Hitting the wall and climbing over it
I have been feeling much the same, and suspect that's true for many others. Have you read the book by Dougald Hine called At Work in The Ruins? He talks a lot about how we make sense of what we feel called to do in the midst of collapse. The only antidote I've found to despair is action, and occasionally drawing back to recoup. The earth never quits and neither can we. Thanks for keeping at it.
"It is an unfortunate fact of human existence it takes crisis to get us off our collective asses and demand change. So I believe those numbers are coming. It is up to those of us who persist in efforts for a better world to lay the foundations, build the social and economic infrastructures, and point the way to that world we believe is possible."
As you are facing your own "wall," and I mine, we're collectively approaching a collective wall -- one which I believe is calling upon us to ask very fundamental, philosophical questions about political power in relation to notions like 'leadership' etc. I believe we're hitting a collective wall at the moment, and the result is a profound loss of faith in "leadership" as MOST people understand what this word means.
I proposed a radical re-framing of what leadership is, or aught to be in a comment following this essay (this morning).: https://www.resilience.org/stories/2023-04-07/the-mask-of-leadership/ And I feel deeply called to research and write about this topic and theme, to further develop and mature my insight on this deeply important question.
I intuit that in hitting our collective wall around what leadership means, or what it ought to mean, we're heading toward a paradigm shift in our conception of political and social life. The old, familiar paradigm is in ruins, and our social and ecological world along with it. And now we're collectively approaching this wall in such a way that what is called "the Overton Window" is going to be opened up in ways we cannot as yet fully imagine. Or at least I hope so! But here's the deal. We have to stop centering our political thinking on "demanding" change. Or mostly we do. The shift has got to be about directly embodying transformation, not demanding it. That's not rooted in the attitude of demand, but in the knowing of our power and our directly embodying our power.
But I'm talking about a very, very profoundly different kind of power than how that word gets used in most political discourse. You see, most everyone feels powerless! But it isn't true. It's an illusion, this powerlessness. For we are the majority. Our power is immense. But we come into the fullness of our power by giving power, by empowering others -- not seeking power over others. And that way of embodying power is our true and great power. And when we collectively hit this wall we're fast approaching, we'll wake from the old dream of power together. And then we will become truly powerful, not as power-over, but as power-with.
But the old institutions of power-over will then crumble -- everywhere. For it will not have any power over us at this time. We will have lost our faith in it. And we will have come to a path in which we will regain our life's breath -- our pneuma, our spirit. Think of it as a conspiracy -- a breathing together (literal etymology of conspiracy).
Love is the revolution. The revolution is love.
Well said Patrick, as usual. I have cross posted this. I can certainly relate both on the personal level where I've run into some recent challenges myself that seem to be feeding writer's block but also on the more philosophical level (eg. what's the point, given the level of institutional decay and elite manipulation?). But onwards we must go!
Most of us are not responsible (at least substantially) for the global ecological crises. We know who IS responsible. And we know that our institutions and citizen groups are outnumbered and shouted down. But have we really fully understood the nature of these crises, to the extent that we have adopted critical thinking, constructive skepticism and impartial investigation that are directed at the true perpetrators? Have we had the courage to put our own preferences, friends, colleagues and
affiliations to the test? Or are we just following these with blind faith because we have not been
sufficiently committed to look deeper into the issues themselves? How many people take seriously
the near-disappearance of insect pollinators? The overfished oceans? The melting permafrost?
The Australian bats dropping dead from excessive heat? How many people really care about or pay attention to the oppression and murder of tribal societies? The control of corporations over land and resources? How many people care about anything except avoiding the accusation of racism?
How many care about "illiberal democracy" that bestows privileges on those calling themselves
"oppressed" or "victimized"? How many people understand that the focus on individual complaints is an excuse to avoid dealing with existential crises like biodiversity loss and climate change? How many people have the courage to challenge and rebut the abnormal focus on self at at the expense of the rest of society and the planet? Answer: almost none. In the end the apathy and ideological delusions of the "woke" and the left can be seen as means of shunning responsibility at best,
and a means of indicting dissenters for being blind to "racism". Until we place the blame properly and put the planet's condition first, we are just treading water. The ecological paradigm is the only foundation for social and political change. Until its adoption we will continue to be distracted by
what is trivial.
Over the decades I've developed dozens if not hundreds of plans for infrastructure, sociological, and political system overhauls. I doubt I could find a majority in any given room to concur with any of them, and I can think of no person, billionaire, president, or the populace in general who would be capable of implementing them even if a public majority did concur.
We would need someone beyond Bernie, with a charisma to have the support of more than a majority, capable of leading and directing the masses into direct revolutionary action to manipulate or usurp all politicians and business leaders, and all wealth - somehow without getting arrested of assassinated immediately.
Even for the smallest of changes, for instance putting a moratorium on building construction within a kilometer of shores, so that beaches instead of break-walls can exist 30 years from now - would require that level of revolution. So would things like directly electing a federal cabinet of educated wise non-profit experts who in turn ran our infrastructure institutions as non-profit public services instead of corporate baronies.
