I came across this earlier today:
John Gray, in his book Straw Dogs, concludes that the only way our civilization can continue is by desolating the Earth, at an accelerating rate, until it is exhausted, and that this is precisely what we will do. Although I grieve for what we have done to our planet, and the destruction and suffering we cause and condone every day, I grieve much more for what we will do in the coming generation, in the desperate folly to try to keep it going just a little longer. There will be more destruction, more suffering, more misery, more desolation in the generation to come, I fear, than in all the generations past combined. The worst atrocities always occur when things are most desperate and hopeless.
History and literature are replete with examples and stories that show us that this is our nature. We cannot and will not change until we must, and we won’t realize we must until it is too late to prevent our civilization’s madness from taking its most ghastly, almost unimaginable toll. We will stay in denial until we cannot, believing that somehow we can innovate out our way out of the impossible predicament we have created for ourselves. And distracting ourselves in the meantime — pondering for example the choice between ‘leaders’ who advocate ecocidal publicly-regulated growth and those who advocate ecocidal unregulated, privatized growth — the Tweedledums and Tweedledees of planetary desolation.
I’ve tried to depict this desolated future in Mother Nature’s words, rather than in pictures, because the pictures are too much for me to bear. I could show images of clear-cuts, of massive factory farms, of befouled water and dying fish and birds, of dust-bowls where farms once thrived, of child labour and slave labour, of sandstorms blowing through China’s industrialized, drought-stricken cities, of dry wells and dry cracked earth and lifeless crops, of prison and refugee camps filled with despair, of slums of mind-numbing, impossible poverty. What would that achieve, except perhaps to get you angry or upset, for no useful purpose?
I have come to a ghastly realization about what we have done, and what we are doing, and what lies ahead, and why. I understand that no one is or has been in control of this, and that no one conspired or wanted this to happen, and thus no one is to blame, no one is responsible. And I appreciate that thanks to the complexity of everything, we cannot prevent or even significantly mitigate the dreadful future we are so hopefully embarked upon. I live with this terrible knowledge, and occasionally share it on these pages, and often wonder why I do.
It’s disturbing to think that many gifted writers still do not understand what should be obvious. Implicit in these words is two important suggestions, a lack of responsibility, and the hopelessness of the future:
“I understand that no one is or has been in control of this, and that no one conspired or wanted this to happen, and thus no one is to blame, no one is responsible.”
Are you nuts? If we are not “responsible”, then who is? Nature?
Your refusal to lay the blame is telling about your own mental cognition and awareness. Some of your early blog posts indicated that you have a mental illness, perhaps this is still true. Even so, the responsible ones are easy to identify. There is really no excuse for failing to admit this glaring truth.
Still need a hint? Go look in the mirror. Walk through a mall. Visit a “business”. Drive a car. Shop at a supermarket.
Figure it out yet?
Your “ghastly realization” must also be enjoined with acceptance. Accepting who is indeed responsible, why it was done, why we continue to do it is going to be very important in the days ahead.
Look around you. The planet is inhabited by zombies, ghoulishly devouring everything in sight. Allegedly, they’re claimed to be intelligent, compassionate, caring human beings, but there is actually quite a lot of evidence that none of this is true.
And so are you. So am I. We all are.
If you’re still preying upon the planetary resources in excess of your needs (which is easy to define), then you and I and everyone else is indeed very responsible for the destruction we have wrought.
I agree that we have a dreadful future ahead, having penned millions of words myself, yet I don’t agree that we give up to this self-fulfilling prophecy. We should continue to struggle against the ongoing insanity as much as we can. And we should try to learn how we ourselves should live.
I am not ignorant of what you have done, but passing over who is responsible is simply unacceptable. Humanity needs a major fucking reality check and will only come by admitting to blame and the acceptance of what this means.
We need a new ‘everything’ (culture, civilization, society, “economy”, government, it’s nearly an endless list) before we can “hope” to have hope and not hopelessness, which is what you imply. Real hope comes by effort (change), hopelessness comes when we shirk our responsibility and complicity in all that is wrong with our civilization. Don’t advocate hopelessness by refusing to admit our collective responsibility. We all share in this, every single one of us.
