Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Joy of Ex

The newly-revealed Naked Lady of Northumberland, etched into a post industrial landscape scarred by the coal pits of northern England (Photo BBC)

Yes, the ex I am talking about is ex-industrialism. As our world gazes down from the mist shrouded plateau of Hubbert’s Peak onto the unfamiliar terrain of a lower energy future it’s quite natural that we are experiencing a feeling of giddiness and fear. The way down is unknown and, as I mentioned last week, there may be some pretty steep cliffs that we somehow have to traverse. We don’t know what the journey down is going to be like, but we do know that at some point – perhaps after a couple of centuries, perhaps sooner – we’re going to reach the flat ground with which we have been familiar throughout most of our human history.

At that point in time we’ll find that the flat terrain on the far side of the foothills of Hubbert’s Peak isn’t half as nice as the forested green lands our ancestors set out from all those years ago. For a start it’ll be covered in the smouldering wrecks of industrial society and girded with concrete. Furthermore, there will be fewer species of animals and the climate will be chaotic. And just why is the ground covered in bones? Those with access to history books will probably wish we had never discovered how to use oil in the first place.

But the fact is that we did. Whether the planet was looking to evolve a burrowing species to release the buried carbon back into the atmosphere and bring on a huge epoch-defining change in its chemistry we will never know. Some could be forgiven for thinking just that, given the steady drumroll of scientific news that we’ve been hit with recently. Let's recap. The Arctic ice is at a record low. The oceans are turning into warm battery acid. The world is gripped by severe drought and severe flooding. Human numbers continue their relentless explosion. Microwave pulse transmissions from mobile phone masts and wi-fi devices are causing mutations and killing trees in ever greater areas. More nations are scrambling for nuclear technology.

I’m going to stop right there.

The reason I’m going to stop there is because I don’t want this blog to turn into a doomer blog. I’ve been reading a few doomer blogs recently and I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing they achieve is to put a spell of paralysis on you. In my experience the only way to break this paralysing spell is to actually do something along the lines suggested by Gandhi i.e. be the change you want to see in the world. Doomers disempower both themselves and those who read what they have written. The world may be going through extreme flux right now but that doesn't mean it won’t be worth living in. It’s difficult to write that without sounding trite, because people are desperate and people are scared, but really, if you think about it, all the talk of sterilization and suicide pills isn’t exactly helpful is it?

I have three simple thoughts that I keep in mind to avoid despair (and God knows, I have also been there).

The first is that the scientists might be right about many observable phenomena but they are not all-knowing. They might have identified a few positive feedback loops which will likely cause us an immense amount of trouble, such as white ice giving way to blue water, methane release etc. but they can’t possibly predict any negative feedback loops which might limit the destruction. Nobody knows for sure what is really happening and the effect it will have on us (but just to be clear, yes, it is a silly and dangerous idea to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere).

The second point to bear in mind is that we have no idea what rippling effect our individual actions will cause. When Rosa Parks sat down on a bus seat in 1955 she could have had no idea that it might lead to a black man being elected president over half a century later. By following through on our thoughts with decisive actions we cross a boundary between the non-physical world of thought into the physical world. Humans, being social primates, copy behaviours, and there is no way of knowing when we are nearing tipping points in human behaviour. The so-called hundredth monkey effect is a case in point.

Thirdly, we have very little clue as to how the currents of human psychology, as influenced by religion, can change course. But change they do, and quite often it is very swiftly. At present, the religion of our industrial society is that of progress. Some people convince themselves they are atheists and progressives, but it’s impossible for our conscious minds not to latch onto some kind of meaning in the universe, so in fact they are just deluding themselves. They say that the universe is just a lot of balls whizzing around and banging into one another and that its creation, as well as the advent of life and consciousness, is just a normal phenomenon not worth dwelling upon. But it is far from unlikely that as the promises of the industrial age implode one by one this obsession with material progress will look more and more hollow and something far more profound will replace it. If and when it does, I’m hoping that it will be an Earth centred spirituality, which will (again) mean that we’ll just be getting back to normal. 

