More important than the following article is this video. It includes this quote from Daniel Schmachtenberger: “If you really think about and get that your own success and the success of your family is not ensurable independent of the success of the whole, if you get that that is true in the timeframe of your life and your children’s life, and that in trying to ensure their success at the expense of the whole it will fail…not a viable strategy, and yet it was something that seemed viable for a very long time” (1:04:01).
Focus on what's wrong or what could be set right?
We have an endless number of articles about everything that’s going wrong around us economically, ecologically, politically, and socially. There are lots of proposed solutions that ameliorate one aspect of a problem but don’t begin to touch the overarching catastrophe. Yet anyone proposing system-wide solutions is considered unrealistic. Why not start over on mars? Why not go back to the good ol’ days when everything was pretty comfortable if you were a White male and we hadn’t hit peak oil? Why not burn it all down and enjoy the excitement of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome? Why not wait for Jesus to come fix it? If Jesus comes and we’re busy doing what he said to do, he’s going to be so proud of us, so let’s not sit around.
We need plans!
Even if we have convinced enuf people that we have serious problems to confront, most don’t know what to do about it. We need a vision of what a sustainable and livable society could look like. We need to show what we can work toward and how. We have to show that the tradeoffs of that sustainable society are tolerable, at least better than continuing on our trajectory toward a world we wouldn't want for our children. For those still in denial, maybe we can get a few of them on board if we understand and address their pain points too. The plan needs to answer crucial questions.
Questions a big plan must answer
1. What’s a way that a culture could maintain a passable quality of life for all, not a good life for the privileged only?
2. What’s a way that a culture could maintain an ecologically sustainable economy, one that’s attractive enough that people would voluntarily participate?
3. What kind of culture could persuade and train humans to not seek to dominate others as a short-term strategy for a more comfortable life for themselves?
But these movements die out. Why bother?
You think the social revolution of the 1960s died out, but it didn’t. Sure, some of those rebel children got “realistic” and joined the established institutions, did what they “had to” to “make it” in the modern world. Some self-destructed. But much of the movement went underground. It went into pop psychology, self-help, and spiritual journeys that created the new age movement and welcomed in Eastern philosophies. It went into the hard work of permaculture and creating intentional communities worldwide. It has prepared us to start to understand how to transcend our collectively and personally painful past and support each other as we weather uncertainty, while the established institutions crumble under the weight of their abandonment of their once-noble roles.
How about this plan?
1. As the existing systems struggle along, we continue to quietly build up what will take their place. Why waste our energy fighting when they’re going to fizzle out anyway? If you have to work in existing exploitative systems to survive for now, start focusing on these principles:
· Move toward non-rivalrous dynamics. This doesn’t mean coopetition or being a good team player to beat the competition. This means the only thing we’re working to overcome is the drive to compete and dominate. This means figure out how to cooperate and get along with at least with the people you’re closest to.
· Get clear on what regenerative work could look like for you. This means considering what choices you could make that would lead to a better outcome for every sentient being on the planet, present and future.
2. If, when, and to the extent you can, identify and extract yourself from every exploitative system. The most comprehensive way would be to move onto or create a small farm that’s somewhat self-sustainble, an ecovillage, or an agrihood. At least start visiting and making friends with people who are doing this, so it starts to feel like a real possibility for you. Offer them support.
Do you have a better idea? If so, hopefully you’re writing about it so we all can get on board…figuratively. Maybe we should stay with earth until we have this planet sorted out.