Tag Archives: mature culture

The Developing Madness

Possibly crumbling.
Our crippled culture!

Over the past few weeks, I have been noting my reaction to a number of sources (below), some political, some ecological. As a result, I am again in a place of sadness at the immensity of the task facing us as a species if we are to survive the coming century. All are worth reading from my perspective; my title The Developing Madness comes from the combination of these sources.

First has been my reading of a free downloadable pdf copy of the book Rethinking Madness: Towards a Paradigm Shift In Our Understanding and Treatment Of Psychosis  (2012) by Paris Williams. As a physician-psychotherapist and a mystic, I have always been interested in the nature of psychosis, especially since I strongly disagree with the medical profession that psychosis is a biochemical disease (although there may be some biochemical based aspects to the disorder). For me, William’s book is superb: well-written and well-researched, persenting a very convincing argument for both mystical experience and psychosis as being responses in which the normal egoic defences of the psyche are overwhelmed by the vastness of unity experience, the mystic having a successful outcome and the psychotic having a less successful response. But the frame provided by this paradigm potentially asks the medical profession to be humanly authentic with patients, rather than technocrats administering medications while focussed on disease as the problem. The issues are complex, but to become humane would require a major revision of our entire society in its valuing of “experts.” At some level that would be both more expensive and very threatening in the age of scientific materialism.

Another source has been a CBC news article ‘It scares me’: Permafrost thaw in Canadian Arctic sign of global trend (2017 April 17) on the melting of the permafrost infrastructure that supports building in the Arctic town of Inuvik, NWT. As a physician, I worked in Inuvik (1971-1972) just after graduation from medical school, so I have some nostalgia and familiarity with the town of Inuvik, and the nature of permafrost; moreover, in 2009, my precipitation into despair came when I recognized the danger of melting permafrost and the developing release of methane (which, compared to CO2, is a more powerful greenhouse gas) — the CBC article gave me a immediate sensory-emotional link to the concept of permafrost melting. As a result also, I checked with a friend who has been part of the United Nations IPCC team who, over the years, has been documenting the risks of global warming via several different models. He notes:

The IPCC AR5 does not include carbon feedback emissions from forest fires, warming peatlands, or thawing permafrost (NOAA Arctic Report Card 2016). . . . The Amazon carbon sink is declining. World wide,there is increasing tree mortality and die back affecting all world forests (IPCC AR5).

All of this means that we are in even more danger of run-away climate disruption, and the multiple tipping points associated with elevating global temperature. We are easily heading for 2°C warming, at which point the developing madness of global warming becomes profoundly serious to the survival of our civilization, let alone our species.

Third has been As coral reefs die, huge swaths of the seafloor are deteriorating along with them (2017 Apri 20). Coral reefs are the breeding grounds of much of ocean life, and also provide breakwaters for many coastal shores — their loss has major impact on food supplies of the world as well as coastal community.

Fourth: Climate Change As Genocide: Inaction Equals Annihilation (2017 April 20). Famine is an old idea for our world, but now we risk planetary famine as failed states accumulate. As a “civilized people,” we are failing to respond, both in the provision of resources to those who need them, and in our response to the systemic forces wherein failed states become the domain of brutal armed combat, providing further blockage of our responses. Such insanity is our future as we continue to ignore the impact of global warming.

Finally I have been impacted by two posts by an activist-artist Ricardo Levins Morales whom I have recently found. The posts I find to be thoughtful, but complex, beyond my knowledge of the political situations of the United States — yet the ideas seem valid in my limited understanding. I recommend them:

· The Broken Mirror, a Fractured Movement and the 2016 Elections (2016 November 6)

· A Future to Fight For: A Conversation with Frederick Douglass in the Shadow of Trump (2017 April 21)

The two posts present a detailed analysis of the many forces that sustain neoliberalism and the failure of American democracy, thoughtfully written.

Most important for me has been what Morales, in the Broken Mirror, calls the Titanic  Compact — it provides a possible frame for understanding the inability of NGOs to cooperate with each other. It sets the bounds of “permitted struggle” — it notes:

The destruction of the mid-century mass movements through repression and funding, smashed the mirror in which peoples’ struggles could see themselves as parts of a common movement. In its place narrowly focused non-profits, licensed by the state, are permitted to each carry a single shard of the broken mirror. . . .  Under its terms we get to fight to improve conditions on the Titanic as long as we do not ask about the direction, speed or ownership of the ship itself. As long as we comply, we can solicit funding from the 1% and enjoy protection from state violence.

