XR Ritual

Very pleased to have led a small ritual at the ‘Faith Bridge’ (Lambeth Bridge) at the start of two weeks of rebellion. We stood in the shadow of the seat of colonial power, the UK Parliament, while a helicopter hovered overhead and hundreds of policemen surrounded various bits of roads and, or course, the protestors.

It was disorganised of course! We should have been on the bridge but the police had secured that. The protest was moved to the roundabout on the western side by the park. It was good natured and very friendly.

The ritual was small but could have been slightly bigger as I found a few Druids in the crowd afterwards who couldn’t find us.

While I say I led the ritual, it was my new friends in the picture who did the real work! I really just asked for it to happen…

So pleased to have been part of this and to know that I am on the right side of history and the right side of Nature.

Be the change

Hardly an imaginative title for a post but one that resonates loudly. I continue to be increasingly frustrated with people, including myself! That is not a great place to be…

Tomorrow sees the start of two weeks of disruption around the world by Extinction Rebellion to highlight the need for climate action. I will be there too, just as I was in April. But there is a backlash narrative that continues to grow, almost at the same rate as the support for XR grows, that of personal action.

XR make a great play of not criticising individuals, it is about system change after all. And yes, to a large extent they are correct, but that leaves a wide open door for some privileged activists to assuage their guilt as they book the next holiday, or at least it leaves the doors open for these accusations.

And yes I do know activists who fly regularly for their holidays, who eat meat, and so on. Activists who focus solely on system change while only making tiny changes to their own lives, changes that do not hurt.

But we will not get change that way, we will just stoke anger at the disruption that we cause. We must show leadership, not aggression.

It is surely incumbent on all who want change to be the change we want to see? How can we lead the way unless we, um, lead the way?

But I recognise that some changes are very difficult, particularly those that impact on family members.

However, there is simply no need to fly again. Ever. There is no need to eat meat again, ever (unless you are truly starving or anaphalatically allergic to all vege protein alternatives). Most of us can grow food, reuse, repair and so on. Most of us can make sure our energy consumption is minimised.

Why not work out what your footprint is and see what you can do to shrink it, i.e. tread more lightly on the Earth. My favourite calculator is here: https://footprintcalculator.henkel.com/en

Roll up you sleeves

The world as we know it is dying. That is natural, everything dies, but in its death throes its human animals are becoming mad. And although death is natural, it is man that is killing it – which for most of us causes tension beyond that which we can cope with.

What is more, it is not time for the world to die. It is too early. It has been brought on by us and our ‘civilisation’ and by our development of farming.

Recently I came across this article by Derrick Jensen: ‘As the Amazon burns it is time to roll up our sleeves’. The article sets out quite clearly what the end of the world looks like. It is quite shocking in its bluntness – but then death is often quite shocking.

The ends: As the writer Lierre Keith often says, “If there are any humans left 100 years from now, they are going to ask what the fuck was wrong with us that we didn’t fight like hell when the world was going down.” Many of us who know history might have fantasies of how we would have acted were we alive under German occupation in World War II or under British colonial rule. Right now, we are facing the end of the world. We have the opportunity and the honor to protect the planet that gave us our lives. The time is now. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Life on this planet needs you.

I have been accused of being a domestic extremist on many occasions. I suspect that I’m in a police database or two (and if I’m not then I haven’t worked hard enough). But if I was was in France in 1942, I would hope that I would be in the Resistance, if Star Wars was real I hope I would be in the Rebel Alliance, so I am proud to be in Extinction Rebellion and other groups that are trying to stop the destruction of the Earth – as long as it is done without violence.

We need to work with our communities to stop the harm. We need to help people wake up to the living planet that we are part of. We need to work with our gods and goddesses. We need to look after ourselves and show others how to look after thenselves. And most importantly, we need to show leadership in all that we do.

It is time to roll up our sleeves.

Four actions we can take during Tower Time

Tower Time, a phrase that I have plagiarised from H. Byron Ballard and John Beckett. It refers to collapse / disaster and is based on the concept of The Tower set out in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot.

“The demons of madness and despair are released from ancient hiding places, and nature conspires with human failings to destabilize a society. The upheaval is collective and impersonal.”

What card could be more relevant to 2019? The full collapse of society is yet to happen but the signs of destabilisation are rife as politicians, long noted for their greed and self-servance, increasingly manipulate their constituents while ignoring the real needs that they should be addressing.

This can be seen with the Brexit campaign. The key driver was the hedge fund owners who became threatened by the EU’s clamp down on tax avoidance and it was they who subsequently, and efficiently, funded the manipulation of the electorate into an anti-EU fever through a process of magic. The Brexit campaigners changed the electorate’s consciousness in accordance with the will of the hedge fund owners.

