Maybe this will wake folks up?
I am not exactly sure but I think it was ever since I watched the documentary, End of Suburbia, where I was first introduced to the concept of peak oil, that I knew the age of cheap oil was coming to an end. It was also around this time that someone – a student I believe – turned me onto the doc Zeitgeist (I know there are issues with the doc but it was still super interesting). This was followed with watching, What a Way to Go: Life at the End of the Empire. These really made me aware of what was coming down the pipe in our post-industrial world even though I was sensing this for some time. I did feel a sense of urgency and took it upon myself to try to get my students to take some action to change their lives, prepare for what was coming, maybe actually get involved in organizations that sounding the alarm bells and were trying to tackle the issues. Failing this, I just hoped to get them to think about these issues.
I know I was able to impact the lives of many of them. As an example, one student told me they picked up a 2nd hand sewing machine as they wanted to learn how to make clothes, something I learned in home econonics class in high school which I gather isn’t part of the curricula anymore (not necessarily a bad thing if one considers the gender inequality this perpetuated). Others took the first steps in learning how to grow some of their own food. All good and useful stuff irregardless of the global situation.
When I entered into my career and existential crisis, part of me was wondering what had I accomplished after decades of activism since the situation appeared to just be getting worse. Now we now it isn’t appearing to get worse – it is much worse than most could have imagined.
Recently an article circulating online has generated some good discussion of what scenarios may eventuate. I cannot recommend this highly enough:
I have sometimes wondered over these past few years whether some folks I considered good friends were no longer so as I saw less and less of them. I was removing myself from activist circles as I needed to recover and address my personal questions. I was realizing that efforts to change government (at any level) were futile. The system was just so corrupt – perhaps not the type of corruption that I have learned about here in Peru – but corruption nonetheless. My so-called friends in these activist circles were still continuing to organize around and in between elections. I know people want to believe that government should and can protect us and often it has. But as capitalism crashes, the power holders keep hanging on, strangling the common folk even more.
I would tell folks I am a realist, not a pessimist but I didn’t see folks believing me. I was assuming they just didn’t want to hear about my supposed doom and gloom perspective. Fine. I wasn’t going to live in the la la land of hope but I also wasn’t living in the land of despair. My partner Mr. C5 and others have talked about the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, so pertinent in these times of uncertainty and chaos. Check out
I was introduced to the field of eco-psychology many decades ago when it was a new and on the fringes of psychology. In a nutshell, Ecopsychology studies the relationship between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles – see wikipedia. What I drew from it was that folks could experience emotional pain due to the widespread destruction of the natural environment around us, e.g. clear cutting of old growth forests, extinction of species, destruction of habitat due to mining, etc…, akin to grief one would experience with the death of a loved one, in this case the suffering of mother nature. I so strongly believe that there is a disconnect between so many of us and mother nature. There is a dis-ease so paltable in our cities, neighbourhoods and families, partially as a result of this even though it is an unspoken grief. Put simply, there is an escalation of pain and despair at play, felt in response to widespread environmental destruction, a perfectly natural reaction imho.
Maybe you don’t want to believe in worst case scenarios but Mr. Murphy just loves to fuck with you. That’s D E N I A L!! Just like ‘it won’t/can’t happen to me” – give me a break!
It has been good to see more folks beginning to face reality but it is too little too late. The changes are just too set in motion. Yes it is incredicly depressing. But is also just so cool to learn new skills around the essentials of creating food, clothes and shelter. You just can’t get bogged down in trying to change the ‘system’. The system is changing, to what we just don’t know but all we can do is to try to create microcosms of the kind of world we want to live in. Just don’t assume it will be easy. Time to check the cult of individualism at the door. Learn some conflict resolution. Do your personal development dealing with your ‘issues’ (we all have them – even those who say I had a wonderful family life growing up – yeah right!). Those who will survive these times will have a skillset that is currently severely lacking, but the main one is being able to live in community with others, people who will drive you nuts but who will also support you no matter what (well not if you abuse your partner – there will need to be codes of conduct – there have been cultures that have ways of dealing with those bad apples).
As we consider what to do after our year in Lima, we do know we are so fortunate to have a significant chunk of land in a place of the world that will withstand climate change better than most. I still dream of living in a small home on the beach in the Caribbean or Central America but that would be a bad move.
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