Don’t believe it could take hold? Have a look at the picture below, which was taken in the world’s most advanced industrial nation a couple of days ago. In case you're wondering what's happening, tens of thousands of Americans are gathered around a giant wooden man which, at the culmination of of the festival, is set alight to joyous celebrations. Who is that man? He's The Man, that's who.

The Burning Man festival in Nevada (image from The Guardian)

So all of these things give me hope. Hope is a terribly saccharine word that is often used by lazy people who don’t do anything to bring it about. So I’m going for a Hope 2:0, which is like the old hope but you have to earn it. And being the father of two children I have to have hope – there can be no better way to invest in the future.

I have been here once before ten years ago. Despite the economic boom (or probably because of it) I decided that the sanest thing to do would be to move somewhere we could have a small farm. Given the huge disparity in property prices between northern and southern Europe it meant we could swap our small terraced house beside a main road in a dull part of Copenhagen for a large eight bedroom stone farmhouse with an acre of land in the foothills of Spain’s Sierra Nevada. It was a no-brainer, as far as I was concerned, but people told us we were ‘brave’. I didn't see anything brave about it – it just seemed like common sense.

Fast forward a couple of years and the house we had bought as a ruin (so many houses were abandoned in the rush to the cities after Franco had fallen) was more or less restored to habitability. Along the way I had received some very useful lessons about water supply, electricity, heating and sewage. Plus, I could also add ‘olive farmer’ to my CV. 

We began to live the low-energy dream, and probably for the first time in my adult life, I actually really enjoyed life. Living with the seasons and the sun, and only having a small amount of electrical energy proved to be very liberating. I found out how bountiful nature could be, and in our garden alone we grew olives, figs, almonds, apples, pomegranates, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, grapes, cherries, chestnuts and quinces. A vegetable garden provided even more food, and if it was meat we were after we could always have asked our neighbour to shoot a jabali (wild boar) for us, although we never did.

No, we were not self-sufficient in any way, but we put a big dent in it. We became part of a network of friends and neighbours. Whatever your problem, you could usually find someone to help you out, just as you would have to be willing to help others out in need.  That’s what it’s all about, in my opinion.

[Ah yes, I hear the naysayers say, but you had the money to achieve your dream. True, but I know plenty of people down in Spain who had next to nothing but still achieved something similar, getting hold of scruffy pieces of unwanted land and living in self-built caravans and trucks etc. Embedded in the same ecosystem, they were also able to grow the same plants and trees as me - the sun and rain didn't discriminate. Life is a conundrum that only we can solve.]

Alas this dream wasn’t to last, but before it ended I did have one revelation. I used to get up each morning just as the sun appeared over the top of a distant mountain, bathing my Eden-like garden in light. I would walk around the land with a cup of tea, usually with our three mousers at my heels (who wait all night for this moment), just taking note of all the plants and how they were doing. Perhaps I would think that a bough on an old olive tree would need lopping off because it was getting too unbalanced, or maybe I would just note that a particular tomato plant was not doing so well on a particular patch of ground. I would dig in the soil with my fingers, assessing whether it needed irrigating and gauging how much organic matter it had within it. I gazed at the industrious ants and the bark-coloured cicadas (thankfully silent at this time of day) and stood still so as not to scare the myriad brightly coloured birds that came to drink in our irrigation pool. I listened to the deep throbbing hum of a bees’ nest within a eucalyptus tree, and of my neighbour’s goats bleating as sounds from the valley carried up on the cool breeze.


The cats would eagerly await me getting up each morning. 

In this way I entered into a very intimate relationship with the land and, day by day, week by week, season by season, that relationship deepened. I realised I was filling my head with knowledge, and that filled me with a deep joy. But as this joy deepened, I was also filled with something like alarm at how much there was to know and learn, and how much junk my head was already filled with.

