What's My Message?

SUBHEAD: Embracing our interdependence. Rejecting our separateness.  

By Namaste Bodhisantra on 25 May 2009 in Approaching the Limits to Growth (http://paulchefurka.ca/)
Image above: Detail of poster for "The 11th Hour" doomsday documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio that some reviewers panned. From http://the-reviewer.net/2008/04/22/the-11th-hour

Over the past few years I have used this site as a notebook to record my thoughts about some of the large-scale developments in the world. It started with my discovery of Peak Oil, and gradually broadened to cover a range of topics like climate change, overpopulation, ecological damage and food security. The ongoing theme has been the realization that our global industrial civilization is facing imminent biophysical limits to its growth. 
As my investigations broadened, I discovered that we are on the threshold of a civilizational emergency. The moment of Peak Oil has already passed; there is no combination of alternative energies that can keep our industries running as they have on oil and gas; we have passed the climatic tipping point; the oceans will not recover their former glory; we are even facing the limit of our ability to grow food.

Sealing our fate is our apparent inability as communities, nations or as a species to make the preventive changes in attitude and behavior that are so manifestly necessary. The things that must be done to avert the looming crisis will by and large be done only as its consequence. These realizations threw me headfirst into a long dark night of the soul. 
Despite occasional glimpses of hope such as my discovery of Deep Ecology and “Gaia’s antibodies”, for several years my spirit was overwhelmed by dread. Further exploration in areas not directly related to ecology, population or energy finally allowed me to understand that there are avenues of hope even in the teeth of our Perfect Storm. The reason it was so hard for me to see them at first is that they do not occupy the same worldview as the problems I was investigating. 
I had to completely change my understanding of the crisis as well as my definition of what a successful response might look like in order to accept that these signs of hope were legitimate. The signs of hope are not couched in the language of science or technology, and do not partake of politics or economics. In fact, they have virtually no direct relationship to the ecological, energy and economic problems that we are told constitute this crisis of modern civilization. 
In the language of taxonomy, the signs of hope and the apparent problems are orthogonal sets: the two classes are non-intersecting. If you pursue the root causes of our crisis as deeply as possible, you may come to the same startling conclusion I have. The crisis of civilization is not, at its core, a convergence of technical, environmental and organizational problems. These visible problems are only symptoms pointing to a deeper malaise. 
Driving all these symptoms is a philosophical and perceptual disconnection so deep that it is best understood as a spiritual breakdown. The disconnection goes by the name of Separation. This sense of separation is what allows us to see ourselves as different from and superior to the rest of the apparently non-rational universe we live in. In this worldview the mutual interdependence of all the elements of the universe is replaced by a simple dualistic categorization: there are human beings, and everything else in the universe—without exception—is a resource for us to use. 
The only way to keep this planet, our one and only home in the universe, from being ultimately ravaged and devastated is to change our worldview and heal that sense of separation. Unless we can manage that breathtaking feat all the careful application of technology, all the well-intentioned regulations, all the unbridled cleverness of which we are so proud will do little to delay the final outcome, and nothing whatever to prevent it. There are two pieces of very good news in all this. 
The first is that the efforts to change humanity's worldview or cultural narrative can proceed at the same time as all our traditional efforts to solve the physical problems. There is no conflict between the two, and even the failure of one will have no effect on the possibility of success in the other. We can, indeed we must, do both. The second piece of good news is that success in the domain of the cultural narrative is virtually guaranteed, regardless of the outcome in the physical domain of resources and environment. 
My recent thoughts, as set out in the more hopeful articles below, lead me to this inevitable conclusion. I hope after reading and thinking about these issues for yourself you will come to share my deep optimism, even in the face of a rapidly deteriorating physical situation here on Planet Earth. 
The coming changes represent not only the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced, but also the greatest opportunity that has ever been presented to us. Embracing our interdependence with each other and the rest of the universe, transforming the story we tell about ourselves, and becoming wise in the process is the most crucially important work any of us can undertake. 
In the final analysis it is not only the best chance we have but the only way we can become sane, sustainable members of the community of life. Wishing you transformation, Bodhisantr.

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