It may appear hopeless, but advocating hopelessness is simply wrong.
We must change ourselves, starting with our own selves. This is “hope”. And we can do it too, if we want.
Going further is necessary here, so I’m going to expand on this topic.
Most of us do not want to change. This is what is really at the root causing all the suffering and destruction throughout the planet.
Either through laziness, lack of compassion or the personal costs to our lives, billions of humans have no intention of changing anything. The only change they can envision is “more”.
We need to personalize this, and understand that this is the individual, replicated a billion and a billion and a billion times or more, who simply wants and demands “more”. His / her concept for change is to have more. More for themselves. More for their families. More to live on. More to exist. More to be comfortable, more to be “better”.
Many need more, living in severely impoverished conditions. And many do not need more, living opulent lives of luxury and comfort compared to their brethren. Yet both groups, which includes individuals, institutions, businesses, and entire nations, still want the same thing: MORE.
This is the leading cause of all the destruction and suffering found throughout the world. Nobody is satisfied with what they’ve got. It’s either not enough, or no longer enough. They want more.
This demand spawns everything else — competition, trade, mining, industry, manufacturing, business, embargoes, war, terrorism and endless environmental destruction.
The few of us that are pretty content with what we have are being overwhelmed by what everyone else wants. Admittedly, we are also doing the same things on a lesser scale, buying, selling, trading, shopping, consuming, always dependent upon the just-in-time delivery of stuff that we want and still need. Your standard of living may be different then mine, but we’re all involved in consumption.
Lowering our consumption is simply unquestionably “wrong” somehow in most people’s minds. We appear to be hard-wired to always want more.
But are we? No, we are not. Our evidence is in the millions of years of Earth’s history, and the civilizations that have come before. For thousands upon thousands of years, we managed to live within the environmental capacity (regenerative capabilities) to sustain us. Populations waxed and waned according to this ability (food production mostly). But then something changed. I’m not going to bother engaging the agricultural revolution or oil energy topics, both responsible for the massive population explosion of
zombies humans, instead I want to focus on civilization itself.
As our technology improved, along with our populations, we became increasingly greedy. The world has never seen such levels of greed as it exists now. Greed is what is driving innovation (invention). Our capacity to devise, invent, improve and expand is remarkable, but only if you ignore all the incredible damage it actually causes. Civilization has enabled us to swiftly adopt our innovations and expand ourselves — including our greed billions of times over, overwhelming the planetary capacity and resources.
But it wasn’t always this way. We actually did all of this by choice. We chose to do this, just as much as many Native American tribes tried to choose to avoid the onslaught of civilization. They saw little value in any of it. Choosing civilization and the expansion that comes with it is a choice we make every single day.
For the past fifteen or so years, I began to “unchoose civilization” by conscious choice. I’m living proof as are others that it can be done. My life is very different now then before. It’s far better. But I know that relatively few will choose to do this. This means that we who opt-out of civilization as much as each of us has tried, are still along for the ride on what the rest of the
zombies humans also choose to do. And most of them, the vast, vast majority of them, are choosing insatiable greed.
Americans (in particular) are brainwashed to accept terms like “consumer”, which is in point of fact, exactly what your government and
big business think of you. Since the indigenous were not consumers, they had to be eliminated, a process that continues through this day all over the world, as native populations are viciously attacked and robbed of their lands.
People think that our “economy” depends upon our constant consumption. They’ve very, very connected to the notion that: a) business is “good for everyone” (unless you’re non-human); b) consumption levels must be maintained and even increased; and c) growth is essential.
Yet how many would agree that all these points are the pathway to hopelessness? There is no hope in their future. They all ultimately lead to the same place — incessant greed. Breaking it down, it means through greed, we experience over-population, over-consumption, and the exploitation of every possible resource until it all inevitably collapses (being completely unsustainable). It’s a formula for disaster, offering a tiny few generations luxury and opulence, and then committing the survivors of the inevitable collapse to misery.
