“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.
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!
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…)
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.
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.
“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