Vast vast changes are required, and yet I don't see any possible route, even if the majority of the world wants a revolution, of even establishing a fair educational media network, determining the best sort of energy grid, or restoring coral reefs. Even if someone claiming to be the return of buddha and jesus, with a plan for all the changes we require, whom the majority of the planet sincerely believed was some supernatural savior - would still come short of the capability required to rewrite this planet to the degree it needs to be rewritten.
I think all we can hope for is that the surviving stragglers of human kind get some chance to evolve and start over with a considerably different eco-system some 15,000 to 50 million years into the future. It's more or less over for us as we know life on earth within the next 40-300 years unless some miracle on the par with creation myths comes about. We are our own worst enemy.
Maybe some technology will come about which allows us all to link minds with some skyscraper AI with an IQ of 20,000 to whom we all willingly relinquish control of the planet to, executing any dissidents against the master plan for the ultimate compromising benefit of the future of mankind, to which we all offer our lives. In other words, not bloody likely.
Would you eat the last potato, or sacrifice the last day of your life to plant it? That's what this world will look like if things all fall apart, and I have no reason to believe they won't. Even the grim future of Cloud Atlas appears considerably over-optimistic in my opinion.
I'm sure there are a million things we could and should be doing to lessen upcoming calamity, but I still can't see how it can be anything other than apocalyptic, and I've been thinking on this matter for decades, with decades of school and research, a creative high genius IQ, and supernatural channelling (till a few years ago anyhow) to rival the famous yogi masters.
It is actually possible for us all to enter a higher connected state of consciousness, and that might provide a better answer and living conditions than we have at the moment even, but I wouldn't count on it happening. Possibly a billion planetary civilizations are popping in and out of existence daily. It's not like any of us were going to personally exist as humans forever anyhow.
I have to disagree, at the risk of being called insensitive or blind. I do not deny discrimination or the economic disadvantages of blacks. But I do deny the existence of subconscious racism; to claim this is to claim that you understand how everyone thinks, as opposed to how everyone acts. I do think that the competitive nature of capitalist society and the blind accumulation of wealth (which equates with power) necessarily required obliterating the less powerful in society, i.e. other races.
I am not an expert on criminal reform but I think it is imperative to note accurately how crime is
reported, how much and where. The denial of black crime against blacks is well known. And the denial of crime's connections to poverty and powerlessness is ongoing. If in fact more blacks are imprisoned for crime than whites. one has to wonder, in fairness, whether in fact there is more crime committed by blacks (especially in black neighborhoods) than whites. Drug use is widespread in black communities, for example, as well as broken families and poverty that provokes theft. As for industrial pollution, the unfortunate linkage of polluting industry in minority and poor neighborhoods is a direct result of the low property values in these neighborhoods. A corporation or developer finds it much cheaper to buy land in minority areas, as opposed to
Santa Barbara or Westchester. As for minorities being greater supporters of climate action, I have not seen anything to support this view. On the contrary, in my long environmental career, I witnessed the constant berating of whites b blacks for ignoring the "real' issues of poverty and discrimination. The lack of black membership in environmental organizations has been deplored for decades, without mentioning the fact that blacks didn't join these mainly white national groups because they didnt want to work within or along side these groups and preferred to definite the word "environment" not as related to the natural world but to their quite urban problems such as
waste disposal, transportation, health, etc. This was a deliberate choice, ignoring the fact that environmentalism was in fact the most powerful social justice movement in our history, something that blacks are unwilling to concede. Had they joined these groups and movements, and worke alongside them since Earth Day 1970 we might have seen a much stronger and widespread environmental awareness and involvement that in turn would have strengthened both the environmental movement as well as social justice groups. I dont see any connection between racial injustice and planetary health. We need to work on both in appropriate ways, especially to overcome the co-optation of climate change groups by those who see it as "climate justice",i.e. a social movement as opposed to an ecological one. We have a long way to go.
The wokeness of the left exceeds any history of race and racism. Once upon a time we had serious
principled movements for civil rights, anti discrimination laws and other beliefs and laws. Wokeness arose not from these but from vengeance, the notion of racial privilege for the "oppressed" and the irrational charge that all whites and their society were innately racist. This is of course reverse racism. The worst examples are the doctrines being forced on professors and students in universities, which emulate the Soviet Union's social engineering projects and practices under Stalin. In effect wokeness is neo Stalinism written by anti democracy anti pluralist power hungry indidivuals pretending to be defending human rights. It is as dangerous as the right wing, the neo cons and the evangelicals. More dangerous in fact because naive liberals will believe anything that
convinces them that they are the cause of all the problems.
Daily Introspection saves me from total blindness. On the battlefield of life it is crucial to know whether my good or evil tendencies have prevailed so that I can self correct before ignorance can overcome me.
May I republish this at The R-Word?
(Yes, lots of folks are feeling just what you describe, including myself!)