Note: I published this book on WordPress in 2013, then later changed my blog to just articles. I have referred to this book in my articles and have posted chapters from it, but here it is in full, read if you like.
Table of Contents
About the Author
Part 1 – Evolve Now
Chapter 1–The Ice is Melting
Chapter 2–The Denial Problem
Chapter 3–The New World
Chapter 4–What Work?
Chapter 5–The Denial Problem, again
Part 2 – Humanity
Chapter 1– The Life of Illusion
Chapter 2– Ode to Free Enterprise
Chapter 3– Work and Success Ethics
Chapter 4– Education Misunderstood
Chapter 5– Family Values: Ingredients for Success
Chapter 6–The Wrong Path
Chapter 7–The Human Being
Chapter 8–The Tribal Way
Part 3 – Free Enterprise vs. Humanity
Chapter 1–What is ‘self interest’ and what is ‘competition’?
Chapter 2– Poverty Consciousness—A Four Letter Word
Chapter 3–La-La Land
Chapter 4—Free Enterprise Spirituality—the Way of Self
Chapter 5—The Contradictions of Saving the World
Chapter 6—Mr. Right’s Emotional Disorder
Part 4 – Do Something God Damn It!
Chapter 1–The Unmentionable
Chapter 2–I’m One of Those People
Chapter 3–The Doomsayer, the Survivalist and Reality
Chapter 4–Into Action
Part 5—Here We Are
Chapter 1–Time to Surrender
Chapter 2–The Old Ways, Fear and Remembrance
Chapter 3–Right Now!
Chapter 4–A Food and Water Story
Chapter 5–The Time We Have
Part 5—All of Us
Chapter 1–The Collective Mind
Chapter 2–Is there hope?
Chapter 3—The Collective Decision
Article 1–‘Down on Your Luck’—A Forgotten Phrase
Article 2–Dreams and Debt—A Dichotomy
About the Author
There is little I can offer in the way of credentials to substantiate this book. I served on a couple non-profit boards in the environmental movement. I was an Administrative Director of a popular environmental group, sort-a the boss. Been published on the internet and in one magazine. Wrote a couple articles for newspapers, talked on the radio a few times, including St. Louis NPR. Was student council president, was in the Thespians, ran the 100 in 10.2 seconds, got my first piece of…um…well ah, you get the picture.
But it’s like this. In the Martin Scorsese film, The Departed, Matt Damon plays an infiltrate for the mob into the state police detective division in Boston. There is a scene where here is talking to a fellow criminal, but that criminal does not know who Matt Damon is, and doesn’t trust him. Damon very convincingly tells this guy his gang is about to get busted and gives him a phone to call and warn them. The guy can’t get why Damon knows all this shit, and so he hesitates to make the call, so Damon says, “Look-it f#$%, you don’t gotta trust me, just listen to what I’m saying to you.”
Well, you don’t gotta trust me, but, “just listen to what I’m saying to you.”
This book is a collection of several articles and essays I have written over the past 16 years. I’ve dated each chapter as to when the writing was put together. The writings have been edited in order to make the book coherent and the message as seamless as possible. I am espousing only a very few ideas but with many different approaches. Basically, each chapter has a unique expression of the overall message which is more or less summed up in the following:
Free enterprise made a mistake.
Collapse is imminent, we are in an emergency.
To survive we need our collective mind to waken.
Focusing on food and water is our hope.
Climate change will change everything.
We are going to be forced into a new paradigm, like it or not.
Several of the articles come from my blog at Word Press or are articles I wrote for Michael Rupert’s CollapseNet.com. The Tribal Way came from an article I wrote that was in New Harvest Magazine back in 2002, though I published it under the name Ed Basic and a different title, why did that I’ll never know. Finally, a many of these articles/essays are exclusive to this book.
The long run
I want you to take this book at face value, but please understand there is much not spoken. As doom saying as this book may be, there is a bright light ahead. That is because we humans are pretty resourceful and will always know where to find the light. So as you read I ask you to remember that I am only dealing with the immediate problems and offering the immediate solutions. It so happens the immediate is quite shitty. When we’ve past this time, which all of us living will not see its end, we will be better and so will our planet.
In reality the solutions I offer in this book will most likely will only be adhered to after the fall, I admit, I give that about a 99.999% chance. So you could say I’m writing an “I told you so” book. Well, I’ll be dead so it wouldn’t do me much good. No, that’s not it. It is so we will know why it happened and to what point our purposes will be from there foreword. I am not calling for a utopia in this book, but I believe utopia is on its way and will be here in about 150 years because of what’s in this book. Not because of ‘this’ book, but what’s in it.
As you read I hope you will note an underlying theme. However impossible, impractical, archaic and naïve the solutions offered here, they will happen no matter what you think. They are instinctual and have been with us from the beginning, they’ll never leave and will always appear as needed and right now in the 21st century they are on their way.
Evolve Now—the Book
I have been an activist all my life, at least in my heart; officially, the last 18 years. I am 56. I have no official background in climatology, which is partially the subject matter of this book. I am merely using logic to draw my conclusions. Please take that seriously, that is, that I base my opinions on purely logical deductions. More so, minus the first chapter in part one regarding the climate, most all of my deductions are drawn out of common sense and more importantly common knowledge. In other words, by observation and your average citizen awareness, which ain’t much I know. But that’s only if you don’t know how to read into it and how to see behind it, that’s a talent. Believe it or not, if you want to know were your culture stands and where it’s headed, it’s in the commercials, the products, the movies, music and the trends. It’s all there; couple that with a little news and some average research, you’ll know it all. As for this book and climate change it’s a different matter, I’ve researched the hell out of that and have found that it is undisputedly real. In making my conclusions on this subject I learned that after a time you have to look past what scientists are saying because they just give the facts of the science but not necessarily the socioeconomic prognosis. They leave that to policymakers who by the way…do nothing. As you read this book you’ll see this is where “you” come in, it’s OK; you can conclude the needed prognosis for them.
I admit I am emotional about the subject and as you read you will see this is an understatement. However, you will also see that if the current science is any good at all, then I have reason to be emotional about the subject matter in this book. Please be aware that I have only stated what I have read from reports in the field of climatology. Much of this book is based on projections and forecasting; the only thing I can lay claim to is that all things are possible until what happens makes the history books. However, you will also see that there is a great deal discussed about what is happening right now.
It is obvious we need a new collective mind, a New Thought. And I think we all know that we need to change. There have been countless books written about this, especially in the last 30 years. We are growing and evolving in leaps and bounds as we confront the old and radically accept the new.
It is said that until we are enlightened, we will continue to fall into demise. Well, we have been doing that, we have been seriously raising our consciousness and if we continue with this, we may eventually rise above our predicaments and learn new ways to be human beings. But here is the thing, the latter is only true if we have the time. We Don’t. Very soon we will be faced with a global situation that will go beyond the need for the raising of consciousness and will be replaced by the need for just plain survival; growth and advancement will have to come later. We are not ready for what is coming down the pike. But it doesn’t matter because ready or not, our demise is here right now. It has begun and our time for raising our consciousness will now be crunched into a very small space.
I am not proposing that we become unenlightened and forget evolving. In fact, I am proposing that we are going to do the impossible and collectively decide to have a temporary abrupt evolution in consciousness to meet the challenges ahead. If you are going to advance your consciousness these days, better add to your book collection some “how to” manuals, a gardening book, a construction manual, a medicine book. In other words, books that teach how to do something not just think something. The thinking days are going to now have to be coupled with the doing days…ready or not.
And here is what you really need to understand:
THE “DOING DAYS” NEED TO BEGIN RIGHT NOW!
So, that is what this book will do. It discusses the things we will be faced with in regards to taking action and doing something about the excreta we’ve laid at our feet. It is not that raising our consciousness needs to stop, it is more that time is stalled at present, and time will not start again for another 40 years, after that, we can resume our evolutionary pace towards our utopia unabated. However, it just so happens that right now in the 21st century of the human time scale, ‘little utopia’ has arrived. But, it is not here by desire, it is here by force.
For many years I have wanted to write a book about the conditions of the world, particularly in regards to the future impacts of climate change. However, in those years I have learned of many other “events” heading our way that will also have impacts to our way of life. In addition to global warming the list goes as such: peak oil, nuclear terrorism, articfial intelligence, water and food shortages and financial meltdown. They are all very likely to happen; individually or collectively they are all capable of collapsing the worlds systems of civilization.
I think it is safe to say that collapse is on its way; it truly is just a matter time. Though climate change will perhaps not have as profound an impact others in this list, such as nuclear annihilation, but it is certainly the most likely to occur, in fact, it certainly will occur because it is occurring right now. Peak oil and financial meltdown are certain to occur as well, peak oil on its own merit and financial meltdown as a result of peak oil and climate change. However, these issues are recoverable; we can get past them and live on as we do now because we can find new sources for energy and economies are a dime a dozen. But we can not recover from climate change, at least not for many thousands of years. We are going to have to live with it and we will have to adapt.
I have a particular way for you to think while reading this book. As its content deals with matters of such large scale then it is behooving to treat time the same way. The issues here cover decades even centuries of both the past and the future. It is important to always keep this in mind and that solutions are to be scaled the same way. But at the same time, also realize that decades are actually minutes in geologic time, human events not excluded. If we are to decide to actually deal with and treat these issues of such scale, then time becomes another concept. Instead of thinking about if we can build that new interstate across the country within ten years, we need to be thinking about how we can change our entire infrastructure, means of exchange, fundamental social norms, politics, economies, and production priorities over the next 40 years. It makes the highway look like we have forever to get it done. To perform the task ahead will take every day of every year for the next 40 years by anyone who is able to be involved. It’s an emergency at geological scale; get that in your heads.
Regarding the “tasks ahead” that “I” have laid out please understand that I understand that many other scenarios could take place as far as the “how to get it done” aspect goes. My suggestion that we are all going to be hammering and shoveling may come off a bit far fetched to you, it does me also. At this point I can see no other options. In any case, when you read about this here, remember to use your own ideas as well.
There is no point in reading this book if you are someone who does not believe climate change is happening or that its impacts are and will be minor. This book is for believers it’s for those who know something about the issues, but more importantly, want to do something about them. So, I will not be giving much time to making the case for climate change or any other of these doom scenarios I’ve mentioned. Instead, I am going to focus on our present response as human beings to the coming collapse, no matter what causes it.
Also, I would not find it hard to believe that whatever you feel our crisis is, life threatening or not, you would have to agree we need solutions and we need them quick. The solutions and even the evaluation of our conditions I provide in this book are my thoughts, I may be wrong about much of it because it’s the future, BUT, we just have to look at where we are at right now and I am positive there is agreement that we are pretty screwed up. We are going to come to a point that drastic change will need to occur and it shouldn’t be a surprise to know that the time has pretty much arrived. If you don’t know that now you soon will.
This book is for everyone, but for the most, part it’s written for liberals. I am asking you to wake up into some real action. The liberal mind set has been on vacation too long. I realize there are way more factions than liberals and conservatives. Hopefully, we are soon to be beyond the separations of mind and culture. It is perhaps the most important message in this book.
The Ice is Melting
There are not many people left in the world who don’t already know the world is screwed about 60 different ways. Nevertheless, we are evolving. I believe because of that, all these issues can be “fixed”, at least to the point of slowing down their rapid decay. It is quite possible that even our current systems; i.e. free enterprise and democracy; might have the ability to “handle” these problems. But, there is one problem we’ve stumbled upon that our current paradigm has no ability to handle or fix and that is climate change.
The ice is melting, you see. And when the ice has melted completely away, we will need a new world whether we want it or not. We have about 40 years to get ready for this (see Part 3, Chapter 4, Into Action) and 40 years is not very much time when you realize all that needs done.
Do you know what 40 years is in geologic time? It is a matter of seconds. Consider that you have just been in an auto accident. A head on collision if you will. You’ve had no time to prepare, it has happened in milliseconds, you are now dead.
Consider a collision on a global scale happening in geologic time; where now, the passengers have time to prepare in regular time. The car is crushing but the passengers are still in their seats, the dashboard is only now beginning to move towards them, their seatbelts are extending but are not as yet locked in place and the force of momentum has not yet restricted their movement.
This is where we are at with climate change, and we have time to prepare for the collision. It has been discovered that the cause of global warming is CO2 emissions. It is also said that if we get the emissions down, we can ‘maybe’ thwart catastrophic warming. I believe CO2 is the cause as well, but I also believe it is too late to do anything about it, as do many scientists all over the globe.
The following are comments from scientists from a January 2, 2009 article in The Independent in the environment section:
Jim Lovelock, author of the Gaia theory: I never thought that the Kyoto agreement would lead to any useful cut back in greenhouse gas emissions so I am neither more nor less optimistic now about prospect of curbing CO2 compared to 10 years ago. I am, however, less optimistic now about the ability of the Earth’s climate system to cope with expected increases in atmospheric carbon levels compared with 10 years ago.
Professor Stephen Salter, school of engineering, University of Edinburgh: After many years trying to develop renewable energy I now believe that we are too late and so I am working on the engineering of John Latham’s idea for enhancing cloud albedo.
Professor Martin Parry, Imperial College London: The required cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are now so large and urgent that it seems unlikely we can avoid a global 2C warming. To achieve this would require cuts of 6% per year starting in 2010, and enabling a global cut of 80% by 2050. There is now a real danger of allowing temperature to rise beyond our capacity to adapt.
Eric Wolff, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge: The challenge of keeping greenhouse gas concentrations to reasonable levels is so big now (because we have left it so late to act) that we have to explore everything – including energy choices many of us find unpalatable, and the possibility of geoengineering solutions.
Nick Brooks, visiting research fellow, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research: It is almost certain that we will fail to stop the globe warming by more than 2C, and probably more than 3C. All potential options for addressing climate change risks should therefore be considered.
Neil Wells, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton: Ten years ago I was confident that we could globally control carbon dioxide. Since then I have seen evidence that the climate models are under-estimating the change in sea ice in the Arctic – changing faster than Hadley Centre’s HADCM3 model predicted a few years ago.
Secondly, that it is one thing to persuade one country of the need to do something, but persuading the world is going to far more difficult.
We need to continue on the course of mitigation, however, adaptation is really the course we should be centering on. Trillions upon trillions of dollars could be spent on a green economy, money well spent I should think. However, since it’s too late, I’d sooner see that money spent on sand bags.
If I were to point out any single issue that would cause me to incite this need to change, it would be climate change. Scientists have concluded that if we continue on the pattern that we are now much of the earth will very likely become next to uninhabitable.
From USA Today, Doyle Rice – May 11, 2010:
A worst-case scenario of global warming, in which temperatures would soar some 21 degrees, is that much of the world may simply become too hot for humans to live in, according to new research published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We found that … a 21-degree warming would put half of the world’s population in an uninhabitable environment,” says study co-author Matthew Huber of Purdue University.
While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the result of business-as-usual warming would be 7 degrees by 2100, eventual warming over several centuries of 25 degrees is feasible, says Huber.
Of course this is widely contested and rightly so; these are very large claims. But as to whether or not something is happening with the climate, it is no longer speculation; instead it has become a startling fact. The following is from an article in the Environmental Defense Fund website, Posted: 21-Apr-2010; Updated: 19-May-2010.
The most respected scientific bodies have stated unequivocally that global warming is occurring, and people are causing it by burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests.
This conclusion is shared by the national science academies of developed and developing countries, plus many other organizations, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization to provide the world with “a clear scientific view” on climate change.
The only real debate is about how fast warming will occur, and how much damage will be done, as a result of human activities that produce heat-trapping CO2 and other greenhouse-gas emissions.
We are seeing the signs and are already adversely affected. The ice caps are melting, glaciers are retreating so fast scientists can hardly track their pace, habitats are changing and dying off, sea level is rising to the point that some islands are planning for evacuation, entire countries such as Peru are experiencing water shortages from glacial retreat, species are in decline, ecosystems are moving northward, permafrost is melting and releasing methane into the air which creates a feedback to produce more warming so more permafrost melts and more methane get released and on and on.
The following is from Justin Gillis’s April 17, 2011 article in the environment section of the New York Times about a study on glacier melts in Patagonian ice fields of South America.
The results strongly suggest that glacial melting in Patagonia has sped up drastically in recent decades, by at least a factor of 10. That result dovetails with temperature records suggesting that the Earth has been warming briskly since about 1980. All of the melt water is, of course, winding up in the ocean.
“Our data suggest that the Patagonian ice fields are contributing to sea-level rise at an increasing rate,” wrote the scientists, led by Neil F. Glasser of Aberystwyth University in Wales. “This mirrors the significant rise in global temperatures detected over the past 30 years, supporting the conclusion that there is a global trend toward enhanced glacier frontal recession in recent decades and providing support for the assertion that glacier recession can be attributed to recent warming.”
And from David Adam’s January 14, 2010 article in environment section of the United Kingdom’s The Guardian:
Scientists have recorded a massive spike in the amount of a powerful greenhouse gas seeping from Arctic permafrost, in a discovery that highlights the risks of a dangerous climate tipping point.
Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.
The discovery follows a string of reports from the region in recent years that previously frozen boggy soils are melting and releasing methane in greater quantities. Such Arctic soils currently lock away billions of tonnes of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, leading some scientists to describe melting permafrost as a ticking time bomb that could overwhelm efforts to tackle climate change.
These types of feedbacks are happening in other ways and are increasing the speed of climate change. Ice loss results in a warmer ocean which in turn results in more ice loss. Ice increases the reflective ability to send heat back into space whereas loss of ice causes the earth to absorb heat causing it to melt more ice; throwing it all into a looping feedback pattern. As one species decreases, depending on where it is at on the food chain, other species will be affected. Recent studies are showing that lizards are declining due to climate change. They are in a precious spot in the food chain because they both are preyed upon and are predator themselves. But not only that, they wind up affecting all three species types, insects because they eat them, plants because insects eat and pollinate plants, and animals because animals eat plants and lizards, bringing it all into forming a feedback loop. The following is from Richard Alleyne’s May 13, 2010 article in The Telegraph:
If current trends continue 20 per cent of all species could disappear by 2080, according to the findings published in Science. The researchers developed a model of risk using lizard numbers and rising temperatures which accurately predicted specific locations in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia where local populations have already become extinct.
The drop in the lizard population could cause an explosion in the numbers of insect they normally feed on as well as devastating creatures higher up the food chain which rely on them for food.
We are seeing an “out of control” situation with climate change. Some very creditable scientists are saying we may have already passed the tipping points where the process is now set in place for catastrophic climate change to happen no matter what we do.
The following is from a December 14, 2007 National Geographic article which quotes climate scientist Jim Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.
“I think in most of these cases, we have already reached the tipping point,” Hansen said. But there’s still hope if people soon change how they use energy. “In my opinion, we have not passed the point of no return, so that it’s still possible to avoid the impacts,” Hansen said. “The problem is that it’s just been taken as a God-given fact that we’re going to burn all of these fossil fuels and let the CO2 in the atmosphere,” he added. “You just can’t do that if you’re going to keep this planet resembling the one that we’ve had for the last 10,000 years.”
And this from a March 17, 2009 article on the website Physorg.com.
In a major study involving 43 of the world’s leading climate experts, scientists have for the first time worked out the likelihood of one of the major climate thresholds being breached.
Tipping points are used to describe a situation where damage due to climate change occurs irreversibly and at an increasing rate.
In this latest research – published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – the internationally-renowned climate team conclude there is a 1 in 6 chance of at least one threshold being passed with a rise of just 2-4 degrees in global average temperature.
If the average increase in temperature is higher than this, then the probability becomes 1 in 2.
Newcastle University’s Professor Jim Hall, Deputy Director, Engineering, of the Tyndall Centre on Climate Change and one of the five authors of the paper, said the aim was to produce policy-relevant information about the likelihood of a tipping point being toppled.
“For the first time we have managed to quantify the uncertainty of these phenomena and the take-home message is tipping points are serious and should play a key role in policy decision making,” said Professor Hall.
“Think of it as like taking out insurance cover. Insurers use probabilities to work out how much we should pay to protect ourselves in the event of something going seriously wrong.
“And it’s exactly the same for the climate. We have provided real data for these key climate indicators and what this has shown is there are good reasons why we should be taking urgent action now to reduce the possibility of something going catastrophically wrong in the future.”
If this turns out to be true, it is likely that we will soon have to refocus our attention from mitigation to adaptation. In other words, we may just have to live with it. If that is so, the need to change becomes inherent.
The following is an April 1, 2009 New York Times article from Lauren Morello and Sara Goodman.
Adaptation is at the center of a sweeping new climate and energy bill that marks a shift in focus from merely cutting greenhouse gas emissions to dealing with unavoidable consequences of global warming.
The draft climate and energy bill unveiled yesterday by House Democrats would establish a cap-and-trade program to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, set a national renewable electricity standard and create new energy efficiency programs.
But for many environmental and sustainability groups, what is notable is the bill’s focus on helping communities and ecosystems deal with climate change that is unavoidable, based on the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.
I tend to believe these scientists who say we may have already passed tipping points in the climate more than those who say we have not passed tipping points. Here’s a very simple explanation of why. Just realize that science in general has reach a pretty fair consensus on the fact the climate is changing, from melting ice, to loss of reefs, altered biodiversity, unnatural migration, extinction of species, and so on. These are things science “knows” are happening right now.
You will find that nearly every new report that comes out says “Much worse than previously thought”. And all these are from observable and creditable science, just on current empirical data alone. I’ve seen some reports say “three times worse” or “twice as bad”. If you do an internet search for that statement, “Much worse than previously thought”, you will find literally hundreds of articles using this phrase regarding climate change reports. The outlook for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) next report due in 2014 is said to be much more drastic and I am quite sure it will contain many more “three times worse than previously thought” statements. Therefore I conclude:
Considering that modeling the course of climate change is continually and almost logarithmically understating the actual, it becomes logical to deduce that projections for climate tipping points to be grossly understated as well. I conclude that if the “current” consensus is that tipping points will not be reached until 2050 and if I assume that the average computer model projection understates by a half; then that means 40 years really means 20 years, or 2030. But you also have to consider that the chance will be next to none that society will stop its green house gas emissions within 20 years or by 2030. The economics are not there, nor the political will. It won’t happen. And it is speculative as to whether or not even a very heavy-duty mitigation effort could actually stave off tipping points anyway. So we may as well conclude that we’ve past the tipping points already and get on with adaptation.
I will say little more about climate change. Instead, here is one of the first things you can do to act. Go out and study climate change. Find out for yourself what the situation is. Read the science journals on this subject. And don’t dilly around; go to the horse’s mouth. Look at what NASA is saying, what MIT is saying, NOAA, the NAS, Harvard, Oxford, or any other major science entity is saying. Do not take my word for it.
The following is a letter to the 112th congress of the United States from a group of scientists. I obtained the letter from the Climate Science Watch (CSW)website. CSWis “a nonprofit public interest education and advocacy project dedicated to holding public officials accountable for using climate research effectively and with integrity in dealing with the challenge of global climate disruption.” The opening statements are from Climate Science Watch.
Posted February 1, 2011.
“Political philosophy has a legitimate role in policy debates, but not in the underlying climate science,” a group of scientists, including seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, has written to all members of the U.S. Congress at the start of the 2011 session. “The assertions of climate deniers should not be given scientific weight equal to the comprehensive, peer-reviewed research presented by the vast majority of climate scientists. … Congress should, we believe, hold hearings to understand climate science and what it says about the likely costs and benefits of action and inaction. It should not hold hearings to attempt to intimidate scientists or to substitute ideological judgments for scientific ones.”
Full text of the letter and list of signers
January 28, 2011
The Importance of Science in Addressing Climate Change
To the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate:
As you begin your deliberations in the new 112th Congress, we urge you to take a fresh look at climate change. Climate change is not just an environmental threat but, as we describe below, also poses challenges to the U.S. economy, national security and public health.
Some view climate change as a futuristic abstraction. Others are unsure about the science, or uncertain about the policy responses. We want to assure you that the science is strong and that there is nothing abstract about the risks facing our Nation. Our coastal areas are now facing increasing dangers from rising sea levels and storm surges; the southwest and southeast are increasingly vulnerable to drought; other regions will need to prepare for massive flooding from the extreme storms of the sort being experienced with increasing frequency. These and other consequences of climate change all require that we plan and prepare. Our military recognizes that the consequences of climate change have direct security implications for the country that will only become more acute with time, and it has begun the sort of planning required across the board.
The health of Americans is also at risk. The U.S. Climate Impacts Report, commissioned by the George W. Bush administration, states: “Climate change poses unique challenges to human health. Unlike health threats caused by a particular toxin or disease pathogen, there are many ways that climate change can lead to potentially harmful health effects. There are direct health impacts from heat waves and severe storms, ailments caused or exacerbated by air pollution and airborne allergens, and many climate-sensitive infectious diseases.”
As with the fiscal deficit, the changing climate is the kind of daunting problem that we, as a nation, would like to wish away. However, as with our growing debt, the longer we wait to address climate change, the worse it gets. Heat-trapping carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere because burning coal, oil, and natural gas produces far more carbon dioxide than is absorbed by oceans and forests. No scientist disagrees with that. Our carbon debt increases each year, just as our national debt increases each year that spending exceeds revenue. And our carbon debt is even longer-lasting; carbon dioxide molecules can last hundreds of years in the atmosphere.
The Science of Climate Change
It is not our role as scientists to determine how to deal with problems like climate change. That is a policy matter and rightly must be left to our elected leaders in discussion with all Americans. But, as scientists, we have an obligation to evaluate, report, and explain the science behind climate change.
The debate about climate change has become increasingly ideological and partisan. But climate change is not the product of a belief system or ideology. Instead, it is based on scientific fact, and no amount of argument, coercion, or debate among talking heads in the media can alter the physics of climate change.
Political philosophy has a legitimate role in policy debates, but not in the underlying climate science. There are no Democratic or Republican carbon dioxide molecules; they are all invisible and they all trap heat.
The fruits of the scientific process are worthy of your trust. This was perhaps best summed up in recent testimony before Congress by Dr. Peter Gleick, co-founder and director of the Pacific Institute and member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He testified that the scientific process “is inherently adversarial – scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But no one who argues against the science of climate change has ever provided an alternative scientific theory that adequately satisfies the observable evidence or conforms to our understanding of physics, chemistry, and climate dynamics.”
National Academy of Sciences
What we know today about human-induced climate change is the result of painstaking research and analysis, some of it going back more than a century. Major international scientific organizations in disciplines ranging from geophysics to geology, atmospheric sciences to biology, and physics to human health – as well as every one of the leading national scientific academies worldwide – have concluded that human activity is changing the climate. This is not a “belief.” Instead, it is an objective evaluation of the scientific evidence.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was created by Abraham Lincoln and chartered by Congress in 1863 for the express purpose of obtaining objective expert advice on a range of complex scientific and technological issues. Its international reputation for integrity is unparalleled. This spring, at the request of Congress, the NAS issued a series of comprehensive reports on climate change that were unambiguous.
The NAS stated, “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities . . . and in many cases is already affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.” This conclusion comes as no surprise to the overwhelming majority of working climate scientists.
Climate Change Deniers
Climate change deniers cloak themselves in scientific language, selectively critiquing aspects of mainstream climate science. Sometimes they present alternative hypotheses as an explanation of a particular point, as if the body of evidence were a house of cards standing or falling on one detail; but the edifice of climate science instead rests on a concrete foundation. As an open letter from 255 NAS members noted in the May 2010 Science magazine, no research results have produced any evidence that challenges the overall scientific understanding of what is happening to our planet’s climate and why.
The assertions of climate deniers therefore should not be given scientific weight equal to the comprehensive, peer-reviewed research presented by the vast majority of climate scientists.
The determination of policy sits with you, the elected representatives of the people. But we urge you, as our elected representatives, to base your policy decisions on sound science, not sound bites. Congress needs to understand that scientists have concluded, based on a systematic review of all of the evidence, that climate change caused by human activities raises serious risks to our national and economic security and our health both here and around the world. It’s time for Congress to move on to the policy debate.
How Can We Move Forward?
Congress should, we believe, hold hearings to understand climate science and what it says about the likely costs and benefits of action and inaction. It should not hold hearings to attempt to intimidate scientists or to substitute ideological judgments for scientific ones. We urge our elected leaders to work together to focus the nation on what the science is telling us, particularly with respect to impacts now occurring around the country.
Already, there is far more carbon in the air than at any time in human history, with more being generated every day. Climate change is underway and the severity of the risks we face is compounded by delay.
We look to you, our representatives, to address the challenge of climate change, and lead the national response. We and our colleagues are prepared to assist you as you work to develop a rational and practical national policy to address this important issue.
Thank you for your attention.