We rarely ventured out into what I termed the ‘real world’ i.e. outside our valley, which was backwards even by Andalucian Spanish standards, and even a trip to nearby Granada, which is by most accounts one of the world’s most beautiful old cities, started my head spinning. I became, in effect, a country bumpkin. When people came to visit it was impossible not to notice the look of alarm written all over their faces. My father in law, who is Italian, flatly failed to believe we were living there. It just didn’t compute in his head and he muttered ‘You can’t live here,’ over and over.

Unfortunately it turned out that he was right and so it was all the more of a shock when the long arm of fate took us by the scruff of our necks and dumped us back in the fashion and techno-progressive utopia of Copenhagen again.  I then spent five hard years paying off debts and generally being made to feel that I should NEVER try to escape from the system again. Don’t even think about it!

All of this is to illustrate the point that as our fuel supplies dwindle and our world begins to look more chaotic and dishevelled we are going to need to learn a lot of things. But it’s not just necessity; whole worlds of knowledge and learning are there just for the taking. Here’s an exercise that I did a couple of weeks ago when considering what I would like to learn in this life before I die. I came up with the following, after some thought:

To sail a boat
To learn Greek
To learn thoroughly one area of history
Permaculture for my local environment
Woodland management
A musical instrument
An oriental martial art form

By contrast, I know people who have either abandoned learning altogether and are just content to sit in front of the television and be drip fed reality programmes, or instead focus all of their brain power on learning new IT systems.

All of the subjects I have mentioned above can be done for little or no money and don’t consume much energy. True, it helps if you’re an autodidact, but that should only be considered a limiting factor. I have already started, having bought some CDs online, which I listen to as I am running, plus various books I have been reading over the past year. What’s more, I am learning something else too, although I don’t feel ready to talk about it here just yet. If you have read this far you’ll probably have a fair idea about what it is. This also ties in with my longer term plans, which I’ll also be revealing here in good time.

So, far from feeling a terrifying paralysis about the future, what I actually feel is that for many of us it will be like the opening of a lotus flower. Yes, there are huge unknowns and sharp cliffs, but there are also many opportunities for enlightenment and learning. What I think many people need to do is break away from the online incubators of despair – indulging in them is like drinking from a pool of poisoned water. It also doesn’t do any good to continually tune into the television news.

I could say that the future is going to bright and powered by windmills and solar panels. I’ve noticed that those kinds of blogs attract a lot of followers and positive ‘if only we wish hard enough/pump more money into Tesla then it will come true’ comments – but I’d be telling a lie. As far as I see it – and I’m no sage, just a regular bloke – the future’s going to be messy and hard, but not apocalyptic. Those of us who at least recognise this now will get the chance to engage it on something like our own terms, whereas those who don’t will likely end up shivering in cold and dying of boredom in hugely overcrowded housing complexes and wondering when that great Thorium powered future they had unknowingly mentally and spiritually invested in was going to turn up and save them.

Instead, what we should be doing is focusing on the positive, while still maintaining a clear understanding of the multiple and complex threats that face us. If you want to read something that more or less chimes with my outlook there can be no better publication than Resurgence. This plucky magazine has been going for around 40 years and is edited by Satish Kumar. People write in it for free and there are (almost) no adverts – just artwork and poems in their place. It’s heavily influenced by the thinking of Schumacher (Small is Beautiful) and great thinkers such as Tagore. It has just joined forces with The Ecologist, creating a synthesis between environmentalism, the arts and science. I know that every time I receive it through the mail and read through it it gives me plenty of inspiration – so I would heartily recommend anyone who doesn’t already do so to take out a subscription and see if it does the same thing for you!



Here endeth the commercial message.



24 comments:

  1. "Those with access to history books will probably wish we had never discovered how to use oil in the first place."

    Imagine if the scientific revolution never occurred. It enabled humanity to actively gain knowledge that it would irresponsibly utilize, leading ultimately to vast suffering and obliteration of humanity's sole habitat the Earth. We don't get Star Trek in the end, unfortunately, as humanity is permanently fixed to this planet despite a few individuals temporarily going off-planet.