Brexit is also a distraction from both the ridiculous accumulation of wealth that those hedge fund owners have and from even more pressing issues such as the climate emergency, the continued pollution of our Earth and little things such as the sixth mass extinction that we are facing. Diversions are a form of magic that controls us and prevents us from knowing or acting.

So how should we respond?

I asked that in last week’s post. Should we learn about what is happening to Nature, should we party or should we quietly honour her, should we fight for the Earth or should we focus on fostering some form of survival?

I think the answer is yes to all of these, including the partying.

Learning

To some extent it seems that we have to see past the nasty magic that is used to keep up in line, but to do so needs us to recognise that magic. Spotting the headlines and the diversions that are thrown in our way is essential.

But so is reading, learning and spending time in Nature. Nature is not just the craggy wild mountains, picturesque sandy beaches and meandering streams, it is also the shopping centre covered in graffitti, the late night bar, the homeless shelter; these things are real and will teach us what is happening more starkly than the woodlands. They are tough teachers though!

Partying

These are depressing times. Grief is incumbent in the destruction of our world, sadness pervades all that we do and depression can paralyse us easily. We need to maintain our spirit, our energy and our motivation.

Celebrate life in all its wonder, throw shapes on the dance floor, dance with wild abandon in the middle of the night, and get down and dirty with the physical. We are here in physical form, our world is largely physical, it seems wrong not to honour life in a physical way.

I also think it is important that we connect with life while we party. The disconnection that we have while we are online, or listening to music with earphones, or playing Pokemon Go rather than being aware of our surroundings is driving much of our current malaise. I heard someone suggest recently “Visceral experience of the world around us is reduced by technology.” I couldn’t agree more (but do finish reading this blog post…)

Honouring

Quiet reflection time, meditation and ritual are important tools for healing and self-preservation as well as showing our respect for the Earth and her spirits.

Fighting

While there is little chance of stopping climate change, the radical action needed is just too unpalatable for the majority and certainly out of the question for most politicians, this doesn’t mean that first we shouldn’t try and secondly shouldn’t fight to reduce the future impacts.

We are fairly certain to exceed the 1.5 degrees heating and are likely to be in a pretty devastating 5 degrees if we carry on emitting carbon as our current rate (noting that 2018 had the highest carbon emissions ever).

We surely have a duty to try to stop or reduce climate change and given the failure of mainstream politics, for me the best way is through non-violent direct action such as that employed by Extinction Rebellion. I feel that taking action is a spiritual duty, be that changing the way we live our own lives or persuading others, including politicians and businesses, to do the same.

Surviving

“If just 10 fish remain in the pool, the solution to running out of fish is not more efficient nets. Instead what we need, above and beyond all else, is a change in our relationship with nature.” Charles Mann in The Wizard and the Prophet (2018).

Changing our relationship with Nature is essential. Learning new skills that we can pass on to others, how to grow food, how to make clothes and so on, will help us build resilience in our communities, help us become less reliant on big business that will eventually fail.

Localism is key here. Building local communities that are self-powering, i.e. based on mini versions of bio-regionalism, dealing with their own waste, growing their own food, and producing their own power, is going to be the most essential thing we can do to ensure that life doesn’t come to a complete full stop.

There is much more to be said on each of these aspects, especially the last and I will pick those up in future posts.

And just in case you wondered, a little picture of Sao Paolo plunged into darkness the smoke from the wildfires 1000 miles away

What if there are “only a few summers left”?

Mat Wills use those words during his set at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe (he was very funny and highly recommended!) It wasn’t clear what context he was referring to but it got me wondering, what if there really were only a few summers left?


We read that the ice melt in Greenland, last month, was at a rate that scientists predicted wouldn’t happen until 2070. An area of Siberia the size of Belgium was on fire earlier this month. The Arctic sea ice is close to record lows. CO2 emissions in 2018 were at a record high. June and July 2019 were the hottest June and July on record (globally). Plus all those record temperatures that were broken including here in the UK. And of course the Amazon is burning, although this seems to be deliberate, but the Amazon supplies 20% of our oxygen, you remember, the gas that we breath.


Meanwhile the UK, rather than doing anything about the climate emergency that it declared a few months ago, simply seems to want to continue to posture on Brexit while preparing for a general election. And the US… well they did nothing under Obama or Clinton so there is zero chance of the arch climate denier, Trump, doing anything. Never mind, today’s impacts are due to the CO2 released 30 years ago, the recent emissions will take decades to impact.


It all looks a bit shit, really.


The IPCC predictions seem to be coming true at an alarming rate. Those predictions were generally downplayed as they had to get a wide consensus. What we don’t really know if how bad the worst case scenario might be.


So what if we only have a few summers left? What should we do? How should we prepare? How many is a few?