Much of this contract is undoubtedly unconscious, but consistent with what I perceive to be happening in many areas. We are so busy defending our small patches to truth that we do not want to see the overwhelming truth of where we are headed, in the developing madness. And we are so busy designing our protests that we fail to identify that we must mature as a species.

Our options are:

  • extinction
  • spontaneous emergence from the chaos (wherever this leads), and
  • deliverated emergence from the chaos (choosing a path of progressive psycho-spiritual evolution, wherever this leads).

At the risk of hubris, only the latter option is likely to resolve our difficulties. Culturally, we must come to terms with power over power, and we must come to terms with our desire for greatness.

What To Do? (Part 2)

Suicide3This is the second post as I reflect on the issues of what to do about the complexity of global warming and the insanity of our culture, especially the increasing incidence of suicide in our culture. It is in response to two articles sent to me by a friend:

I strongly advocate that we are capable of greatness as a species, but we have much growth to do before that will occur — and since culture/society are simply a group of individuals, the change must begin at the individual level. So, in the meanwhile, here are my thoughts.

  • First of all, I applaud Goutham Kumar of Hyderabad for quitting his corporate job to use his skills to develop a series of organizations to provide for the needy. He has truly learned that the nature of service is joy, both for the receiver and for the giver.
    • However, I believe that there is a trap in this story. We have created a cultural myth of heroes who do the hard work of change in our culture, and while to a major extent, we applaud such action, we do not do the much harder work of correcting the systemic issues that necessitate the hero in the first place. It is like attempting to fill a bucket with water, meanwhile failing to repair the large hole in the bottom.
    • And for the many who do not find the resources within ourselves to initiate such change, either the stance of the hero or the underlying work, it can be a major place of discouragement. I suggest that such discouragement is a significant factor in the actions of those who choose suicide.
  • Second, we need a narrative that allows meaning and purpose. Ideally we need a cultural narrative that fuels our maturity as a species, one that will allow us to move towards a civilization that honors humanity (not power), while utilizing technology to supplement our needs, rather than dictate to our needs.
    • As we listen to one another, perhaps we can get beyond the fractious argument between science and religion, hopefully to recognize that both scientific materialism (SM) and religion have growth to do, that both contain truth, and we must learn to have power over power, not just talk about the issues. Commitment to authentic action is needed.
    • Unfortunately our fractiousness fuels much, if not all, of our difficulty to love our enemies.
  • Third, our culture of SM has placed us in untenable positions. We must give up this paradigm. There are other paradigms.
    • Most of us know that there is a problem with our civilization; however, The Climate Lie (that all is well) is active in many ways. It is very difficult to find honesty in the face of our cultural acedia and the duplicity of many political systems. Undoubtedly this fuels the despair that underlies much of the suicides encountered by my friend.
    • At the same time, the paradigm of meaningless requires that we, as individuals and as a species, must do something about the issue, when we have almost no power to initiate change. This imbalance of responsibility, accountability, and authority is very destructive to who we are as individuals.
  • At this point, I run into my own limitations, previously written about in a series of posts: Being a resource looking for a need. I have spent my entire therapy career attempting to influence the growth of others. I have learned some things thereby.
    • The most important stance is that of high intentional; low attachment. I can only do so much, and even there I need a supportive community to achieve change. I do what I can, and trust the process (im my case, I turn it over to StarMaker, my word for creator or God).
      • To the best of my ability, I learn from the outcomes I encounter.
    • I begin somewhere. We need to work our way into any problem — wherever is relevant. Again, I trust synchronicity will define where I need to go.
      • I accept that there is only so much I can do; I have my limitations, and I know when and how to say No.
    • I attend to my own self-care (this requires two-three hours per day usually). I often appreciate the caring of others, but if I do not care for myself, I am unable to care for others.
      • I do a daily exercise program (my yoga practice).
      • I meditate daily (mindfulness is an essential tool on life journey).
      • I write often (my blog is my major place for reflection).
    • To the best of my ability, I am a good follower. If I can support and contribute to the growth of others, I do so willingly.