John Abraham, University of St. Thomas
Barry Bickmore, Brigham Young University
Gretchen Daily,* Stanford University
G. Brent Dalrymple,* Oregon State University
Andrew Dessler, Texas A&M University
Peter Gleick,* Pacific Institute
John Kutzbach,* University of Wisconsin-Madison
Syukuro Manabe,* Princeton University
Michael Mann, Penn State University
Pamela Matson,* Stanford University
Harold Mooney,* Stanford University
Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University
Ben Santer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Warren Washington, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Gary Yohe, Wesleyan University
George Woodwell,* The Woods Hole Research Center
This is just one source, there are literally hundreds of sources. Just search the net for “climate change” and you could read for years. All of them will tell you one thing in common, that is climate change is happening and is happening fast. You won’t need years though, in fact, you can find out all you need to know in just a few days with just a few hours per day. You do not need to know all that much really. Just take enough time to confirm it for yourself; we don’t have time for you to take too long on this. We need your hands on the job, not the keyboard. So get on it and get it done. Hurry, we need you back here with your hammer and your shovel. And we need all those who are going to be involved, and that means just about everyone in the entire world, ready to go by at least 2020. I’m not being cute, I mean it literally.
I would prefer that at this point you put this book down and go and find out about climate change. You can read on, but you’d be better off knowing more about this issue. Right now, knowledge is your friend more than it has ever been in human history. But hey, if you are going to take my word for it or already know all you need to know, then read on.
The Denial Problem
I’m not sure I really like using that word, denial. After all, we had record-breaking snow and cold temperature for the 2010 winter. Yes but then again right now as I type, Russia is burning up with record breaking drought and heat, Pakistan is flooding itself off the earth and the Asian, American, Indian/African and Australian continents are having record-breaking hot summers. The Arctic just had the second highest retreat of ice for July on record while May had the fastest rate of ice retreat on record. These types of events are becoming common in the last 10 to 15 years. There’s always some climate record being broken, it’s the norm now.
But then again, climate change has always happened on the earth, it’s a natural cycle some say, and I agree, it could be natural. Even though science has pretty much conceded that the primary cause is man-made greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2 resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.
Which reminds me of a question I always want to ask skeptics; given that they have for the most part have conceded to the fact that the earth is warming and also acknowledge the impacts of that warming. The question is this, “If it is so that the cause of our warming is due to natural cycles of the climate and is not the result of human burning of fossil fuels, and considering what we see happening currently with the climate, then why would we not still need to prepare for the potential continued rise of global temperatures bringing even greater impacts than we see now?” We have never seen or know of any climate activity such as we see now in all of our recorded history, natural or manmade. So how do we know what the hell this “natural cycle” is going to be? Will it warm up just to our exact liking and then level off? Is going to stop at 2C or 3C degrees of warming? Is it going to flip and suddenly start cooling? Or is it going to go all the way to 21C before the earth blows up…what? If this is a natural cycle, then we really can’t know what sort of natural cycle it is going to be. All we can know is that right now the climate is showing some pretty awesome change going on; like we’ve never seen. It seems logical that when we see something this big in our world that we’ve never seen before that we would give way to caution and try to prepare. No matter what the cause.
Regardless of the facts, it’s hard to believe that over such a short period of time we are heading into such catastrophic climate change that we could possibly go extinct or at the very least have to rebuild human civilization all over again. Sounds like one of those disaster movies or just a bunch of doomsayers having a frantic orgy of “end days” gluttony. And believe me, it is just that way. A large portion of us have a collective death wish and an almost satanic lust for chaos and destruction. It’s scary to think what we can be; how horrific our desire to kill. It is a part of humanity I can barely stand to look at, let alone accept.
Ignoring that though, I can still understand skepticism. It just doesn’t’ look that bad outside. Or sure, there are some weather extremes, but at the same time I’m sitting here in a beautiful setting of wild flowers brought on by record-breaking rains that have relieved a ten-year drought here in New Mexico, it’s happy, ask any New Mexican. WE GOT WATER!!
The only analogy I can come up with to shake loose this denial is the good old, over used standby, the cancer diagnosis. The doctor says, “Buddy, you have cancer and you have only 6 months to live”. The guy replies, “but I feel fine”. Who is he going to believe, the doctor or his feelings? Scientists are telling us, “Look you idiots, we are heading into climate disaster, the diagnosis is clear!” We say, “But hey man, the water is warm and the surf’s up, bring it on dude!”
It’s hard; I mean it’s really hard. Of course as it turns out, the doctor was right, 3 months later the guy dies of cancer. Are the scientists right also? Should we listen? It comes to this, our present prognosis is pretty much death by cataclysmic climate change and we have no insurance, there is no bail out; our only hope is to ADAPT.
The New World
Doesn’t that sound sweet – the New World? Yes it does, but I’m sorry; the coming new world is not going to be a Utopia. In fact, it is going to be a bit of hell. Oh sure, we’ll have to think different, and new thinking is exciting. That is, until you are forced into new thinking. What I’m talking about here is not some utopian brand of a New Age la-la land. This is about no ideology whatsoever. It’s about saving our ass; nothing more. So if you are reading this book for an easy answer, put it down. And if you read on anyway, then have your hammer and shovel ready when you are done. I’m sorry, I would like it to be utopia myself; I truly would. In fact, most of the years I’ve been an activist that was my thinking. And it still is, however, before utopia can arrive, we’ll have to be breathing. Let’s get that done first.
To get started, we’ll first have to do some stopping. The first thing that has to stop is the attention given to economic growth. I am saying we are in a condition beyond economics, and as of late, government policy as well. It’s going to hurt, no way around it. To reshape the infrastructure of the world will make money meaningless and to a large extent government also; it’s simply something that will have to get done. Humans will do this one, not the market, and not government policy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking democracy or the free market. But it just so happens that the free market principle only works if there is a steady 3% growth rate of the GDP. That’s great except a growth rate means production, and production means pollution. Well, if we were going to be the generation of humans that had an abrupt evolution and decided to save itself from extinction, then we are not going to do it with our eyes focused on Wall Street. We won’t lightly dance our way out of this one by adjusting the interest rate, or even by new programs for new energy for new jobs.
Evo Morales Ayma,
President of Bolivia
Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the planet. Under Capitalism we are not human beings but consumers. Under Capitalism Mother Earth does not exist, instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury, ostentation and waste for a few, while millions in the world die from hunger in the world. In the hands of capitalism everything becomes a commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death … and life itself. Everything, absolutely everything, can be bought and sold and under capitalism. And even “climate change” itself has become a business.
“Climate change” has placed all humankind before a great choice: to continue in the ways of capitalism and death, or to start down the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.
There will be no ideology trying to rule the world, just billions of people searching for a place to grow food and find shelter. If you think this is not going to happen and happen quick better think again because it’s already happening now. We are already in danger of losing many habitats for food, both natural and controlled. From fisheries to farm ground, loss of biodiversity, destruction of coral reefs, acidification of the ocean. All these and more are happening now.
These sorts of changes to our natural world are going to cause us to react unnaturally. At least in terms of what we’ve gotten used to in our economic, political, cultural and social paradigms. Money will be useless in our pursuit of change. So we may as well plan on doing away with it. There will not be enough money to rebuild the world; we’ll just have to do it for free because we’ll die if we don’t. The same goes for our political systems as they are now, they can’t help us. When you are running from a train hauling down on your ass, you don’t wait for an act of congress or a new stimulus package to jump off the tracks, you just jump. Jump in this case means coming forward and saying to humanity, “What can I do to help?”
And you’d better get used to the idea of having no real structure in your life. You’ll be working all day and sleeping and eating with your work mates. Remember the Pyramids? They all worked to make them, everyone one in town had to go and haul rock. We are there again, but his time it is not out of the choice of any human or human entity, the choice is coming from too much heat, it’s that simple. Turn your heating system up on an 80 degree day; turn it all the way up. Then wait and see how long you’ll sit there waiting for someone else to tell you to turn it down. You won’t, instead you will get up and do it your self; the heat will make you do it. And that is what is coming at you my friends, HEAT.
Are you getting it? We have to stop right now! We have to stop doing what it is we do. And that is, produce. NO MORE PRODUCTION!! Except for that which will keep us in food, water and shelter and able to work at making our new world. The next 3 to 4 generations will be like none other in human history. They will be sacrifice generations. They will be the hands that got the job done. And if they are not that, then it is very possible that there will be no more generations to compare to and past generations will be forgotten because no one will be here to remember them.
Me and You
We have to stop with ideologies. They have been fun, but the fun is over. If you are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Pagan, whatever; then you’ll have to leave it at the door. If you are a conservative, a liberal, a democrat or republican, an atheist, an agnostic, egalitarian, totalitarian, evolutionist, creationist, pro-life or pro-choice, gay or straight, no matter what your ideology is, you will have to leave it at the door and pick up your tools. You will work alongside your enemies, or risk extinction.
These next few decades will be all about stopping. We can’t start the new unless we stop the old. Actually, we won’t be starting the new; we’ll just be arresting the old until the new that works is found. In the mean time, we’ll need housing, food, water and clothing. Preparing for that eventuality will take the first 5 or 10 years of the next 40. Just getting ready to get ready will take years. Don’t worry if you are over 50 right now in 2010. Most likely you will not have to hammer and shovel, your kids will, but you grandmas and grandpas won’t. We will need your wisdom, your patience and your influence. Most of all, we will need you to be alarmists. We will need you to shout out the coming peril. The whole lot of you a bunch of John the Baptists, that’s what we need.
These first few years will be the hardest to pull off. In fact, the initial acceptance of our demise is the first task to accomplish, and the most difficult. For that we will need everyone to study up and learn about climate change and its true realities. I know, we aren’t even close to that right now, but we have to try. Remember, we have only 40 years to get all this done. And that is if all goes well. There is absolutely no time to waste.
“What the heck do you mean, ‘a hammer and a shovel’?”
Thanks for asking. What I mean is this a big world we live in. There are huge masses of structure out there. More so, there is a huge infrastructure in place that will not help us while we are faced with the impacts of climate change. They are not adaptive. We have buildings that are too tall and buildings that are too short. We have buildings, homes, businesses built right on the shore line. They will most definitely have to go as sea levels rise. We will need the materials from these structures to build new ones that are adaptive. We do not have the machinery to get all this done, and even if we did, we do not have enough people who can learn to operate them, but they can swing a sledge-hammer, carry a bucket and hammer nails.
Our roads are about the only thing we will be able to use from the existing infrastructure. Housing will have to be equalized, no more 3 car garages, tennis courts and swimming pools, not for a single family anyway. We just can’t afford it under this crisis. No more fast cars, golf clubs, or trips to Jamaica. No more affluence of any kind. We will all be put pretty much on an equal footing. We have to, because it will take ALL of us to get this job done and you can’t have some of us drinking high dollar champagne while others drink water from a tin cup. War would break out for sure. It’s a freaking emergency, “all hands on deck”. Get it?
Food and water are the real deal here. New farmlands, farm practices, and even new farm products are going to have to come about. Climate change is going to be felt first in regards to our food and water. Long before the seas start to rise we will be faced with food and water shortages. You are going to have to become a farmer, or at least a large majority of us will and they will share the crops while making no money. You are going to have to haul water, catch rain water and most importantly, purify water. And this will all have to be done cooperatively. No one is going to be able to be a hog. It will take great sacrifice on behalf of those who love their food and drink. But, get used to it because if you are under 50, it’s coming your way like it or not.
After about 10 years into this, hopefully we will have all gotten on the same page and have accomplished a plan for reconstruction. Then the physical work will begin. We will be building an entirely new infrastructure; one that will be able to withstand the impacts of climate change. Transportation will be primarily public. Recycling, reusing and reducing will become a real concept, not the happy little one it is now. We will deal with waste as though it was gold and composting and recycling will be the responsibility of everyone. The infrastructure will have to service all of these things; in fact, it will be its main purpose.
We will have to be moving people and structures off coast lines. An infrastructure will have to be built there also. One that directs rising sea water while at the same time gives relief to flood waters, there are going to be lots of floods. The infrastructure will have to be built in such a way as to be concerned with survival only. Agriculture is the key word on this one. Our infrastructure will be there to service farming like it never has before. Because food is going to get hard to come by as many of our existing farm lands are going to dry up and blow away. Our land use and farming practices are going to have to develop into a whole new concept. Most all of this is going to be done by us, the humans. Governments can not do this alone. And don’t wait around for corporations to do much of anything either, the BP oil spill should let you in on that fact.
What work you ask? The work of saving our ass, that’s what work I’m talking about.
The Denial Problem, again
“This is all sounding just a little bit crazy. C’mon, the Pyramids? All of us working together? Now that’s a laugh.”
Yes, it does sound pretty far out doesn’t it? At this point I hope you have studied and have come to the same conclusions I have about climate change. If you have, then maybe this isn’t so funny. Using the analogy again, if you have taken the doctors word for it, you are now maybe going to do a little chemotherapy, but mostly you will be preparing for the future of your loved ones. But even though you have woken up to reality, there is still a persistent nagging of denial. After all, you still feel good, so it’s hard to think in terms of impending doom. And as for all of us and our relationship to reality, we can say it’s still pretty outside, and the seas seem calm. Yet, you are being asked to sacrifice your time, your energy, money and even family to help prepare for the coming disaster??
Think of it this way, right now we are in a movie that is about climate change. We are in the first 15 or 20 minutes of the film. Where there are random news broadcasts of floods, drought, species loss, melting ice, extreme weather and so on. The film depicts us watching broadcasts about climate change while they go in one ear and out the other. Deep inside, we see it passing and everything returning to normal. But somehow the film shows that along with this apathy and skepticism comes a doubt, just a little doubt that maybe it won’t pass. That maybe we are truly going to experience a great change. That is what the filmmaker is doing with you in the first 15 or 20 minutes of the film, he or she is setting you up for the experience of the last hour and a half of the movie.
About thirty minutes into the film there comes about a few disasters. Suddenly there are reports of food shortages in the southern hemisphere and water shortages in various regions around the globe. Then a big one hits and a chunk the size of Texas, California and Arizona combined breaks clean off the Wilkins Ice Shelf. Tsunamis are sent off and within hours 600 foot waves hit shores all over the world. One year later the net result is 1.1 billion dead. It is projected that pandemic disease will become the norm for an indefinite period of time and that food and water shortages due to contamination will continue to rise indefinitely as well. The next hour and 15 minutes of the film runs its course, we all die.
And so it goes for us and our relationship to climate change. Those first 15 or 20 minutes of the movie can be translated into 15 or 20 years of our real-time. But right now we are about 5 or 6 years into those years. It started for us around 2004 or 2005. The broadcast are happening right now as I type. They are common place, just like news of war, economic pitfalls, moral decay and all the other commonplace bad news we hear. It’s become a drone and its vibration has settled into our consciousness among many other nagging vibrations. We tune them out.
Nevertheless, we are hearing the bad news. The movie is being played out. Will it take a 600 foot wave to get us moving? The only thing that can prevent us from action is denial. To embrace the truth about climate change means you will be getting up and doing something, it’s that simple. Do something much easier now, or do it very hard later. Entire books on this very particular denial of climate change have been written already. The bottom line is you just have to face up to it. Climate change is on its way and there is no stopping it and it is going to get real shitty around here.
One day I was thinking about my life and the way I lived it. I saw it was a contradiction to the essence of what I deemed a spiritual existence. For me, this existence expresses a reverence for life and the simplicity of nature. But I was not living that way. Instead, I was very busy with work and wrapped up in material affairs. This seemed unavoidable, yet it was not right, life should not be so furious as to cause one to lose their spiritual focus but it appeared that was the way of things. I saw that in order get along with this system America had developed, one had to work hard and concentrate on success. I am not referring to huge success; I just mean living with a car, an apartment, the grocery store, movies and the occasional vacation. To accomplish even these moderate needs and pleasantries one had to be working a full time job and be dedicated enough at least to keep the job. Without the job, one was ousted from it all, a homeless bum on the streets.
This confused me, what was a person to do? I realized that people everyday lived the American way and held on to their spiritual life with no problem. So, why was I in conflict? Somehow this compromise between the secular and the spiritual was not setting with me. I tried to convince myself that all I needed was to learn how to balance this out. But this balance was not forthcoming.
Finding this balance became my sole quest in life. But first, I had to come to understand some things about the world I lived in. What I found was that in our present social paradigm, I was never going to be able to find the balance between the secular and the spiritual, in fact, in this paradigm, the only thing I could ever find was illusion.
The Life of Illusion
The systems within the developed world and throughout democratic societies are illusionary and have us on the wrong path. The illusion is so strong, that we think we are on the absolute right path. We believe our system is founded on sound principle; we are wrong about that. It is not that this path is necessarily evil or that a conspiracy is controlling us, but the path just leads us away from the real path concerning what we are about as humans.
I am going to attempt to explain how this system is illusionary by examining one main function within it; materialism. The illusion is created by our belief about materialism. We take it for granted that materialism has no other purpose but to serve our basic needs. We believe we cannot survive without materialism, but still maintain control of its power. Therefore, we assume we have no real vulnerability to it. So right away, there is contradiction in us. We have to survive by materialism, but it has no power over us?? Denial keeps us sane; in this case, denial is the only way. As you read even now, your denial is fully engaged. That is what I will really be up to; to break through your denial and reveal this illusion.
The belief that our system has principle and guides us supports this illusion. This is where illusion has its strongest grip. Not only are we in control of materialism, but we have morals and principles that go beyond the power of materialism. To us, we keep our principles and materialism separate; one is just used by the other as a means to carry out its demands. We, being in control of materialism, use materialism to exist, and we exist to serve humankind with compassion and love. It is a noble effort and principle, but we have been fooled. Instead we exist to serve materialism. We merely hold on to compassion and love as something we know we should (and really want to) exalt. Love and compassion are used to make the sins of materialism less glaring; they beautify them. In the end, love and compassion stabilize our greed, making them supports rather than staples for existence. Our real staple, which is materialism, is too ugly without them. I’m not saying we are hard and evil servants of materialism, but it does have us held in a terrible illusion.
I will get into how this illusion ultimately came about later on, particularly in chapters 7 and 8 in this part of the book. But for now let me talk about how this illusion sustains itself and holds us (me included) in its power. We have to look very, very close to see. Remember, it is an illusion, if it were not then we could answer with ease. I am going to use a fictional character who leads the life of the average American to illustrate, his name will be Joe. Joe will exemplify where the illusion has its power the most. Not in the rich, affluent upper class, not in the crime infested ghetto, but in the exact middle, because the closer one is to the middle the stronger the illusion.
Joe is an adult; he is married with three kids. The thing to remember about Joe is summed up in one word, balance. Joe and his family are the epitome of balance. Joe makes $32,000 a year and so does his wife, Jill. His kids attend public school in a nice residential area. Joe’s family are white and their neighborhood is 38% non-white. Joe served in the army as a communications repair man. He now works for a charitable organization that helps the elderly to use technology in their homes to communicate with doctors and hospitals, affording society to cut back on Medicare and giving the elderly instant care in the time of emergency. Jill is a counselor for alcoholics in a detox ward run by the state.
Joe has equity in his house, just five more years and it will be paid for. The family has two cars, one is new, of which he paid $5000 down and his payments are only for two years. The other car is six years old but only has 40,000 miles on it. Joe is 43 years old and has a savings account with $36,000 dollars. He owns a small plot of land worth about $4500. He and Jill each have whole life insurance that will mature in ten years, totaling near $150,000. The kids have savings accounts near $10,000 each for college or whatever they chose to use them for after 21 years of age. The family takes a ten day vacation to Arizona every two years to visit Jill’s parents. The off year they go to visit Joe’s dad in Nebraska for five days at Christmas or New Years.
Joe, having served in the military, knows that life is not a bowl of cherries. It can be cruel and you just have to grin and bear it and make the best of it. He also has learned that he should be grateful, his wife tells him of the nightmare plight of the alcoholic. Joe came out of the service with big ideas. He was going to have the largest radio repair shop in the city. But, the government said he was just one rank level short of service to his country to qualify him for a GI loan large enough to get it off the ground. Joe persevered anyway but could never get the breaks to see it fly. Eventually he gave up and landed the job with the charity. It turned out to be a blessing, now he feels good about what he does and still is able to help support his family. Joe has no complaints.
Joe is a Methodist and considers himself a Christian. But he doesn’t go crazy over it. The family attends church and its functions on a fairly regular basis. But if something comes up with the kids or he and the wife want to get away, he’ll skip church. Or maybe he just might want to go fishing that day. In any case, Joe believes that Christ is his way into heaven. He’s not really sure that heaven is all they say it is in church talk, but who is he to say and takes the Word at face value as best he can. He has a hard time believing that God would burn His people forever in a lake of fire, but he knows that some kind of punishment will probably have to be administered. He hopes that all of us will live in glory with God someday; secretly, that is what he believes.
Joe is a solid man. Joe could not be moved from his beliefs and sees nothing wrong with his life in general. He works hard; he loves his family with all his heart. He feels his country is the greatest in the world, though he doesn’t consider himself a devout patriot, he would serve all over again if called to duty, yet he would not be so crazy as to volunteer. His first obligation is to his wife and kids. Joe’s politics do not run his life either. He votes in all the major elections, but tries to stay away from partisanship, he doesn’t care if it’s Democrat or Republican; he votes his conscience.
I would say that Joe is a pretty good guy. He sounds like someone I could count on as a friend. His seems to be a caring individual, someone I could really trust, I’m sure I would like him. But I am now going to slam Joe like I would a demonic dog. Joe is worthless. Joe is the worst kind of devil, Joe and those like him may kill us all if we don’t stop them. I’m sure that this is not entirely Joe’s fault, Joe is a product of the system he lives in, but Joe is a major participant and deep down he knows it.
Joe gets all kinds of calls to his awakening but ignores them all. Joe is too trapped in his epitome to listen. Joe watches the tube and sees the starving children in Africa, so he sends the $14 a month to help out, good for you Joe. But when he hears about the actual carnage, such as 20% of the world’s population is starving to death, what does he do? Like most of his type, he clams up with denial. He thinks to himself, “It’s probably not true”. Even if it is, what can he do about it? He should just feel lucky it’s not him and his family. Joe is insulated. Joe will not feel their pain; he can’t, because if he did he would have to do something about it. To do something would mean the potential loss of his comfort. If Joe were reading this, he would say, “But that’s not true, you’re blowing this out of proportion. We can’t just stop the world and repair it just like that. Think of the lives that would be destroyed!” In other words, Joe would be telling me he feels bad they have to suffer, but I guess someone has to. The awakening that Joe is missing is this: No one has to suffer, we could stop the world and change it, remove suffering, if we wanted to.
But the illusion Joe is suffering from gives him the perfect alibi. That is, it would not be wise to stop the world and change it so drastically. The economy (materialism) would suffer such loss that devastation would surely follow. We need strong economies in our developed nations, without them the world would be chaos. Joe says, “Yea, that’s right.”
Joe is deep in illusion. He can’t see that materialism is telling him how to think about starving nations and eroding environments. The insanity Joe lives in is the deepest of all insanity. Joe can’t really see what has happened to him. He believes that he puts love and compassion first, that his life as an American middle class man has nothing to do with the rest of the world. His problems and his fellow citizen’s problems are enough to contend with.
Here’s the real mind blower, Joe’s problem is not apathy, it is not a lack of concern, Joe actually cares about these people. But that concern is immediately set aside to the priority given to materialism. Consciously, Joe has very little awareness of this, even though he has been shown many times over at least some of the truth. If you look straight into this situation with as much honesty you can muster, you will see the insanity. Joe and his peers from other developed countries live in comfort, they throw away more food than most of these people eat. Yet, Joe considers that his nation can tout love and compassion. Joe throws away food, 1 billion people starve. Joe takes trips to Arizona; 1 billion people live in tin shacks and take trips to the street to shit. Well, how blind are we, can we see this is insane?
Let’s look at this closer. Joe has two cars; 1 billion people have sores on their feet from walking without protection. Joe drives to the store 6 blocks away, 1 billion people walk ten miles to haul corn to be fed to cattle that Joe eats, they eat rats and rice. Joe watches the Sunday ball game or maybe even goes to it at the park and gets on TV himself, 1 billion people don’t have the strength to play with their dying children; they work all day to feed them less nutrition than the extra hot dog that got Joe sick at the game. Joe goes home and takes an Alkazeltser; 1 billion people have never taken medicine for diseases that are killing them. It goes on and on and on.
Are we not insane? We would not be so insane if we at least professed to be the demons of the world that we actually are. If we stood up and said, “We rule the world, we are to be served, others must die so that we may live, we don’t care; we have only ourselves to care for.” We would be cruel and mean and are hearts would be like stone, but we would be sane, because we would see reality. What is so amazing is that Joe actually cares, at least in his world of illusion he cares. To live as Joe does while the rest of the world literally rots; Joe has to be immersed in illusion.
How can this be? There must be some justification for this. Let’s look at the justification, better yet, the rationalization. Let us be rational. What a word: rational. The dictionary defines rational as, “1. able to reason 2. sane. 3. based on reasoning, not unreasonable.” So, if we are to be rational, we have to be sane. If we look at what we do now and call it sane and rational and it is not sane and rational, then we have an illusion as a collective society concerning rationality. Let’s assume we are sane.
Our sanity tells us that these 1 billion people are in their predicament because of there own doing. Isn’t that correct? Isn’t that what we say? I assume it is. But my assumption may be wrong. So we must think of other things we say. How about this, “Maybe it is not these peoples fault, but we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our standard of living in order to raise theirs.” Or this, “Look, the world is a tragic place, God has His reasons to allow sufferings of all kinds, we can’t go around playing God to the rest of the world. He would have us to take care and be glad he has spared us these atrocities, we’ll do what we can afford to do, because anything more would be a show of false humility.” Here’s a good one, “Look buddy, you can go around playing Mr. Philanthropist if you want to; I’ve got enough crap to deal with just being me.” Of course the granddaddy of them all is to just claim the impossibility, “Hey guy, it would be wonderful to save the planet and “all” the people in it. But consider the reality of the situation, people have their own lives, their happy, they have children. It’s a big job just to make it in this country. We need people like you, but the sad fact is very few people think as you do, and even if everyone did, how could we put together a rescue mission that big without someone either taking advantage of the situation, or causing a huge disruption of the masses, which in the end could cause more pain to the relievers than existed with the relieved? The logistics just aren’t there.”
I can’t think of anymore, but I’m sure our list of rational insights is very long. If we look at history, would we find any place in it that the world suddenly became full of compassion for itself and decided to sacrifice its comforts so all could live better? I don’t know of any, and if there was it couldn’t even scratch the surface of our present situation.
Do not get lost in the plight of the 1 billion people; it might just be that our rationalizations have a little merit, not much but a little. The 1 billion people are actually not my concern in this chapter. I am using them to illustrate the depth of our illusion. Once again, our illusion is we think we are in control of materialism, that it doesn’t rule us. Economy tells the tale, sets the pace and gives us our moral baggage. We do insane things because of it, the 1 billion starving people is just one predicament to deny and as you read the rest of this book you will see we have many more.
One of the strongest illusions is the one that says our life within this system has no boundaries. I say that Joe, within the accepted system, has reached the outer limits of his boundaries, but he thinks he hasn’t. He has peaked within the system, but the system gives the illusion that he hasn’t. Joe is on a track that goes nowhere but to reach materialism at its dept. He can hold onto his love and compassion and his belief in God, therefore he can believe that he is not materialistic and his life means much more, but in the end all he really will do is reach for more materials while his illusion will tell him that he is only using them to survive.
Joe has peaked because his beliefs go no further than to be used to cover up his real mission, to perpetuate materialism, for the system first and himself later. He will see himself as limitless because he knows that he can go as far as his will to work will allow. In his nest, he sees that he is content, so maybe he won’t feel the need to go any further. This, within this system, is his choice. Joe has his beliefs and his supposed modest use of materials, he comfortable with that, he wants no more. This is where the illusion has him on a track; the track always leads to this point of a certain limit of contentment. Within this system it can go no further, it’s the peak, it’s the boundary. The furthest anyone who participates in this system’s potential is one, a belief in God and the afterlife and two, an unlimited supply of materials providing you work hard for them. You may think that this offer doesn’t come from the system; that instead you create it yourself, but you don’t.
Why Have I been referring to “materialism” and the “system” as if together they were some kind of an entity? I don’t mean to give them that dimension, so I better explain what I really think of them. Of course, we need them. One reason is food, we can’t survive without that. Another is clothes, it wood get pretty cold without them. We also would have a pretty rough time without shelter from the elements, so some kind of ‘indoors’ is needed. I’m sure there are a few more basic needs we get from the system and materials, but I’m sure these are enough to give you the picture.
Though materialism is not some kind of living monster, it does have its own path. I believe it is more or less a manifestation of our social evolution. We eventually learned how to gain control of our lives. We first started by picking up sticks as weapons, and then made them tools, then we found fire and the rest is history. For a long time we used discovery and invention only to the extent to meet our basic needs. Eventually we found we could go beyond that and learned of luxury. Rather than give a history lesson on our material progress, which I couldn’t do, let me just cut to the quick and say that we came to modern times and in those times we developed materialism. The ‘ism’ here is the need for more and better ways to become comfortable and pampered.