Some of the best thinking is coming through from Jem Bendall’s Deep Adaptation work. You can join the forum here, but there are plenty of other sources for what happens with societal collapse including James Howard Kunstler who wrote The Long Emergency and has an excellent podcast, plus John Michael Greer who wrote The Long Descent.


But perhaps I am thinking more about what type of approach to life should we take in the endgame of civilisation?

  • Should we party like it really is 1999 or do we redouble our efforts to live sustainably?
  • Do we honour the Earth or do we go out with a bang?
  • Should we rebel? Join Extinction Rebellion?
  • Should we focus on trying to ensure that some people and knowledge survive the collapse?
  • What do we do with the inevitable mass migrations?
  • How can governments function under the collapse? Do we need a world government? Will there be any government at all?
  • How do we deal with the certain rise of nationalism?

I have my answers to these questions but I’m really interested in your thoughts. Please comment!

Reposted from my political blog http://www.stuartjeffery.net

Life and Death Beckons

I despair at the actions of some human animals, humans that are filled with hatred of Nature. As we are part of nature then I can only see that hatred as a form of self loathing.

There is a complete loss of connection with the world around us in the broken minds of some. Nasty comments about children, who have realised the trajectory that we have put Nature on, exemplify a fundamental problem in our culture. And it is not really a cultural problem either, it is just one symptom of a wider spiritual crisis.

This spiritual crisis is the loss of understanding that we are part of Nature and Nature is part of us. It pervades much religious, philosophical, economic, and political thinking. Our society moves further each day from the world around us. We bury our minds in smartphones as we walk, surfing Facebook, catching Pokemon or just walking with earphones listening to our favourite music rather that the bird song in the tree next to us or even the sound of the car engine stuck in traffic.

We separate ourselves at our peril. As that car engine, belching NOx into our lungs, fails to register in our consciousness so we fail to recognise the harm that it does to us and to other animals and the atmosphere. When we begin to connect with the engine and fumes, and yes they are a part of Nature and a part of us, we begin to see that we shouldn’t have that engine doing what it does best.

This week the BBC headlined a story which vox popped people expressing surprise that there was plastic in snow, quite a lot of plastic. There was a wake up call that had stirred them just a little.

But then we see photographs of people on the beach seemingly ignoring the mountains of litter that surround them. The beach is one of my favourite liminal spaces, a great interface between earth, sea and sky, a place where magic happens. The beach is a place that opens my eyes, ears and mind, it is a place of fun and danger. It is life and Nature and joy. So how can people be so blind as the coffee cups get trodden into the sand by their feet and the waves carry plastic towards the shore? How can people not know the consequences of their action and inaction?

It is surely a huge human frailty, and possibly a non-human frailty too, that we fail to understand the consequences of our collective actions. We hang on to what we know, and think we want, at the expense of what we should have and do.

Like most animals we are hooked on a fight for survival and that takes different forms but like most animals we only seem to recognise the short term, visible dangers. But the fight for survival is ultimately futile – we will all die and like all cultures, civilisations and indeed species our culture civilisation and indeed species will die too.

We have two spiritual jobs to do. We need to get to grips with our mortality and we need to get to grips with living now, living and dying in a right relationship with Nature.

Waxing lyrical

Blogging has waned in recent years and it is time to wax again.

I am as guilty as others. There is an instant gratification from posting something short and pithy on Facebook or Twitter that then gets shared or liked by people. There is instant appeal from the one or two line of prose to my audience of like minded people – they respond well and if they are rude I can defriend them. Instagram, which I haven’t yet mastered, just seems to allow pictures to be posted and a picture can tell a thousand words it is said, but not when that picture is another inane kitten pic. 

Yes, I have a bubble in which I deliver superficial messages but it feels good.

My FB and twitter friends (I have never met the majority of them) are self selecting. They are often friends of friends, people who move in similar circles elsewhere in the country. They mostly think the same as me and rarely disagree with me which makes the feedback quite positive. Positive feedback makes me feel good, it makes me think I have the right answers to life.

But life isn’t like that. Problems are complex, nuanced and should be viewed through a variety of lenses. Most people in the world do not lead the life of privilege that as a white British middle class man who has a post grad degree and a highly paid job that I do (it wasn’t always that way – I have been very poor and have slept rough too). The lens that I view the world with means that I don’t always understand what it is like for others, especially in my pithy one line tweets.

We are in an increasingly complex and unstable world. One increasingly beset by extremism and hatred, by pollution, climate change and turmoil. We must start to be a little more nuanced, to tell narratives and to look at different view points.

My favourite blogger, John Michael Greer, has not succumbed to the superficial. His blog posts are a good five minute read. They make detailed arguments and come to reasonable conclusions. He is quite right wing and I disagree with him on many issues but he opens my eyes and is often right.

So let’s have a resurgence of blogging, decent argued pieces. Let’s wax lyrical.