 

What To Do? (Part 1)

Suicide2I have not made any entries for a while (aside from the anger emails); overall, I have been busy reading about the complexity of global warming and the insanity of our culture, and reflecting on the issues of what to do. I’m prompted to write now because of two emails from a friend who works for a university health service. In each, he provided an interesting reference, and also asks questions about what to do. I’m writing this post as a response to his questions, because I believe the questions (and my responses) need to be distributed to a larger forum.

In the first, He Quit His Corporate Job To Help His City’s Needy, my friend asks how do we get the message of community service across to our sleepy culture, mainly to the student population who will have to carry the work forward. Especially he is concerned with the increasing incidence of suicide within the student population. In the second, Love Your Enemies. What Does It Mean? Can It Be Done?, he reflects on the need to leave bitterness and hatred behind, wherein the author (Brother David Steindl-Rast) suggests a number of practical steps to circumvent entrapment in pain. In particular, the author notes that the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference (acedia in my language).

From my perspective, both enquiries are major comments on the immense immaturity of our species. Together we have created a civilization of vast technological brilliance, and one that is also intensely dehumanizing. As I have said on a number of occasions, “as individuals we are capable of immense greatness, but as a species we are psychotic.”

Two maxims stand out for me as to their importance.

  1. The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable (James A. Garfield), and then it will trap you our tendency to self-righteousness).
  2. We have found the enemy, and he is us. (Pogo, Walt Kelly).

I also fall back on a set of premises I learned when first at univerity:

  • If your conclusions are wrong, examine your premises.
  • If your conclusions are right, don’t trust your premises. They can still be inaccurate.

One of my truths is that we are a contentious species — we love to argue! (Frequently we call it discussion.) Sometimes, if we listen to each other, it leads to major advances. But most of the time it leads nowhere.

So a second truth for me is that we must learn to listen to each other. We all have a small part of the truth. And especially if we do not listen to each other, we often end up miserable. So my first response to my friend’s questions is that we need to develop systems of authentic listening — likely small groups meeting frequently where we learn to trust each other (Kumar notes that it was “not uncommon for him and his team to bond with those they rescue”). This requires some skill, offering a combination of listening and short-term resolution that satisfies the need for purpose — not an easy combination to develop in our fractured litiginous world. We must develop mechanisms for providing authentic hope.

As I have noted in previous posts, we have made power as the basis of civilization (two posts), not human needs. This has culminated in a society currently based on consumerism and neoliberal politics. Our paradigm of Scientific Materialism (SM) has identified a universe of incomparable beauty, but labelled it meaningless. From my perspective, it is no wonder that those who become lost between the cracks then commit suicide as an escape.

We have also created a world currently on the brink of disaster, including the possible extinction of the human species. We are engaged in a super-wicked problem of global warming and over-population, and as such, our engagement will often seem like two steps forward, and three steps back. We need to support each other in moving forward, not argue about moving back.

Can we recognize that paradigms are belief systems that coalesce to provide a vantage point for understanding reality? (Note: belief systems are not provable — they can be proven false, but never proven correct.) SM is not the only possible paradigm. It arose largely because the scientific method, principally initiated in the 13th century, proved more effective in explaining the mechanics of the universe than did the Ptolemaic methods of earlier days. More importantly, scientific materialism likely developed from the work of Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), who dreamt of the “scientific conquest of nature for man’s welfare.”[1] (Note the theme of power!) But neither science nor scientific materialism disproved older belief systems; it merely provided better explanations, and unfortunately paved the way for the ill features of our modern civilization.

I am a strong advocate of the scientific method; I also strongly disagree with the assumptions of scientific materialism. In order to function well, human beings need to have a sense of meaning that gives them purpose. I have previously noted that my preferred paradigm is Panpsychism, but I cannot prove that it is a better paradigm — however, it does give me a vastly more comprehensive understanding of the nature of the universe. I have also noted that panpsychism suggests that:

God exists (as the totality of sentient beings), and that (as a component of this totality) each individual sentient being possesses free will. We each makes choices about how we live. In addition, God provides the opportunity (e.g., possibilities) for us to live well. Even if God does not exist or even if the universe is eventually found to be meaningless, each individual still has the option to act as if it is meaningful, and to create a myth that will allow him or her to live within what life offers—in a stance of love, in contrast to acedia.