That is why I believe that materialism has a path; it’s a path that has no final destination if left to its own mapping. It is a social-path, society as a collective entity propels materialism down its path. We don’t necessarily do this in a deliberate manner, but the road is there and we just follow it unconsciously. We appear to have some sort of need to gather, collect and discover materials even when we don’t care to do so. How many times have you bought something, eaten something, watched something, when you really didn’t even care to partake. We take for granted our waste of materials, it hasn’t been only till recently we’ve began to worry about our use of resources. One of the reasons we worry is because we may run out of materials, even though we don’t really need most of them to survive. Our supposed “needs” are coming from the ism in materialism.
For the most part, in this chapter I am trying to examine this need. Everyone is familiar with materialism; we’ve all had our lessons about greed. But I’m not referring to it in that manner, not exactly anyway. No one can call Joe a greedy soul, yet I am calling him the worst victim of materialism. He is caught in the deepest aspects of the illusion that materialism creates. That is, the illusion that he is in control of materialism. He thinks he works hard for his family, but he doesn’t, he works hard to stay on the path the system has made to perpetuate materialism, and he doesn’t even know it. At least the millionaire and the popper have some conception of this; Joe just thinks he’s doing the citizen thing. When Joe hears this, he’ll say, “Don’t you think you’re making a big deal out of nothing? I’m mean, the system isn’t perfect, but it’s all we have and we have to live within in it. I’m happy with it; it must work pretty well, right?” And so we say, “Yea, so what, big deal. We’re materialistic, is it really so bad?” This is the one of many places the illusion has its grip; we think it’s no big deal; it’s just a part of life.
If we could see, really see, what we are saying here then we would call ourselves insane. And if we could see that there are alternatives to these paths, we would see that we have been being ripped off for a long time.
Not all of us see the system this way; we don’t buy the system as absolute. Some of us only live out part of it and we never reach the boundaries I referred to earlier. Many times we are rebels, other times we are just discontent with the offer. Whatever your compliance with the system is, you can still be caught in its illusions. Some people have been able to avoid the major effects of this system. These people usually live far outside of the system. I am referring to those in communes, ashrams, jails, monasteries, or living as hermits and such. But even they cannot escape it entirely, however they will be the first to agree with what I am saying here and usually see the system as something non-conducive to discovering life’s real meanings.
Ode to Free Enterprise
Within our own society, our system of economic activity has an amazing subsystem for sustaining itself. If we do not cooperate with this system, it dies. For instance, lets pretend that everyone in America all of the sudden got lazy. They just all decided to quit working and didn’t really care about success anymore. The result would be obvious. Soon we would all die from starvation because no one would be willing to plow the ground to plant food. So, the system has to have a society interested in work and work‘s results to sustain itself. Someone has to like farming, someone has to like to make farm machinery, and someone has to like to sell farm machinery, and so it goes.
In our society, we like to do a lot of things. From farming to fabricating; from stitching to staging; from installing to inventing; from baking to bombing; the list goes on forever. We constantly invent things to do and those things create work and materialism rolls on. What a happy bunch of busy bees we are; but damn it, sometimes we just don’t want to be busy. Sometimes we just want to lie around and contemplate the stars, or maybe just have sex, anything but work. For some reason we never let these temporary contemplation’s become permanent results, we always get back to work.
What is it that stops this dangerous threat to our system of economic well being? Let me use Joe again to answer. Why in the world would Joe want to piss away his life, especially one so content? He has a happy home, he is happy with his work; he has his beliefs and convictions. Joe is not a nowhere man, he’s not a flake; Joe has the American dream plus a contented soul to boot. You can’t accuse Joe of being a robot, Joe’s life has meaning. So, there’s the answer to the question. The system won’t fail because of the quality people within it, like Joe. There are a whole lot of Joe’s in this country; each one does not want to see their lives wasted away. So, they work hard to make a living and leave something behind for their children, much of the time their children do the same. Materialism not only sustains itself, it grows.
Believe it or not, I’m not really knocking this, it works well. We have produced more in the last 100 years than in all of history. In spite of our fortune, we still can’t be considered empty souls when comparing us to the rest of history. We still have beliefs just like before. But there is a difference about us and the way we fill ourselves up. In the past, people spent a great deal of their time in contemplation of things bigger than themselves. It’s true, they didn’t have much else to do; their time had to be used up with something, so they thought about great spirits and Gods and such. We still do this, but it doesn’t carry the weight it used to. In fact, we tend to think of the old beliefs as ignorant, science proved it.
The progressive society we live in doesn’t have need for a great deal of contemplation anymore. We have too many ‘things’ right in front of us that don’t require much thought, so contemplation becomes much less exciting. Again, I can’t really say this is a terrible turn. We certainly are not any worse than those before us, they would live the same way if they had the choices we do; it’s human to seek comfort and entertainment. It is not as if we have turned into selfish gluttons. We work hard, and then we enjoy the products of our labor.
Ultimately, the association of our character and our material surroundings cannot be entirely separated. They blend together to make up who we are and what we are about. And who we are and about cannot be considered bad when you look at the New York skyline and ponder the wonders within. Or even a small Kansas farm house set behind golden fields of wheat. We know when we look at these things; a lot more is going on than just money and material gain.
If this is so, how can I call us insane? It’s simple, just take the images mentioned above and cast them next to images of starving children in Ethiopia. Where is our heart? It is wonderful that Farmer Joe had just enough money from his corn sales to get his son through college, nothing extravagant, just the local community collage. But Ethiopian Joe just threw his son on the dead pile for lack of food resources. How can we say we are sane? People die, we live, we could prevent their death but we don’t. And for what, our “modest” comforts?
Again, these comforts are not really the sin. It’s our devotion to them, even when we don’t really care as much about them as the starving children. We would rather care for the hungry, we would rather save the environment, we would rather seek a higher meaning to life and devote our life to it, but we think we can’t, we feel we have too many responsibilities that are more important. So the work we put forth, in the end, just carries on and we gather more responsibilities, then we teach our children to do the same and they for their children. Materialism perpetuates itself, we get lost in it, and we can’t see that the rest of the world may be dying. When we do see, we are not even slightly budged out of our position to help out; we can’t, because the illusion is too strong.
It’s not that we are lazy or selfish. Instead, we are bedeviled by this huge blind spot. When faced with the true conditions of the world, we feel we are not a part of it, that our actions should not be considered in the rest of the world’s plights. The reason is because our institution is too well built to tear down. Within that institution is a survival instinct to preserve itself. Its main tool for survival is the hard work of its citizens. Keep them busy, keep them responsible to their children, and the illusion will stick.
You may ask, “What’s the matter with taking care of your children and being responsible?” Well, your children won’t die if they don’t get a new computer. You won’t die if you don’t make extra $10,000 this year. You won’t die if your kids don’t get an education, or you don’t get your masters degree. You gasped, “My kids don’t get an education!” Once again, the illusion kicks in. As soon as the suggestion arises that we don’t need all these material gains, especially when people are dying, your head goes, “Yea but, yea but, yea but…..” that is the illusion kicking in. When your head says, “Look this just isn’t practical, our lives can’t change in that way, it’s not even necessary, let alone feasible”, that is the illusion kicking in. The illusion will tell you we’ve found the only way to live. It will say, “The life we live in the developed world is the hope of all nations. We live better today than any civilization in the history of the world. Therefore, it is the right and true way to live; to give it up would be crazy.” The picture is painted in your brain; you can’t get past it, even though it kills other people. You just don’t believe it, you can’t; your minds eye has a veil on it, called “Materialism’s Illusion”.
Let’s look at Joe a little more and take a peek at a moment of his life. One Monday morning Joe was driving on his way to work, he had just enjoyed a great breakfast Jill had made. It was her turn to cook, and Joe was just thinking how lucky he was that morning because she cooked his favorite breakfast, pancakes and eggs, she had a real talent for it. Suddenly the car began to choke, the steering wheel tightened up and then he looked and saw red lights all over the dash. He was right in the middle of traffic and he knew he’d better get off the road. By the time he got to the shoulder of the road, the car was dead and wouldn’t start. “Damn, this is my new car”, he said aloud.
The thing about Joe you must remember, he is a man of balance. Right away he realized that bitching and moaning wasn’t going to fix it. He grabbed a couple quarters from the coin tray and went to call the motor club. They said they’d be there within the hour. Then he called his work and told them what happened, even though he didn’t need to since Joe worked under no supervision, he just thought they might worry.
Across the street was a diner so he went over to grab a cup of coffee to watch and wait with. Joe wasn’t all that upset; he felt good about that. As he sipped his coffee he thought about what the preacher said last week in church, “Life may hand you some woes, but it’s not how they turn out that counts, good or bad, it’s how you let them control you.” Joe realized that this was one of those woes, he felt good that it didn’t make him crazy. He knew of several ways to react. He could have slammed his fists through the windshield, he could have cussed passing drivers, but instead he calmly handled the situation. Not only was he not upset about the car, but he wasn’t gloating over the fact he had a warranty. He was grateful for it, yet he didn’t covet it. Joe felt very close to God at this moment. In a sort of revelation, he realized God will bring us away from this someday, in the mean time; He would take care of us and get us through trials of all kinds.
There are many people like this in our free market economy. The market would not survive with out them. If everyone who had a car breakdown broke their windshield and cussed out others for no reason, the materialism would suffer. People need to get along in a successful economy, otherwise trade would be difficult. Actually, what an economy really needs are mentally stable people exactly like Joe. That is what we have; we have a society of mentally stable people. We have enough people who care about themselves and others to keep us social enough to get along and do business together. I may sound a little sarcastic about this, and I admit I am, but I should say, I can’t really knock this. It is a system that works, well, has for a long time now, but…we’ll get into that later.
The problem is we think it is perfect. No, we really do think it is perfect. Better yet, we think it is the absolute system, that there is no other. But hear this, we haven’t even scratched the surface of what systems are available to us, they go beyond our imagination. Why? Because our imagination is very limited when it comes to society, which is an aid to this illusion thingy I keep referring to; there are many aids to this illusion.
What have I established so far? All I’ve really said is that we live in a society that thinks its okay, but I say it isn’t. I contend that we live in illusion; we think we are in control of materialism, but in reality materialism is in control of us. For that reason I believe we are experiencing a type of social insanity. We think we are driven by love and compassion, instead we are driven by the pursuit of material comfort and love and compassion are merely there to pretty this ugly picture. I don’t think that material comfort is the real demon; instead, it is our strenuous pursuit of it. Instead of working hard to lift our souls, we work hard to perpetuate materialism, and we don’t even know it. The illusion is so thick that we can’t even bow out of it long enough to feed 1 billion starving people. To top it off, we would rather help the people, but some obligation to uphold our responsibility to material gain discounts that as some pipe dream. It is not that this system is so terrible, excluding its lack of action to help the suffering; it is more we have been limited by boundaries of contentment while the illusion tells us we are limitless.
We get a false sense of security about our happiness, because we think we have our faith, which is what we think we are really about, but our faith, like our love and compassion, is a tool for deception. We only go as far with our faith as material responsibility will allow, otherwise we think we are being irrational. Finally, it’s this middle ground that deceives us the most. The combination of spiritual life and material life as we know it conceals the need for alternatives. We don’t experience the need; we don’t need to, because we work hard for our families in this life and then God rewards us in the next life. Our hope becomes life after death and material gain while living. We do this for our children, and they for theirs. And note this; even if you are not spiritual, but are good, caring citizens, you are on the same boat as the spiritual. You are just as limited by the same illusions of this system as the spiritual are.
Hopefully, these two paragraphs sum it up thus far. Though there is not much to understand, it is hard to understand. The illusion makes it so; the illusion has many rationalizations. As a result, I will repeat myself quite a bit; this writing may be more like a mantra than anything else. It is my feeble attempt to bring about a moment of clarity.
Work and Success Ethics
For developed countries, work and success ethics act as foundations for character, individually and collectively. Without them, a civilized system has no backbone. In order to endure, work and success must be established as ethics – they must have meaning. In this chapter I will critique what this meaning is. I will show how the work ethic and the need for success that compliments it are perceived as strengths of character giving meaning to our existence. I contend that our present work and success ethics have little effect on human character. Ultimately, they deceive the mind into a false sense of worthiness. In the end, there is little or no meaning allied with this effort, it becomes nothing more than a time consumption mechanism. In short, our ethics concerning employment activity are void of any substantive character or ethical value, but are as solid as granite relative to material value.
Concerning character building, I will take the assumption that the net total of your effort is measured in the good you return to those around you and the emotional and spiritual satisfaction you receive by having this character. The first question in this chapter should be: What is the result, in terms of value, given to your personal character building and to the good of those around you, after the completion of employment activity? The second question should be: What value exists from said employment activity as it concerns the true meaning for our existence?
We say that it makes us feel good to have a good work ethic and achieve success because of it. Is this feeling related to character and ethics? This would give a cognitive measurement to the net value. Or does it relate to material gain? This would give physical measurement to the net value. Or, does the feeling relate to both ethics/character and material gain? If it does, how does their value break down into measurement? Is there a measurement for the combination of them, or are they separate results? If they are separate, which of them has the greater overall net value to human beings?
I want to relate ethics and character to value because we are making judgments, or measurements, about their worth to us. Remember, we are trying to assert a value measurement from the result of our efforts in employment. And we are trying to conclude if this effort gives value to material gain, cognitive gain, or both. These words; ethics and character; are subject to interpretation, but for the most part I think we can all agree that these adjectives deal with human qualities of good vs. bad. We need to find the most common denominator of these qualities so we can all agree on what behavior should be exhibited from an ethical person with character. In the context of this subject, we can agree that we are exhibiting these qualities, in a “good” way, when we feel good about ourselves and others feel the same way about us. Accomplishing this, we, by default, will measure the value of our employment activity.
The “Good” Feeling
What is this good feeling we get from a hard day at work? Actually, these feelings have varying modes of expression. We could say one of them is responsibility; we know we are doing things productive; we are contributing to the economy and our families. Another comes from the exhibition of talent, our self-esteem rises as we get better at what we do. The mere exercise, mentally or physically, keeps us keen and fit. In the absence of work, we feel lazy and useless, while working, we feel active and worthy. And of course, a paycheck always feels great!
Whatever the manifestation of this good feeling, it feels good as it relates to measuring the value of employment activity. Remember, we are trying to measure the value of our employment activity in units of character and ethics. In that measuring, we assert a value of worth. Then, having found their worth to us, we decide if this comes in the form of material or cognitive gain or both. Making that decision we, by default, measure the character and ethical value of our activity.
I think that it is safe to assume that cognitive gain would relate more to character and ethics than would material gain. If that is no longer a safe assumption to make, I’ll just stop writing now and concede total victory for materialism. I will take this assumption even further and conclude that character and ethics concerning the good feelings we get from our employment activity have little to do with a combination of material and cognitive gain.
Having made this assumption and having contemplated the many origins of good feelings associated with employment activity and having given these manifestations value and worth – Can we now give measurement to cognitive evidence of character and ethics? Most important of all – does this measurement of character and ethics have meaning? After measuring, do we have “strength of character” and “meaningful existence”? I say, “No, we have hard workers!”
These workers have some good feelings and those feelings for the most part have cognitive worth and value. Does this give way to meaningful and soul sustaining existence? No. This is also true when the hard workers give good feelings to those around them. Now it’s true, we said character and ethics are evident in “the good you return to those around you and the emotional and spiritual satisfaction you receive by having this character.” We have answered our first question, “What is the result, in terms of value, given to your personal character building and to the good of those around you, after the completion of employment activity? The answer is us and them get some good feelings as described above. The second question, “What value exists from employment activity concerning our true meaning for existence?” The simple answer is that these few good feelings are not very profound concerning the meaning of life. They are not much more than a little buzz. Think about it, especially those of you with faith in God and belief in the afterlife. Does this phrase: “responsibility; we know we are doing things productive; we are contributing to the economy and our families” give you spiritual bliss? Does this phrase: “the exhibition of talent; our self-esteem rises as we get better at what we do” give you spiritual bliss? Does this phrase: “In the absence of work, we feel lazy and useless; while working we feel active and worthy” give you spiritual bliss? Does this phrase: “And of course, a paycheck always feels great!” give you spiritual bliss?
These rewards are merely manifestations of functionality on the material plain of existence. Aren’t they? The depth of “strength of character” is no more than your feeling morally fit to work. The ethics derived from these rewards are work ethics. The worthiness you feel is a motivation to feel more worthiness (success), or to work harder for this “worth” buzz (success). Your mind is caught in a rotating work and worth phenomenon (success). It is so vicious a cycle that an illusion forms from the dizziness. It says, “you are not dizzy, you are feeling reward”. The illusion tells you there are no bounds to these rewards – “Go, and seek no more; you have found paradise”. No bounds, limitless, feel good rewards…all is as it’s suppose to be…life has meaning…it’s all in a hard days work.
After writing the last chapter, this one becomes a joy. I suppose the reason is because this subject can so easily portray my theme. If there was ever an illusion in our society, it’s the illusion of education. In this chapter, as in all the chapters in this part of the book, I will attempt to show how the system we live with is illusionary and has us on the wrong path. Our approach to education is one of the key ways we stay on the wrong path.
Our schools mean a great deal to us, they could almost be considered holy temples. Go to your nearest college campus and you’ll find something somewhere on that campus some sort of display with majestic overtones concerning education. “Here is the first step of your thousand mile journey” “Behind these walls lie the great minds of the future” “Thomas Edison was here”. What would be more truthful is a sign reading, “Get a degree then get a job”. The truth is that our educational system is no more than a degree factory and a degree is not much more than a go-ahead card for full participation in the system that has you work hard for material accumulation.
For the most part, not much else happens with education. When we get somewhere around fourth grade, we begin to realize that this education thing holds the key to having what mom and dad have. Dad says to us, “Look son, that D you got in arithmetic could have long term implications on your future. When you go to college you’ll want to get the best grades you can so you’ll have the qualifications to get a good job someday. So you better start getting in the habit of getting good grades now because it will be hard to get started when you’re eighteen!” The thought of not having a good job scares the kid and so he gets busy studying. You may think this scenario too simplistic but I bet you can remember that fear at some point in grade school, or at least early in high school. If dad or mom didn’t give it to you, your teachers did.
We have many good intentions for education. It’s the old see the world thing, the old open your mind to the wonders thing, expand your horizons thing. But in the end, it’s the get a job thing. Then it’s the get a better job thing because I need the material thing, all the while fear is driving you on. When the fear gets too great, you get more training for easier access to job security and higher income security. Eventually you get educated enough that the fear begins to subside and it is now time to pass the fear onto your kids. And speaking of kids, we get so terribly concerned about our ‘kids’ education. We want our kids to go to the best schools. The thought of them not being able to compete with “the trained masses” is literally devastating to us. Why? Because they won’t get good jobs. Why do we want them to get good jobs? So they won’t be poor. We never think of poverty as the starvation of the real mind, poverty is always measured in money terms. I say always because the experience of enlightenment on average is always secondary. It is hard for you to imagine it any other way even now; isn’t it? How could we live on enlightenment?
You see what’s happening here. The illusion has a grip on us when it comes to education. Our good intentions for education are the same as our good intentions for love and compassion. We tout love and compassion, yet one billion people are starving. We make our schools out to be resources for enlightenment, but are no more than factories for building employment units. Rarely does someone get educated primarily for the purpose of enlightenment. Even the kid who starts out with that purpose usually ends up with a degree providing them a place in the economy. When they don’t get a degree for that purpose, they usually make fun of that fact that they went to school for enlightenment, or are embarrassed to admit it.
I am not proposing that education be thrown out the window. But, seeing that our education system’s main purpose is to put you to work for money and material gain it shadows the real ‘knowledge’ that is essential to our becoming true citizens of the earth. If after your creative writing class you were heading off to a course in personal caretaking for the earth instead of one on money and banking, then I’d say we were getting somewhere with education. Don’t get me wrong, of course we need training and education for people to learn how to do things, productive things; nothing wrong with that. And of course there are the arts, music, literature, sports, etc. and rightfully these are taught in our schools and ultimately become aids to maintaining a civil society. Yet our civility, as you will see in the next chapter, only seems to be a support for better and more productive citizens. Again, nothing wrong with that except that in our present day situation with the collective citizenry in suicide mode, it becomes apparent that our civility turns out to be no more than an aid to perpetuating the illusion that we have our shit together.
Family Values: Ingredients for Success
Call me a cynic– I’m sure you have already–but I think this family value thing sucks. This is the biggest batch of apple pie crap I’ve ever heard. Okay, remember Joe? He is a man beholding to strong family values. Joe thinks of his family first, he loves them with all his heart. Joe would die for his wife and kids. But, would I shock you if I said Joe is only exemplifying a rudimentary function that enables materialism to have its stronghold on him. The trick is this: Without this kind of love and moral constitution, Joe and his family are not equipped to compete in today’s economy. As has already been established about Joe; he is a man of balance. Joe would appear to have all of his mental faculties, and in this system’s “standards” he does. It’s very difficult to work and do a good job and be full of mental anguish over your family. You must feel good.
We have developed, over the centuries, a way to get and keep this good mental attitude, it’s called family values. Recently, we have found ourselves in a struggle over this ingredient. Because of it, we fear a collapse of economic well being. If fathers don’t give a damn about their kids, then why should they give a damn about making good money? Why should they work hard? This is so fundamental it escapes us. The illusion we live in is very good at using these types of things to steer us away from seeing we are in illusion. It seems perfectly logical to assume that love and morality are desirable for a family. Of course they are, but that depends on the motive. The motive for family value in most developed nations is the maintenance of materialism.
Once again, you have to look very closely at this to see it, remember, we are talking about illusion. What family value does for us is get results. Think about this, as Joe walks through his day he walks a very straight line. His mind stays sharp; he keeps laziness at a distance. He has been taught to do this and believes he has been taught correctly. His moral character holds him in this sort of tight assed posture. In fact, we sinners make fun of the Joe’s of the world. They are often the goofy characters in our sitcoms. But the truth of the matter is it’s kind of sad. However, no one can be depended on better than the Joe types. Remember, I said Joe is the epitome of balance; we give dependability high scores when it comes to judging how balanced someone is. And so, Joe works hard.
As an epitome, Joe is more or less a rare person. As you swing out from Joe’s level of balance, various degrees of dependability start to fade. Many of those on the fading side of balance are just as affected by materialism as Joe. The difference is they are materialism’s rejects, Joe has found favor with the illusion is all. Those rejected may get lucky and find a way out from the illusions grip easier than Joe, but those that don’t suffer tremendously. They are rejects, get it?
Now, I’m not knocking balance and I’m not knocking family values, per se. I am, however, slashing the hell out of where they come from in our society. Joe works hard for his family. Joe and his family are living well; their standard of life is adequately admirable. The result is Joe and his family can hold their heads up and be proud. The family that has a low standard of living cannot hold their heads up; they have shame. Oh sure they can try and have that pseudo pride that poor families get, but it doesn’t really mean much to anybody but them. Everybody is happy at Joe’s house. The family with the low standard of living is not very happy much of the time. Things went right for Joe and his family; other less fortunate families have not had much luck. Consequently, they work with half steam, they also make more mistakes at work than Joe and his family; they’re distracted from their jobs. Joe is highly productive and is happy. Less fortunate father’s have less output and are disgruntled much of the time. Pain runs very deep in the low production man; he is embarrassed for being a screw-up. This is one of the very sad results of materialism’s illusion.
Why is it the result of materialism’s illusion? The answer to that is also the answer to why middle class people are deepest into the illusion. In our system we have a thing called careers and a thing called jobs. On average, those with careers are considered successful and those with jobs are considered, well, necessary, let’s put it that way. And I think it might be safe to say that happiness would correlate the same way on average with career and job people; career folks a little happier than job folks. Of course there are exceptions in all of this; there is a Joe in every job and every career.
Alright, here’s the thing. Some people just are not aligned in such a way that having a career aligns with who they are. It could have to do with ability and talent, but there are careers for every level of education and every level of talent and ability. Yet many people just don’t want a career; they settle for a job.
So this happens, and all the while the going belief is having a career means you will have not only more money, but a higher quality of life as well. But see, the people who have ‘jobs’ believe this as well. And by believing this lie, they become unhappy, they feel less than, and so it goes by default of belief they become our rejects; our low production folks; our unhappy ones. The thing is…they don’t want careers. And so they think something is wrong with them for not having this desire. But what is most likely going on is they are looking for something else, something other than what this systems offers. They don’t know they are looking for this, but it shows in the fact they don’t find happiness in the system’s offer, that is, to have career. Hence, through these people the illusion reveals itself. The illusion says we are on control of materialism, that we do not rely on it for our happiness and our expression of love and compassion, if that is so, then why are these people unhappy from low material status? And as for the middle class, they are deepest into this illusion because they work the hardest for this status. Get it?
If we really are about love and compassion, then what is it we do for the guy who doesn’t really buy this system for what it is? Where does it say we are supposed to buy into this system and what it offers? Can we not want for something else? No we can’t, the illusion won’t allow it. However, when the job guy comes to understand this, and that’s all he really has to do is see it, then they tend to get a little happier, go figure.
Of course, the job guy’s family suffers the brunt of this. They too are caught in the illusion and also feel the shame that dad and/or mom does. Consequently family values don’t mean so much, except for the fact that their family values don’t measure up. They are not like others, they are not…normal, and it hurts.
One of the things that has always puzzled me about family values is they seem to only be very visible within the family itself. Mothers and father’s are totally dedicated to loving their kids. They are also very partial to kids that are like theirs; kids in the neighborhood. This is considered very normal — it’s okay. My kids. Our kids. Our family. Kids like ours. Families like ours. In the mean time, others kids and other families across the globe are starving to death, millions of them.
Work hard; stay employed; be happy; teach your children.
The Wrong Path
Maybe I should ask, what is this illusion? Why call it an illusion? Why not just say we are materialistic slobs and that we know it; it’s not an illusion, but more it is a result of greed, which is nothing new to the human condition and certainly nothing illusive about it.
Well ok. We can say that but it would only be partially true because it does not fully describe our condition. If it were only matter of greed, then I would think that evolution would have at least begun to deal with this problem by now. Instead, we are getting worse as the years go by. Evolution works because of the survival instinct that is so strong in all species, and especially so for humans. Yet, it appears here in the 21st century we are most certainly headed down the path of extinction—by our own hand! We’ve been evolving for millions of years, and suddenly in the last 300 years or so we taken this turn down the road of total annihilation. And now we even know we are doing this yet we still continue. Something is wrong, something is behind all this. I say that something is that materialism has us under an illusion.
As I said, we have acknowledged we are on a path of destruction. It’s controversial and not all believe that, but at the very least the idea has been presented. But others say we are heading towards a wonderful and glorious future, all thanks to technology and invention. That may be true, but it is not going to happen until we have dealt with this collective suicidal tendency we are seeing in the here and now. Staring us in the face are terrorism, climate change, nuclear accidents, war, economic collapse, over population, food and water shortages and contamination, peak oil and now there is even the threat of artificial intelligence doing away with human beings altogether.
What the heck’s up folks? What are we doing? Why can’t we stop and get the hell off this crazy path we are on? Well, it is simply this; you can’t correct a problem if you don’t know you have a problem. Our problem is the illusion of materialism which says we have control of materialism and it has no power over us. We can not see that materialism is a path and that this path has only one direction and that is to grow and grow and grow. That’s all there is to it. Materialism has only one destiny, to begat more materialism. That is why it is an illusion, because we don’t see that, instead we see that we are in control of materialism. We think that love and compassion are in control, but love and compassion left long ago and materialism has taken over; we-just-don’t-know-it! Thus, we are under an illusion.
We have taken a bad turn. It’s hard to say when and why this happened, but let me try just a little. I think it is safe to say that this illusion most likely came out of the invention of the free enterprise system of economics and has been hard set since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. In fact, by the end of this chapter you will see that this is actually the bottom line of it all. I’m sure it had been evolving long before these events but considering all that has been discussed so far, “modern man” has demonstrated this illusion I would say without question.
Before free enterprise materialism didn’t really manifest in the general population. You only saw it in the very rich, the ruling class, royalty. There are exceptions of course like Ancient Rome, the Mayans, Easter Island, and others I’m sure. But for the most part we didn’t see materialism really become a part of the greater world until the age of invention and the use of free markets. Perhaps we can thank Benjamin Franklin for all this. In any case, materialism was not going to go very far unless we were going to embrace innovation and unless we could find a way to distribute all these materials, which was free enterprise.
So let’s put all this kicking in somewhere around the 18th and 19th centuries. Fair enough? And really the only reason I am doing this is to distinguish what caused the illusion of materialism. It’s called the free enterprise system of economics. Yeah that’s right, it’s that freaking simple. This whole damn thing is a derived out of the idea of free enterprise, nothing more nothing less. You see, the free enterprise concept is all based on growth of capital. Without growth the free enterprise system ceases to exist. It’s all in the equation for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is a measure of a nation’s wealth; this measurement is used in all developed countries now. The GDP can not remain stagnant nor can it recess, not for long anyway. If this happens for very long eventually you have recessions, and then depressions and then ultimately economic collapse. I am sorry to say, but this whole essay can be boiled down to the GDP equation of the free enterprise system of economics. Therein lays the formulation of the illusion of materialism. This is why materialism must grow, because capitalism must grow, which means we need more and more products to sell and for that we need more and more invention. Of course, when this continues on for centuries then eventually it starts to collapse under its own weight, which is exactly what we are seeing right now in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The question becomes, what can we do about this? We can do something about it. But the answers do not lie in equations; they do not lie in policies, markets, governments, invention or military force. Instead, we simply have to remember something; it is something we forgot a long time ago. The next chapter deals with this; it exists right here on planet earth.
