Saturday, December 1, 2012
Face The Collapse With Dignity
Humanity is facing strong potentials for a ‘great collapse’ over the next several decades. It is highly likely that such a collapse will come about through a variety of mutually enhancing factors. One sketch: global warming increases through development, spurring environmental chaos that interferes with food supply even as population rises. Once things get tight and scary, anxiety swells and bursts into a downward cascade: riots, wars, reckless decisions that worsen the descent, sinking into mass starvation and barbaric breakdown of law.
We are already on thin ice (figuratively and literally). If just one nuclear bomb explodes anywhere, for any reason--terror, tyrant, negligence--stock markets could crash. Given all the other confusions, escalations, depletions, and aberrations, one such push could instigate anomie.
But this post isn’t about fear. It is about how to live well during our perilous times, and not be dominated by negatives such as fear, bitterness or hate. I’ve been thinking in particular about this picture: hatred boiling over between people on opposite sides. In the declining Empire of the USA, the Democrats and Republicans are already divided in rancor. The latter group claims that global warming is a hoax, concocted by the Dems to gain power. This is pure ignorance of course; but are you going to scream back at them when they scream at you?
Or are you going to step back and observe the hate wall with dignity?
Plausible scenario: the final phase of collapse takes, say, two years. During that time, people split into political camps that really loathe each other, blaming each other for the end. They scream and attack as they all sink into barbarism and die.
Do you want to be among the screaming people, even if your screaming group is right and the other screamers are wrong? Or do you want to distance yourself from the whole mess and act with peace and dignity. Seriously, think about how to deal with your anger.
I've decded I’m going to work on my patience. And my ability to be peaceful over the rest of my life. It’s going to be very very difficult; but I don’t want to be screaming and hate-filled. If there are gods watching us, or UFO’s, think how stupid and primitive we look yelling and blaming each other as we go down.
I don't mean I'm not going to feel intense anger or hate. There are better and worse ways to coexist with them. Channel them. Give them their say. You're going to continue to see plenty of rage on this blog.
Even if there is no god, we are always being watched by our own inner sense of the Good. Do we want to disappoint that part of ourselves? And there is something comforting in the idea that some humans, at least, can stay noble, stay calm, stay wise, when faced with the end, even though there is no expectation of reward, no pearly gate.
That is true dignity.
If just one human can be good, despite all the hate and hysterias, it makes a powerful statement about hope. It means that in the billions of years of existence of this Universe, at a certain fixed time a small and flawed creature managed to overcome great internal conflicts and urges, and stand for the Good. And that means the Good is possible on a larger scale.
So, my friends, if hatred and fear build, I urge you to be patient. Seek the Good. Make your personal statement, expressed through action as well as deed, a higher one. I’m not saying to give up the battle for what is right. I’m not saying let ignorance win. By all means, work to make a better world. We have to. And should. Maybe the big collapse can be avoided. Let's fight! But do it the Good way.
And by “the Good” I don’t mean to become a fanatic follower, close-minded and certain you will be coddled by angels. That is a victory for fear. The Good is higher than any religion (though it can manifest in all religions).
Are Republicans annoying and idiotic? You can say yes all you want, and maybe you are right--but many of them are saying the same things about you. I prefer to see Republican intransience as a psychological phenomenon, one that involves denial and a fear to open the mind to the truth, because the truth is painful. Not just pain but fear of pain can cripple us humans. We are all vulnerable to that.
Let your weapon be reason. Let it be artistic passion (poetry is a great way to channel rage). If civilization goes down, it doesn’t mean we are utter scum. There is plenty of Good in people. Seek the Good. You know how to seek the Good, even if, like me, you don't understand it well.
Carry on. Enjoy every day. There are miracles around you all the time. Always.