So my second suggestion for my friend is that these small groups must also tell the truth — not that God exists, not that SM is wrong, but that SM is only a belief system, one that is currently trapping us on a path to extinction. That we must find ways to support people as they struggle to develop their own belief systems, ways that validate their ability to support themselves and each other while challenging the powerful forces that sustain SM and its consequences (and meanwhile stepping out of bitterness and anger at how our civilization has developed). Again, not an easy task.

To be continued.

[1] Tarnas, R. (1991, p. 275). The passion of the Western mind: Understanding the ideas that have  shaped our world view. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Donald Trump — Endless Possibilities

civildisobedience2

Donald Trump — the possibilities are endless (from dangerous strong man to major statesman — see below).

However, given:

  • that Donald Trump is soon to be inaugurated as US President, and
  • the intelligence report jointly released on 2017 January 6th by US intelligence services (jointly by the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA) indicating illegal activities in the electoral program by the Russian government, and
    • possibly with the collaboration of the President-elect,

there is a growing movement in the United States (and abroad):

  • to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and
  • to insist upon a full and comprehensive investigation of these illegal activities.

For example, US Congressman John Lewis has recently stated publically that Trump is not a legitimate President. Another example is this blog post from Jim Garrison, President of Ubiquity University, promoting an important petition. (I totally agree with all that Jim states in this latter example — see below for another post by Jim.)

One outcome of such investigations could be the potential impeachment of the President, followed by a government more in alignment with the dangers we face from global warming. Whether such movement will have this impact is unclear, but from my perspective, at the very least, they will assist in legitimizing the electoral process. Given the chaos of this process last year, such legitimization is essential.

Potentially these processes are also the beginning of non-violent civil disobedience, both as regards maturation of our culture and for their impact on global warming. Given that I do not know of other healthier processes, I hope that this is the case.

Yet, the inauguration of Donald Trump could be transformational in a positive sense — greatness is within his grasp. Here, Jim Garrison has also written a brilliant summary of what Trump could accomplish if he has the maturity to transform from strong man to statesman.

We live in such interesting times!

The Struggle To Engage

conquest
The Spanish Conquest of the New World was simply one example of power dynamics.

I have not written in my blog now for over three months. For me, it has been a major struggle to engage, initially due to travel requirements but especially so after the American election. Since that time, I have been pondering my difficulty.

My struggle has not been acedia per se (see previous posts beginning 20160802), although that was my immediate concern (given my studies of acedia) — it is more that I have felt traumatized by the election of Donald Trump, and the likely consequences thereby. For myself in particular, I know that I am strongly introverted, and that most of my life, I have defined myself as a poustinik, a hermit who is available when asked. From the past year or so, I have been attempting to engage in climate activism, but have found it to be exhausting. I don’t engage well in groups, and especially I flounder when I do not have a designated task to give me focus. And I am very sensitive to the pain of others.

All that definitely is part of my personal pattern that predisposes me to acedia in response to climate change. I know for example that I have been avoiding writing (which often gives me clarity of my internal process). And I definitely experience a push-pull regarding global warming — more and more we are at risk of extinction as a species: I want to resolve it, and I want to avoid it. Yet, as noted, I am not at high risk of the profound avoidance that characterizes acedia.

Regarding the precepts that counteract acedia (wisdom, discipline, hope and playfulness), I have been aware that I do not have the wisdom to know what to do, other than ponder. I am very disciplined (with daily yoga, meditation, and attention to health, amongst other resources). However, given the immensity of the negative forces creating climate change, I have little to no hope that we will survive.

And I have difficulty being playful with the topic. If there is a God, I am quite willing to turn the issues over to him/her, but I find it difficult to be joyous or playful with this possibility. If there is no God, then humanity is clearly demonstrating its ineffectiveness as a species (and even if there is a God).