The Human Being
Hopefully by now your denial has been broken just a bit. Hopefully you can see the illusion we live under within the free enterprise system of economics and the resulting growth of materialism. And hey, here is something you must know, no one loves a cheese burger and fries with a Coke better than me. What I am saying is that I actually adore the modern world. I love TV, movies, cars, boats and planes. Who doesn’t? Look, I am typing on a computer right now!
If it were not for the byproducts of free enterprise due to infinite growth I would most likely not be writing this book; particularly given that those byproducts are likely to destroy the planet. But yet, here I am typing on a computer…well, understand we are all in this predicament, including me. I am doing many things I disagree with, but I am stuck, we all are. That is why we need to work together on this collectively. Otherwise it’s really too powerful to overcome individually, believe me, I know. In the very opening of Part 2 I talked about my personal issue with the subject of this essay. I said my life “was a contradiction to the essence of what I deemed a spiritual existence”. And it is. I am hoping to remedy that someday. However, I am very certain I know where the answers lie to this dilemma. They lie in the understanding of what a human being actually is.
As human beings existing on planet earth, it is my opinion that we can only be either one of two things. We can either be consumers of this planet, or caretakers of this planet. It’s one or the other, no exceptions. At least within the realms of conscious intent; as Neanderthals we may have been excused from this, I really am only talking about humans as they began to collect and form civilizations.
I said at the end of the previous chapter that we forgot something. That something is what a human being is. We forgot that we are to be caretakers. Our relationship to this planet is we are the absolute dominant species. The natural inclination for us then is to assume that a human being is the caretaker of this planet, the president so to speak. It’s basic scientific deduction.
So what I am saying here is that as a species, we have to look at where we are in the food chain. Obviously, human beings are at the top. We have the power to destroy the entire planet. We are on a path in our technological evolution that someday we could actually blow this planet right out of the fucking solar system. I think there is no doubt about who is the big dog here. The reason this is so important to understand is that it is exactly what gives us our purpose for being here. With power comes responsibility, and as human beings we are responsible for the safety and well being of planet Earth. That being said, we must stop what we are doing and become responsible for the restoration of this planet. It is dying, and we are the cause. We are held by reason to become the solution. Evolution and the natural laws of the Universe dictate it to be so.
In conclusion I must say that we are given a great task. We have to cease the illusion of materialism. And that means we must find a new system for living. I believe we that we knew how to do this but have forgotten. That “way” is best exemplified in the tribal systems of the indigenous peoples of the world. I am certainly not saying we should shuck all our invention and pick up stones to throw at rabbits. But I do believe that there are examples within tribal life, both spiritual and secular, that can show us the way out of this mess we’ve laid at our feet. It is our very survival we are talking about here, do we want to live? If so, then we must find our way out of this illusion. The following chapter is about the tribal way and was written a long time ago for a spiritual magazine; you’ll see it is not exactly academic. But it does give a perspective of the contrast between the wakened and sleeping collective mind and the results thereof. If it is too sappy for you, skip it, I’ll understand.
The Tribal Way
At one time the people of the earth lived in such a way that all of us were more or less in constant contact with each other. We acted as if we were one mind. Spirits were with us in visual form and the animals communicated with us and did not run from us nor did we run from them. The important thing to remember here is that we acted and thought collectively. In doing this we were very conscious of our actions and choices. Since we were always thinking about the whole body of life we were naturally more careful about our choices in living out this life. We did not do things that were harmful to the earth and our collective selves.
We were given instructions by the Creator on how to live life, called a Lifeway. These instructions were very specific, yet very simple to follow. We were to live by the natural law of mother earth, and by her life giving properties in their natural form. She had all we needed. Food was available to us, materials were there for shelter and clothing, water was abundant and readily available. We just had to live by her natural ways. We could not manipulate her in any way as to take away her natural form. There was no need to do so because all we needed was to stay alive and walk in the beauty of our earth mother. After all, she was a living being and a supreme caretaker; there was no need to change her in order to get more from her, she had all we needed.
But, somewhere along the way, probably about 1500 to 3000 years ago, we decided she was not enough for us, why I do not know. We slowly began to sever our connection with the earth mother as the earth mother. And as this connection to her was lost so in turn was our connection to each other lost because she was the reason we stayed connected in the first place. In short, we moved from living an outwardly functioning spiritual life to a life geared towards non-dependence on spiritual ways. Now that we were not connected anymore we began to view the earth in a totally different manner. We were now alone in our effort to survive. Our common purpose to perpetuate living in beauty with mother earth had turned to an individual purpose to survive and beauty, except for that of our own making, no longer had anything to do with living.
It is important to avoid a sarcastic tone about this change we went through. It is a change and nothing more. If we, having free will, choose to live apart from the earth and each other it is our right to do so. After all, there is an advantage to making this severance. In certain ways life does become more interesting. Not having a collective to worry about allows us to explore all sorts of fascinations, and we surely did, as you now can see in the 21st century.
The problem is that this change has eventually come to be harmful to not only the earth but to the future of all life on the earth. Now that we live for ourselves we are not always aware of when we are hurting others. Not having a collective mind anymore blinds us to our common need to preserve the earth for survival reasons. Even though we no longer serve and worship the earth mother does not mean we still are not absolutely dependent on her or “it” as we call her now.
This is not to say that our lives today are not meaningful. Before we made this change we had two “participation’s” in life. One was to our collective, we participated in the care and nurturing of our collective survival through our earth mother. The other was our individual lives, which were not individual in the way they are now, but suffice to say there was an existence outside of the collective. This was generally thought of as family life. We participated in relationships with our spouses, children, parents, grandparents and so on. Life in this way had a very similar look to it as it does today. We lived together in homes, we laughed and cried together, we worked together for our survival and so on. These things definitely have meaning. In this way, life has not changed, but while we used to do all the same functions in family life as we do now, back then, we as families did these same functions with the collective, and the collective did the same functions with our families. This is what is no longer with us and is essentially the only difference, though it is a massive change to our basic ways living.
So we do live meaningful lives today. We still have our families; we still love and care for each other at least at the family level. And of course there is even still quite a bit of involvement with the community (though it would be wrong to even hint that there is an active collective consciousness). Yet, it is well known that we are in grave danger of destroying ourselves. This can or will happen through a number of causes: war, atomic catastrophes, environmental decay, starvation and so on.
What many of us these days portend is that this severance with the earth is the root cause of our demise, that today’s lifeways are lived in a bubble. We see, feel, experience and live as though we have meaning, but it is in a bubble. And our family lives are bubbles living within this larger bubble. The big bubble is the collective no longer knowing it is even a collective and we as individuals are inside that bubble severed from ourselves as a collective and not knowing that we are part of a collective. We have lost connection as a collective mind and as individuals. We no longer know who we are, but we think we do, because we don’t know what happened to us in the first place. We do not know that we, by choice thousands of years ago, severed our relationship with the earth mother and our collective consciousness, which she held together.
Living in this bubble we feel secure because we have our families. We have a life, and we cherish our lives. This is a natural thing. But there is another natural aspect to life and that is the awareness and function of the collective mind in harmony with the earth mother. We only have the one of the two “participation’s” of life going on. So, we are out of balance and we do not realize it, and if some of us do realize we are out of balance, in most cases we do not know why. Some of us do know why, but we are few in comparisons to those that don’t.
Living without this essential collective experience is why we are destroying ourselves. We would have never allowed ourselves to get in this condition had we kept our relationship with the earth mother and our collective mind. Because we would have been conscious of each other as one being. There would have been no reason or circumstance to create self-destruction because we could clearly see each other. Loosing the collective relationship brought blindness to each other and therefore blindness to our choices. And so here we are.
As we live in this bubble we are participating both collectively and individually in destruction. We think that, as individuals we are innocent. We say it is the corporations, the government and so on. We don’t think of ourselves as part of a collective, race, creed or societies. We only think of ourselves as members of these entities and that they are there for us and that as individuals we are not responsible for them. But we are.
This is the great lie of our separation from the collective and the earth mother. We think we will be judged as individuals and not as a collective. Though there may be a judgment for the individual, make no mistake there will be a judgment for collectives. Races will be judged as races, nations as nations, tribes as tribes, religions as religions, societies as societies. If you are a member one of these whether you want to be or not, and you have to be a member at least one, then you as a member of that collective will be judged. Your collective will be judged and you will be a part of it, no escape.
You may say, “Hey look, I just go to work everyday and do my part. I take care of my family, I do not harm anyone and I try to be of service to my friends and my community, what’s the beef?” The beef is this; when you go to work you drive your car. When you are at work you are making money for yourself and for the company. You may be involved in the making of a product, let’s say its baby rattles. Ask yourself, “Are these ‘normal activities’ destructive?” We all know what this destruction is: the rain forest, the perpetuation of child sweat shops, dirty air, corrupt governments, crime, child abuse, weakening family life, loss of resources and so on.
So, when you drive your car to work you are emitting poisons into the air that is causing the oceans to rise and people to not be able to breathe. When you are working for money for yourself and your company you are participating in an economy that perpetuates destruction just by its mere existence. The making of baby rattles promotes the use of petroleum based products that further promotes a petroleum based economy which is the root cause the decay of our earth mother. Not to add that our economic system promotes and preserves the isolation of the collective by its TV’s, mass communications, intangible mobility or the use of cars which put us inside a cubical and away from contact with the earth when we travel. Don’t get me started!
You may feel as though you are detached from the destruction our economy causes. But you are most certainly not, you buy the products that make the economy sustain itself, you are a functioning unit in its existence. You can not escape the responsibility because you buy and use the products that people in third world countries are dying from the production of. Of course, your excuse is, “Well, I have to make a living, I have to eat, I have to clothe myself, you know, how else can I survive?” But hey dude, you are doing way more than surviving! You watch a TV, you eat McDonalds, you drive two cars, you have a computer, you have three coats, ten pairs of shoes, and three suits. You have a complete dining room set and two sets of bedroom furniture. You have 60 CD’s and three places to play them. And you know what, you are lower middle class!
And guess what, every thing mentioned above was made at the cost of the earth, and some poor native in a foreign land. Just so you can survive? You are not detached, you are very much a part of a destructive force called the modern society, and guess what, you are not innocent.
I do not know where we exactly crossed the line. Was it the ability to grow our own food instead of directly getting it from mother earth? Was it the invention of the wheel? Was it fire? Was it the train, car, telephone? I do not know. But I do know what and when ever it was; it destroyed our connection with each other and our earth mother. To turn this around we have to go back to the ways of the earth. We must seek these lifeways to the point we begin to see each other again and come to understand the earth is a living being.
The last known time that we lived in this way was when the tribal and clan system was in place. Believe it or not we are fortunate enough that there are still some tribes with the clan system in operation today. Though they are almost gone and in danger of being lost with every day that passes. The time is critical to turn this around. It is not too late.
The reason the tribal system works to preserve the original instructions we received from the Creator on how to live with mother earth is, one, because it came from the Creator, and two, it supports the existence of the collective mind. It has to. A tribe has a system that goes beyond the family unit by itself. The old saying is “it takes a village to raise a child”. Everyone is in touch with everyone. They depend on each other for their food, clothing and shelter. All other material goods are in existence for the tribe and for the earth mother in ceremony; not exclusively of course but predominately. In short, the tribe is there for the tribe and nothing else. ‘You’ then, are a part of the tribe and it is intentional, you know that you are a part of something and that it is a part of you and you live by that knowledge. From that, the Earth stays in balance and you walk in beauty once more.
Free Enterprise vs. Humanity
What is ‘self interest’ and what is ‘competition’?
I’ll tell you what they are; they’re a load of crap that’s what they are. This is a short chapter with a very short, simple but vitally important message. When America came to being “America” we got there by competing with each other and we competed with each other out of self interest. So here we are in the 21st Century self interested in the extreme and competition has become so refined you need everything from a ruthless mind to steroids in order to keep up.
You see when good old Ben Franklin and his scholarly peers got their minds cooking on this idea I’d imagine they felt they had discovered masturbation or something. As brilliant and profound as it was it still was right under their noses all the time. It was so natural in its make up it would seem it didn’t even need to be invented, that it would just appear out of need. But no, we thought it up, you know, our spotless American ingenuity. We are some smart mother fuckers, can’t argue that.
How’s it work? First off, know that free enterprise economics are dead without self interest and competition. There has to be motive, drive, and ambition in the economic systems of the free world. Why? Because they run on freedom, what this means is our economies run on the choices made by the ‘individual’ consumers of said economies. It goes like this: 1.63 million consumers are demanding they have talking computers. Microsoft goes immediately to work on supplying their need. Why? Self interest; Microsoft wants to make money. And so it goes, comes a demand, then comes a supply. To have a demand you gotta have money, so you gotta work. To have a supply you gotta have raw materials and workers and once this happy scenario is complete you’ve enclosed yourself in the miracle loop of the free enterprise system of economics. You’ve worked and now you got money and because you got money there is loads of shit on the store shelves so you can buy it.
Self interest and competition relate directly to the above scenario. First there has to be self interest. You have to want. If everybody in the free enterprise world didn’t want things then there would be no free enterprise world, thus the motive. And if no one had any interest in themselves thus wanting even more new and improved things, then there would be no growth of capitol which the free economy must sustain or it dies, thus the drive. And how does an economy needing growth keep going if no one competes to make something even better than before? “Microsoft makes talking computers? Well ours not only talk, they listen too!” It was some new employee with a desire to make it to partner that brought about the listening computer, thus the ambition. So between motive, drive and ambition all being derivatives if self interest and competition you can see how important they are in the scheme of things. When all goes well with these consumer conditions, you get a robust and growing free economy.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Guess what? It is good, but only for about 300 years. Then of course the growth begins to collapse under its own weight resulting in guys like me writing books about it. The simple thing that goes wrong with this sort of system is the very fact that it is based in self interest and competition, the opposites of what we need to have moving us if we are going to be the caretakers of this planet as natural law deems us to be. We need concern for our community’s survival, not self interest; we need cooperation so we can maintain our survival as a species, not competition amongst each other. We’re doing just the opposite of what worked to keep us on evolution’s path for hundreds of thousands of years. We always made sure the collective was in tact, but ultimately as civilization grew we came to know free enterprise which introduced self interest and competition. So now here we are, an insane species threatening to annihilate ourselves and every other thing we can take down with us.
I think old Ben Franklin and his peers were not looking for this to happen. They just didn’t do enough calculus to foresee the bad math that free enterprise espoused. No one is to blame really. It’s all just human nature and human nature makes mistakes when left unchecked. We made a mistake when we took on this system, that’s all. There are no evil conspirators, no illuminati, Mason conspiracies, none of that. We thought it looked like a good idea, and like I said earlier, it was a good idea that worked quite well for a time before its polluting byproducts gained on its net value. Oh sure, we have greedy bankers getting big unwarranted bonuses, all that crap. But again, that’s just human nature, unforgivable, but expected from humans. In other words, we can’t point a finger at anyone one person or entity to blame for all this. It was simply a miscalculation by the founders of this system of which I sincerely believe meant very well and had no intentions to have us suffer for it, but we are.
“We” are suffering as a collective species but a fair portion of individuals within our species has gained from self interest and competition. All of us are suffering the byproducts, climate change being the most deadly byproduct, but in the here and now we are only seeing the beginnings of these sufferings. Many if not all of the ‘haves’ are not suffering much at all in comparison to the ‘have not’s’. And the have not’s in the developed world are not suffering anything like the have not’s in the developing world. It’s a about hierarchy at this point, but of course all that will fall in due time.
In free enterprise you have winners and losers. It’s very necessary actually both in dealing with types of people and also for getting the shit shoveled. You have some who have no self interest (of the free enterprise variety anyway) at all and are therefore no competition and will shovel shit, and some who have so much self interest (of the free enterprise variety) they’ll compete with a grizzly bear and become politicians. Given that, on the face of things this would look like a pretty good way to deal with human nature, at least within an economy needing production. It sort of separates the wheat from the chaff. It’s an “only the strong survive” scenario but not necessarily a harsh one. Its overall functioning allows for at least a small chance for ‘anyone’ to become a have (by the way, Joe and his family are haves). So, on the surface it appears not only to be brilliant, but fair as well. It becomes understandable why our founders would have taken this on.
Well, it was a good try. It sure got us a lot of invention, no doubt. There are gains from it and in the end we will see that many of these inventions are going to serve us well. But I’m tellin’ ya, we won’t use them properly until we get rid of self interest economies that promote separation via competition. Not anymore anyway, we’ve gone too far. From here forward we need to be recreating the tools of cooperation and community interest, not self interest and competition. We need to come to understand how cooperation works and why we can not do without it. Cooperation within our species is a natural phenomenon. We’ve only been without it for a few centuries; before we’d had it for millions of years. It will come back, it is natural law. We can only hope it comes back by our choices within nature, not by force of nature. Good luck with that.
Poverty Consciousness—A four Letter Word
The straight dope is there is no such thing as poverty consciousness. It’s a made up word by the wealthy to ease the guilt of their condition. It’s actually a name calling. The poor call the rich fat cats, porkers, rich fucks, etc. But the rich think they have gone beyond name calling, instead they tag the poor with a condition, they say, “He’s fraught with poverty consciousness, poor fellow”. However, since there is no such condition, it’s nothing but name calling. Now, I’m going to be knocking the rich pretty hard in this chapter. Just remember this; we are all caught in this trap. The rich are no more to blame than anyone, even though you will see I am going to blame them, but the blame is only by default; not by person or class. Both the rich and the poor are playing their parts in the world of free enterprise. We are all culprits and we are all victims.
The first paragraph tells it all very simply, it’s not complicated. But I know you’re going to want a further explanation. After all, the term is accepted in general society. The person known to be in poverty consciousness is immediately believed to have a condition of the mind where thoughts and opinions are skewed the wrong way about money and the rich. They are believed to be taken with bad thinking and are in need of an attitude adjustment giving them the “good” side of money and the rich while at the same time coming to understand that the rich are people just like them. But no, the rich and the poor are not the same, in fact; they are as different as cats and dogs. Both suffer guilt and shame for being poor and being rich, but for entirely different reasons.
Poverty consciousness is also falsely associated with low self-esteem, falsely because the portion of low esteem in supposed “poverty consciousness” is nothing more than just low self-esteem on its own merit; you can see this in the rich or the poor. And the portion that is poverty consciousness is a skewed view of an interpretation from the rich towards the poor and their mind set. What the rich are seeing has nothing to do with esteem of any kind.
The rich are really just doing a finger pointing when using this term. Of course not all finger pointing is bad, as long as there is no deception. However, the life of the term poverty consciousness was born in deception and has continued on to become a righteous concept while being increasingly deceiving. The phrase has caught on. It’s pretty cool to hand out the tag on someone, it’s very brave. I will say that those doing this tagging are innocent; “they know not what they do”. They have bought into the term as official, as though it came from the American Medical Society. It didn’t, I don’t know what book, but that’s most likely where it came from, some book.
As always, there is a deeper culprit in this game of words and that is the free enterprise system of economics. I’ll get into that later. For now, let’s examine this name calling wrapped in the guise of an authorized word construct. I think it best to understand the other end of this name calling scenario, the poor. After all, they are most likely to be the ones tagged with the term. I know that you will say that even the rich can be afflicted with poverty consciousness. But no they can’t, since there is no such affliction.
The poor do not have poverty consciousness. They have a perspective view from the lower level of the economies of our present day global market structure, based now in the free enterprise concept. The wealthy have a converse perspective that the poor do. However, the poor can see the perspective of the rich, but the rich can’t see the perspective of the poor. Ultimately that inability has become the vehicle for the term poverty consciousness to evolve. Being unaware of how the poor really think and thinking they actually knew how they thought, they eased into the term.
What the rich do not understand about he poor and their perspective is that their perspective primarily comes from looking at the rich and seeing what they are, porkers. The rich don’t know how much the poor can see this. But it’s like this, they don’t call them porkers and rich fucks for nothing, because that’s what the rich are, get it? Notice there is no ‘official’ term for the condition of the rich. We can call them names, maybe at best workaholics or overachievers. But these terms actually have some appeal these days, so it’s a wash. Put it this way, there is no term for the rich that equates with the term poverty consciousness, not with its weight anyway. For the rich all we have is name calling; but so do the rich as poverty consciousness is no more than a four letter word.
OK, here’s why. Since the rich can’t see the poor’s point of view it puts them on a defensive, especially given that they know the poor can see them, they just don’t know how much. They know it enough it bugs them. And then when some poor fuck calls them a porker, well then they can just say to themselves, “he’s got a poverty consciousness” and be done with it. The poor guy calls the rich guy a name; the rich guy thwarts it with a tag. It is a sticks and stones thing nothing more. But see the poor guy may be being rude and an asshole, but he see’s the truth, he see’s a rich fuck porker. And that is the poor man’s supposed poverty conscious condition, but it isn’t a condition at all, he’s just calling a spade a spade. Alright I know that I can’t just say the rich are porkers and not show that that is what they are. I can do that.
I realize that when I say that the rich are deserving of the name calling they receive I am making is a pretty big accusation. And yes, it holds for all the rich, or every person that has enough money to not have to worry about money (though that doesn’t mean they won’t worry about money). This is where the free enterprise system of economics comes in. The reason the poor can see the rich but the rich can’t see the poor is because our entire system, or the paradigm of modern democracy in the developed world, or the free market system, or the industrialized world, etc. works in such a way that the flow of perspective for society in general comes from the bottom up; that perspective being the view of how things work within the constructs of our world. When the system works for you, then your view of it cannot be seen because you can only see it from the bottom up and being that you are on the up side you can’t see the view that comes from the bottom up.
Now by understanding this construct I can explain why the view is only one way. Within the system of free enterprise is a built in propulsion of growth of product, it has to be there or the system dies. This propulsion is so constant and so steady that its motion tends to cause everything to move one way, even perspective. In the developed world the motion goes upward the social, political and most of all economic hierarchies. It plays into everything of the developed world, from wealth to poverty to emotional and mental perspectives to spiritual philosophy, everything. It’s the biggest disease to ever hit the planet.
Let’s look at this closer. To be fair I have to say that within the social norms of the developed world the term poverty consciousness can make a lot of sense. I believe that considering the type of evolution we’ve be on the last 300 years, an economic/product evolution, this term fits in the lines of its hierarchy. Therein it is natural to say that one’s thinking themselves poor—thus they remain poor. They remain this way in defiance of the rich, in false pride and arrogance. So, they ‘think’ poor.
Ok, that’s more or less correct. That is exactly what happens, the poor think poor and stay poor. The problem is our society has deemed this wrong; it’s called bad thinking, emotional disorder, mental dereliction. What’s the matter here is that these poor people wishing to remain poor are doing the right thing. However, the majority of them do not know this fully; they buy into the social norms and thus are rewarded with the burdens of guilt and shame. And that’s the sham; this is where it’s all screwed up because they are the ones whose ways and means we should be idealizing. Instead…well, you already know the instead.
My guess is that at least 80% of the poor do not know this about themselves, that they are actually icons, and also do not know why they remain poor in spite of the guilt and shame bullshit. They remain that way because of how they got that way. They got that way because by the time they were about 12 years old they began to see that life in the modern world was sort of out of place, something was wrong and they couldn’t buy into it. This has nothing to do with a consciousness of poverty or anything remotely like it. It has only to do with having the good sense of knowing when something is wrong. But of course, social norms are as powerful as mothers and so those “something is wrong” thoughts quickly fade as we move forward into seventh grade algebra. But the thing is, at the subconscious level the thoughts never leave, they influence your life for the rest of your life. You become a “worker with a job” with a thousand dollar credit limit and oh yeah, McDonald’s hamburgers. You are a poor bastard with no morals, no ambition, drunk half the time and always on the edge of crime; you are either white trash or a wetback nigger indian, yet, you are the Earth’s hope. Yeah you, you mother fucking poverty conscious bastard.
And so what happened to the rich? Why are they the nigger here? To answer, allow me to repeat the above:
Within the system of free enterprise is a built in propulsion of growth of product, it has to be there or the system dies. This propulsion is so constant and so steady that its motion tends to cause everything to move one way, even perspective. In the developed world the motion goes upward the social, political and most of all economic hierarchies.
As you read the rest of this book you will learn that it is these very economic hierarchies that are in due course of killing us. Within these confines, those who have been on the benefit side of this system are by default the ones doing the killing. Therefore, they are rich fuck asshole porkers. But they truly do not know what they do and are actually innocent, I mean that. None of us know what we do, we only know of the things the free enterprise system of economics invents to sustain itself which in turn gives us our grand life of illusion. The poor only know they have an attitude towards the rich, but they don’t know where it’s coming from, they too are lost. We think we know many other things, we think we are very educated. But see we actually know very little. We limited our knowledge capacity when we took on free enterprise, hopefully you will see and understand this by the end of this book. Put it this way, here we are going around using a term as something ‘valued and concrete’ when all the while the term itself was born out of a flawed perspective of value and the only thing concrete about it is that its given the rich a way to deal with the poor man’s eye gazing into their soul.
I am finding myself returning to an old, passive point of view, feeling less an activist, more an escapee. My motto then was, “I can’t save the world, but I don’t have to participate in its destruction”, thus the cultural escapee. It is a good and solid motto to live by and I think it holds a great truth. Though it creates a conflict, or a dichotomy I should say. I feel good about not being a part of the destruction, but not so good about doing nothing about it. I find that it is so easy to just float away into my own little world, build my farm, pray to the spirits, and then do my best to make a life of that and let go of the rest of the world. So given that, I need to talk to you about a place called “La-La Land”; it’s where I live; maybe you do too.
La-La Land is the place of no worries, no news, all smiles and “fuck everybody else” who doesn’t live in La-La Land. And yes, it is my home address. In my case you can take that literally. I live in a beautiful place; it’s stunning. It is nothing but mesas, canyons and buttes, need I say more? Then top that off with a community of superb people, all very cool, intelligent, educated, artist, poets, actors, liberals, gays…it’s like living in San Francisco but the only time you can see people is when they gather intentionally. So you get the wilds of the Southwest, and at the same time you can hang your art in the local gallery, its heaven…I mean…La-La Land.
Of course I am being “a bit” sarcastic about this place I live. In truth I would not live anywhere else on earth. But if I were looking to depend on a community of people during the coming collapse, then I might as well be living in Los Angeles. I can sum the mind set up in a statement I overheard a friend of mine make the other day. She said, “We’re so lucky to be living in a place of no worries and away from all the craziness and negativity of the world. We can live like there is no ‘rest of the world’ in this place and just be ourselves and take care of ourselves.” Of course, she is not saying anything out of line, or necessarily wrong, at least within the norms of our societies. So don’t get me wrong, I am not singling her or this community out by themselves, this is happening everywhere with everybody, including yours truly.
Nevertheless you see, it’s that “ourselves” thing that is all screwed up. Here’s how this sort of thing can happen. It’s simple; don’t listen to what’s going on, even when you listen to it. There are all sorts of well informed people out here, but they have a filter that says, “don’t listen to it, be happy, that’s your job here in La-La Land.” And they take that job seriously. Now, from here I am going to get on a slippery slope and tell you why this mind set has gotten such a strong hold on so many people theses days, particularly liberal pagans and especially the liberal elite.
The past few years there has been a—let’s call it an Idea—going around that says we all manifest our own experience. That we are all responsible for what happens to us because of what sort of things we let into our minds. So if we let negative things into our minds like the possibility of global collapse, then we are being—well—sort of bad. You know, had I caught onto this back in the 70’s I may have joined the ride. But this ain’t the 70’s no more. I don’t need a philosophy telling me that it’s OK I if listen to the world’s leading scientists on climate change, but then I gotta say “yeah right no thanks”. See? Something’s off.
La-La Land is a very warm and cozy place, it has many defenses. But it is nothing more than a very dangerous yet subtle philosophy; because it looks like a rose, but smells like crap. If there ever was a case for the tricks of the devil, this particular mind set we’ve bought into would be a trophy on his wall. This is what I see going on here in La-La Land all day long and all night long. In short, these folks are in deep, deep sleep. On the contrary I believe this philosophy is good if ones own foundation and ones own view of reality are in tune with his or her fellow human beings. But I also would think you can’t hold this philosophy and at the same time have your head in the sand and then expect to have a good conscience. If you are doing this and you feel you have a good conscience then you need to do none other than to snap out of it.