    Science is something of a sacred cow. You can't challenge its self-evident value. It is unquestionably justified in its existence as an institution. Infallible. I personally think it is valuable and has helped us out a lot (though the animal world has not benefited at all from our scientific discoveries, but just been continually harmed as a result). However, humanity is just too collectively irresponsible to safely possess much scientific knowledge. Look what humanity did with knowledge of the atom. People will argue science (and use of fossil fuels incidentally) is morally neutral, but moral neutrality usually means utilitarian approaches (and we see how that is working out in our present day).

    In a few centuries if not sooner humanity might look back and conclude that many scientific discoveries would have been better left undiscovered for our own good.

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    1. Jeffrey, I'll tell you a short anecdote. Last year I went along with a group of resident US Democrats to a meeting with the Danish foreign minister in Parliament. They were there to lobby him to make things better for Americans living in Denmark. They came up with a number of silly suggestions. These were:

      - To stop promoting bikes over cars. They felt 'silly' riding bikes everywhere, one of them said.
      - To stop people making their own packed lunches and bringing them to work. Instead they suggested fast food outlets everywhere would boost employment and GDP. Why the hell are there no Starbucks in Denmark? they demanded.

      And the killer one

      - Stop teaching any subject in school that isn't maths, science, IT or engineering. All the other 'junk' should be binned. That, some of them opined, would be the only way to boost competitiveness and 'keep up with China'.

      I wish I was making that up.

      Suffice to say, the foreign minister just smiled politely at them, the way you would do with a dotty aunt who thinks Elvis lives in her attic.

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    2. Jason, I think your perspective differs from some of your readers simply by virtue of you not living in the United States. The U.S. at the moment is truly a sick society, for reasons that go beyond peak oil.

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    3. Ed - I think you might be onto something there. Every month or so I meet up with a friend who comes from Chicago and we indulge in some craft beers. He has lived here for 12 years and has just spent a couple of weeks back 'home' at a school reunion.

      When I asked him how it went he just shook his head, took a sip of beer and then spent the next ten minutes explaining how he could never live there again. Those very words 'sick society' came up at least once.

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    4. yes, America is beyond sick, but it's the product of the worst anti-culture in recorded history in my mind. A culture of fast food and convenience?

      One of my best friends is from Austria. He's been here for a couple of years. I'm pretty much the only person, outside of his wife and work, that he feels understands the shit that is coming out of his mouth (and not due to the inability to understand his accent either). I liked him instantly when I met him simply because he was not from America. That's pretty fucked up to say about your own country and it be pretty well true.

      But i've given up on the Zombies stuck in the "mind cemetary" as Rage likes to say. I consider myself firstly a human being, and then my tribe stems from Permaculture. I don't recognize the lines used by the corporatocracy to divy up the god damned planet. I apologize for the language, but I was in the USN and sometimes it can't be helped.

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  2. Well, if you are going to survive a problem, you must first identify it. Accuracy matters. I have not been able to find any faintly convincing evidence for this:

    "Microwave pulse transmissions from mobile phone masts and wi-fi devices are causing mutations and killing trees in ever greater areas."

    Or for HAARP or contrails or other conspiracy theories for why forests are in decline, abruptly and dramatically, around the world...

    Whereas there exists decades of controlled fumigation experiments and other research to indicate that there is a global influence which damages vegetation - tropospheric ozone. Of course no one likes to admit that ozone is an existential threat, because the only way to eliminate or reduce the inexorably rising background level is to stop burning anything for energy.

    Another unsupported notion is this:

    "Some people convince themselves they are atheists and progressives, but it’s impossible for our conscious minds not to latch onto some kind of meaning in the universe, so in fact they are just deluding themselves. They say that the universe is just a lot of balls whizzing around and banging into one another and that its creation, as well as the advent of life and consciousness, is just a normal phenomenon not worth dwelling upon."

    First of all, it IS quite possible for our conscious (and unconscious for that matter) minds to NOT feel compelled to latch onto any "meaning" in the universe. Personally, I don't, and there are plenty of other people who are well-known, like oh, Thomas Jefferson, and Stephen Hawking. Any meaning is a purely human contrivance. It's also false to say that "atheists and progressives" (of which I am one but no longer the other) are 1) deluded and 2) think the advent of life and consciousness "aren't worth dwelling upon".

