The breaking-apart of that culture is accelerating. As we have also written before, that unraveling is unstoppable, the playing out of one of the basic laws of physics - the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Or, in other words, the energy that arrived on the eastern shores, especially in the 1600s, with the intention of colonizing the continent in the service of European monarchies, and that brutally conquered the tens of millions of people who already lived here, that brought slaves from Africa to do the work of actually building the nation, that built empire and military might and an extreme version of western capitalism, is entering the last stage of that process - which is collapse.
The Second Law...
As you know, part of my work is to follow news - not just the TV and cable news stories, which miss most of what is happening of significance in this world, but news like the stories I list here, so you have an idea of what I'm pondering these days, what can lay me low, in part because most of the culture is NOT paying attention to these things. For example:
* the stunning despair in the family farm economy: When the Death of a Family Farm Leads to Suicide; As dairy crisis crushed farmers, Wisconsin's rural identity in jeopardy;
* or the terrifying news of the planet: World May Hit 2 Degrees of Warming in 10-15 Years Thanks to Fracking; The ocean's circulation hasn't been this sluggish in 1,000 years - that's bad news; Retreat from a rising sea (Miami and New Orleans are doomed); 100th Meridian, Which Divides the Arid West From the More Humid East, May Be Shifting Because of Climate Change.
BTW - one day, we are likely to look back on this wild, wintry month of April and realize that it was a response of the Earth to the slowing of the gulf stream. A Facebook friend posted this image to one of my posts about this, and it makes it all quite clear.
|Source: NASA for Kids|
You may have heard that the North Pole saw some record warmth this winter. There were times when it was warmer there than in much of Europe, and that warming had a lot to do with a record snowfall in Rome. I'm not making that up or being alarmist here.
However, Mother Jones? They're being a little alarmist: Earth's Powerful, Climate-Shaping Water Currents Are Weak and Broken and It's Time to Freak Out. Okay, gotcha. I am officially freaking out.
You see why I sometimes get a little down these days, sink into a rather sorrowful spiritual space.
|Image: Modified from Seager et al, Earth Interactions 2018|
Thing is, a lot of what's described here is pretty much irreversible, from the collapse of the sociopolitical culture to the changes in our planet's ecosystems. So let me share two more articles, and then hope you're still with me, not collapsed in a heap on the floor.
Smartphones Are Killing The Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected
Salt-water fish extinction seen by 2048 - last time I checked, that was 30 years from now. You don't want to know (though you need to know) what it means for world hunger and the health of ocean life if this occurs.
All of which leads to this: Hope and Mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding Ecological Grief.
There's going to be a lot of it. Important to remember that grief is an outcome, an expression, of deep love - so let's not run away from it. Let it tell us what we love - because that may tell us what we need to struggle to protect and defend. I threw in that article about smartphones because we have clearly arrived at that time when we have to decide what we love most, our consumer gadgets, or... you know, those other living beings and communities that we love - and are losing - and will need for the Earth to maintain enough resilience to get the life-creation process going again (with or without us).
Now I have to decide whether to delete this entire post, cut some of it to relieve the overwhelming nature of all this bad news, or leave it as is in an appeal for courage - emotional, psychological, spiritual courage.
How does all this ecological news connect with where we started this post? Well, it's all part of the same unraveling, all part of the same collapse of western economic culture and its always completely unsustainable aspirations for unending material human "progress." That road, especially since World War II, was always headed to exactly where we are right now. We can say we didn't know, but there have been warnings from scientists and writers for centuries now.
We just didn't want to know.
Refusal to know, one of the mental illnesses of our time. But that time is over. We know now because the results of living on the planet like this, voraciously and greedily, are coming in. They have arrived. And, as I think most of you know by now, I'm pretty much done trying to soften the message. We don't have time for that. We have to get motivated. We have to figure out what we're going to do now in the face of this reality.
Which is why I am engaging the Warriors for the Human Spirit training. Because that's what it is in essence - facing the reality full on, training in the disciplines needed to be a spiritual warrior (in the sense of the Shambhala Warrior, or that of many indigenous traditions) and, out of that clear vision and discipline, to take "right action," to know what that action is, to know what I, what each of us, can contribute from our unique gifts, skills, and experience.
I find in this training and through this lens a path that feels like an orientation and commitment for my remaining years on this planet.
So I will stop here for now. There will be a Part Two to this in a few days. That's the part where I write about the path ahead, how to perceive it, and the necessity of walking it together in community. So, stay tuned, yes?
~ Margaret Swedish
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