The question of this trend being something that is ‘a right’ or ‘a wrong’, then I guess it wouldn’t matter so much if our collective tit weren’t in such a ringer. We are in desperate need of cooperation among our species. We need to be jumping out of ourselves and as far as possible into the collective mind. The collective mind is asleep right now and it needs to wake way the hell up and get to work. It still exist, there is always a collective mind as long as there is a species to have one. What is important is what sort of state that collective mind is in. As for humans, ours is catatonic. It has been asleep so long that it has reached a state of psychosis. It was caused by a lack of use, any brain goes catatonic if it is not used, but the thing is, it is still there—alive.
And so it is we exist here in La-La Land, living as individuals with no collective to be concerned about, in fact, it appears that we’ve worked it out to shun those who speak of the collective, as though it were—not spiritual. As individuals we enjoy this sleep because we are not responsible to the collective, we can be selfish and it’s OK with everyone else because they’re doing he same damn thing. It’s elementary really. We as individuals are using this collective sleep to avoid our responsibility for being a member of the most powerful species on this planet. Once enough individuals get honest about doing that, the collective mind will awaken and by natural intuition we will become the caretakers of this planet again and not-just-its-consumers. This is not just a belief; it is also somewhat academic in an evolutionary sense and is also directly correlated with the economics of our time.
This is my opinion, of course. Allow me to abbreviate and say that it was the free enterprise system of economics that ultimately delivered this message to us. I’ve gotten into this in other writings but to put it simply here, the free enterprise system doesn’t like bad news. So it makes sure that its consumers are not bothered with it either, get it? And yes, even to the extent of influencing not only the media, but modern spirituality as well. Keep them happy, keep them fat headed, keep them spending. By the way, most of these folks I am referring to here in La-La Land have a fare amount of dough. La-La-Land goes even better with money.
If our collective mind were awake, it would immediately put a call to end free enterprise as we know it. It would instantly put its concentration on survival only, it would see that its body is dying and it would be pissed for having been put down for so long. Nevertheless, it is pertinent that we concentrate as individuals on what it is we can do to waken the collective mind so that we can get some god damn direction around here. We won’t get it with the collective mind in a state of psychosis.
I’ve said it before that we only need the collective mind to wake up long enough to help bring us out of this mess. We can hope that it stays awake and that our quick burst of evolution will stick and not just have been an emergency shot of adrenaline. In any case, the collective mind has to kick in gear or we are screwed. It is only the very young living right now that ultimately will see this sort of evolution happen, but if they don’t see it then we can say by-by to the human species. It won’t happen for them unless we begin right now, especially those over 50, to put our efforts into becoming a collective species once again. The clock is truly ticking. Please, enjoy your life as best you can, be positive, think good thoughts, but don’t forget to put some legs to those thoughts, maybe you can go to one of those Occupy rallies after your yoga class. Get it?
I said earlier that I was on a slippery slope to broach this subject. There are many people in this world who are very devoted to the philosophy of positive thinking. As well they should be. I do not mean to trample on a very sound spiritual belief; especially given that positive thinking is vitally needed right now. But to use it as an excuse to not get involved and then to leave it to the babies of this world to defend against our mess…well then…I am speaking out against it as an abuse of truth. Maybe you are one of those who are living in La-La Land and you believe you are doing the world a favor by staying out of the rat race. I understand the logic, but when it comes to the human condition, the present human condition, ask yourself ‘why am I so lucky’, and then ask yourself again, am I really so lucky to be so lucky when 4.5 billion of my 7 billion fellow species have less luck for their entire lives than I give away at the ball game? Why am I not outraged? What’s happened to me?
Those of you who are still alive in 2050 will be seeing why you should have been outraged right now in 2012. I would hate to be an old person at that time. Well I’d be 96, I could be here. Will I say I did all I could to ‘help’ avoid this collision? Will it make me sick to think about how stupid I was? Will I see that I and “all-those-around-me” are awakening into a living nightmare?
I can tell you one thing for sure, I won’t be seeing La-La Land anywhere; it’ll have been long gone by then. And that is what I am trying to wake people up to. As I said, keep thinking positive, good thoughts and keeping feeling happy too. But thinking and feeling good are only a part of manifesting from the consciousness; you also have to move your ass, that is, if you care about your descendents as well as yourself. Bottom line: La-La Land is wrong and it is the number one block to our collective consciousness. We have to shake it off.
Free Enterprise Spirituality
This chapter is more or less a continuation of the previous chapter as it goes deeper into La-La Land. I call this chapter “Free Enterprise Spirituality” because I do actually believe there is such a thing as free enterprise spirituality. It comes in many different shapes and sizes of ‘meanings’. But pretty much all of them are saying the same thing—be selfish. Yeah, it’s OK now. You don’t have to be of service to your fellow human beings, just yourself. Cool, eh? Nah, the truth is I am bringing this subject in because hopefully it will show just how far free enterprise, self interest and competition have affected our very beings. The group of people I am targeting in this and the last chapters are have’s that are liberal and also practice variations of old religions coupled with new spiritual thought, I’ll just call them pagans from here forward, hope you don’t mind. Why this narrow group is singled out here is because as I said above, they show how far free enterprise has affected us and I believe are the best example. Also, they are the very people ignoring the origins of pagan teachings where fundamental answers to all our problems reside. Those teachings would not tell us to seek self improvement, at least not in our present world situation; they instead would tell us to get our asses to work on food and water, period.
I ain’t no Christian, but I’ll say one thing for them, they feed the hungry. I think of myself as a pagan of sorts, but I’m not necessarily proud of us. As far as I can tell we’re a bunch of idiots. For one thing, paganism came out of hunger; the need for food. All the ceremony was for harvest, their spirituality was about staying alive, fertility, and the creation of life itself. Their practices were about the living of life outwardly and the tangible issues of living that life, not the shit floating in their heads. That’s what we do as modern pagans; we let shit float around in our heads. We get our heads full up of thoughts about self, what as individuals we can accomplish—for ourselves, and what the latest book on self improvement said that gave us a spiritual high—about self. Anyway, I don’t know if Christians feed the hungry anymore than pagans, but at least they give that image and it looks good. We pagans just look stupid.
But hey, we’re OK because we are using the religions of old, I mean way old like Buddhism, Tai Chi, Hinduism, Yoga, Native American beliefs, etc. No, no, like I said before I ain’t no Christian. So don’t label me there. But we pagans need to wake way the hell up, we got it all wrong. You can blame free enterprise for that. Of course we were naïve enough to follow along, but then again its message was just too alluring. Free enterprise told us it was OK to be all about self, it said it was OK to try and win over your work mates to get ahead and made serious competiveness a desirable quality when before it was only something to be enjoyed among friends and family and was not something to take serious. And yes of course Christians are just as afflicted, in some cases more. There is a difference though, I could say it like this, at least Christians know they are Christians, pagans don’t know what they are. Christians’ thinking is part of what brought about the concepts of free enterprise, so they live with it well. However, pagans fundamental philosophies tend to run contrary to free enterprise. Yet, the people I see who practice “pagan thought” the most are on the benefit side of free enterprise…umm?
Free enterprise literally changed the meaning and use of emotions and attitudes, that’s why these people can benefit from something they don’t fundamental believe in. As we (Christians and pagans) became more and more pampered by our inventions we also were changing our minds view of what was important. We sat in our whirl pools, enjoyed our massages, and blew our minds on meditation until eventually it started to become the norm. Now in the 21st century we not only have made self-indulgence a virtue, we lavish in it. No, you’re wrong; I’m neither a prude nor an old fashioned hick. I’m simply looking square into the eyes of a monster called free enterprise spirituality who has seduced a large portion of the world into its favorite ally, selfishness. It came to us because free enterprise runs on self interest and competition. I’ll say it again, self interest and competition. Free enterprise tells you to buy that thing for yourself, it tells you to go within and be all YOU can be. It tells you to compete with others to get ahead of others, it tells you to work hard for money, be ambitious so that YOU may enjoy the fruits of YOUR labor. What free enterprise will never tell you is to feed the hungry before you make that extra dollar. If you have time and some extra change, it ‘might’ say give it to the sick and hungry but only after you’ve made that extra dollar first and only after you have spent all of that dollar on yourself that you want to. That’s right, you first them later, it’s OK, it’s normal.
Put simply most of today’s books on spirituality are about how you can make you better. Yeah well OK that’s great, but what about those dying children in third world countries? Is that ‘better you’ powerful enough to feed them? No it isn’t, but what will feed them is you sacrificing your way of life so that they won’t starve, that’s real spirituality and that is also what will feed the hungry. Your ability to sit in your nice apartment or house so that you can meditate without interruption from the masses is also what is causing the masses to die, get it? That luxury, and by all rights it is a luxury, is their illness.
I know I am putting it rather blatant here. I realize that within much of the teachings and philosophies of modern spirituality there is some pretty good shit being said. Though it is so that many of these teachings are beneficial and as individuals one by one improve themselves we could see a change in the collective, I get it. However, I fear that the change we could see would become more of the same—self flagellation. If this worked out for everyone on the planet then I’d say let’s party. But could you imagine what sort of byproducts would come of it? Because believe me, this thing we are talking about here needs a fair amount of dough to get and keep it going. That means tons and tons of production and then there we go; we’re dead. I’m saying this because the origins for something like this to happen would have to have of come out of free enterprise. However, this actually can never happen because in free enterprise there must be winners and losers.
I know this chapter is about beliefs; not money, but listen, I can guarantee you that at least 95% of people who practice and stays with these philosophies are haves. Of course there are have not’s that will float by these teachings in hopes that maybe their poverty can vanish into thin air. But they soon realize the only thing that’s going to put food on their table is going back to flipping burgers at Hardees’s. Besides, in case you didn’t know it, have not’s generally don’t have much of an environment for meditation and even less for mind powering their way out of that environment.
I gotta tell ya, this chapter makes me nervous. I am afraid I will be misunderstood and I will offend many people. Of course this book is going to offend everybody, including me. Yeah that’s right, me, did you think I would be looking forward to the results of collapse and would be ‘happy’ to bust and shovel rock? It ain’t happy to write this book, it’s very depressing, that’s an FYI. But I am writing this book and though most of it is a bitch, it had to be written. Particularly this chapter because I actually believe free enterprise spirituality is one of our greatest blocks to forming a much needed collective mind. How are we going to come together if so many of us are tucked away safe and happy in our own little worlds?
For those of you practicing free enterprise spirituality I am truly sorry to have offended you. I ask that you give it some thought. Again, I submit that these practices are very beneficial to the “individual”, but I fail to see where they help society at large, more so, they seem to shield the practitioners from getting involved. In final review, those practicing become the problem instead of the solution by virtue of being spiritually fatheaded rich fuck porkers who have become major participants in the destruction of the planet. I am asking you to consider that perhaps the greatest gifts we can receive from practicing spirituality of any kind are those that put you in service to your fellow human beings. It is community service we need more than anything these days. Do that first, then maybe your search for ‘self’ will be complete. I realize that happy individuals are an asset to any society, but right now we have an unhappy Earth. Let’s fix that first; it is more important than your own happiness. It always has been and always will be. You see, this is the part those involved with free enterprise spirituality don’t seem to understand, in fact, many have managed to make concern for the issues of the world sort of a sin because to give them 5 minutes stops everything from being beautiful, and we can’t have that, can we?
It is the fundamental request of this entire book that we become a species that gives of ourselves so that all species can live first, and secondly that we are happy about it. See? It’s real simple, many of your fellow humans are suffering tremendously right now and add to that your entire species has real threats to its existence, get it? Given that, how can you sit in meditation on your mind/body experience, then turn on NPR for jazzy afternoon, while literally some poor fuck father in Bangladesh has just threw his daughter on the dead pile? Look, don’t stop meditating, don’t stop going to Zumba, don’t stop journaling and don’t stop all the other practices that make “you” better. Keep up your spiritual pursuits. Just don’t forget to add sacrificing your entire way of life for the good of human kind (yes, I mean that literally) to those pursuits. You will only do this sort of sacrifice if you have made your species health a higher priority than your own. Yeah…I think that’s about it…yeah, that’s all ya gotta do.
The Contradictions of Saving the World
To those of you out there trying to save the world, have you noticed that when trying to do this thing how much you contradict yourself? If you’ve read this book from the beginning I believe you’ll see in this chapter I am going to prove this point. I am going to talk about how great America is, how great democracy is, and yes I am even going to talk about how great the free enterprise system of economics is…wonders never cease. Well maybe it isn’t too big a surprise, after all I have mentioned several times in this book that we are going to need much of what these “systems” brought us the last 300 years.
I’m an American and though I am writing this book to the world, in this chapter I can only speak as an American. However, I am sure that anyone in any country of the free world will be able to relate in there own way. I’ve been to France, they are free, they practice free enterprise and they practice democracy. Yet I know they are not anything like America, both in good ways and in bad ways. France is much closer to the world I hope for given that they are a social democracy. And I think it’s pretty obvious by now I’ve been promoting a sort of socialism if not flat out communism so you’d think I’d be shouting let’s go the way of France, but I ain’t. If I had to shout to go the way of a country…well, it’d be America.
“What the fuck”, you say. Well yes, I’d go America. Why? Because America for all its lies, deceit, warmongering, decadence, imperialism, and most of all its un-evolved cultural trends like cage boxing or moonshiners on the History Channel…god, what a sick country. Anyway, in spite of all our crap, we still have the best constitution in the world. When it comes to ideals America can’t be beat. You see, within the confines of America’s ideology is the greatest ideal of them all, freedom to choose your path. In America I am free, free to do what I don’t know but god damn it I’m free! I’m not being sarcastic, I mean it, I don’t know what to do while being here in this country, I don’t know how to live according to its very materialistic ways; I am a fish out of water here. BUT, I’m free to try or I’m free to give up, either way it’s my choice. When looking at the history of civilization you have to admit, having the choice to be a somebody or a nobody is a pretty cool thing. When a citizen of Rome you might have got to go to the games and watch people kill each other, but that was about it. All the real fun went to the guys in the big house over there on the other end of town. ‘You’, the everyday Roman citizen, had about as much chance of entering that big house as your half dead cow. Though it is hard to be a success in America with competition being so ubiquitous, the chance is there for all who wish to seek it; it’s our policy at the core. One can not ignore this very special aspect to America’s paradigm.
Of course I can knock the shit out of that last paragraph with about a thousand contradictions of it. But that’s not the focus this time; the focus is what we can take from this great ideology that America espouses. In looking to the future I’d say we can and certainly must take a whole pocket full from the ideologies of America. We must remain free. If you have gotten the idea from this book that I am calling for a controlling of the masses you have read me very wrong. The masses must be free!! They must be free to choose to act; they must be free to choose to want to save ourselves from ourselves. Everything I’ve written in this book about coming to a new paradigm, about cooperation, about ending self interest and competition, about ending the free enterprise system of economics, about ALL of us working together and living life on an equal basis, about doing away with money and wealth and all of us becoming farmers, knocking our education system, knocking our family values, and even my ranting about our phony spirituality…all of that must dovetail into the philosophy of personal freedom and what that freedom means is to choose to live life how ever the hell you want to live it. I mean, who wants to get rid of that? It’s been great! And because of it I am proud to be an American…so there.
Everything in regards to finding solutions to the problems presented in this book is about making choices. It is not about succumbing to the demands of a tyrant, or a totalitarian government, or anything resembling being forced to act. There is only one tyrant on this planet, we have only one Hitler to face who will cause us to do things we’d rather not be doing and that is the forthcoming collapse of the modern world. Just as a car coming at you forces you to jump off the road, the manifestations of our over producing past are going to force you to pick up a shovel and scoop rocks into a bucket for the good of humankind. But it will be your choice to do so if I have anything to say about it.
Perhaps now you can see why I have devoted so much of this book to awakening the collective mind. Without it tyranny is the only way to go, get it? If “we” are not making the choices then when the shit hits the fan it is very likely you’ll see guns, helmets and shields making the choices for us. Though a collective consciousness is vital to our future survival does not mean you won’t have your own mind. All that it means is you have agreement from the members of your fellow species on how to proceed with society, not your personal life.
Well of course the coming paradigm not looking anything like our current one puts a little spin on what I am talking about here. There are logistical issues that make the preceding paragraphs a little skewed on the side of happy. Let’s put it this way, we are not going to look very free when you see a line of people 8 miles long and all of them carrying 5 gallon buckets of rock. I think more that it will look like something from 1984. Seeing something like that one would have to look around and see if Stalin had reincarnated or something. But like I said, if I have anything to say about it then all of those people in that line will be there because they chose to be or they’ll not be there at all and we’ll just have to die.
It is the logistical aspects of the future that really do make all this come off just a bit weird, no not weird, not strange, but impossible, that’s the word. Impossible because how the fuck does a country get enough people that would make for an 8 mile line to each carry 60 pounds of rock while standing in that line? It wouldn’t look like freedom, that’s for sure. If I were an alien flying by from another world the first thing I’d be looking for in that line were the guys with the whips. But see once again, there will be no need for whips, no need for guns, no need for tyrants, we’ll have all the impetus we need when we see the seas beginning to sink Miami, when we see that cars are useless because there is no gas, when we see that the store shelves no long carry food, that taps no longer bring forth water and that banks no longer house money, but instead are used to shelter the sick and dying. From collapse onward it is these things that will make for our choices, our governments, our markets; our entire paradigm. Everything that will happen will be the byproduct of our collapsed civilization. But to survive it we must be free or we won’t survive; we won’t live under bondage. I don’t think I need to explain that, you know that already.
What I do need to explain is a little more about these logistics because this is where free enterprise, technology and innovation will come to save the day. Without them, our freedom in the coming paradigm is screwed. I would be a complete idiot to say we should do away with innovation and technology, I am not a Luddite. I do have to say I was one up to about 8 years ago, but I was wrong…so there…again. You see free enterprise has been brilliant, I mean that when I say it. Had we known its end product maybe then we would have planned a calculated end to free enterprise then all would be well, but we didn’t and so here we are about to die.
It is death ‘as something to avoid’ that we are now faced with. It is coming our way and coming with a fury. We need some technology dudes. It’s not only going to get hot, it is also going to get cold, especially given that our power source is going to fail. We are going to need some very smart heaters and coolers if we are to survive. The weather is just going to be too radical to not have to alter our environments. I’m sorry to you Luddites, I know this is your chance to shine but…we can’t live like apes in trees, sorry. Maybe sometime in the last 10,000 years we could have, but not with the future that’s headed our way. We need some very good scientists kicking some technology butt.
Personally I don’t care how we get it. Maybe we got to put these people up in mansions and feed them the best foods, the best booze, sex, drugs, whatever the hell they want. Whatever it takes to get them inventing the things we need to save our ass; they can join our equality train later. It’s an emergency, no time for picky ideologies to get in the way.
“Hey, am I sounding like a free market man?”
So be it.
The problems we face here in the 21st century are unique to the 20th and 21st centuries. Our solutions will surely need to be likewise. We have to be smart. Many these days are preparing for the collapse of society. They have TV shows about it now. Just like me they are growing and storing food, they are getting ready to live off grid, all that, I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now. The difference between me and many of these people is I am calling for the collective mind, most of these folks are choosing to go it alone and don’t even want anything to do with other people let alone a collective mind. If this problem is not corrected within the next 10 years our chances of avoiding mass death are very slim. I want you to be free to do what you want, but what I hope is that you will want to help save your species, if not your world. You can’t do that if you build walls around your camp.
So this is where the American spirit has to kick in, it has to. The American spirit is a very powerful thing, I mean fuck, we didn’t get to having a 600 billion dollar military budgets by being a bunch of do nothings, get it? Look what we did in WW2, every freaking body went to work making bombs, even this old lady neighbor I had once; that old bitch wouldn’t make biscuits for her starving husband, but she made bombs for her country. We need that spirit again, only this time it pretty much has to be worldwide.
Mr. Right’s Emotional Disorder
In this chapter I am Mr. Right. Yeah that’s right—I’m right. I am right about everything in this book…well, quite a bit of it anyway. Let me put it this way; I believe with all my heart everything I’ve written in this book. Given that, it means I try my best to live out what I say here and though I wish my best was better, I still know that I’ve given it my all. You’d think that because of my great effort to do good that I’d be someone who feels good about themselves therefore giving them a fair shot a having emotional stability. Wrong. I’m about as fucked up as Hogan’s goat.
I do have “some” good feelings about myself for what I am doing in my life, in fact, I am quite proud of it. But those feelings don’t override all the other instabilities that seeking this way of life entails. So, before you go off on your high horse to save the world like me, you’d better give it many thoughts because you will be in for one hell of an emotional ride and I am sorry to say most of those emotions won’t be very happy.
Within the confines of our present societal norms I will tell you that trying to get away from the system, trying to shout the coming peril to your fellow human beings, and trying to think in a way that is completely the opposite of those around you is exactly the wrong way to find emotional security. You will be banished and it is quite possible no one will even know it, but you will know it because you will be the one who has banished yourself from life as it is and as you grow deeper into this quest you will realize what you have done and man o man does that one hurt, but you get used to it.
Its common sense really, anytime a person runs against the grains of society you are going to be an outcast, you will rub people the wrong way, people will rub you the wrong way and in the end you will find that quite literally you have put yourself in mental and emotional exile. It doesn’t matter if the society in question is good or bad; it is the mainstream that dictates what happiness is. If you live in a society that believes murder is a good thing, then if you are not murdering then you are going to be considered mal-adjusted and you will become emotionally and mentally crippled by it. If you are murdering then you’ll have friends and emotional security because you will be normal.
Believe me, leaving the system is a very rough road and the irony is though I wish this road for everybody, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. In the end it becomes none other than a life of loneliness and isolation; not good conditions for a happy life. Oh yeah it’s true; what I am saying is you actually find your self coming to a rather hideous state of poor health.
There is no way around it, you can’t take on becoming a reject of society and keep an emotionally healthy state of being. You want friends don’t you? Well, if you do this thing you will see friends quietly pass you by. And perhaps now I’ve convinced you that the free enterprise system of economics is a bit of a devil and if you believe that then you may find yourself hating your job even though you may have loved it before. This is because you will be making money and you will see that when you are making money you are supporting the very system you just turned against. But you need money because you gotta eat and then it gets even crazier when that kicks in because it becomes this insane loop of wanting to not participate in this system but having to, it’s a bitch. The only exception to this is when you have money enough to buy your way out of the system (see Article 2, Appendix 1, Dreams and Debt—A Dichotomy). However, I know that the majority of the folks who will take this on don’t have much money. People with money tend to stay that way…go figure.
A quick admission: If I would have had money before I got into this in 1995 I most likely would not be writing this right now, instead, I’d be spending my money. I could perhaps say that the only reason I ever got into this is because I failed within the system to become financially sound (not even close) which left me open to something other than what the system offered and it so happened I had the mind to recognize that and began looking for that something. But was I looking because I was some sort of special guy who cared so much about his fellow human beings he was willing to take a cultural dive into never, never land? No. Actually, I am very selfish and I have no natural tendency towards being anything like the Good Samaritan.
So what made me take the final leap? One word: knowledge. There is no other reason really. Being a failure was what opened my mind. But since I didn’t have the character traits that make for a giving man, there wasn’t much impetus to forgo a life of comfort. The impetus came out of knowledge. I simply knew too much to turn away, get it? It’s like this: If you worked in a factory that made lethal injection equipment, then how would you feel about your job if your son were on death row? With that knowledge could you forgo your love for your son and do your job, even though it could be that the machine you are making could be the one that kills him? Well get this, when you get a head full of the truth about what the hell we’ve been doing the last 300 years and why, then you really don’t have much choice but to run like hell as far away from what’s happening as you can. Because see, unless the dad making the kill machine has no heart at all, he will have to quit his job.
As it goes, god damn it, I am still working ‘for money’ and it fucks me up. I think many times to just quit and walk into the desert or something. I literally get ill behind this scenario and I am continuously an emotional wreck. I only work just enough to live, about $150 a week, sometimes less. I have subjected myself to deep poverty in order to do this thing and I wish to hell I could say I am happy about that but I’m not, I want some fucking money. Of course I want it for the right reason now, which is to invest in a subsistence farm so that from there forward I would not need much money at all and could rejoice in that fact. Thankfully, I no longer want money for money’s sake, at least that feels good and I have emotionally adjusted to it.
But that’s about all I’ve adjusted to. Otherwise, I am nearly clinically depressed, I suffer physical symptoms as well, I have no social life, without friends I continually feel as though I am no one in this world, I am not in the success game and even though I know why I sometimes feel like a looser, and the loneliness becomes unbearable at times. Finally, there’s the anger and bitterness. I’m sure you’ve picked it up in me thus far. The frustration of not being able to get free of the system’s grip really gets to pissing me off. I’ve come to understand it more, but only recently. It comes to the point that you realize you are going to get pissed about all this so don’t fight it too much and don’t try to hide it. In any case, the road can be an unhappy one and you should know that. But I hope you travel it anyway so good luck. I hope I haven’t scared you off because maybe we’ll all get to being whackos someday and as soon as we all get whacko, we won’t be whacko anymore.
Who are we?
I’ll speak mostly about myself in this part as an example but allow me to say that many of the people who will and do get involved in this sort of thing are just about whacko before they even start, just like I was. If you are happy and well adjusted within the system, then why would you leave? No, instead you are likely very mal-adjusted within the system and that makes you…sick. I’m telling you straight if you do not get honest about this you will find yourself continually taking the wrong turns, take my word for it. I finally realized this about 11 years ago, that is, I realized I had become quite mentally and emotionally affected by this quest. And even before that, about 3 years earlier, I realized that something had happened to me in regard to my impulse to succeed within this economy. I found I’d lost all connection with that impulse, it was sort of weird to come to this but at that time I didn’t think it was affecting my mental state. Of course later on and certainly by now I am fully aware of the condition this has put me in. Oh by the way, it doesn’t really get much better…you more or less adapt.
What happened to us?
I talked about this in chapter 2 of this part of the book “Poverty Consciousness—A four Letter Word”. But I wish to go deeper into it here. As I said earlier, most of us are whacko before we even begin a quest like this, the quest to leave the system that is. In the chapter I mentioned above I said, “by the time they were about 12 years old they began to see that life in the modern world was sort of out of place, something was wrong and they couldn’t buy into it.”
In the above quote I was referring to the poor who are supposedly afflicted with poverty consciousness but it applies with this topic as well, especially given that most of you wishing to leave the system will have experienced poverty at some time in your life. If you haven’t most likely you will if you really try to leave the system and don’t have lots of dough to catch the bus. What happens to us within that quote above is somewhere from around 10 to 14 years old we begin to see that what mom and dad do is work. We see all those damn grownups out there—working. And the teachers at school seem to be slipping you the notion that good grades are pretty important if you are going to make it “out there”. Everything happening in the world seems to be revolving around economy and you get the feeling its something pretty serious; that bugs you. Though you may not really understand what you are feeling and seeing about these scenarios, something about them seems wrong.
It is at this moment that a jolt comes to your system, you get sort of scared and timid about what’s going to happen to you. You don’t really seem to jive with what you are seeing but everyone seems to be on the train so what-a-ya-gonna-do? What you do is recoil from these thoughts and bury them. That’s when you start to get whacko as the guilt and shame begins milling you into a derelict.
From there you can most likely become a struggling student. You may be a trouble maker, but not as likely as you will be sort of a loner. Whatever will be happening to you, most likely you won’t blend to well. And get this, that’s even if you are popular and a good student. Nevertheless you will at least try and keep up, but as you are making that attempt way deep inside that original fear of “what’s gong to happen to you” remains. The reason it remains is because you never have resolved those thoughts of how you can’t jive with the system and so those thoughts also remain deep within you.
I’m sure there are all sorts of case scenarios of how all this turns out. If you are from a “have” family you stand a fair chance of dousing this awakening and perhaps you may carry on to do the same as your parents. If you come from “have not’s ” you’ll have a slim chance of overcoming yourself and most likely you’ll either wind up a drunk, a bum, a neurotic or maybe even psychotic, whatever…you’ll be something fucked up as far as the system goes. OR, you’ll decide to leave the system and find out who you really are.
Again, this is a different group of people I am talking about here as oppose to the poor in general that were talked about in the afore mentioned chapter. Though the poor in general are subject to this line of thinking very few of them will recognize it. Those that do usually don’t see it until they are long past their youth. It takes some hard knocks to eventually return to those thoughts you had when you were 12 and pay heed to them.
In conclusion I think I can safely say that if you are someone attempting to leave or have left the system then it is likely you’ll fit somewhere in the preceding paragraphs. In my case it will get better when I am able to get my subsistence farm at least in a little bit of a swing. But the truth is it could be many years, as of last week I’ve been at this for 17 years. It could happen that I may not get to have this farm before I am gone. If that is so, I’ll have lots of accepting to do. But you see there is no way I’ll ever turn away and go back. Even with the pain it has all been worth it. As I look towards my future I can not see myself becoming a cordial member of the free enterprise system ever again, even to death.
Hopefully many of you out there will find a softer easier path than mine has been. I am sure there are many of you who will, I hope so, we need some success on this. There will be many of you who will suffer like I have; many of you are suffering right now I am sure. But hopefully, like me, you will find that it is no loss in your life and that as a 21st century human being you will still feel fortunate to have known what to do, or at least try to do and why.
Do Something God Damn It!
