A safe passage to calmer waters – it is often said in times of instability, confusion and uncertainty such as these – may be found only if we boost consumption and rebuild the economy on free-market principles. In my view, this is a dangerous illusion. Numbed by a flow of information which robs us of our capacity to act, rather than providing us with the tools we need to decipher the world, and blinds us to the contradictions of our times, we insist on pursuing paradigms of thought that are obsolete. ‘Produci, consuma, crepa’ (produce, consume, die), a song once said: hands up anyone who does not resonate with this image in some way or other. So we ask: are we absolutely sure that the model we have pursued to date is the right model for tackling today’s challenges? Do we truly believe that we can replicate it indefinitely and continue to ignore the world’s gaping inequalities, the wholescale devastation of natural habitats? We are caught in the rat-race, overexposed, hyper-connected and constantly pestered with updates; we invent more and more ways of communicating, but we are losing the capacity to dialogue. Perhaps it is time to stop and reflect on the world we have built, our relationships with others, and the impact we are having on the environment.
An old saying goes, “one step in the right direction is better than ten in the wrong one.” In times such as these, I believe this should become our mantra. What is to be our path, then? A complex question that merits close attention. So let’s indulge ourselves and slow down. We need to recover our sense of the splendour, wonder and enchantment of the world. We need to rediscover our humanity.
A discussion about alternative models of development and an exchange of ideas on future perspectives and scenarios must not become a sterile intellectual exercise. It is not “only” a question of protecting the environment and saving ourselves in the face of changing climactic conditions. What is at stake, so to say, is our very soul. I am convinced that we urgently need an open and uncompromising reassessment of everything we have hitherto taken for granted that will allow us to reclaim what a misconceived notion of progress has taken from us and Nature.
Hence Walden. Our intention has been to create a magazine dedicated to ecological themes, sustainable development and environmental thought. It was conceived and designed with the explicit intent to allow readers to stop, reflect, ask questions, inquire into things and raise doubts.
Our approach has been to seek out languages that are both transversal and universal, and a range of topics that at first blush may seem unrelated, from ecology and philosophy to literature, cinema, economics, and many more. We have done our best, and we hope you will find these pages both stimulating and interesting. We believe that a unitary view is needed, a different and more conscious way of looking at the world’s complexities that will allow us to keep on being “capable of future”. It its own small way, Walden aspires to generate reflection and open up lines of inquiry. It therefore speaks to the curious reader who is stimulated by different points of view and is willing to enter the fray.
Ultimately, Walden was designed to communicate in a different and, we hope, original way the beauty and complexity of the world, to speak to the “soul” (beyond any personal religious beliefs), and to touch their innermost chords. It aims to be a place of exchange, a virtual agorā where to discuss, exchange ideas and seek to understand. We think of it as a magazine for contemplation, like an aged whisky that invites us to have a seat, and to reflect on life for a while.
The ultimate, admittedly ambitious aim is to contribute to a full-scale gestalt-change that will redefine how we look at the world and relate to it.
We do not need more goods, but we do need a new vision of what is good, however. The pursuit of ever greater well-being is no longer realistic, but reclaiming the true meaning of ‘well-being’ is. This is the ambitious mandate Walden has chosen for itself in full.
Awareness that this is no messianic task and that alone a small magazine will not change the world. But many small changes within each individual are without doubt the starting point for creating a new kind of world. One that is more just and, hopefully, even more beautiful.