It is this latter possibility, the ineffectiveness of our species, that is my current focus of pondering, especially in light of again encountering some of the writings of E. Richard Sorenson, a cultural anthropologist who has studied numerous isolates of human culture in various domains. In his work, Sorenson distinguished between “preconquest” consciousness, characteristic of many indigenous cultures, and “postconquest,” characteristic of modern life (conquest referring to the Spanish invasion of the New World). In particular, this quote from his writings about the primitive societies he explored has struck me as vital:

For several years after I began contacting preconquest peoples like those described above, I considered their type of consciousness an oddity, a kind of naive primitive emotionality, one perhaps suitable only for small, isolated groups, but certainly for no one else. It took a long time for me to realize that they had evolved their own sophisticated type of cognition that was simply different from what I (or anyone I knew) was used to. And I came to realize that such mentality could not be considered primitively ignorant if only because it was so sensitively intelligent and beneficially responsive. It moved more facilely, more harmoniously, and more constructively than do the mentalities associated with today’s postconquest world. Furthermore, it provided for an astonishingly rewarding and zestful life [emphasis added].

Sorenson in particular identified that the encounter between preconquest consciousness and postconquest invariably led to devastation of the richness of preconquest life. What I would add to this is that this devastation is the same process of power that I gleaned from The Parable of The Tribes, written about in earlier posts. Unfortunately, our 10,000 years of civilization are based upon the power dynamics of conquest, and as such are not compatible with effective living as human beings. We must find a way to what I would call transconquest consciousness, combining the richness of preconquest with the technological advances of postconquest.

I first encountered Sorenson’s writings as a result of working with my PhD advisor Christian de Quincey, professor of consciousness studies at JFK University in California. Christian’s entire approach to living changed when he first encountered Sorenson’s work, realizing that his own conquistadorial approach was not compatible with effective living.

In retrospect, I now recognize that the distinctions drawn by Sorenson are those that have devastated my life in many ways, ranging from early childhood experience to the defense of my PhD dissertation. They are also fully consistent with all I have learned of human dynamics in my 25 years of being a therapist. They form the basis of the traumas that underlie the mechanisms of cultural acedia (as developed in my dissertation and book Acedia, The Darkness Within, and the darkness of climate change). I feel fortunate that my intellect has allowed me to survive these traumas, although with considerable restrictions.

Unfortunately this gives me little satisfaction or hope that we will survive as a species. However, I will continue to engage in whatever way I can.

One of the ways I will do this is to post my email anger program to this blog. I have had good feedback, but limited sign-up. Rather than simply let the program die, I will post it for others to access if desired.

 

For the interested reader, I have included two references on Sorenson’s and de Quincey’s writings. I recommend both highly.

de Quincey, C. (2000). “Consciousness and Conquest.” From Maaber blog, http://www.maaber.org/sixth_issue/epistemology_2e.htm, accessed 2017 January 5th.

Sorenson, E. R. (1998). “Preconquest Consciousness.” From Ran Prieur blog, http://ranprieur.com/readings/preconquest.html, accessed 2017 January 5th.

The Noble Truths of Global Warming

CCPoliticsI’ve just watched a YouTube presentation The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi – The Four Noble Truths of the Climate Crisis. I strongly recommend it (25 minutes).

I think it is a fine presentation detailing the many factors involved in global warming, especially the impact of marketplace economics on our culture. At the same time, I found my interest was flagging by the end — the pacing is too uniform, and there is not enough emphasis on how to institute priorities. Nor is there an emphasis on rapid mobilization of political will.

I suggest that we need massive cooperation amongst all parties who are attempting to influence global warming. It seems to me that the agency doing this best, and thus in the position of such coordination, is The Climate Mobilization. Perhaps this is my own bias speaking, but I have looked at a lot of agencies over the past eight years, and am most impressed with TCM.

I have taken their Pledge (International) and invite others to look at their work. TCM advocates a war-time mobilization of political will, and once established, that we then begin the work on cultural modification. It is not an either/or proposition, but priorities are needed.

Authenticity (Daily Living, Part 8)

In a mature culture, all would contribute authenticity.
In a mature culture, all would contribute authenticity.

Daily life in a mature culture — the last posting I painted a picture of major uniformity. I suggest that this is necessary so as to keep the human impact to a minimum, and that such life could still be very satisfying, although the emphasis would be on authenticity, as compared to becoming more competitive in the marketplace.

So what else about living under these conditions? First, some loose ends (which could become major postings if expanded).

