Monday, 31 December 2018

What's Up In 2019? Finding Our True Selves, Perhaps?

Dear Reader,

The news may be disturbing that there are 5 erupting volcanoes in Indonesia, 6 in Central America and 4 in South America, in addition to 2 in the Mediterranean. And many more are in a state of 'unrest'. (For a full list see here)

The thought that such eruptions have taken place for aeons should not placate us when we consider that the number of eruptions has been irrevocably increasing and, using more reliable data, particularly in the last 200 years. These increases have interestingly enough) appeared to correspond to both the start of the Industrial Revolution and Consumerism and a significant increase in population (though see the caveat in the top left of the image), and the last 50 years or so show very significant increases.

But in our disconnectedness, we probably think that all this - and Climate Change - is somehow a separate issue from the way we humans have been behaving. Do we really think that or are we accepting what is told to us through the media? For me I feel that particularly since the start of the Industrial Revolution we have been making a big noise around the planet, retrogressively removing our ability to relate to nature without a big effort. Indeed we seem to have adopted a mentality that those often regarded as 'primitive' races find hard to understand because our ways have been so out of 'sync' with nature and the concept of one-ness.

I submit that these factors - and many other forms of man-made disturbance - are likely to 'come to a head' during this coming year and over the next 3 or 4 years. What we should seek - surely - is how to find a way to regain a balance not only amongst ourselves and the environment but with Mother Earth in her totality. That surely is our future, not a meaningless and more automotive version of what we've been doing.

There are a number of movements and modern writers who are spiritually conscious of (and disturbed by)  what is going on around us. They feel the need to tell us of the need to re-appraise ourselves. I quote from just two such writers, but they are by no means alone in their cry.

The writer Paul Kingsworth has written:
We bend our shoulders beneath the official notion that the material world is explicable, just as we bend our shoulders beneath the notion that words are merely units of information. But something in us—something which sings when the moon is up—knows this to be a lie. We miss the songs that were sung through us, whoever it is, whatever it is, that sung them. We live in an age of loss, our stories collapsing around us, our people dividing into tribes, anger and rage and condemnation overruling nuance, compassion, and attention. Looking around our outer world right now, it can seem as if we are being driven mad by something. It can seem as if we are stuck, raging at the world, missing something we deeply need.
In times like these, we are all in the process of transformation, and so is the world around us. The Great Work, the magnum opus, is the work we are all engaged in, whether we know it or not. The Great Work is the reassembling of the tiny shards of light into which the universe was shattered at the Creation. Every story we tell, every poem we write, if it is true, reassembles a tiny piece of this light, brings us back closer to the heart of the mystery. How do we know this? We don’t. At the heart of art is the same paradox as lies at the heart of religion: we don’t know anything. We can only act from our unknowing, with faith and determination.
James Stark: elaborates on this theme:
We have labored under the notion that we are not enough, that when we speak of subtle worlds, invisible landscapes, and a sacred activism, we speak nonsense. We have assumed that there is only one way to be in the world, and that way is certain, self-evident, and without alternatives—at least to sane, healthy people. We have tried to adopt the language and assumptions of development and progress; to force our eyes to see food as product of the marketplace instead of gift; to devalue our dreams for meaningful work as empty if not bottom-lined by the motivation to make money. But there are rumors of ancient futures and we are beginning to see how this monoculture of mind no longer serves the diversity and expansiveness of human and other-than-human beings; we are seeing how the one usurped the many. We are seeing—like you are—that growth is not enough.
In the beginning of this next paragraph I would like to think that in the UK we do not quite have the inclination to leave a fellow "to die":
Because of a cockeyed model of life, we live in a generic culture that rewards the fast, the narrow, the devious, and the man that leaves his fellow on the wayside to die. A culture that punishes compassion, smallness, uncertainty, and intimacy. For growth, for this rush for supremacy, we are mortgaging the very things that make us attractive. We are trading away the genius of being alive, our profound diversity. This singular truth, this certainty with its claims to universal validity, this one way of knowing, promised us wealth and peace. The profits grew, but our trees, homes, and lands were disrespected; we became more efficient, but our efficiencies crowded out our cultures and languages.

