lens of the single truth and the relational universe, we claim access to food and water as a dignity inherited by each as a birthright. Such access is part of a larger suite of social inheritance empowering the sharing of our collective progress.