    I can only speak for myself, but as an atheist, I certainly think the advent of life and consciousness are worth dwelling upon, quite a bit in fact - I just don't happen to think that either evolved thanks to a tooth fairy, a druid, a Thor, or Zeus.

    I have generally expected greater depth, insight, and knowledge of history and philosophy on this blog from a very good writer...but perhaps not so great at filtering out your hopiness bias from reality.

    But then it IS true that all but the most despairing among us need some hopium, or one sort or another. They (like Guy) may be the most honest, however.

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    1. Well, I was brought up as an atheist by default. The only contact with religion I had was singing Hallelujah in the school choir.

      Bear in mind thought that religion means 're-attachment' in Latin. That's all it is.

      As for Stephen Hawking - he'd very clever at physics, but I believe that my 9 year old daughter could beat him in any discussion of theology. Have you read anything he has ever said on the subject? It boils down to plotting probabilities that a large hairy man could physically exist up in the sky. Not exactly insightful.

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  3. I'd like to hear more about what happened in Andalucia. This was a great post- would you mind filling in the details of how you happened to be compelled to return to Copenhagen? You seem to have a love-hate relationship with the city- I'd like to hear what drove you back.

    I think it's relavant because there are quite a few of us, I think, who contemplate leaving the city for a rural homestead, but are deterred by a lot of factors- the unknown being the main one- but also the fear of adapting to a new culture (even if it's only 50 miles away- rural areas have a distinctly different culture from the city) or general fear of failure.

    I've lived briefly in a rural area as an adult, and fled back to the city, deciding it wasn't for me. And I had a semi-rural upringing. How much harder is it for someone who has only known the city or suburbs.

    My point is- it might be good for those of us who have farm-related survival fantasies to hear some of the realities of the adjustment. There are many who can and will set up successful homesteads to survive and thrive in the future troubles, but it's good to hear from someone who has already been there and done that.

    Jeff
    eighthacrefarm.blogspot.com

    J

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    1. It's a long story, Jeff. I actually wrote a book about it, which is sitting on a memory stick on my desk. I found a publisher, but then they wanted me to remove all the references to peak oil etc, so I politely declined.

      The main problem is that the book doesn't neatly fit into a genre. It's ostensibly about the newspaper I set up and ran, but it's also a travel book, a book about the history of Andalucia and a book about my experiences setting up and living in an organic farm.

      I would even serialise it as a blog but I'm afraid that if I do that it'll be shut down because there are various people with powerful lawyers who won't take kindly to it. Maybe I'll finish it off and publish it as an ebook .. just need to dedicate some time to it.

      I don't really have a love/hate relationship with Copenhagen - I actually think it is a great city. Where I struggle, as do other foreigners, is fitting in with the wider Danish culture. I found things far easier in rural Spain - but then I'm not really a city person.

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  4. Wow! Which side of the bed did you fall off of this morning, Gail? That post was one nasty piece of vitriol and a foul response to one of the best posts that Jason has done in a long time.

    Gail, your tone and the content of your post reveal you to be a dogmatist. I am sure you imagine yourself free of dogmas, but rest assured, you hold them close to your heart. If I sat down with you for 10 minutes and discussed your worldview, I am sure I could pick out a minimum of five deeply held beliefs that are utterly unprovable and similar in form to the beliefs of any religion you care to name. You probably think you are among a brave group of freethinkers who have finally "arrived" at the Truth and freed yourself from superstition, but know this: your thoughts are all reactions to other thoughts of a previous era and totally a product of the time in which you live. They are not even at the forefront of this particular time. You are mouthing ideas that were first voiced decades or even centuries ago.

    If you choose to have faith in randomness and meaninglessness, please, by all means do so. But don't think those beliefs are any less articles of faith than belief in the notions of order and meaning. And, more importantly, don't go pissing on other people's sincere and beautiful efforts to fight the demon of despair. In truth, your post is little more than a teenagers puerile graffito on a master's work of art.