Because of the nuclear accidents happening in Japan, scores of debates on the subject of nuclear power have risen. One says “it’s better than coal”, the other says “yeah but what about the waste”, another says “yeah but coal has that carbon footprint thingy” another says “yeah but nukes can kill us all with one accident”. It goes on and on. And you here this: “Well, nuclear power is 20% of our power source, what would replace that?” Someone replies, “We could do it with this new concept of “clean coal” and natural gas.” Then some brave soul stands up and says, “Well hey, what about all these renewable clean energies like wind and solar? Couldn’t they do the job?” The answer comes, “Studies show that these energy sources by themselves would be too costly to replace fossil fuels and nuclear energy, we will have to have them ongoing while alternative sources will only be able supplement them; our energy demands are just too great.”
These arguments go on and on until the commentators are damn near left speechless. Listening to them one begins to realize that for every solution there comes a problem and we begin to see that our energy crisis is perhaps unsolvable and our demand can not be met without ultimately suffering dire consequences. Well, here’s a thought for you, HOW ABOUT WE SHUT DOWN SOME OF THIS CRAP!
Could that possibly be an answer? Is it so impossible to think in terms of less? Is it possible that maybe we have too much of too much, and that all this “stuff” is actually the problem here? How in the world did we last 100’s of thousands of years without the standards of living we have now? You have to wonder about that when you look at how desperate we are to hold on to this way of life. From the outside looking in you see a belief that if we lose the life we live in the developed world then all hell will break loose and God himself won’t be able to stop it. The fear runs so deep I think perhaps it may not be felt. We are so paralyzed by the thought of loosing this life we can’t even discuss it. All we can do is pray it never ends, otherwise, it is unmentionable. It must be unmentionable because I have never heard the topic of intentionally reducing our standard of living discussed in any mainstream or alternative media, not as a solution anyway.
Someday, hopefully not when it is too late, we are going to wake up and realize a new form of living is in order. We are going to realize we can’t have three cars, not even two; in fact, we’ll be lucky if we can have one per city block. Someday we are going to realize we can’t have an American family living on 19K a year while a family three blocks away isn’t even home because they are in Italy for 3 months renting a villa for 6 grand a week while dad sits at the computer raking in his stock sales. How can we justify these amazingly wide gaps in our distributions of income? How can we do that? You have 2 year old babies that are starving to death and then you have babies that are having birthday parties that cost 50 thousand dollars! All on the same fucking planet!
“Well god damn it, we worked hard for that money; we deserve it. We can’t help it if these people are too lazy to get up off their ass and make something of themselves.”
“Oh really? If you want to talk about hard work then why don’t you try going out and plowing 3 acres of ground with one crude hand tool so you can plant crops to feed your starving family? And oh by the way, these are crops that will probably fail because of droughts and floods caused by the changing climate brought on by the developed world’s obsessive need for oil to fuel a life style that let’s them have 12000 square foot homes.”
The denial is amazing, it truly is. We can not keep this up. We have to reduce our standards of living. Not only is it not sustainable and perhaps may kill us all in the end, but it is also unjust. We are sick; we need treatment. We of the developed world need to detoxify ourselves from this very pathetic belief that we are so freaking wonderful. What we are is human, all of us all over the globe, we are all human. We all want to stay alive, but if we in the developed world do not wake up pretty soon and realize that we are choking the entire planet out of life, then that is exactly what is going to happen, we will choke this planet to death with our opulence.
I’m One of Those People
I just finished a drive across the lower portion of the USA. Santa Fe, New Mexico to Jasper, Alabama. I made that drive in the throws of a climate change event. The deep freeze of 30 states, snow and ice…30 states, get it? You may get it if you have noted the 7 other epic weather events; all within one year on this globe:
- the Russian heat wave—Summer 2010
- the Pakistan floods—Summer 2010
- the Australian bush fires and drought—Winter 2010-11
- the Australian floods— Winter 2011
- the category 5 cyclone Yasi into Australia— Winter 2011
- the UK deep freeze—Winter 2011
- the 3 American east coast snow storms (combined to 1 event) —Winter 2011
And so with the American deep freeze in early February 2011, that makes 8 total epic weather events in less than a year, July 2010 to February 2011, seven months…eight events. Get it now?
On average I would guess that these are all at least 10 year events. So comprehend that, eight 10 year events in seven months. [Originally in this article I said fifty year events, but considering the climate in the last thirty years, they’re more like ten, so I changed it–whateverrr.] I think I can logically deduce that these events, as a collective, essentially make up a single climate change event. Argue all you want about it, just don’t waste that time on me, OK? It’s a no brainer for me, this signifies a climate change event in my books, but more precisely it shows signs of climate change tipping points, and that is flat out no doubt where we are at, the tipping points.
Of course I would have no evidence with just these weather events unless there were many more scientific conclusions as well. That is no problem; there is so much science on this subject now we are practically crapping it out our pants. Temperature trends are confirmed to be warming and warming fast, particularly in the Arctic. The ice, glacier and permafrost melts are happening so fast we can hardly keep up with them, the Amazon is going to complete hell with drought, species loss and deforestation. The Amazon just about dried up for Christ sakes! Look at India’s and China’s droughts, Africa? I mean come on folks; I am not going to talk about this anymore. We don’t need any–more evidence folks, climate tipping points are here, right now. Get used to it. Adapt!
Tipping Points Are Here–Pagan Times Are Back
Believe it or not, you or your children at least, will have to learn the old pagan ways of life. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, you will become a new kind of human being. Actually, it really will be a bit more like an old human being, agrarian. This is the one possible solution, though I must admit, it will not save everyone, many are going to die. We will not reach 9 billion, my guess is we are going to fall back to around 4-5 billion within the next 50 years. Food and water shortage/contamination along with disease will be the main culprits for this population drop. But again, there is one way that we can have many of us survive, and that is the old tribal ways. It may sound like a fantasy dream or something, but in actuality, it is reality. It is exactly what will happen…naturally; it is how we will evolve to meet these crises.
If you have read my other paper, Evolve Now, you would know I am strongly calling for the entire world to join together and build an infrastructure that will be able to withstand the impacts of climate change. I am sad to say, we will not have the infrastructure I hoped for in that paper. After longer consideration of our current trend towards adaptation, I have concluded we are going to miss by about 30 years. Sea level rise is going to happen much faster than I thought in that paper and possible evidence of climate tipping points have been showing up more than I knew when I wrote that paper. I’m not just referring to weather when I speak of tipping points; my alarm is much more towards the ice melts and acidification of the ocean in particular; they’re gettin’ scary.
All this ends with a huge population drop, dispersed and uprooted civilizations and a whole new way to think about what the human being really is.
The Natural Good
We all have a natural good in us; at least where it comes to our collective survival. We want to live, as a collective that is. Individually we can be pretty screwed up, but collectively there can be plenty of good there. Of course there is the contradiction of that. Conversely we are a nightmare as a collective. But screw that, let’s stay positive.
As an instinct, when we are faced with standing there, alone in the pasture, just grass and weeds around us, we will know what to do? Do you know what we will do? Come on now, do you know what we will do? Sure you do: We will gather together. It’s our first instinct; our first response to a crisis that concerns our survival is we come together. It’s the natural good in us.
As we are gathering someone will say, “Hey there folks, we need to gather some food and water together, we need some shelter and blankets too, get on it!” And that will happen repeatedly until someone says, “Hey there folks, we are gathering and working together pretty good, but look out across that pasture, there must be a thousand of us here, let’s break it down god damn it!” So we’ll break it down, many millions of times over across the globe. We will find the ways to do this, we’ll find the ways to grow and raise food and conserve water. We will do it; that is not a concern. What is a concern is how soon we get started. Because the sooner we start, the more of us will make it. But you gotta shut it down folks; you have to stop, find your tribe, and start your gardens. Get started, now. You know what to do, ask your neighbor, ask your family. You see, this isn’t some hippie joker barking out peace, love, dove; it’s not about any kind of socialism, communism, or any New Age la-la land. It’s all about saving our butts, nothing more, nothing less. It’s about FOOD AND WATER!
But worry not, the natural good will see us through. We simply have to evoke it. We will evoke it sooner or later, maybe after 10 million die from a heat wave or something, but hopefully much sooner than that. Think about it, you really don’t have another choice. Technology will not operate without oil, get it? It will be very limited at the very least; we have been used to the idea of unlimited sources of energy and mass. But oh my gosh they are actually limited, just like they told us 100 years ago. Anyway, it soon will come to this: We will have only our lives in front of us to determine our lives there forward.
The Free Enterprise Instinct
There is only one block that keeps us from moving forward to protect ourselves, the free enterprise instinct. Denial, skepticism, ideologies, all those do have powerful influence, but the biggest of them all is the free enterprise instinct.
What is the free enterprise instinct? I sometimes think of it more like a gene, it’s a gene developed in the last 300 years. OK, it’s a thing, good enough? It’s a thing inside us that tells us we need the free enterprise system at a very fundamental level, the survival level. It literally is the tit for every human being in the developed world and much of the developing world as well. You work for money, and then you buy from the store shelf. Is that basically it? Yes it I believe it is, I suggest you don’t think it any further, and just accept that that is how you stay alive.
It is an instinct, you know of no other way to stay alive. You eat food and drink fluids, and many other bodily functions I might add; all from the systems of economy and infrastructure. They literally combine to be the mother that gives you life. When it comes to staying alive there is no greater entity than the mother that gives you life. And for most of us, mom is the free enterprise system. You work, and then you buy from the shelf, get it?
So when you are faced with the possibility of losing this tit, it is subconsciously very traumatic, just the thought. It is like the fear of cold, alone in the cold freezing night; naked, no home. It is a very deep fear. Losing the free enterprise system is a fear that runs that deep, it’s for real, you have this instinct, and right now you are scared silly. Because that instinct is threatened and you know it at a very deep level. You just might not know it consciously yet, you have this fear, no doubt, but you may be removed very far from it, depending on your economic situation right now. But soon that won’t matter anymore. Eventually the free enterprise instinct is going to be exposed and it will have to be dealt with, very dramatically. I hope I am not here.
I am what you call a ‘shouter’ (I’m one of those people). Others call us alarmists, and more recently “advocates” of the AGW theory. I subscribe to none really, just shouter. Theories about the cause, natural or human, are more or less irrelevant to me. The series of events happening right now in our climate, with peak oil and our economy; well, that’s enough to make me a shouter, let’s put it that way.
As a shouter it is my job to shout out the coming peril, and offer this simple way out, that is the pagan way, the way of the tribesmen, the way of the farmer. It is and always will be our fall back. Always.
But I do not shout blindly. I do not shout from ideology, but I am part of a cause, it is a calling, but it is not magic or mythical. It is instinctual. I am one of the humans that have the instinct of survival very strong in them. So that in these times, it is people like me that lead the way towards that end; our survival. Presently, I would guess there are about 1 million of us on the planet right now. Shortly, our numbers will begin to grow exponentially. Conditions will make that so.
This is the call to you. You need to find your way to a subsistence farm. Preferably start one of your own. If you have land, or if you have any money at all to invest in land; then invest all you can into developing that land into a subsistence farm. Plain and simple, you have no other command really, you have no other choice. If enough of us do that now, we can make it a trend that will become something organized later. As long was we plant our gardens, it will come together. It is a mathematical fact, not a pipe dream. It is exactly what is going to happen within the next 50 years, but how good it works is a matter of how soon we start. It is a strict matter of numbers of people doing it as opposed to those not doing it.
This is what I am going to do personally. It is part of what makes me a shouter. You see, I can’t shout, “Run to your farms!” Unless I am running there myself; and that I am, I will be starting up my farm in April of 2011. I am lucky; I have two others who are going in on this with me. I am lucky because they have done this before, twice.
I tried a few years ago but failed due to lack of funds. In case you didn’t know it folks, it takes money to get away from money. Check it out for yourself. The people who are living off the grid with solar wells, solar power, radiant heat, start of the art composting toilets, blah, blah, blah. Those people have money. You don’t get off the grid for free, you gotta pay for it. A typical subsistence farm that will sustainably feed 5 people will run at least a 50K investment even if you already have the land. But then again, I can do this with a bucket and a hoe if I have to, see the difference? Plant your corn folks, just start planting. Forget the costs. Just plant.
Read the sources in this book to see what is happening to our world. For now I will put in the picture a vision for the future. First off, it will not all be bad. There are actually going to be some new and very real paradise’s on the planet. The northern hemisphere could possibly be a nice place to live in about 60-70 years; lots of fertile ground and a mild climate. But more so, we will have learned some old ways again, and it will have been for our betterment. We will have learned that we can die, and that we should protect our survival above all else. We will have learned that as human beings we have the power to be consumers of this planet or we have the power to be caretakers of this planet. Ultimately we will choose to be caretakers.
But this will not come easily. Horrific times are ahead. As early as 2025 we will be starting to really feel the impacts of climate change, particularly with food and water. We’ve felt these this year, these eight I mentioned at the opening of this chapter. But they are minor compared to what’s to come. Put these on scales 4 or 5 times their degree and that is what is coming in about 15 to 20 years, for every year from there forward of every decade for many decades to come.
It will be small, compact and well managed subsistence farms that will survive this.
The Doomsayer, the Survivalist and Reality
“What about all this god damn negativity, eh? I mean c’mon, end of the world(?)…my ass.”
Yes, it does seem like we are watching a movie, doesn’t it? Even newscasters sound like something from movies these days—do you notice that? Should we be listening? Well if you believe in science more than the dramatics of newscasters, then yes, I’m afraid so.
There is undoubtedly a lot going on here in 21st century, most of it man made, and now with the recent Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear melt down threats (a mouthful there) it appears we have natural disasters to contend with as well. Is it just me? Or do we seem to be winding into a vortex of various and sundry doom?
Let’s take a look at all this. What is happening? What is real and what is b.s.? How do we get our heads wrapped around it all?
This word has a very negative connotation. Call someone a doomsayer and automatically you have listed them with the nuts, the radicals and the extremists. It is not a very popular title. Generally, the only ones who take doomsayers serious are other doomsayers themselves. But perhaps I’m speaking of another time. Because of late, doom saying has caught on a bit, and for good reason—we seem to be headed for doom in more ways than one. We’ll get into that later, for now let’s do a little dissecting of the term.
The Good and the Bad Doomsayer
There are two kinds of doomsayers. It’s just like the heading implies, one is good and one is bad. The good doomsayer is one that is credible, reasonable and most of all, truly concerned.
To achieve credibility as a doomsayer you have to have reliable sources to back up the doom you are espousing. One can shout all day long that we are running out of water. But if water keeps flowing out of your tap at 5 gallons a minute, you are not going to take that person very serious; unless that person has confirmed statistics on water resources. If he or she can prove that water tables are dropping or water reserves are being depleted, etc., then their doom saying is credible. Obviously the bad doomsayer would have no sources, they would make claims but as soon as someone says “prove it”, they would slip out the door.
If a doomsayer does not have concrete sources, but instead is speculating, then that does not mean they are not credible. Because as long as they make very clear they are speculating, and have other sources that make their speculation reasonable, then they still remain good doomsayers. If they do not have sources they can still be in the clear as long as they have credentials, i.e. the subject falls within the areas of their expertise. If this is the case, then they are theorizing and everyone has the right to theorize. But it must be clear they are espousing a theory and that the theory is their own.
A doomsayer could show credibility, but not be a “good” doomsayer. Because they can have wonderful sources and they can show they are being reasonable also, but if it is not coming from their heart, then I would tend not to trust them. Of course, this one is tricky. Just because a doomsayer’s heart is not into it, does not mean they are not telling the truth and they are not credible. But here’s the thing that is so vital, if they are doing this doom saying for selfish reasons or for profit or other ulterior motives, it shows. In general, people will listen to the fake doomsayer and realize that they are fake. You can see it on their face, hear it in their voice and you will get a bad vibe. Not everyone will, but enough people will and that will cause the subject to become tainted. The end result is a “bad” doomsayer and a misunderstood subject.
All doomsayers break these rules to some degree. In fact, I am making these rules and I have no credentials to make them, therefore I am already in danger of being a bad doomsayer. Yet, I doubt these rules I am defining could be argued, if you can, please do so. But see, the reason what I am saying here is “good”; even with no credentials and no sources is because I am truly concerned. So, there are no perfect scenarios. In fact, being “truly concerned” does not always help the subject. Because if you are so concerned that you become a zealot, then you may go overboard and expand the truth a bit in order to “convert” skeptics to your side. You may mean well, but you are in danger of becoming a bad doomsayer. It is a delicate balance. I know I am a zealot, and at times I am guilty of overstating. However, I usually know that I am and try to point out to the reader that I may be overstating, or that I am being intuitive. Like I said, it’s a delicate balance. But in general, if your heart is good, so will be your doom saying.
The Case for Doom
Now that we’ve established the doomsayer’s persona, I want to take a look at what they, or we (because I am one also), are saying. In this essay I am not concerned with any one particular plight of doom, but rather the entire collection of them. Because I feel that it means something that we are seeing so many world conditions that are truly putting us into the position of “end times”. And all at once, and with a timing that is almost eerie, no, not almost, it is flat out eerie. I am going to attempt to make sense out of it and explain why it is all happening this way. However, I am not going to be able to explain that with complete resolve, therefore leaving us with perhaps…shall we say…something beyond ordinary explanation?
Recently a program on the History Channel was aired called The Prophets of Doom. I know, it sounds silly and yes the History Channel, yes I know and I agree, but right now this is sometimes where “some” truth is found, its weird, isn’t it?. Nevertheless, hopefully you have had the chance to see it, because regardless of it’s title and broadcast origins it actually will help in your understanding of what I am talking about here. But if not, I promise to do my best to make sense of this. In this program were 6 men, the prophets of doom obviously, each with a subject of their own they claimed to potentially be our end, at least an end of life as we know it now. I want to take a small look at each of those doom scenarios and then try and link them together, because that is what I think is significant, that is, that they are linked. In the program the doom prophets eluded to this idea as well. However, not enough was discussed to fully explore this notion. And I must say, I am not so sure I can say much about it either, it just is.
There were 5 subjects: peak oil, the financial system, water, nuclear terrorism, and artificial intelligence. Two of the men were representing peak oil. I am going to add one more, climate change. One of the men did mention this on the program, but in name only. However, you can associate climate change with the water issue, actually, with food and water combined. So given that, when I refer to the water issue I will include the food issue and climate change also, all as one subject.
This subject was presented by Michael Ruppert and James Kunstler. Peak oil is defined as the point at which oil production reaches its potential maximum and then peaks and begins to decline to its minimum or to the point it runs out as a resource and production ceases. The issue is perhaps one of the more controversial issues in the list. It is very hard to find a concrete study. However, I do consider it a potential doom scenario because should it turn out that we are truly running out of oil, the consequences are so dire it’s hard to imagine. We use oil in just about everything, even food. You are most likely, wearing, using, sitting on, looking at, buying, something that has been produced using oil directly or indirectly. Oil is everywhere and in just about everything.
Just the fact that we are so dependent on oil is extremely dangerous. Even if we are not near peak oil as yet, we will be someday; it will run out as it has a limited supply. Plus, you must consider that it takes millions of years for oil to form within the earth. The conclusion is simple. Oil is not reliable as a renewable resource. But as a resource our modern life depends on it; that makes it a doomsday reality because it is not an if; but a when. The only thing that can stop it from being a disaster is to replace it, but we are not even close to doing that. We aren’t really even working towards it. Have you heard anyone talking about a new kind of plastic or rubber, and how much of these materials are used in our present world? The answer is way too much.
The Financial System
This subject was presented by Nathan Hagens. He basically says the financial system is about to bust, and that the American financial system is insolvent; too much debt and too much printed money. He also related that to the depletion of natural resources. I am taking this to mean that since the free enterprise system of economics relies on a 3% growth rate of the GDP to survive, eventually we will run out resources to make all those products to keep that growth rate. Just like oil, products become a limited supply. When the products run out, the economy runs out, and we are left standing there with no money, no products on the store shelves, including food. Then we die.
This subject was presented by Robert Gleason. He reminds us that all it takes to destroy our lives as we know it now is for a small group of whacko’s to finally get their hands on their most desired means of terrorism, nuclear material. The technology to make a nuclear bomb is easy to come by; all that is need is the explosive material. Once that material is obtained, the bombs will be made. It is an absolute certainty. And the very scary thing about this is it can happen literally over night.
This one may seem like a stretch, but Hugo De Garis was very convincing that the end of humankind could easily begin with robots possessing artificial intelligence. It could go like this, we will not be as smart as the robots; we cause the troubles of the world; it is logical to deduce that we should be destroyed; problems solved. I think this one is the least likely because supposedly we can pull the robot plug. But should we miss the opportunity to pull their plugs, the robots could do away with their plugs and then there will be no plugs to pull. The result: They become unattached to our control. We die.
This subject was presented by John Cronin. He says our water supply is not only decreasing, but is also losing quality. I know this one all too well. This one is complicated because minus artificial intelligence, this issue is the one where all issues discussed here come together. The financial system is dependent on oil and visa versa, water is dependent on oil because for water to ultimately be running out of our taps we need power to move it there, and power comes from oil. Water also needs to be treated; again, power is needed for this treatment. Also, one of the biggest concerns for nuclear terrorism is contaminated water. Climate change is ultimately going to wreak havoc on our water situation because a warmer world will create and even greater need for irrigation. Without water, we have no food. We die.
Water is the link to everything; without a doubt water is the single most precious commodity the world has to offer. It is also in the most precarious position. It is the easiest commodity to take for granted and yet the most venerable to contamination. What a strange dichotomy is water. We need it most, but think of it the least; even though we are aware of its venerability.
The Vortex of Doom
The collection of these events comprises something very unusual; very weird. Think of it, all these cataclysms coming together. If you look at them closely and speculate the timing, it looks as if several of them could happen at close to the same time. Not the same day by no means, but considering the scope of their impact, one of them in a single century is amazing, but all five of these are likely to happen within the next 50 to100 years, perhaps even less.
The best way I can describe this is to put them together all as one single event, I call it the Vortex of Doom. It’s as if they are just now collecting together, beginning a slow spinning motion and slowly speeding up until they make one massive vortex all dwindling down into a singularity. Is this coincidence? Or is it the resulting consequence of human behavior and the only reason for the timing is our own obsession with innovation, mass production and the ever present temptation to screw with nature. Or is it some outer thing, a creator watching us, or maybe aliens watching us, some entity judging our significance and concluding we need to be warned or stopped altogether. Is it our collective subconscious giving out its final cry for help, like the addict who so desperately wants to stop their abuse?
What ever the cause or the reason, these potential disasters are very real, and together they validate the doomsayer. There may have been a time that doomsayers could have been called foolish, but I believe the foolish now are those who do not listen to them.
I am amazed the reactions to these doom saying scenarios. They range all the way from apathy, to denial, to political, cultural and spiritual postulations for action.
Two things concern me about our reactions. One, whatever we come up with, the solutions barely touches any hope for resolve for any of these life threatening paradigms; they are generally just band aids. Two, it seems the purpose and the hope for attempting to even try and find resolve is so that we may continue to persist with the very patterns of life that got us here in the first place. We want to keep our toys.
Considering the validity or our situations, I would think we’d just be happy to survive them. Wouldn’t that be a concept–just staying alive? I’m reminded of the thief who drops his possibles, and while he stops to pick them up, as he reaches for the bag a cop slaps the cuffs on him; just a few steps from the getaway.
Our getaway as the human population is to merely survive these crises. We want to keep what we have, what we’ve made with our great ingenuity and desire. But is it that important? Is there not life beyond the life of materialism? Is it not a good thing to simply secure our lives?
We are faced with these choices, whether we want to be or not. Denial will not get us out of it, nor will apathy, and nor will the half measures we put forth to remain as we are. We have to change and change dramatically, or we are going to die.
Just like the doomsayer term, the term “survivalist” is marked with stigma. We think of some Johnny Yuma out in the woods chasing down a rabbit with his self made bow and arrow. Oh yeah, his coon skin hat as well. Screw that, this is not what we need. What we need is food and water. We can do that collectively together, not alone in the woods. The guys from Prophets of Doom all concluded pretty much the same thing.
If we are going to survive all this, we need to secure our farms, our food, our water; nothing more, nothing less. When we have done that, then maybe we can see what else we can get done. But god damn folks, we are squandering them away as if it is our right and our destiny to do so. I for one do not believe that.
You might be able to accuse me of all gripe and no solution. That would only be partially true because in most all of my essays and articles I have been advocating specific changes, some in detail. However, in this chapter I am going to exclusively deal with the issue of change and the tasks involved. Get ready to go to work. We did not get here overnight and we will not get out of here overnight. The changes are massive in size and scale. They involve just about everything and everybody.
There are several other factors that are subject to cause collapse, but climate change and peak oil are the two that are set to happen as 100% certainties. I will leave you to study and learn about these issues to make that determination of certainty for yourself. However, only one fact is needed to tell the tale of peak oil; we have limited supply of oil, plain and simple; we will run out. As a result of peak oil and climate change we will see economic collapse, it is a simple and logical deduction. The food and water shortages alone caused by climate change will cause this, but there are literally hundreds of other climate impacts that will disrupt our economic paradigm enough that they will bring about major collapses in our systems. Finally, I believe I can assume it is obvious that having no oil…well, you go figure.
So, we are headed for trouble; what are we going to do? Below is a list that deals with the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of our change and is more or less chronological in its order. From there foreword I will deal with each item in detail. I say it is chronological but in reality much of it will need to happen simultaneously or will be overlapping.
- Food and Water
- The System
- Evaluate and Implement Technology
- Teardown and Rebuild
- Brace for Impact
Awareness is the first step to saving our collective ass. Except that you might say to me, “Yeah of course we need awareness but don’t you think we have had awareness up to our necks, I mean c’mon, we’ve been having these issues shoved down our throats for decades now–I’m aware–give me a break!” Sadly you would be all too correct. The problem is we don’t know the depths of these issues; particularly climate change and peak oil.
The first clue to the fact we don’t really know about these issues is because when we talk of solutions we think we will be safe. And the solutions themselves are telling of our lack of awareness. No, we will not be safe. No, we are not going to solve these problems to the point of happiness, we won’t, we can’t. These issues are going to hurt us and they are going to kill many millions, likely billions of people and this is what we need to be aware of. Simply put, we have gone too far.
We need to know this so we can do the proper preparations for what is coming down the pike and so that at least “some” of us will survive with our lives. Changing to energy efficient technologies is a very good thing; we do need to do that. Green jobs are great, clean fuels are wonderful, reducing, reusing and recycling are very good intentions. But all these things are not going to stop these two monsters. They may weaken them and that is good, they will slow them down and that’s real good because time is very important. But we are still going to be slammed with no oil, and a climate that is lethal. Our economies will not handle the shocks and we will collapse. The life we know now is going to end.
Being aware of these realities is crucial. If we do not know what is going to “really” happen, then our preparations will be wrong. Let’s get it right and let’s get it right—right now. I emphasize ‘right now’ because timing is everything. These events are not going to wait on us to get ourselves together; they are coming on their own schedule, which is in about 20-30 years, and in many ways are here already. That is in terms of significant impacts, particularly with climate change. If we are not deep into adaptation efforts by then, we will never catch up and the consequences of that I don’t even want to go into. Stop right here and check out the science if you do not believe me. Look for “climate change impacts”.
There needs to be awareness campaigns. My writings here are my effort towards awareness. Don’t wait on the media, they are bought and sold already. Don’t wait on the government either, they too are bought and sold. If you feel the need to write your congressmen please do so, it can’t hurt. But real awareness is going to come from grass roots campaigns that are not political. We’ve been doing political advocacy for decades and we are no closer to awareness than we’ve ever been; misinformation maybe, but real awareness? No.
“So who are we supposed to talk to; if not the media and not the government, then who?”
You must talk to each other. Talk to your neighbor, your friends, your co-workers, your church, your non-profits, your schools, your kids, your relatives—every-freaking-body! I am not actually saying to not talk to media and government, especially media. I am saying don’t solely rely on them, that will fail. We need to use what ever media will listen and if your congressman will listen, by all means get his or her ear. But word of mouth is going to be where the real truth lies, especially if citizens inform themselves properly.
The important thing to remember is the message must be about adaptation. We have to think in terms of protection and defense. The enemy has advanced too far; negotiations are no longer a viable solution. We must surrender and learn to live with the enemy. I know this is not what you want to hear, but you have to hear it and you have to shout it back to those around you.
“So what will all of “us” knowing this stuff do for us if you are not including the government? Don’t we need them to get these “preparations/adaptations” done?”
Yes, we will need some form of organization. I do not know what that will be. I do believe though that once awareness has truly peaked, then leadership will fall into place naturally. If that leadership is from governments, then great, because that will mean they have gone through major and vital changes. If it is not government, then that will mean something else has risen to meet the challenge. I do not know what that something would be, but do not, I repeat, do not rely on the status quo as it is now, it will screw your cookie.