  • Home and work life
  • Guaranteed resources: health, nutrition, education, child care
  • Stuff? We have too much stuff

Home and Work Life would both be based upon community interaction. Given robotics and electronic communication, much of work life could actually be performed within the “village” settings.

  • Then, if desired, external work interaction would be by choice. For example, food production by extensive local gardening might well be performed because people actually wanted to engage with the soil.
  • Much industrial productivity would be automated, but there would still be many tasks that required direct interaction, especially in the development of new technology that had not previously been explored.
    • The automated productivity would be relegated to products that no longer needed innovation. For example, how many brands of toothpaste are really needed? (Yet go into any modern “drugstore” and you will find dozens if not hundreds of brands. What nonsense!)

Many aspects of community life would be guaranteed.

  • The provision of nutrition and health care will be universal.
  • Education in the future will be universal, and must emphasize personal development, especially the development of wisdom and governance.
    • Historically education has emphasized skill development, especially the transcribing of religious texts, and has been restricted to only certain societal groups.
    • In general as well, human beings are experiential learners, with age-appropriate processing to an experience so as to learn from it. What seems to work best is to have a brief exposure to a problem, engage in a physical experience related to resolving the problem, study the outcome (especially since first attempts are seldom successful at resolution), and then further engagement in problem solving (until resolution).
  • Child care would be guaranteed. In particular, we must find ways to optimize child care.
    • It is becoming well-recognized that early child development, especially in relationship to attachment needs, is central to the development of healthy adults (healthy both physically and mentally). We can no longer afford the erratic child care provisions of our modern society where we expect young parents, struggling with a multitude of issues, to provide effective child development on top of their other stresses.
    • Sorenson (1998), in Preconquest Consciousness, emphasizes how “groups of people can be simultaneously individualistic and collective — traits immiscible and incompatible in modern thought” (p. 82), but at the same time he noted how such cultures shrivel “with alarming speed when faced with harsh emotions and coercion” (p. 80), traits common to our current society.

Stuff? We have too much stuff.

  • A huge aspect of modern life is the provision of stuff for consumption, with little attention to the actual cost of production and the cost of the garbage created when the stuff is outmoded.
    • We cannot afford this! Everything in a future world must be recyclable.
    • Given our population density, we cannot afford garbage on a finite planet.
  • I suspect that if a society truly valued appropriate productivity, most of what we “consume” would be provided free as modular recyclable units, standardized to fit the needs of the product, efficiently designed for long-term usage.
    • A small aspect of productivity could then be applied to two areas:
      • innovative development of truly new products
      • creative development of individual artistic products.
    • when people moved (from job to job for example, or for educational training), they would simply take their clothes and their artistic products with them, and leave the rest to the next occupant.
      • The status associated with “new, improved” would not be part of the cultural milieu.

Your thoughts? (Remember, my musings are only intended to stimulate thinking about what really matters to a mature culture.)

Coming next: Interactions between communities

Living in A Mature Culture, Part 7

Glitzy and exciting, but  urban sprawl has major disadvantages.
Glitzy and exciting, but urban sprawl has major disadvantages.

Daily life in a mature culture — now that we have looked at the possibility of a Victory City, what would daily life actually be like in such a city? As noted, I am proposing that the high-rise buildings would consist of a large number of village-like settings, where people would actually live much of their day-to-day activity.

A reminder: these postings are simply my thoughts on what it would be like to live permanently in a mature culture; I present them mainly to stimulate your thoughts.