    Jason, pay no mind to Gail. Cautious optimism is the only way forward. And your post is one of the best articulations of this that I've seen. Those of us who have taken a good hard look at the facts of peak oil and the unsustainability of the present capitalist system cannot afford to throw up our hands and give into despair simply because the present "civilization" is ending. Modern-day Europe was built on the ruins of the Roman Empire. Life sprang up anew. And some of the good things and ideas from the previous culture were carried into the present day because people did not throw up their hands and say: there is no hope!

    Finally, I'd like to say that the belief that we are just a concupiscence of dust is a form of decadence and both a symptom and a cause of the malaise which currently afflicts the present industrial civilization.

    Let's be honest: We can't know for sure, but our hearts tell us we have to keep trying and there is ample beauty and love in the world to give us hope that our "faith" (if that's what you want to call it) is actually warranted. Gail, may you also see that beauty and feel that love.

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    1. Thanks anon. Things change, like the clouds in the sky. Who are we to claim we know exactly what new patterns will emerge?

      I saw a flower pushing up through a tarmac road in the middle of the city on my way to work this morning. There's no room for complacency, IMO, but equally there's no room for despair.

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  5. Anonymous, thank you for your comment. Gail's trite and trifflin' comment got my tale feather's rustlin' and I felt like I was going to have to go intellect redneck on his/her ass...so thanks for forging some maturity into the atheist blather that is so common...tired and old logic of delusion IMO.

    Jason, this is honestly the best piece of hope I've seen. Very poetic, logical, and all encompassing. I really can't thank you enough for the insight and beauty that you indulged us all with.

    Gail: "hopium," really, hopium. Why don't you go eat some wild plants and see what happens to you...maybe Darwin won't deselect your punk ass. And, by the way, this is coming from a self proclaimed optimistic pessimist, so I don't know what that makes you.

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    1. Thanks, Lucid.

      Let's remind ourselves about Pandora's box.

      Hopium? I'd rather call it hoxygen. Without it we'd all suffocate.

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    2. it's not my intention to start a back and forth with with somebody on your blog dude, just wanted to say that. I just get so tired of Atheist who think they are intellectually superior to anybody who's not atheist because they supposedly have science on their side. Which in itself is bullshit IMO. Eventually even science has to sing that all it knows is that it don't know nothin', so what gives with the intellectual snobbery?

      At any rate, I suppose I should apologize for being so abrasive. One really should not go flinging comments around the interweb when one has had one to many beers.

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    3. Haha! No worries -it's not like I haven't done the same thing myself on more occasions than I care to admit.

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    4. Hi Luciddrams,

      Thanks for the support and comments. I like your turn of phrase: "Eventually even science has to sing that all it knows is that it don't know nothin'" and "go intellect redneck."

      I agree, no point in piling on Gail. Gail is entitled to his/her view. rpauli is right about that. Thing is, rpauli, the nature of the situation is that we won't know the situation is hopeless until it's really over. So, deciding "the jig is up" and then steeling ourselves for the end, like the condemned man awaiting his date with the hangman in the morning, seems to me to be an appalling way to live. Call me naive or foolish, but I'd rather live until the end with hope than spend whatever time remains like the dude in his cell just imagining the way the noose will feel around his neck. Don't forget, in many critical junctures in both individual lives and the lives of tribes/groups/communities, the only thing that made the difference between survival and death was mere hope.

      By the way, Luciddreams, following a link from this blog, I checked out your blog. I'll be visiting often in the future to check out your great writing and incredible journey. I love the concept of "zombie whispering." You seem like a free man. There aren't many of those around. Stay free.

      I hope you all hope. There is not a person alive who has no hope, and that includes both Gail and rpauli. Whether it's the American dream, the next fix, enlightenment, or just another breath, we all hope for something. Show me someone with no hope and I'll show you a corpse.