The challenges ahead are so big and so complex that we will not even get close to accomplishing the tasks without very intelligent planning. As I said previously, once awareness has reached levels that truly motivate, then leadership will naturally evolve. Those leaders will see and know that the implementation of adaptation will take many years. The world will not look the same, operations will have taken on whole new concept; we will be living in a new paradigm.
The next several sections of this chapter tell what the planning will be about. But suffice it to say that commitment is key. Why? Once again, it is about time, we do not have time to start this and stop this for something new. We have to know what we are doing and be committed to seeing it through with no turning back. Therefore, concrete and well thought-out plans are imperative.
As you read on, you will see that though the changes are massive, at the same time in many ways they are actually simple and monothematic. It’s is all about survival, nothing more nothing less. It all boils down to food and water.
Food and Water
It is hard to get our heads around these doom saying scenarios. We are not only instinctively inclined to not accept them; they are as ‘facts” not very believable. After all, there is no visible or obvious evidence for the average citizen to latch on to. But nevertheless, just a little self study shows us that these scares are very real and are forthcoming. However there is one doom scenario coming that a person won’t need to have studied to make them a believer and that is food and water issues involving shortages, rising prices and contamination.
In 2010, both Russia and China suffered grain losses from drought and heat waves and at some of the highest levels in their histories. Weird cold spells in the southern U.S. I’m sure have not helped anything either; massive floods in Pakistan; droughts in India and Africa, Australia the same for floods and drought. These type of events are going to increase in frequency and potency, count on it. How much and how often we will see the changes I don’t know, but they are sure to come. We can only hope their pace is slow but if the current pace is the ongoing trend, then we’d better hurry.
Water issues are the same, there is trouble a plenty. You can check these issues out for yourself as well. What I wish to convey is we need to get our collective ass in gear and begin to deal with this and get way ahead of it long before climate change destroys our chances to eat and drink—permanently. That is why this coarse of action is listed early in my to do list above. Getting started on this one is so critical that if we fail then it’s all over but the crying. This is because this is where climate change is first going to have cataclysmic impacts. Well hell, I’ll just go ahead and say is having cataclysmic impacts right now. Just ask Africa, they’ll tell you it’s cataclysmic.
The answer is very simple but is equally difficult to pull off, and that answer is local farms. Better yet, subsistence farms. You need to get started right now growing your own food. If you have money to invest it in self-sufficient food production and water catchment (not wells) systems, then just do it, don’t ask, just do it. Talk your neighbor into doing the same thing; in fact, talk your neighborhood into doing the same thing with you. In fact, why don’t you just get your neighborhood to turn itself into one big “local” farm?
If you want to shout something then shout this, “CORPORATE FARMING CAN GO TO HELL”. Corporate farms as opposed to local farms will not be manageable in the very near future, not without large oil supplies and not without very favorable weather. The other problem is distribution. Again, there will not be fuel available to move the food, there will not be an economy for exchange of food and there will not be an infrastructure sound enough to deliver food. But with local farming all those issues are non-issues because there is no need for distribution systems, the food is already there; no need for exchange, it’s your own product, and the infrastructure is small, it’s about 1000 feet long and 200 feet wide.
“Hey asshole, you make this sound awful easy. There are all kinds of things to do to make a neighborhood into a farm.”
That’s right dude, better get started. Be ready for some back breaking work. You also got a lot of thinking and planning to do. You have to get organized. You have to study and learn some very new things. You have to learn how to take care of yourself and your family. You have to learn to think cooperatively and collectively.
I can’t delineate all that has to be done here in this chapter; it is a book by itself. But I can tell you that it is absolutely vital that we citizens of the world accept the fact that we are going to have to go back in time a little, like it or not. That is, if you want to stay alive. Maybe it is not “you” that you need to worry about, especially if you are over 50, but maybe you need to think about you children and grand children, they are heading into a storm. It is your responsibility to help them get ready for it.
If you are able, start a farm, or find a farm to get involved with; build a greenhouse (very important); start a garden. But most important begin now to learn what it is you need to do to secure your relationship with food and water. Do not wait on the system to deal with this, it can not do it. Ultimately, it will be up to you and your clan, whatever and whoever that may be.
This part of this chapter is the most challenging of all. If the government or corporations thought I had any clout at all, then I’d probably would be killed for saying the things I’m about to say. But since I’m a nobody and would be pegged by the average citizen of the developed world to be a nut, then I have little to worry about.
Let’s shut it down folks, shut it down. The “it” I am referring to is the free enterprise economy and much of the systems that run and operate the modern world. Yeah I know, I know, “pretty drastic” you say, I know, “devastating” you say, “dangerous” you say, yeah I freaking know, OK?
The system is going to circumstantially shutdown anyway, why not do it ourselves and under our control and not at the hands of climate change and peak oil. Let’s do a controlled shutdown. The electrical grid in America is about to fall even without these scenarios. It’s estimated it will take 2.5 trillion dollars to overall America’s electrical grid. It is way under capacity now and they say it will not handle expected future demand and will most assuredly start us having blackouts on a regular basis. This is before climate change and/or peak oil. With those it is a sure thing. And that is just talking about periodic blackouts. Which of course is nothing to sniff at but it doesn’t even compare to a permanent nationwide shutdown of the entire grid.
If we are smart we will begin to methodically, intelligently and over a long period of time start weaning ourselves off the systems that support this massive way of life we know in the industrialized world. And here’s the thing, if we do this right we won’t have to lose all of it like we will if we go on as if we can go on forever. If we admit it is coming to an end then we can deal with that end and not let it be “the” end. In fact, with solar and wind power we can still have a communications system and lighting at the very least. We may not be buzzing around in cars, boats and planes, but we will be able to talk and communicate with each just as we do now.
But I have to admit, that’s about all we’ll have. There will be no Macy’s, Wal-Mart’s or Penny’s. There will be no malls, downtowns or resorts. Luxury life will be a thing of the past, as will yachts, sports cars and even motorcycles. These are not going to be omitted by choice if that’s what you are thinking; instead it will be the result of economic collapse. It is the free enterprise system that brought all this about because its foundation is growth and growth’s foundation is innovation and sales. With no economy there will be no free enterprise and therefore no product. But if we do this shutdown intentionally, we can retain some products. That issue is another book, but if you use your head, then you will know what I mean.
These are not pleasant thoughts, and they become nightmares when they are forced upon you with no mercy. If we don’t take shutdown into our own hands then it will come to us this way, hard and fast with no mercy. We will be caught with our pants down and bare assed to nature’s fury. The only way to avoid that is to plan a shutdown that we can live with.
Just like the food and water situation, time is the absolute fundamental element to our success. We have to start now, right now. It will take at least 20 years to do this shutdown correctly. You need to also consider that we will be returning to an agrarian lifestyle at the same time. In one way, culturally that is, this will help but it will also be lots of work. We are going to be busy bees let me tell you. So again, time is vital because there is much to do. That is the nature of catastrophic events; they make life very hard, extremely hard. The more you accept and expect that the better off you will be. It’s war folks, quite literally. You thought WW2 was something, ha!
It is natural to assume that we will need some sort of system for society to manage. We do this with the free enterprise system now in most of the developed world. In other words, economy sets the stage. And then there is government providing law, infrastructure and defense.
I am not going to pretend I can even begin to lay out what the system in this new world will be. But as I said in the first section of this chapter, once awareness of our needs have been fully realized; then leaders will step forward to organize our doings. I believe the same goes for our system of operations. Remember, we are going to be a “society” of beings that are existing merely to survive. Economic growth and development, city planning, cultural development and the like will all be put on hold so to speak. We are going to just be trying to eat substantive food and drink clean water.
So given that scenario your guess is as good as mine. But just like with our shutting down the grid and infrastructure, the same goes for our societal systems. We will need to wean off of our systems as we know them now and gradually form new approaches to these needs. The trick is to acknowledge that the system as we know it is coming to an abrupt end when considering historical time. For 5000 years we’ve been developing civilization and suddenly we are going to be forced to start over and develop something new in just a few short decades. However, it isn’t like we don’t have much knowledge at our disposal to figure this out; that is not the problem.
Whatever happens in regard to the functioning of our new system, one thing for sure that will have to be its backbone is the collective mind. We are going to have to cooperate with each other, not compete as we do now. There will be no competition because there will be no jobs. At least not in the way we know them now. We will have to have an organized system of some kind for production purposes. For instance, we are still going to need salt. Get it? We will need clothing and other materials for everyday survival. In other words, tasks for the greater good will have to be performed. This is where you sacrifice, you will have to give your time and energy to the greater good, or you and the rest of us will die. You will not do it for money, money will be passé. You will do it because you, just like the rest of us, will want to live.
Evaluate and Implement Technology
As I referred to in the section on shutting down, it is very likely that we can hold on to portions of our present life. Of course survival is the key word here. We are going to be faced with tremendous threats to our very lives; we must retain the technology and even develop new technology that will aid us in devising ways to protect us from these threats.
We will need heating and cooling for sure, we will not have the energy resources we do now, so we will have to get very clever. Perhaps we will retain nuclear energy, but personally I hope not and I also doubt it because I doubt that energy will come from grids. Instead, energy will be localized and maybe even home produced or neighborhood produced. There most likely will not be a grid to hook into. However, there will be some sort of infrastructure in place, however crude. In this case there may be some sort of power grid for use of this infrastructure and perhaps it might be powered by nuclear energy. The question is can we maintain and oversee such a thing when people are just trying to eat? All this becomes very dependent on the collective will and development of the cooperative spirit we talked about before.
Speaking of nukes, we have tons of them on this earth. Something is going to have to be done about them. They can’t just be left to sit and rot. We are going to have to nuke down. The same goes for other chemical and biological toxics. We won’t be using them but the damn things are still going to be around and they will have to be destroyed or stored for safety. The reality is we will need technology to deal with technology.
These things will hopefully be handled in the shutdown phase. But then again maybe they won’t, maybe we won’t have the time. You see, we are in an emergency; most of us do not even know it yet. That being said, a smooth transition can not be at all guaranteed. In fact, count on lots of trouble and lots of screw ups.
Teardown and Rebuild
This section could really just be a rewrite of chapter 5 of my article Evolve Now. In that chapter I talk about all of us getting out our hammers and shovels and start tearing down our present infrastructure in order to make a new one. This and the next section are all about that.
Much of this phase can be dealt with during the shutdown phase. In fact, just like the food and water situation, it is really something we need to start on immediately. The main reason is for materials. We are going to need lots of materials to build an infrastructure and shore up our homes so that in both cases they become able to withstand the coming climate change impacts such as floods, extreme heat and cold and severe weather.
We will not have the big manufacturing and raw resource industries we have now. Remember, the grid will have been or will be in process of being shut down. So energy to get these things done will not be available. What will be available is muscle. Yes, we will have machinery for a time, but remember these projects will take decades. Climate change will be hitting us hard, oil supplies will be rapidly diminishing and also remember we will be intentionally weaning ourselves off these assets. We will use them as long as we can but no way can we depend on them for the duration of our transition period.
Again, this is where cooperation will become a life saving attribute. All able bodied men and women will need to be involved in this massive demolition effort. We will need materials. Remember, the seas are going to be rising within the next 50 to 60 years, perhaps much sooner. That means a whole lot of people will need to be relocated all over the world and they will need homes. Get it? Even if we had the fuel to get this done, we still will not have the raw resources to manufacture enough building materials to deal with this mass migration we are going to see. We are going to have to teardown and reuse our materials.
Brace for Impact
Let’s pretend that all this “action” as gone as good as it could go. That means that within the next 4 or 5 years, or by 2015, we will have gotten passed the awareness stage. We will be well in to growing our own food by 2020 and should also be finishing up our long term planning; starting our shutdown and our new system should be conceptualized and started. All these tasks will have needed to have been totally completed by 2040 while the teardown and rebuilding projects should also have been going all during this time as well and then be completed by at least 2050.
So, if all has gone right then it will be ready to go in 2050. It better have, honey. Why? Because if it has not gone right, then we will most likely be out of oil and the climate will be kicking our ass all over the planet. Our economy will have collapsed and our ability to extract raw resources and convert them to product will be long gone. We’ll be sitting ducks.
But can we actually depend on all this going right? That’s a big, big question if you look at where we are at right now. I have to be honest; it sure doesn’t look like we are anywhere near ready for what I am calling for. But hey, god damn it, I gotta think we are going to wake up and kick it in the ass real soon. If we don’t, then all I can say is brace for impact.
Here We Are
Time to Surrender
Let’s just pop off a few. Umm, runaway debt, peak oil, climate change, food shortages, water depletion, severe droughts and floods, stymied governments, moral decay, excess war, riots and unrest, corrupted wealth, increasing poverty, dwindling middle class, nuclear crisis, epic disaster, and while all that’s happening corporations are buying their way to tyranny. In short, everything is screwed, but the good news is nothing else can go wrong.
And so what is being done about it; what are the powers that be doing to get us out of this mess? Well you could say they are doing nothing but allowing themselves to be lobbied into submission. Or you could say they are doing all they can. You could say some are doing their best, while others are merely corrupting the process. You could blame it on the president(s), blame it on congress or blame it on corporations, banks, lobbyists, soccer moms or all of the above. Well, here’s my take, blame doesn’t matter anymore.
We have reached the tipping points; it’s likely we’ve passed them. Some grand miracle could happen to remove the oozing slime listed above, but I ain’t waitn’ for it. It’s time to surrender, and surrender big. There comes a time when you say enough is enough, you’ve lost, you are beaten and so you fall to your knees and give way to fate. You pray you can have the chance to start over and you beg for another opportunity to make a life. And when it gets bad enough you humble yourself and ask for no more that that which will allow you to live and if you get that, you are grateful. Many, if not all of us reach a point of some kind like that in our life, it is a humbling experience.
I believe societies, just as individuals, can and do have similar experiences in their histories. It would be hard to find an argument that right now in the 21st century that not only your specific country, but the entire world has reached this point. We are at the peak of surrender, no question about it. Whether we will surrender is a another question. As I said, societies have reached this point many times, but how many actually surrender and turn themselves around? Time will tell if the modern human has evolved enough to finally do this. At last, I trust that we can.
Let’s be positive and believe that we will not fall completely into our own demise, but we are going to surrender and will allow ourselves to evolve, at least enough to prevent unprecedented disaster. Believe it or not we can do that; we are capable of it and we do have the power. We just haven’t hurt enough yet, and humans do not deal with pain very well. Obviously, our species is hurtn’ pretty freaking bad right now so I gotta think the clinching pinch is coming soon.
So when it does, what we will we need to do; what will it look like? That can be summed up in one word: simple. That’s all it can be. We as a collective species are like the guy mentioned above, “when it gets bad enough you humble yourself and ask for no more that that which will allow you to live”. What that means for us is food, water, clothing and shelter, and very little else. Yes this is very drastic and yes many people, particularly in the developed world, will never go for it. Ah…but they will, those folks are only lacking this foresight because they haven’t felt the pain yet. As time speeds by we are going to see people getting humble pretty god damn quick. When they have to seriously regulate their energy use, then their water consumption, and finally their food consumption they will finally say, “ouch, this hurts”. Their attitudes will change and humility will set in like a sweet, summer rain.
This is not an ideology speaking here. It doesn’t come from the left or the right or from Christianity or Paganism, nothing like that. It comes solely from need; it is the next logical step in the process of collapse. When true collapse happens, there isn’t a midpoint to return to, or a sociopolitical compromise to make towards the going paradigm. No, when true collapse happens—you start over and in our case it’ll be pretty much from the beginning. Because of technology we will not have to return to the Stone Age, but hard work to secure the basics will become the norm like we haven’t seen for many decades, maybe even centuries.
We will do it, don’t worry about that. The concern is timing. And even timing doesn’t make or break our recovery, but it most certainly determines the degree of difficulty the tasks will be and more importantly how many will die before those tasks are through.
The Old Ways, Fear and Remembrance
Recently I was asked to do an article on bringing back old survival skills such as butchering, tanning, baking, etc. and it was further suggested that training and workshops within local communities be done on these types of things. Well this is that article, but allow me to take a sort of back door approach to the subject.
I’m back on my farm now and whoa is me. I wonder to myself that all my talk of ‘working together’ begins to sound like a distant drumbeat, ever fading over the hill. It’s fear–isn’t it? I mean, that’s what has had me second guessing myself—it’s that damn fear thing.
Of course this fear thing doesn’t come from nowhere. New Mexico is suffering drought again, big time. This is monsoon season in the Southwest and all we are getting is little pissers. I’m up there on my hill doing rain dances but my mind is on the fact we are heading towards cataclysmic climate change. So my dance becomes a prayer that climate change will wait for my death to get cranking, but then, that’s selfish. Here I am shouting “togetherness” and I’m up there worried about ‘my’ little corn patch and ‘my’ water tank.
I woke up a few mornings ago morning in fear, it was 3:30. I got up and made coffee, took a couple of sips then headed for my hill to pray to the cloud people for rain. But then I got scared and quit. You know, fear is a bitch that will slap you silly. I walk on the prairie grass listening to it crackle and break. Each step is a reminder that my crops need rain while my car needs gas and between the two I stand dazed and confused. I wish for the old way, the way of the Indian, the nomad and the bard. But my fear says it won’t come, because it’s too far away. And though it is approaching, my fear says it will not arrive in time. I fear, I fear, I fear. Help me.
Well after grappling with this fear the last few days and then finally after the rains came the last two days—my mind and heart have once again seen a different picture. And now this is what brings me to the subject at hand. You see, “the old ways and the old skills” are only something to “learn”. They are practices, tasks to perform, and in the case of the modern human being they really are more or less…hobbies. Now what the hell do I mean by that? I can hear some of you now, “Hobbies? Hey look asshole; they are way more than hobbies because they are what are going to save our ass before all this is through!”
Well, yeah, sort of. The old “ways” are one thing of which I will get to later, but as for the old “skills” you have to remember, we’ve had 200 years of innovation since we last tanned hides, weaved baskets and made clay pots. Sure, we are very likely to collapse, but I doubt that means we’ll be thrown entirely into the Stone Age.
Just because the modern systems for infrastructure, markets and government fail doesn’t mean we’ll forget everything we ever learned. So I have to ask, what are the real needs we have to acquire and learn of the old ways and skills? When it comes to actual products I’m not real sure what they may be, but I can take a pretty good guess at what they won’t be. We already have a lot of pots and pans so I doubt we’ll have to do pottery. We may not retain an entire industry for textiles but I am sure we’ll retain the knowledge of cloth and fabrics enough to figure out some way to produce them locally so that we need not wear buck skins and fig leaves. Let me cut to the quick and just say that for the most part, if we are careful, smart and resourceful I would imagine we can continue the use of many of our current products just by conserving them. I mean, a hammer’s gonna last a while don’t you think?
Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not saying we will not need to learn some of the old skills and I am sure the person who asked me to do this article knows already what I mean here. I just wish to make the point that there is no way that we will need to go back to all of those old skills, some but not all. The only reason to do that all the way would be for spiritual purposes, or out of defiance or symbolism. Hell, we have enough materials and products existing right now to last us for 200 years. Think of all the plastic products we will be able to use. I’m looking right now at two large plastic cooking spoons I can use for everything from stirring soups to spanking babies. Remember the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle and we’ll of done plenty of that if we have survived collapse.
So in regards to returning to the things of old I believe they should have more to do with the old ways and not so much the skills. This is why I opened this chapter with the story about my fears. When we speak of old ways and in some cases old skills most of the time we are talking about a state of being. I was out here on my land freaking out because it wasn’t raining; I mean I was in a real tizzy. Then I remembered what the hell I was doing here in the first place when I came to this land 16 years ago for the first time. And this is what I have to say about the old ways. The first thing we as a civilization and as a species need to learn and to re-remember is that our survival is useless and even precarious in itself if we do not remember why we are here. It’s a very simple concept; we are “the” caretakers of all life on planet Earth. When we return to doing that job, we will automatically know what to do about our future in regards to the old ways and the old skills.
Oh by the way, we got an inch of rain over the last two days…
What does that phrase, right now, mean? Well these days it means many things. OK, here’s an abbreviated list:
- climate change is happening
- water shortages are happening
- the oceans are decaying at an almost exponential rate
- the Arctic is melting off the planet
- we are breaking weather records so fast we can hardly keep up
- we are at the tipping points of peak oil
- the threat for nuclear terror is absolutely real
- our economies are in a shamble
- we are depleting our essential resources, such as arable land
- the corporation is at rule and owns the government
- we are beginning to rebel
Yeah all that’s happening and more—right now. Scientists are using this phrase quite a bit these days. See, the thing is, if there ever was a bell curve incident…we are in it right now. You really need to wake up to this phrase, understanding it may mean your life or the life of your descendents someday. If you combine the realties in the list above, then it can be said that we are witnessing an event that correlates in scale with geologic events. They usually happen over long periods of time, hundreds of thousands to millions of years. However, our event is happening in about a 200 year period. So thinking in geologic time and pretending that these 200 years are an event in geologic time and given that we are about 150 years into those 200, then one more blink and the phrase “right now” is gone and it’s all over but the crying.
With all this happening right now, then it seems logical that a response would be something like ‘right now’. But I ain’t seeing it. Well, yes, there is the Occupy thing, yeah that’s good, I mean it, really, it’s a damn good thing. But when I look at the list above, then the first thing I think about is occupying some god damn food and water. Hopefully, sooner than too later.
A Food and Water Story
In all my work as an activist the last 20 years, particularly in the environment, I’ve never encountered issues as alarming as food and water. It’s obvious why of course; they are our means to life itself. But at present, that is not why I center on the issues of food and water so much. Let’s just say they are the canary in the coal mine but in this case the canary is dead before it hits the entrance. In other words, once the food and water collapse hits it will happen so fast your throat and stomach will collapse with them.
It’s the scariest of scary thoughts regarding life after collapse. Because if something magical doesn’t happen about these two items pretty soon then life after collapse will be a short trip. I say magical because to fix these problems will require way more than added farms and desalination technology. It will require these things, but it also will require a whole new set of cultural, political and economic paradigms. That is why earlier I called food and water the canary in the coal mine. Because within any functioning civilization will be a construct in place that puts food and water on the top priority list. When this is not the case then it means the civilization in question is either very stupid or extremely sick. In our case, I am quite sure it’s the latter.
At present we live precariously, recklessly, and with no regard for our future generations and not even for our current generation or ourselves. I say that because here we are in the 21st century running wild on product and all the while our food and water resources are in trouble…and we know it. We put blind trust into the system that it will take care of our essentials and off we run to the mall. We don’t even think about it. We go to the grocery store after the mall and there we reluctantly get our food and water. They are there on the shelf and in our minds they will always be boringly there on the shelf.
This whole scenario is a condition. It’s a condition of being lost. We are wondering around, looking for answers, lost, bewildered. I’m not speaking to you directly the reader. I am speaking to the human species as a collective being. That gal is one sick puppy. She has a condition while suffering a great illusion. The condition is a disease the free enterprise system gave her and the illusion is she thinks she’s OK. She ‘may’ not ever know what the hell happened to her until she’s gotten hungry or thirsty or both. But if she makes it to that point, in some sort of dazing light I’m sure, she’ll ask herself, “Where have I been?”
Our problems are not economic, and at present they are not the lack of food and water, nor are they environmental or even political. Oh sure these are very problematic issues for our times, but more importantly they are the result of a more fundamental issue, that we as a collective are sick. The current paradigm has failed and it is what has made us sick; the main culprit being the free enterprise system of economics. We had to have products and more products and this put us on the path of infinite growth. Infinite growth makes one sick. Imagine if our bodies had infinite growth, we would—collapse. We would get sick and our mental health would be off due to the effort to manage our lives while centering on all that damn growth.
It happens to us right now. Our life is involved with a machine that as been running for over 200 years. This machine subtlety causes us to be involved with its production of product. Our part is to make money and then spend it…on product. Our reward is food and water. Yes I said food and water, not cars, boats and planes—food and water. Why? Because it is from this very machine that we get our food and water and if it quit giving us our food and water then all that other crap would not mean a thing. And it’s all that “other crap” that’s keeping us sick.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not knocking the fact that we’ve done some pretty fantastic things with this machine. It is not all bad and we are going to need the good that this machine has brought us. It’s just that presently its main function is to make sure that infinite growth happens. And we all know infinite growth is no longer working for us.
Food and water issues relate to this at the very core; because that is how we will finally get it right. They will be what will shut this machine down. When we get our heads on straight about food and water, we won’t need the machine anymore, in fact, it will just quit running. Getting our heads straight means we will see that by securing life at its very core levels, food and water, we will also be manifesting the essential guiding force to our lives as well. It becomes how we arrange our lives as we make it the focal point of our existence. From there we grow. That means when we’ve gotten to this level of subsistence, we will have the mind to know what to do next.
The Time We Have
I’m scared, you may be too. It seems we have so little time before all hell breaks lose. I wrote my Evolve Now article in July of 2010, we all know how much has happened since then in the aspects of collapse. But let’s take a breath for a second. Time is very critical, there’s no doubt about that, but in another sense we very likely have more time than we think. I mean that in terms of being able to constructively put something together that will help see us through. Let’s say we doomsayers are right and the world falls into collapse. At that point we would be at the kick off of the collapse football game but we’ll still have for quarters to play. Everything will not fall apart over night. The system is simply too big to fall that quick.
In a collapse situation I would say we would have at least a year before systems collapse completely, before commercial food production ceases, and before utility grids go completely down. At least one year. It wouldn’t be a typical year, don’t get me wrong. Let’s just say that the term chaos will have different meanings at each end of that year. I have no proof of that, I admit, it is simply a common sense judgment, but I feel pretty confident about it. Nevertheless, if I am correct then one year still is not very long to get a societal approach to complete collapse. We have to get moving on this and begin immediately. With things like CollapseNet and the Transition Towns concepts I would say we have begun already, but so has collapse.
We are collapsing as we speak; it just hasn’t been made official yet. We are also reacting to this in real time and we are ever increasing that reaction day by day. The 100th monkey is about to kick in any time now and when it does hold on to your hats because your butt is going to be very busy saving itself. But don’t sit and wait for that monkey, he won’t show up unless we have been preparing the way for his arrival. That comes by individual preparation as some are doing now and more importantly it comes by advanced advocacy of the collective human will. In other words, unless the “majority” wants and desires that 100th monkey then he won’t show up. It is our job, those of us who are aware, to see that that happens. If you are reading this book then that most likely includes you—tag you’re it.
Now let’s say I’m wrong about my intuition for having a year and immediately all shuts down and nothing but chaos reigns. Have we run out of time then? I do not believe that. Those of us that are still alive will still be human beings won’t we? We will still have the ability to say yes and no won’t we? That being so then we will still be able to gather and organize a system for living. And guess what, we will do that; we will do exactly that; because we will go extinct if we don’t. A few billion may die before that all happens, but we will do it; the human will to survive will get it done.
Of course none of us wants to see that happen. Well, I take that back. There are those of you out there who say, “let ‘em die, we need population reduction, it’s biology”. Yes, we need population reduction. But we are also the smartest species in the known universe. I think we can willfully allow population to reduce by attrition. I am not naïve enough to blindly believe that is what will happen, but I damn sure do not support mass death. If it can be avoided, we must do all we can to make that happen.
We can do something about it all, and we have the time. Time is mostly crucial in regards to the awakening of the collective will. Once we have reached that sort of unity, time will not be nearly as much to fear. We still will have to be in a hurry, but the hardest part will be over.
So, how do we get that precious collective will? Those of you who are aware must share what you are doing for preparation and why. And you must also encourage unity. You must realize and admit that you can not survive alone, that you need your fellow human beings. Does this sound a bit sappy? Does it sound idealistic? Well, it’s neither, it’s a freaking emergency. It is about life and death and it’s about need. I’ve heard many of you say you’ve tried to talk to people you know and to no avail, they think you’re crazy. It’s hard I know. And it is much easier to just deal with your own world and let the rest go. But see, you have this knowledge; you have no right to keep it to yourself. Don’t worry, that “you’re crazy” thing is going to be getting less and less prevalent as the days trip on by, sadly, conditions will make that so.
All of Us
The Collective Mind
In all that you’ve read here, there is one ingredient that most certainly will have to manifest in order for there to be any chance that we will adapt to the coming changes brought on by global warming or any of these other potential crisis’s and that is, the collective mind.
It would be wonderful if we were moving into this by choice. I am a utopian thinker. Generally, when I think of the collective mind I think of it spiritually or cosmically, but in the case of our coming threat, it is simply necessary. At present, we do have a collective mind, but we are totally unaware of it. Thus, it is in chaos. In a world without the sort of threat like climate change and these other projections are presenting, I believe we would eventually evolve back into a working, functioning collective mind, one that takes care of the species it comes from rather than works against it as it does now. But I think I can easily say that it would take hundreds if not thousands of years to come about. We have about forty.
We will not naturally evolve into this. Even if we do reach a collective mind enough to pull off restructuring the world, then most likely that is all it will be. It will not be an evolution; it will be an anomaly, a blip on the screen of our existence and will only be with us until we’ve stabilized out adaptation efforts. Hopefully, something of it will rub off and stay with us permanently; I expect that something like that would happen. But this isn’t about that. We simply need the collective mind to wake up enough to get organized for a big task. If it goes back to sleep after it has done its job, then so be it. At least maybe then we can continue as a species and be given the time to reach our evolutionary potential. But if it doesn’t wake up, they’ll be no evolutionary potential.
