Sujato's thought of the day: on discussions

Discussing climate change without young people is like discussing sexism without women.


Absolutely. Would be great to hear the thoughts of < 30 years old bhikkhu / bhikkhuni / lay Buddhists.

On a related note, I wonder if < 30 years old people resent their parents of bringing them into this world.


Not only with climate change. I think a similar thing happens whenever old people in government vote to increase the national debt and are essentially borrowing from the future taxpayer knowing they won’t live to pay it themselves.

It’s essentially like borrowing money now and having your offspring pay it off. It is no wonder young people can get confused and feel like they are born into some slavery.

From a Buddhist perspective it is flawed thinking because one won’t get to escape the consequences because of the reconnecting after death and being born into the indebtedness one actually deserves it.


I see it as involuntary, indentured servitude… which is essentially the same as slavery.


For every borrow, there must be a lend.

Can the future lend to the present?

Or are they really borrowing from the present?

Or are they actually printing?

Suppose today you have a desire to borrow 10 gold bars. Can you borrow 10 future bars?

Is it possible to create 10 future bars, bring to the present, and lend it out?

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A simple example is to now print a trillion and increase taxation as to pay off that trillion in 100 years.

It is “borrowing” only in as far as it’s called national debt in terms of economics, no need to get caught up in the semantics.

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As i already touched upon i would strongly advise Buddhists to avoid resentment and not be debased by pride because we ourselves have done unspeakable things during the beginningless transmigation.

Think not what one’s parents have done but rather how many children have we brought into the world during the beginningless transmigation?

We need to be able to stay humble in seeing others as ourselves and work only for eradication of delusion.

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To me, to borrow is to ask something from someone, with the promise to return later.

The example you gave seems to mean to make a lot of something, and then forcing everyone to return a long time later.

Semantics or not, the 2 meanings are very different.

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Perhaps an example more semantically agreeable to you is of foreign rather than national debt where a country would borrow from another country and pay it back sometime in the future.

Essentially the same principle.

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The national debt is the same for all generations - I’ve not long finished paying for WW2, and this body is not quite old enough to have seen any of it :grinning:. I think that’s just how countries work isn’t it?

Regarding the OP, I’ve often thought that state democracy should be weighted towards the young. Something like this… If the average life expectancy is say 80 and you are 16 years old, then your vote counts for (80-16 =) 64 points, if you’re 50 it counts for (80-50 =) 30 points. That seems much fairer.

Having said that, the last potential big threat to our world (Y2K - remember that!?) was not averted by having discussions with the young, but by each industry (or country) fixing their own errors unilaterally. There was none of this ‘negotiations’ (blah, blah, blah?) which we’ve just seen at COP, we just rolled up our sleeves and worked our little socks off to make sure that it was the great non-event that it was. It’s not like we don’t know what to do about the climate crisis. The time for discussion is over.



As long as the interest rate on sovereign debt is lower than inflation (which is true for most countries), you’re essentially printing free money by borrowing because, in real dollars, you’ll pay back less than what you borrowed. Germany’s interest rate is actually negative at the moment. Investors are literally paying them to take their money.

Okay, as the guy with a computer degree I have to point out that this was a meme and not ever a technical issue. There was no “error” other than people’s astonishing ignorance… an error which, obviously, has yet to be fixed! :joy: [EDIT: The ignorance in this case was mine! :joy: See below… ]


Hey Bhante, I’m not sure what you meant by this. I too have a computer science degree and was working through the tail end of 90s as a consultant TA for a large software house on life-critical integrated engineering systems for many customers. We all worked very hard and I insist that major incidents were averted due to those activities.



Please tell (or link) about it, because that’s really incredible to me. Like… who codes a timestamp like that? And how can it lead to “life-critical” failures?

EDIT: Okay. I stand corrected. Some computer systems had a bug where they would e.g. reject the year “2000” as invalid and thus not allow e.g. financial transactions to complete or just crash entirely. Thanks for all your hard work averting the 21st Century’s first apocalypse, @stu !

Yes. Not just financial systems, but energy, transport and defence systems all had problems that required fixing.


I’m in my mid-20s. I haven’t seen that among my peers, and I don’t feel that way myself. But there’s definitely a looooot of frustration. And it’s not directed towards parents or even older generations as a whole. I’d be dragging my feet too if I was older and didn’t believe in silly things like rebirth and kindness :grin: It’s largely frustration around consumer-centred approaches to climate change. A lot of my friends recycle religiously. I shared a house with friends back in university and we were quite competitive about recycling. We didn’t even fill up the green bins (that’s where the non-recyclables go in the UK) every month! But that’s not gonna cut it. Even if everyone recycled like that, we’d still be screwed. A lot of the times it feels like all we can do is wash our empty bean tins and despair.


I think that’s the key reason why not much progress in climate talks. In power are the boomers. By the time the effects come, they are all dead.

When I examine myself, I find myself more expressive 10 years old ago. Half of it was because I was younger, the other half because of the disappointment on the lack of progress year after year.

That said, we must have hope. If there is none, the battle would be lost before catastrophe arrives.


Yeah, but on what platforms will said young people be discussed with?

You know the adage “fools rush in, where angels fear to tread”? Well, I “fear to tread” in all the popular Social Media platforms which the unwise masses (or perhaps, the “useful innocents”) of the world don’t see any problem with very heavily treading in on a regular basis.

Yes, even with a computer science degree, I “fear to tread” there (not emotional fear, mind you). This is because I’m not afflicted with the hubris of believing that I’m smarter than AI’s who can easily determine my psychological weaknesses, using them against me in ways that actually defy explanation. My only realistic defence against such psychological predation is to stay away.

So in summary, the youth of today are pretty much irredeemable, as they have little hope of escaping the powerful peer pressure of demonstrating a strong loyalty to whatever shady social media they’re pretty much literally addicted to.


National debt is not really debt and doesn’t have to be paid back. Govts create money through legislation (the budget) and this money becomes the surplus of the private sector. National debt is just a record of how much money the private sector (firms and households) have been given by the govt.

However, govts do trade bonds for cash to “balance the budget”, but this is a voluntary accounting gimmick that has the side effect that it gives free money to rich people (they get interests from the bonds).

Calling this self imposed accountistry debt is useful because it fuels political theatre. The right can deny social programs under the guise of fiscal limits. The left can call for taxing the rich to “pay for” social spending .

People really believe that government finances are like a household’s though, so their intentions might be good :slight_smile:


And thus we see how Y2K passed from fact to history, from history to legend, from legend to myth, until it became no more than a passing shadow, a nightmare to scare the children.

(I sat and meditated in the cave at Sukhavana in Ipoh at midnight on Y2K. I wondered if the lights would go out. But no, just a few distant fireworks, so I went to bed.)

Right! The thing is, most mainstream people of my generation, that’s all they’ve really known. The idea that “let’s pass a law to keep the coal in the ground” is somehow not thinkable.

Good point! The OP began with an invite I circuitously received for a CC discussion between our shadow environment minister and religious leaders. This is an invite-only in-person seminar in western Sydney. Which, fair enough! But I’ve been to a gazillion of this type of thing, and “religious leaders” means a bunch of well-meaning old men who will listen politely, and whose main concern will be to not upset anyone.

I immediately got in touch with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and tried to get some young people of faith along. Anyway, we’ll see if it works.