  • Each “village” would consist of three floors within a high-rise complex, each complex perhaps holding approximately 30 “villages.”
    • As such, there would be a communal living floor sandwiched in two floors of private living/sleeping quarters.
      • Much would be modular, both for efficiency and minimal environmental impact.
    • Most food preparation and eating would be within the communal space, or in more central cafeteria-style buildings within the city.
      • There would be an emphasis that such food be both nutritious and of very high quality (not at all like the typical cafeteria of modern life).
    • Each village would consist of about 200 people, likely about 50 families, interacting with each other. There would be about 125 adults (including late teens), and about 75 younger children.
      • There would be extensive day-care facilities for child care (approximately 25 per village, or 625 per high-rise); essentially the village would raise the children, and children would be able to attend every process of village life.
      • school-aged children (approximately 2000 per high-rise) would attend school in the high-rise common area.
      • late teens would attend some kind of college or university, of which there would be 5 – 10 in the city, with the possibility of outreach to other cities.
    • The “adults” would meet several times per week in small groups, perhaps 10 people each, for personal development. Each week, there would also be a variety of local governance groups planning the needs and development of the village community, and a number of meetings with other groups outside the “village,” planning governance on a broader level.
      • The adults would be engaged in work activity 25 hours per week, 5 hours per day, approximately half of which would be virtual meetings or some kind of activity that could be performed without leaving the local village.
        • Children of all ages would be welcome at all activities.
      • Given that the cultural narrative would be that of a permanent state of sustainability, then perhaps most of adult life would be lived out in these environment.
        • We would no longer live the current cultural model of continuous improvement and discovery (such living is not compatible with being the dominant species of a finite planet).

Your thoughts? Would this be too commune-like? Would this be too sterile? Both Rupert Ross (Dancing With A Ghost) and Louis Herman (Future Primal) have a lot to say about this.

Ross, when reflecting on “primitive” native culture, notes (pp. 103-108):

Each generation’s turn at the wheel might include performances better or worse than the last, but they would be essentially the same performance, with the same set and script and plotting. . . .

We post-industrial societies, in contrast, seem to run a cross-country relay race, passing the baton to a generation that will never set foot upon the ground we have covered . . .

There is a temptation to conclude that such a repetitive existence would be boring in the extreme, that it would feel binding and imprisoning.

I suspect . . .  no such sense of limits. . . . they [native peoples] may have perceived their lives as holding a virtually limitless scope for challenge and accomplishment. . . .  their lives did not center on building things, but upon discerning things. Life’s challenge lay in observing and understanding the workings of the dynamic equilibrium of which they were a part, then acting so as to sustain a harmony within it rather than a mastery over it. One aspired to wisdom in accommodating oneself

. . . they sought that wisdom not only to better ensure survival but also as an end in itself, as something in itself exhilarating.

Herman notes (Kindle location 7130):

Our wilderness origins fashioned our creative self-consciousness, which is both expanded and balanced by following the primal dynamic: face-to-face communication within a caring community of individuals, passionate for living and learning in a mutually enhancing resonance with the natural world. This is the truth quest, and it is our primal inheritance. We can ignore it, or we can cultivate it in all our endeavors and bring it into a creative engagement with the reality we find ourselves caught up in: a civilization rushing to self-destruction while displaying tantalizing possibilities of a more beautiful, joyful way of life.

As a therapist of 25 years’ experience, centered largely in my own emotional growth, I know that exhilaration. Personally, although such “village” life as I am describing would have challenges, it could also be immensely satisfying.

To be continued.

Acedia and Evil

The desire to give up! Caught in despair.
The desire to give up! Caught in despair.

I’ve been reading some of the articles accessible through The Climate Mobilization website, especially those concerning what we are now learning about the risks of global warming, even at our current level. It is so much worse than I thought! And I regard myself as well-informed in this area. For me, the issues are so related to the acedia of our civilization.

Gradually we are shifting. More and more leaders are speaking out for the need for profound change. However, all that leaders can do is lead! It is followers that create the bulk of the change. We need the majority of our culture to speak out.

And there is some evidence that the cultural majority are aware of this need. Recent research suggests that 54% of people in four Western countries acknowledge high risk of our civilization ending, and 24% recognize the risk of human extinction, all in the next 100 years.

Acedia and Evil

In this post I want to finish with the topic of acedia, in particular the nature of evil.

In The Hope: A Guide To Sacred Activism, Andrew Harvey tells the story of a major agribusiness CEO who knew exactly what destruction he was causing to the lives of thousands of people, but proceeded anyway simply for the sense of power that it gave him. When I reflect on modern tragedies such as

  • the duplicity of British Petroleum in the 2010 Gulf environmental disaster,
  • ExxonMobil being aware of the impact of fossil fuel on global warming in the 1970s, and deliberately hiding this information (presumably for profit to the company),
  • the Koch brothers’ massive manipulation of the American political system,
  • and many other political-economic-environmental disasters of recent years,

I cannot but consider these actions as evil — the active antagonism of what life offers, the hiding for political-economic power. Such actions must be identified, and stopped, but there is the danger of focusing on these issues, rather than looking at the system (the Cultural Lie, including myself as part to this system) which allows such actions to develop.