Is there hope?
In regards to climate change? No, not really. I mean it. Listen, we still have people who think we can mitigate this problem away simply by regulation and taxes, let alone the large portion of the world that thinks this is all a hoax. As I said earlier, there are whole books written addressing the realities of the deniers and skeptics. But I’ll go into that no further. Why? Because we don’t have the time so we simply have to ignore them; if they don’t want to participate, then so be it. The rest of us will just have to do it for them.
I’ll say this, if we started today, July 11th 2010, and we shut down production completely, drastically minimized transportation, and shut off all our lights, TV’s, water heaters, refrigerators, and all the other conventions that make up the modern world; we “might” slow down the build up of greenhouse gases enough to reverse the trend of global warming. Though many scientists think it still would be too late. However, even if it isn’t too late, do you have any notion that we are going to do anything like this anytime soon? We can’t even get the public aware of the real problems we face with this, let alone get strong enough regulation in place and in time to do much of anything worth while. Our global accords are a joke. So far, no one is showing they are willing to sacrifice to the level truly needed to thwart climate change.
At our current pace, we are going to be lucky to get any sort of meaningful legislation in place in time. I’m guessing it will be at least 2015. Though many scientists are saying we should have started this back in the 90’s. And mostly, whatever legislation is being introduced at present, climate scientists say it is much too weak.
So no, there is little hope, at least not for effectively mitigating greenhouse gas emissions that cause the warming. The best we can do is adapt; even that will be the greatest accomplishment of the human race ever conceived. Actually, in the course of adaptation, a natural mitigation will follow right with it. If we are gong to reset the economy and reshape our infrastructure, I seriously doubt they will include the continued emissions of greenhouse gases.
This is we what have to do, we have to adapt or we will die. It is you and I that will get it done. Our greatest hope to survive the coming peril is the human collective. And as for the rest of the issues discussed here in this book, in all cases including climate change, just remember two words, FOOD & WATER.
The Collective Decision
I write a lot about the collective mind. This article will be dedicated to that subject, but not in the way I usually talk about it. I always state that we need the collective mind to wake up and help get us out of this mess, or at least help us to adapt to it. In this article I want to delineate just a bit on what this awakening actually is. I realize that my discussions regarding the awakening of the ‘collective mind’ may sound a bit ethereal, or something like mind reading or maybe something spiritual. If you have thought any of that, then hopefully this article will clarify the reality of it. It is none of these things, though they can be a part of it if we chose to do that; in our case making choices is what the collective mind is all about.
As societies we make choices now, even while our collective mind is in its catatonic state, or if you prefer a softer analogy, sleeping. At present we make collective choices as a collective of individuals and as a result we get a collective impact of sorts, but not a waking collective consciousness. What we do get is laws, customs, traditions, etc. It’s kind of what I’d call a half-ass collective, which is why we also get a whole slew of unwanted byproducts, but that’s another article. Suffice it to say we are not completely out of touch with ourselves as a collective, within national boarders that is, globally not so much.
The actual re-awakening of the collective mind is a different animal though. It’s a different experience in that as an individual, you will experience the collective as if it were an individual. This is about as mysterious as it will get, that is, if we are only waking it up to help us out for a time, like a foxhole prayer. The experience will be about the same as when your home team scores a basket; for awhile, we’ll all sort-a smile the same way, maybe give a couple claps. In other words, it’s not all that magical. This is so because all that happens is that collectively we make a decision, a choice. It would be a similar experience to voting or democracy, but not quite either.
All this becomes clear when the collective itself becomes more or less tired of itself. We as a collective species will begin to give out, and as this steam lets off along with it comes an awareness of the collective. In other words, somewhat simultaneously we’ll turn to each other and collectively we’ll know at least one thing, that we are all tired. This has to come first or we will not make a collective decision about anything. Until this happens, we, as a collective, will continue on relying on the miracles of science and the success of our policymakers; while we the people just vote and spend. But as you may have come to understand already, this isn’t working anymore…and we are getting tired of it.
So let’s say we finally get damn tired and are all aware of it to boot, then what? What does the collective mind (somewhat awaken) do next? Well, it will quickly come to understand that it has a choice, and that is to remain tired and on deaths path, or to find a new way to live. Believe it or not, all of my discussions regarding the collective mind can be boiled down to this one point in time, this time of choice. I’ve never spoken to the choice of remaining as we are; I’ve said plenty about the results of that choice, but not the choice itself. Nevertheless, I hope that will not be our decision, in fact; I think it is ultimately ruled out as a choice. If we continue as we are…well, it might be we’ll have to get all the way down to ten people left on the planet, but eventually we’ll decide for a new way of living. Yes, I suppose we don’t have to make that choice, but as for me, any other choice is ruled out.
So let’s say we go with Door No. 2 and we decide to live a new way (good choice). So while the collective mind is still awake, we can then decide on what that new life will be. It is at this point that leaders will step forward and lay out the path for how we will collectively make this decision on what our new world will be. And it is also at this point that the collective mind can choose to stay awake or go back to sleep, we will have made some choices and now we’ll just be carrying them out. We won’t need it anymore. But hey, it can stay around as long as it likes as far as I’m concerned.
So you see, the awakening of the collective mind is a very tangible thing, it is something we do more than think or feel, it’s just making a decision—collectively. And it will be a physical act, you can bet on that. We’ll probably have to vote or something similar. We are not going to be like the Borg, where suddenly we are all connected mentally as one mind. That’d be cool, but don’t wait for it in your life time. No, there will have to be some sort of standardized communication effort, probably voting, but who knows? I couldn’t rule out a cognitive collective experience, these are powerful times; anything can happen, however, I don’t see us ready for that sort of magic yet. Of course this ‘stepping forth of leaders’ I referred to earlier will be sort of a magical kind of thing. It could be our existing governments, but that’s only if they have gone through major changes as a result of the awakening. Or it could be some sort of emulsion from the collective, something that takes place organically, this could be from government or some other thing; a computer maybe?? That’s the best I can describe it, whatever steps forward to lead us, I’d imagine it’d be sort of magical.
A primer for this to happen is simply that we as individuals begin to at least think about the collective mind or the need for a cooperative decision to change. If enough of us get it into our waking consciousness that we need the collective mind to waken, then it becomes a powerful mindset that can get the ball rolling. I’d say we are doing that right now with things like CollapseNet, the Transition Town movement and the Occupy movement; we are beginning to wake this gal up. It’s like she is aware in her dreams that the sun is coming up, but right now it’s only a dream. In any case, the sad truth is it all boils down to a numbers thing. We need more people aware that they are tired than people unaware that they are tired, and then she will sit up in bed. And then it will go like this: the more the numbers, the clearer her speech. Again, there is nothing all that magical about this, its math. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the biggest deal the human race has ever confronted. The question is, will we?
Our time has come. For eight million years we’ve been evolving, and until now nothing has stopped or slowed that but the awkwardness of our own growth. We’ve had the luxury of taking our time to become. And my, what we have become and are becoming, what a wonder to experience the human endeavor to collectively grow and learn. We are very special in the universe, but we are expendable.
The earth’s climate does not heed our evolution. It can not consciously give us a break; change its mind and calm down. It is acting only in accordance with a physical response to our doings. A sink faucet does not shut off because we forgot to do it ourselves; it runs till we shut it off. If we don’t it has no choice but to over flow the basin. Thinking that, “it can’t be so” will not change a thing; it is going to get hotter no matter what you think.
We have to adapt. To do that will take nothing short of a miracle of civilization. Because to truly adapt in a way that will bring about anything meaningful to the survival of our species will take every ounce of effort from every human being able to give anything at all. Imagine a completely new infrastructure, because after all, that is what this book is really calling for as much as anything, the building of an entirely new infrastructure on a global scale. It will be one that serves the survival of all human beings, not because it is such a high ideal, but because under the conditions of climate change it is all of us or none of us. It just so happens that our over population problem could actually be the one thing that becomes our success in the end. PEOPLE, lots of them will be needed to work. Employment will be 100%. We are going to be tearing down structures from small buildings to mass structures such as dams and canals.
Our concern will be the survival of our species, just like when a hurricane comes ashore, we just get through the storm and stay alive; recovery comes later. Put that on a geologic time scale in regards to climate change as the storm, but in this case it’s a thousand-year storm we are bracing for. I mean that literally. Scientists say that once we have stopped emissions, it could still take hundreds of years for the new climate equilibrium to settle. It’s a rocky road.
Scientists are saying things even they can’t believe themselves. We are coming to embrace events so big we just can’t get our minds around them right now. We just can’t believe it. And sadly, we do not only have climate change to deal with, if you’ve read this far, then you know we have a whole slew of serious issues to overcome and/or adapt to. The facts are in, over and over and over. Read, learn, and find out. When we’ve done that enough, we’ll get together, you’ll see; work parties will be the thing of the future.
It would be very easy to call this book radical. However it is quite the contrary and in fact, what is radical is what we are doing now. Suicide is radical; trying to save life is sane. We’ve done some huge damage with little effort when you scale it in geologic time; conversely, we will have to do some huge changing and hard work to fix it. It’s not radical, it’s math.
In closing I want to sincerely convey that I am open to the possibilities of new avenues of resolve happening in ways that we can not foresee right now. Maybe technology will improve so fast we can fix anything. Maybe these folks I referred to in La-La L and are right and we are going to be able to mentally power our way out of this mess. But, if technology, spirituality or both or something not yet known would happen to save the day, then as far as it looks from here, January 27, 2012, we would have been saved by miracles. Presently, there is nothing in sight big and powerful enough that shows evidence of being capable of saving the day, nothing. Whatever could come out of the blue…would be a miracle. And so I have to ask, are we going to wait for miracles? It appears to me this is just what we are doing here in the 21st century, relying on miracles. But hey, I’m open to it. It’s a pretty big universe and anything can happen.
However I can’t see the universe having much favor with a planet whose primary caretakers are so lost in selfishness that they don’t know their collective ass from a whole in the ground. If the universe has its eye on us, then my guess would be it is waiting to see if we can take this opportunity to grow up just a bit. But all this is just speculation and we have enough of that going around these days and so I don’t think I wish to add anymore to it. It is speculation that the future is always bright, our innovators, our policymakers and our collective paradigms are always right. We sit in speculation that the modern way of life is just too good to collapse and so the future just has to be better. We have been doing that speculation for a long time now, things are not getting better; they are definitely getting worse.
No, short of miracles we are stuck with this mess as best as I can tell. It is ours to fix. It is something we will do with our hands; our heads will have to be on pause. The next few generations will be the most important people that have ever lived on earth. They will be the ones who saved our species from extinction, or they won’t…and that, my friends, is the whole deal right there.
In this appendix I am adding a couple more articles that I wrote that involve my life as it relates to the subject matter in this book. I am guessing that it may be important for you to know where the author is coming from just a bit. Though I know I’ve already included many aspects of my life thus far, I believe these two articles will round all that out. Don’t judge me too harshly; I’ve done plenty of that myself…
‘Down on Your Luck’—A Forgotten Phrase
I remember a time, even in my short life, when people used to say “I’m down on my luck right now”. Maybe you were out of work, or sick, a financial crisis, many things. Whatever these things may have been you could voice them, it was common to do so. Have you noticed? It’s really not so cool to say those things anymore. What happened? Why is it so socially inappropriate to voice your devastations, your desperation for money, health or maybe even love?
This is what I aim to tackle, or at least bring to mind in this article. I have theories about this. I will admit I am not at all settled about them, I am still searching within myself the truth of my own inner reactions regarding these things. What things? To illustrate, permit me give a brief story within my own life of late. This story is why I am writing this article. Oh, by the way, I am down on my luck.
For some time now I have been having a very difficult time with money, that is, the lack of it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in no way a lover of money, in fact, I agree with Mike as he says in his documentary “Collapse”, it is the root of all evil. But then again you have to have it, at least some of it, enough to live. Which right now for me on my farm I can actually ‘live’ with less than $400 a month cash and I am getting food stamps so that’s another $126 a month. Yeah that’s right, food stamps.
Anyway, I am saying that for $526 a month and that only, no other holdings, dividends, barter’s, nothing—just the $526, I can live very happy—very happy. But right now I’ve got $11 in my wallet and ¾’s tank of gas. And my 10 gallon propane bottle is just about empty. I am living in an 8×12 shed that has no insulation and winter will be here before I know it. Let’s cut to the quick and say I am one desperate puppy. I went to Alabama to do some work this spring to get ready for coming back here to my land where I am living now. I had planned on having at least $1500 cash to help me get my farm started up and give me time to get cash work here, which is as rare as feathers on a dog, this is literally the middle of nowhere. But I got down on my luck you see, and wound up having to put $1300 into my car before I got back. I wound up coming in here with 550 bucks, way short of what I needed.
Ok you get the picture. After being back on my land for a little over a month and trying to do flyers and word of mouth, nothing has happened with money. So along with getting food stamps, last week I decided to do a broadcast email to folks that I know here and let them in on my situation. The letter was primarily a promo for my farm to make it a community farm and I also am trying to start a ride share program here, we are 60 miles from town and all that is here is reservation stores which have nothing but candy and crap junk food. God, what we’ve done to the natives, but that’s another story.
So I write this letter and send it. Well, one of my more well-to-do friends here was on the list. He wrote me and said the letter was very upbeat—except for one part. Here’s that part:
One more personal advertisement, I am open to doing some construction work at $12.50/hr. plus materials and delivery. Anything beyond construction I can do for less money, whatever you need a helping hand with: shoveling shit, cleaning toilets; believe it or not I was a professional window washer in St. Louis at one time. Whatever makes me some dough. And I am equally interested in work for barter. For instance, I need some roofing tin; will be willing to tear down for materials.
Now this guy’s not a stuck up, he’s a good guy, real good. What he said that offended me was that though he thought my letter was upbeat, he thought this part to be “desperate”. And I could not agree more, that’s exactly what I wanted it to be, I wanted it to show that I am desperate and am willing to do just about anything for money, just a little money. OK, I’m not telling you this to say one way or the other if he was right or wrong. I am telling you this story to make a point.
His statement got me thinking. Why has it become so socially bad to say something like this? I remember growing up that this is what you did when you were in need. You told people you were in need, you stated your case. But somehow we’ve suddenly become too ‘special’ to say that. We are not supposed to be in need, being in need is bad. Yet, most of human history has been littered with humans in need. Sixty percent of the world is in deep human need right now today. My case is pretty good compared to many; I at least have food stamps. And we are supposed to hide this, for what? So that we don’t offend those who have no need, is that it?
Well maybe. But I don’t think it’s that simple. It really isn’t about snobbery or elitism, though I believe they are playing a part, but only because of something else that happened starting in the 1980’s and that is credit and more specifically credit cards, that’s what has screwed us up more than anything in this regard. Here’s why. Before easy credit and credit cards we lived by cash on the barrel much, much more than we do now. And so when you didn’t have cash, you were down—down on your luck. And so you had to hustle and you also had to humble yourself and ask for work, maybe even beg for it. But with credit cards, you just barrowed your way out of these tight spots. So this barrowing allowed us to artificially deflate our state of neediness. With credit cards, you actually could appear to be financially stable, “no troubles here friend, I’m good.” We were all, on the surface, looking pretty well healed. No need for lowly humility, in fact, that came to be something wrong and undesirable. To be willing to shovel shit for a few dollars became something ill; something sick.
So here we are, a whole bunch of developed world humans running around trying not to appear desperate when we are about to fall completely head first into the poor house. Yet we are too special to ask for help, to special to grabble with a shovel of shit, to proud to eat beans and cornbread. And you know what I say? I say this something ill; something sick.
Now let me take a little turn on this subject and tell you about how I’ve gotten this line of thinking. One way has been flat out poverty. When you are as poor as I’ve been the last couple of years it’s easy to see the state of the union. But I am not poor strictly from bad luck and mishap and let me tell you that poverty is not the only reason for my point of view here, it’s only a small part. Also, I am one of those I spoke about earlier who falsely covered my ass from financial calamity by the good old credit card game. But I’ve been out of that game for almost 7 years now. Though that experience taught me a lot about humility, it too is not necessarily why I see things from the perspective I’ve presented in this article. The main place these thoughts come from is that in many ways I am poor now because I chose to become poor and I made that choice because I chose to follow a particular spiritual path. This path has no intent to put its followers in the poor house, you may wind up there by following it or you may not. It is a matter of perspective. I mean, what is poverty anyway? I tend to think of it as a state of want. If you have what you want, then you are not poor. But you may only want to simply eat. You may be happy to live under a tree if all you need is food. And if you have that food, then you have all you want and you are not poor. However, you may have ten private jets, but if you desire to have twenty, then I would say you are living in poverty.
The path I am on is simply this, to live as far off the grid and away from the need for stores, money and the free enterprise system as I can get. I do not do this farm thing because I am preparing for collapse. I do it because it is what I believe in; it is what gives me my spiritual fulfillment. It is a Lifeway. It’s a Hopi thing…you know, I’m a freaking wannabe Indian, and a poor example of it at that! But that’s OK, at least I’m trying. I am eating wild edibles: tumbleweed, pigweed, purslane, lambs quarters and more. I’ll be getting ready to set traps here in the next couple of weeks. I have the food stamps and I can actually live on those, but I do this as a manner of ceremony, prayer and ritual. Like I said, it’s a way of life. I do it out of need as well, and to prepare for collapse too, but these reasons are secondary to my spiritual pursuits.
So gee, ain’t I cool. No, that’s not what it’s about. I tell you this because I want to make a few other points before I close. This guy who told me I was being desperate has a mind set that most of us have or have had and it’s problem, a big problem. He, like all of us, has forgotten who and what he is, that he is a human being. And this is why he does not know that what he said is actually perverted. He, like those in the developed world, is lost in the realms of purchase. He has forgotten that he is here on this planet to care for this planet. I don’t say this as a matter of judgment or to promote a spiritual idea, I say it because it is the fact of what we are experiencing right now in this world. We are in a tit ringer because we have forgotten who we are. It’s as fundamental as gathering food to eat. You have to take care; you have to see that the place you are living is in tact. When you let that go you die, and so here we are, about to die.
To take care of the earth is a practice. I do it because of my beliefs, but it is also built into human nature; we already know this deep in our instinctual habitats. However, it has been buried under a mound of materialism. It is not that materialism is the sole evil here either; it is much more that we no longer do our jobs to care for the earth and all its inhabitants. When we return to that practice, all else will fall back into place, including materialism. Just as in the world of economy, if we work we get paid and then we eat, so to in the world of species it is our place to care for all, when we do that we all eat. We do this work together; we do not do it alone (though one does the best they can while all others run wild, eh?). This is why I preach working together to change the world. It is why I am calling for a community farm, not just my own farm. We are sick folks, if we do what we know we are made to do; then we will heal.
Dreams and Debt—A Dichotomy
We are heading into very difficult times, we are already in difficult times but what’s coming will make the present look like a cake walk. I know this, and I am not ready for it. For the most part all I can do is hope it takes longer for our systems to fail than the doomsayers are predicting, I am 56, so maybe I’ll be dead before the shit hits the fan. However, in my life the shit has already hit the fan. This has been on my mind lately quite a bit, well, it’s been on my mind for years now because I’ve been living it for years now. My personal life is a reflection of the very issues I talk about here, and so I’ve decided to share that with you—see what you think.
This isn’t my life’s story; it’s more a documenting of my reactions and dealings with life in these times and I am using myself as an example of what happens to many of us in this system. I’m sure I am not alone here, in fact, anyone out there who has been making less than 30K a year in the last 15 years will probably relate quite a bit. And they will especially relate if they are one of those who do not fall for the so-called career and success game found in the developed world. Nevertheless, as much as I hate money, it is the lack of it that has brought me the most trouble. It’s a strange dichotomy; can’t live with it, can’t live without it.
Since 1995, I have been trying my damnedest to get off the grid and live as far away from the system as I am able. That means trying to live beyond the scope of money. You know, grow my own food, make my own clothes, hunt, fish, all that. But I have failed miserably.
Why have I failed to make my dream come true? As much as I hate to admit it, because it’s so contrary to what I’ve been attempting to do, the primary reason I have failed is because I didn’t have enough money. I’ve said it before here on my blog; it takes money to get away from money. I am flat broke right now, no job, no savings and nothing but debt (about 30K). Yet, in order to reasonably sever myself from the system and the money game, I need about 50K to invest in my land to build a subsistence farm that will enable me to live away from the system—and money.
You may understand this already but it is not easy to live off the grid. You don’t just go out and throw a few seeds in your back yard and hose them down while waiting for life to spring forth. I’m talking about living clear off the grid so that you don’t need much money at all. Forget needing no money, that’s impossible, you have to have salt don’t you? And much more I might add. No, it takes a lot of land, equipment, tools, water, etc.
I know all the arguments and all the various levels of getting off grid, but that’s not the subject here. Suffice it to say it takes money to get away from money; no matter what level you wish to take it to, it’s going to cost some bucks. And these are bucks I haven’t had. So what I want to get into now is why I haven’t had this money.
I could say to you in some sort of humbling confession that I don’t have this money because I’ve been a screw up. That would be sort of true, but much more not true than true. I have made some big mistakes and some bad decisions, but at the same time I’ve worked very hard to make this happen. I’ve not been lazy or derelict in my effort to create a subsistence farm. And short of whining, I have had some really bad luck. Yet, these are not the real reasons I’ve not been successful at this, it’s much more complicated than that; much more subtle and sort of—diabolical.
First you have to understand where I’ve been coming from, I mean, why the hell would I want to get of the grid and out of the system in the first place? The answer to that question is also plays a big role in my inability to overcome my money dilemma. My base philosophy in life is summed up in the following motto I came up with in 1996. I can’t save the world but I don’t have to participate in its destruction. The “don’t have to participate” part is where I’ve been plagued with failure to come up with money to invest in getting away from money—and participating in the destructive ways of the system.
This is where it becomes diabolical. Making money is practically a sin to me because while making money I am also participating in the destruction of the earth according to my philosophy. So when I go out to make money to get away from money I in essence am also devaluing my basic philosophy of life, therefore I am in great conflict. I get depressed, confused, and angry. I become unproductive, I lose creativity and I also lose my way. Nothing happens, my farm is on hold, I wonder around a sad human being.
Yeah I know—sounds pretty pitiful, well, it is. Now some people, not many but some, can overcome these obstacles. They go to work and work hard to make the money they need and get the job done; their farm gets in full swing. But let me tell you something about these people who succeed this way; it all goes smooth, no hitches. They also are probably making some pretty good money, you know, at least 35 maybe even 50 thousand a year or more. They may be talented and are good at making money. But most likely the number one reason they succeed is because they have little or no debt.
Debt is the downfall of the masses. It is what stops most of us in our tracks who have been and are stopped in our tracks. When you are in debt it closes off the opportunity to get ahead of the money game, it retards your ability to invest and in the end it becomes what money is all about to you, that is, to pay off debt. This is especially so for the guy who doesn’t make much money. Those of us who are making less than 30K a year are lucky if we can invest in a small plot of baron land, let alone develop it. And if we have debt, well, forget it. Our debt is mostly based in food, gas, and clothing and has little to do with “investment”. We tried school and all we got out of that is debt to Sally Mae. We have a car payment, but the damn thing is old and in need of repair—up goes the credit card debt. Whoops–chipped a tooth–more credit card debt. It’s the day before pay day but the car is out of gas and I need to get to work, more credit card debt. When you are making less than 30K a year, everything better go pretty damn perfect in your life or guess what, you going to be in debt to school loans and credit cards. I’m not putting this on all people who make less than 30K, but I know it happens to many if not most; definitely me.
I am not good at making money. I am only so so at thriftiness. My highest paying job was 29K and I’ve lived with debt for the last 30 years of my life. So now add to this that I am not a very good American, that is, I do not seek the American dream of prosperity, in fact, I detest it. My deepest desire is to not need money and to live as far away from money as I can get. So now, let’s ask that question again, “Why have I failed to make my dream of being a subsistence farmer come true?”
We can do the old “you make your breaks fella” thing. We can do the old “get out there and try again” thing. Well, I’ve been trying my best to “make my breaks” and I’ve tired that many, many times for the last 16 years when I decided to try and get off the grid and do a subsistence farm. Believe me, I’ve tried, but 29K and less is just not enough to get it done when you’re in debt. And guess what, I am in deeper debt that when I started 16 years ago. It makes me sick that it has gone this way. I want to be off the system but I am in deeper debt to it than before I decided to get away from it?? You wonder why I am depressed.
I’ll entertain this “make your breaks” thing a little more. Yes, 29K a year is not enough wages to get out of 30K of debt and still make 50K of investments into a subsistence farm. I think I can safely say that. So what’s the answer? Ohhhh, of course, make more money. Why not get a job that makes me say, 45K a year!
Well see, this is where it gets a bit diabolical again. What would it take for me to get a 45K job? Most likely it would take more schooling. But then that takes more debt and defeats the purpose. I’m not a kid anymore. I was 40 years old when I started this thing and maybe I could have done it then, but how was I to know what was going to happen? At that time I was so high on my discovery of this idea to get off the system I don’t think I could have foreseen what lied ahead; certainly not more debt. And starting that now at 56, well, forget it. I’d be 60 before I got the 45K job and that is if the severe economic recession we are in has past. Nope, forget it.
I do have some talents. I am an artist, a self-taught database developer and I also am a pretty damn good builder. But I’ve tried all of those already and have been for the last 6 years. The best I’ve done is some cash jobs that have enabled me to eat a bit. I’ve made about 65K in the last 6 years on those things. That’s less than 11K a year. If it weren’t for the help of my friends I’d of been on the streets and truly homeless on those kind of wages let alone invest in a farm and pay off debt. Nope, forget that also.
Here’s the most important question to ask. How does one “make their breaks” when the very thing that makes their breaks is also their enemy? How do I “work hard” to achieve my goals when my goal is to not be working hard to achieve goals, financial goals anyway? Work hard for money? It’s contrary to my core self, even if it is a temporary undesirable means to a desirable end. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried and tried very hard to do that very thing. But see, I am defeated before I even start. Because I do not have that American spirit there to make the money thing happen. I have the opposite of that. The end result of that is that spiritually, mentally and emotionally I am not equipped to get this done. You see to maintain a job that pays high wages, for me that’s 45K a year, you have to have a certain mental attitude. One that says, “I want to be a success in ‘this’ world. Therefore I need to keep a sharp focus on my work.” A sharp focus? I’m going to keep a sharp focus on the very thing I believe is destroying the earth? Don’t think so.
So what is happening now? Well, about 6 years ago I realized this; at least in part. I didn’t fully come to realize it until about 8 months ago; because until 8 months ago I was still trying to “make my breaks”. Six years ago I realized it enough to quit trying to pay off my debt. I was working a job that paid me 21K a year and was on my farm trying to invest in it at the same time while paying off debt. Finally one day I couldn’t get gas in my car because all 5 of my credit cards were full and I had to barrow the money from a friend to gas my car to get to work. I said, “screw this” and quit the job and decided to stop paying on my debt. I became a drifter and a cash on the barrel man and have been every since. I am not paying off my debt, but I am also not going into any further debt by working and trying to pay off my debt, get it?
You might ask, “What the hell got you into 30K of debt?” Well, I’ve been telling you all along, my highest paying job in the last 40 years (I got my first job when I was 16) was 29K and that was only for four years of those forty. Most of the time I’ve had wages under 20K or less a year; add to that a couple divorces, some poor decisions and some very bad breaks and that’s why I am 30K in debt. But it’s not because I was a crazy consumer, or that I was lazy and not willing to work, none of those kinds of things. I haven’t been A#1 when it comes to consumption, but I am no mall freak either. Most of my debt is school and car loans. The rest has been just living stuff, you know, groceries and gas; the typical debt the low wage earner gets into.
Well, there you have it; my dreams, my finances and my debt. The point I wish to make about all this is that if you are struggling to pay off debt, your wages are low, and you are not into the American Dream, then forget it. Do a bankruptcy, walk away, whatever but surrender; you are fighting a creature that has endless power.
I hear now that they are putting people in jail for default of debt. I know the virtue that says, ‘pay your bills first, eat later”. Something is wrong with that. Understand this about our system, it needs people that make low wages and are in debt. Why? Because they go to work and do the jobs no one else will do. In fact, those people are much of what makes society function. What would happen to your trash, who would mow your lawn, who would serve your food, clean your toilets and haul the hay that feeds the cattle that feeds your belly, and much, much more.
Am I resentful? You bet, but mostly at myself because of taking so long to walk away from this crap. I am sure there are those who would question my ambitions, but lack of ambition has nothing to with it. It’s 11:30 PM and I am typing this. I am working towards community garden. I rarely do fun things anymore as I am too busy being an activist. Ambition? I have plenty. It just so happens my ambitions have little to do with money, get it?