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  6. love this jason, and the comment you just put on the guardian. thank you :)

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  7. Hi Jason -

    An interesting family story, well told. Petroleum did save the whales, but our inability to treat all resources as scarce, no matter how much we have, is a human failure of intelligence.

    Spiritual guidance has been given throughout history, but the needs for power and dominance have been able to spin it to justify the contrary. There is though, a new message in the world where the reality of an evolving physical universe, the challenges to all life within it, and practices for getting to our individual meaning, purpose and direction for the needed age of human unity and cooperation is presented. It will take work on our part, as the Creator does not micromanage. The fact that we have what we do by virtue of energy slaves is noted in this message.

    One doorway to this is the Great Waves of Change: http://www.greatwavesofchange.org/

    Acess to messages, in text and voice, are here: http://newmessage.org/nmfg/Experience_the_New_Message_from_God.html

    Sample that to which you may be drawn - and give yourself time to take in the messages. I've been a student of this since 1998.

    Blessings

    Tom

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    1. "The Creator does not micromanage" - I like that.

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  8. hmmm...methinks you are going after Gail too much. Gail is warning of the toxic bias of hope. Afterall, we should be clear thinking enought to ruthlessly examine what is happening and then decide what we have to do. If we 'hope' things will suddenly get better, or hope the oil companies will discover God, then our hope is also a delusion and a crutch like the indulgences of a climate denialist. Hope can get in the way of treatment. Like a cancer patient who does not want chemo.

    Not that I don't want hope. I do, and I foster hope in myself. But harboring hope is a poor escuse for not making ruthless changes that we know we must face. It is change or die. And much of the world has decided it will not change. And so we 'hope' they will come to their senses. But we are not really willing to get angry. I think it better to tell people that they made a dooming choice. Our silence is a form of hopelessness.

    If we want to survive, then all carbon combustion must halt now. Or we have to invent a magical geoengineering solution (I hope we can invent that) Sorry, we can hope that we are not in great danger - but it is not the case, that vestige of hope allows us to drive cars and keep our delusioned civilization functioning.

    We have to let go of hope (not give it up - let it go) - then make a ruthless choice. Think like Spock. Think like a computer. But the all too human emotion of hope feels good, but gets in the way.

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  9. Or even more extreme thinking... if the situation is so dire that we face our last years for sure... then we need the courage to face that directly - recognizing what we cannot change our fate, only prolong the decline. And facing an end with calm, centered acceptance, even as we continue to struggle to survive - as we seek to mitigate - that is important. Tasks of mitigation should not be clouded by irrational expectations.

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  10. Hope's strong track record of results is not very likely to survive once the survivor bias is filtered out. And of course their are very negative stories you could associate with hope, or its close cousin wishful thinking. Was not Hitler's gamble at hegemony not an extreme case of hope winning over the rational. His Japanese allies were possibly even more wishful in their thinking. Two middling powers take on the two continental powers, and the fading Empire of the Oceans, in the hope that they will carve out their place in the sun.

    Hope, in of itself, has very little value. It is your goals, with hope or not, that have value.

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  11. Jason,

    What an excellent post. So much of what you wrote here is familiar to me. I tried to leave the city job, The Matrix as I've called it. I did a year long permaculture designers course, off the grid, in Northern NSW, Australia.

    The course was brilliant, but I found myself back in the Matrix three years later.

    I rarely read about peak oil any more...knowing how bad things are from day to day didn't do much other than depress me.

    I had an insight 7 years ago, after I'd Woken Up so to speak. This was, to pursue an active path in responding to the world... education, life change, acrtivism.... OR

    Sit on my meditation mat and 'pray' for a consciousness change.

    Having tried the active approach, the results were instructive, but nothing really changed.

    In one of your articles here, I read the thought from Ghandi, to Be the Change. I keep seeing this line lately.

    You can be the change on your meditation mat too.

    And The Matrix? It represents the disowned self. I'm in the process or re-owning my Modern self in post, post modern terms.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome comments that are relevant to the post and add to the debate about our current and future predicament. I'll try to reply to them all as time permits. You can post anonymously but I'm less likely to reply.