Now we can no longer abide economic structure and ideological monologue that considers our wellbeing an afterthought, our lands a lifeless mass of dirt awaiting capitalist redemption, and our cultures a cosmetic distraction from the more serious business of making more money. We cannot listen for too long to the boastings of a pixel pretending to be the entire picture.

Let me say that the crisis we face as a species is not merely economic, it is epistemic: we are confronted with a paralyzing loss of certainty, the eradication of the mythological grounds upon which we slowly invented modern culture. We are faced with the end of truth. These are perilous times. But therein lies the brilliance of our moment, a beauty I suspect the techne of decentralization serves: the truth is broken, wrinkled, and in his place are a thousand splinters of story. That’s the power of today. That’s hope of a different persuasion, that in pulsating fractals of the whole, in puddles of renewal and resistance, people everywhere can recognize that behind the sheen of global gigantism, behind the blitz of ads, and behind the certainty of numbers is an institutionalized reluctance for people to live their own lives. In this system, we are hardly the social actors; we are the social outcomes—puppets attached to the strings of a hidden ventriloquist. This is the economic arrangement we call ‘normal.’

Wade Davis said, “There is, indeed, a fire burning over the earth, taking with it plants and animals, cultures, languages, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. Quelling this flame, and re-inventing the poetry of diversity is perhaps the most important challenge of our times.”

The call to localize is a response to the poetry of diversity and coincides with this end of truth, with the refutation of the ‘complete dictionary’—that system of creeds that once roped us in and in whose tight wager a beautiful plurality of worlds still struggles for breath. Economic decentralization, driven by the realization that there are many ways of knowing and being in the world, coincides with this planetary urge to play with new forms, to revive the messiness of being alive, to leave the corrupt security of a monologue and venture out into the wildness we once called home. It implies that we are learning to come home to ourselves. The building of a temple without steeples. We are regaining our power, once invested in intergovernmental agencies, trade treaties, nations states and tricle-down policies.

Might I venture to say that our most compelling imperative today—if one is permitted to speak in those ways—is to reclaim the thickness of our tongues and learn the names and faces of our neighbours; it is to realize that our worldview is just a tittle in a never-ending sentence; it is to see that there are more ways to learn than school and polished degrees could ever accommodate and more ways to live than could be captured in a Facebook post. The imperative is to recognize that our theories of change have to change and that urgency is not always a function of increased effort and logical coherence. We must reacquaint ourselves with allies that cannot be seen, too subtle for the modern eye, and forgotten human capacities that are wondrous beyond compare, too outrageous for rational thought. We must recognize that our crises emerge from clinging too tightly to a single story, from drinking out of a single drying wellspring while others flow unattended. This recognition also implies that there are no convenient ‘others,’ no convenient enemies, and that we are the systems we oppose. It means admitting that we don’t know the answers, talk less of the questions — and that’s okay.

The new politics of hope we imagine is not so much about the correct answers. It’s about us—us as aspects of our ecosystems, our cultures, and our relationships. That’s the poetic hope my life force, Ej, our daughter, Alethea, and I hold as we embark on a quest to live and thrive in a wider spectrum of values, to trust that there is more to life than the urge to consume, to rest in the knowing that we are never ever alone and couldn’t possibly be. That’s why I’m excited to work for a more just world, a coming together to insist on the insidiousness of corporate monoculture and the promise of community.
His prayer (yes, all this thought is no way disconnected from the Source):
As we move into the possibility of civilization collapse, my prayer is that human beings might find paths towards living from our hearts and in harmony with all life. My message and deep felt longing is that we all embrace love, joy and hope and become be.

Thank you for reading this.