There is a way out of this.
If you abandon all the propaganda and misinformation of “economy” and “growth”, you come to see civilization, as we know it today, as a voracious, deadly virus, destroying everything in its path for temporary “gains”. It’s being driven by billions of humans embracing the greed of civilization and the alleged “benefits” without examining the true costs.
Contrast this to the fanciful notion of an individual, or even a family, who takes nothing from the production of civilization, and supplies for themselves what they need. Impossible? Hardly. It was practiced for hundreds of thousands of years. Yet they’re so afraid of this individual liberty and what it means to be a non-consumer in a tightly controlled and manipulated (profitable) world, that in many places on the globe it is virtually outlawed.
Instead, we’re become addicted to the drip-feed gratification of “shopping”, spending money for virtually anything we could possibly want. This is the real hope of billions and billions of people — having the ability to buy whatever you need. You can find this description in all levels of ‘modern living’, economy, business, technology, and virtually all ‘hope’ proposed for the future.
The implications of what this really means to life on Earth, and the meaning of all these billions of human lives engaged in endless activity of buying virtually everything in an endless shopping spree, are truly staggering. Virtually none of the people would even be alive today if not for the production of civilization. Every single one of us that fall into this category are inexorably linked to the ongoing total destruction of the planetary environment to keep us alive. We only exist through the coin of the economy, trading time and labor for our daily survival.
Civilization as we know it caused it, enabled it, licensed it and regulates it. We never think about it, but civilization even justifies it (in our minds) and hides what it can from our senses. Through enticement, propaganda, deception, delusion and imagination, we were all taught from birth that more IS good. The heartbeat of our civilization is always more consumption. We’ve come to accept that happiness, even life itself as we know it today, can only be defined by having “more”.
Yet this is utterly untrue.
More is bad. More means less in the end. More means continued destruction, ecocide and the extinctions of millions of species, which we are constantly reminded to simply ignore, eyes inexorably glued to the television.
More is greed. More means that this hellish path towards self-destruction won’t stop. More means climate change, the loss of the Arctic, the Gulf, and habitable places to live (and let live). More means the loss of the oceans, reefs, fish, clean water, breathable air, healthy forest. More means desertification, acidification, depletion, acid rain, pollution, environmental destruction. More means more homeless, more starvation, more suffering, more war, more torture, more pain and more suffering. More really means death to us all, ultimately, as we wind down this world, having consumed everything we possibly can trying to satisfy our greed gene.
At the heart of it all is a warped sense of ‘civilization’ and what it means to live and exist on this planet. Consumers are zombies, endlessly devouring for entire lifetimes. It hasn’t taken very long for this to completely overwhelm the planet (about a hundred years). It’s very clear that it won’t last another twenty.
Opting out is the pathway to enlightenment, allowing you to finally see just how utterly wrong it is, and why it will ultimately lead to our destruction. But we consciously chose to do this to ourselves — we ARE responsible. Which means we can choose something else if we want to.
I don’t hold any illusions that many will choose something different, the
zombies humans among us really don’t care enough. They like it as it is, most of them anyway, evidence by the daily choices they make. Some are necessary, many are not. Yet they continue to choose this world and the path of greed day by day. Multiplied by the billions upon billions of the daily choices made and you get the same exact results we can all see around us. Until we change, nothing will change, except the slow inexorable grind towards our collapse.
Therefore, choosing becomes a top priority. In fact, the #1 priority. To stop contributing to the problem. To stop avoiding responsibility. To stop “consuming”. To stop being dependent upon the global delivery system to keep you alive. To stop being complicit in the ongoing destruction and suffering being waged all over the Earth. To stop supporting stupidity, ignorance, lies, fantasy and make believe. To stop being a brainwashed mindless zombie and become human again.
This is the path to hope. It is the only path worth walking in this life. Everything else is just destruction.
It may indeed seem hopeless. But it most assuredly will be hopeless if we give up.