The Banality of Acedia and Evil

I also know from Hannah Arendt’s work on the banality of evil and Milgram’s work on obedience to authority, that the possibility of evil is a fundamental human characteristic. I consider evil as the end-point of the spectrum of acedia, as shown in the accompanying diagram. The manifestations of acedia (self-righteousness, laziness, fearfulness) are not evil per se, but they set the stage for evil, especially the acceptance of evil acts by others, wherein acedia displays as an attitude of “it doesn’t matter,” “who cares?,” or “it can’t be helped.”

AcediaSpectrum1

Yet the fundamental difficulty of evil is the attempt to eliminate evil — it sets a false dichotomy of us against them, and if only we eliminate them, things will be fine. When we as individuals fail to recognize how our silence and/or tokenism in the Climate Lie perpetuates the system, we support the evil of actions such as above.

As a culture, we have enjoyed the benefits of technology, and have been unwilling to recognize or pay the costs. We live gross inequality, with massive world poverty (amidst conclaves of richness), extensive hunger (especially starvation of  children), mistreatment of minorities (especially women in underdeveloped countries), waste and pollution (our garbage accumulates), amongst other inequities. We live the acedia cycle, especially in our lack of charity in resolving these issues. We have extensive “charitable organizations,” yet as a culture we lack the charity to resolve these  difficulties.

So what to do? Most of the power is held by those who are creating the inequality, mainly the leaders of the multi-national corporations. (Likely only a small minority of these corporations — I presume most are honorable, but we must find a way through so as to disempower those that create the most disruption of equitable society. And in any event, I am not interested in created the us versus them dilemma.)

The Need for Civil Disobedience

Gier (2006), in Three Principles of Civil Disobedience: Thoreau, Gandhi, and  King, notes that effective civil disobedience requires that:

  • one maintain respect for the rule of law even while disobeying the specific law perceived as unjust;
  • one should plead guilty to any violation of the law; and
  • one should attempt to convert the opponent by demonstrating the justice of one’s

I believe that civil disobedience is the only route that we can take. To engage in evil to combat evil will not lead to a mature culture. We have made attempts, such as the Occupy movement, but they need to continue.

Are we worthy of being a mature culture? I hope so.

Climate Action: Urgency, a poem by Carol Chapman

Like us, a stressed species
Like us, a stressed species

I encountered this poem via Facebook, and upon reading it, deeply resonated with its content, a content that strongly identifies what I am also wanting to identify as the malaise of our society. I have Carol’s permission to copy it here, and thank her for her contribution. She adds that this poem is part of a series called Visions of a Possible Apocalypse.

Urgency,  by Carol Flake Chapman, 2016 July 18

Time’s winged chariot looms behind me

Nudging my bumper like an Italian driver

Blaring the horn, go faster or get out of the way

It feels like bullets are flying everywhere

Everywhere, that is, but here

Ice is melting, fires are burning

Oceans are rising, rivers are sinking

People are fleeing, walls going up

It feels like danger lurks everywhere

Everywhere, that is, but here

They are shooting elephants and rhinos

As polar bears drift away on Arctic shards

And wondrous varieties of birds and fish

Succumb to the human tide spreading everywhere

Everywhere, that is, but here

The unhinged are pushing buttons, pulling triggers

Unleashing death and fear as zealots egg them on

As we shop, diet and unroll our yoga mats

It feels like everything is unraveling

Everywhere, that is, but here

Where are the ancient mariners

To collar passersby with cautionary tales

Or the fiery prophets of yesteryear

Who warned, shape up or else

They are everywhere but here

Where are the witnesses who have seen it before

Who have seen the moving finger of blame

That lights the flames of hate

It feels like business as usual everywhere

Everywhere, that is, but here

Here where we hunker in illusions of comfort

In our safe houses, our virtual storm shelters

Where bad news comes in tweets

Here, where we have shot the albatross

Where we cannot hear the canaries in the mine

Here, where we have killed the golden goose

Where we have muffled the messengers

We could at least open the windows

To hear the distant clamor

Of the world as we know it falling apart