Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Awareness of Reality Seen as Doomsaying

A rational people would look at the title of this short essay and think it's a sci-fi piece describing an alternate bizarro universe.

A rational people would examine the facts--the assembled evidence and the veracity of the people presenting it--and use that as a basis for both determining appropriate action and the timeframe necessary to implement said action.

Because time is running out and things are getting worse. It should be obvious the manner in which we're going about our attempts to institute change isn't working, so we should re-evaluate proposed action plans.

Instead, we have somehow fooled ourselves into thinking that we will cause irreparable damage to tender, fragile psyches by pointing out that someone's actions will either not deliver the intended results, or will actually cause more harm. We have what resembles the attitude of too many modern parents, "Oh, isn't that cute, he's trying so hard" as the toddler destroys instead of saying "No" and taking the hammer away.

It appears that what may be happening is that the possible loss of a few modern "conveniences" as we run up against peak oil, peak soil, peak water, peak money and peak life is being equated with doom and gloom, as we glibly ignore the actual negative consequences of these conveniences. Or we spend inordinate amounts of time and energy attempting to find loopholes to continue the status quo instead of figuring out other ways to meet our needs or even seriously analyze whether those are real or manufactured needs in the first place. We want the economy to return to normal, when "normal" is what has caused the myriad global crises we face. We rationalize and excuse inaction, inappropriate action or compromise as we steadfastly ignore the improvements to quality of life from proposed alternatives that systemically challenge the fundamentals of the status quo such as reconnecting with nature and relocalizing our lifestyles, organizations, and communities. What this all mainly demonstrates to me is a lack of imagination. The main "convenience" we seem to be protecting is not having to think too hard about any of this.

It's like the oil company executives who say we won't actually hit peak oil until we run out of technology. Forget about climate and/or exploitation of people and nature and/or the known laws of physics and/or true human nature when freed from the shackles of dominator hierarchies.

The liberal, NewAge mindset that every view is equally valid is actually a sign of moral decay. It is a sign of a society that has lost its way; that has abandoned its soul because it has disconnected it from its sustaining and nurturing source. Spending a weekend at a grief workshop while pretending to be a nature spirit isn't going to overcome this. In fact, the likelihood of doing so seems to be inversely proportional to the number of books published on the subject.

Now, I fully understand that people who are working hard, for noble purposes, on "change" don't want to hear that cash-for-clunkers, ACES, and the public option for disease care are just reshuffling deck chairs; that sustainability initiatives that enable continued growth on an overdeveloped planet are anything but sustainable; that the natural world imposes real limits on both population and resource extraction that we ignore to our--and all other forms of life--peril.

But, there it is. And until you figure out a way to connect with a parallel universe, you're going to have to deal with it in a manner that is more effective than telling people to shut up when they point out the Emperor (regardless of ethnic background or which wing of the Corporate War Party he or she represents) has no clothes.

Until someone can explain to me the advantages of compromising with evil (that which doesn't support life) I will continue to hold moral actors accountable for their actions based on the way that natural systems principles contribute to healthy, vibrant and resilient--that is, sustainable--ecosystems. Which we are perfectly capable of duplicating. Right now.


Papa MacSchenken said...

If you are right, then how do we make progress?
From what I read, you either want congress to make the "deep green" dream package of legislation or have people implement it themselves. What I don't get is - what does that look like?
Most of the people in the US do not agree with your assessment of the situation. So you would need to change their minds, which seems literally impossible because people are addicted to modern convenience. Enviros have been fighting this fight since the 1600's (I consider the Luddite's the start of the anti-industrialism movement) and it seems that progressive changes are the only thing that has been effective.
So, Dave, if you could get the 20% of the population that wants to address the peak issues to do what you want, what would that be? And how would it change the actions of the other 80% of the population?

Mary Nelson said...

Papa, Dave is not pretending to tell us what to do or how to do it. That's up to us. We're not children. He's simply saying that being called a "doomsayer" by moral actors who deny the reality of our predicament is evil. And kissing up to them is going along with destruction of Life on Earth. We don't have time for it.

laumerid said...

What about the surpopulation time bomb? Well as a matter of fact if we sincerely consider the situation we are in we have to realize that we were done the very first moment the "I" was born. With the birth of the "I" all the rest has been duly following. Collapse is ingrained in the "I" and always will be. Collapse could have happened last century or 2 centuries ago or maybe will happen in the next one, and collapse the real one is just about and only about the extinction of the human species, who will cry, The Universe won't...

Mac said...

Hi Dave - I'm pretty much on board with your post. What I've been doing is working with a group of folks organizing our local Transition Initiative (Columbus, Ohio). We may not have a chance in hell of avoiding the multi-wave tsunami coming, but we'll go down fighting...


J. Mac Crawford, RN, PhD
College of Public Health
Ohio State University