Thursday, April 27, 2017

How's 'the great unraveling' going for you so far?

Are you enjoying the ride?

Seriously, though, how is it going for you? Panic, rage, fear, terror in the night, nightmares, cold sweats, insomnia? Hard on relationships, too. We are bearing a lot these days - those tuned in to the rapid acceleration of every destructive aspect of western economic domination of planet, cultures, and peoples. Of course those not tuned in are feeling it, too, with all sorts of anxieties, prescription drugs, lashing out, demonizing "the other," and just wondering why they are so out of sorts all the time now.

I could post every day about the unraveling, and probably need to start posting more often in any case, just to keep us all up with the major trends.

Bleaching/dead coral: The Ocean Agency
So, each day I check in with the planet to see how it's doing - and it ain't doing so great anymore. The unraveling of deeply intertwined ecosystems is apparent now - from the bleaching and death of huge portions of the Great Barrier Reef, to the drowning of coastlines in Tasmania (herald for many parts of the world), to the record warmth in the Arctic causing cascades of waterfalls off melting ice sheets, to coming to terms with the reality that most of our water sources on Turtle Island are contaminated with the leaching of toxins and the waste of our industrial society while also diminishing from overuse (e.g., from fracking and unsustainable human development), to surpassing 410 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere for the first time since before the evolution of hominids (in other words, the conditions which gave rise to our evolutionary era) - 412.63 ppm on April 26, to be exact (NOAA-ESRL).

I am aware that, unless the world acts fast (and we know it won't), carbon levels could rise by 60% or more this century from where they were the year I was born - around 310 ppm in 1949.

Lately, I feel keenly the fears and anxieties of a world facing the possibility of some sort of nuclear disaster as tensions rise in East Asia. Japan has put warnings out to their population informing people of how much time they will have should N. Korea launch a missile at them - about 10 minutes. The most terrifying part about this is that it's been done at all. This is unprecedented for Japan.

So, here's a potential for quickly reversing global warming: how about a nuclear winter?

We know which way the jet stream flows, yes? There are no walls to stop the immigration of radioactive fallout across the Pacific Ocean to North America. So what in the world are these White House people thinking? And what happens to the people of Seoul (pop. 10.3 million), not to mention our 28,000 soldiers stationed in S. Korea, if we do a preemptive strike? It wouldn't require a nuclear strike to kill hundreds of thousands of people very quickly. N. Korea has plenty of missiles already aimed at the south and could launch within minutes of a U.S. strike.

All so close together

On the other hand, what about the deeply unstable man sitting atop N. Korea's military right now? What stops him if he decides to act on his megalomaniacal paranoia and launch a missile just to prove that he can?

We forget sometimes that the war there never ended. A ceasefire was declared in 1953 and an armed truce is in place - that's all - for going on 64 years now.

Are we really this crazy? Have humans really arrived at the possibility of launching nuclear weapons? Or is it all testosterone-induced bluster between a couple of self-aggrandizing egos who see stepping back as weakness?

It's a dangerous game they're playing.

A trade war with Canada? Really? We're going to do that, too? Both the U.S. and Canadian governments are fully committed to extreme fossil fuel extraction and both will fail to meet pledged emission reduction targets made under the regimen of the Paris climate accords. On this, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the White House seem to agree.

Meanwhile, Russia's Vladimir Putin has built a military installation just outside the Arctic Circle to bolster Russia's claims to the massive oil and gas reserves under the Arctic Ocean. Understand this: Russia is an impoverished petro-state that relies on its state-owned oil and gas industries for a large portion of its economy (68% in 2014). Its agricultural sector is in ruins, and it's industrial production capacity diminishing. Russia has no interest in stopping climate change. It needs it for its economic future.

I wish I was making that up. But you don't build multi-hundreds-of-billions-of-rubles worth of military installations as a bet on a future you are working at the same time to avoid.

Yes, in this case, too, it is a reckless game they are playing. And President Trump, along with his Sec. of State Rex Tillerson (not only former Exxon CEO, but the one who brought Exxon into partnership with Putin for exploration and exploitation of Arctic gas and oil reserves), along with his EPA head, his Commerce and Energy Secretaries, and more - every one of them is engaged in a recklessness with these industries that endangers us all.

Official poster
Now, this week we find ourselves between two major outpourings of revolt and rejection of this recklessness. The turnout in cities around the country (and world) last weekend for the March for Science impressed me once again. The hundreds of thousands marching and chanting (also holding up some of the most creative signs I have ever seen - thank you, science nerds) is evidence that if groups provide the forum, the throngs will appear. Restless discontent is now a full-fledged epidemic around the nation.

And this Saturday expect an even bigger turnout for the latest edition of the People's Climate March. While the big action is usually in DC, I think I am most heartened by the enormity of turnouts in local communities because it speaks more to the depth and breadth of the discontent - not only among organized groups, national organizations, and those with the resources to get to DC, but in local communities everywhere. Again, provide the venue and the people appear, with their kids, babies in strollers, the schoolkids with ingenious signs, the churches and other faith communities, all the places people are feeling the unraveling and looking for a way out of this mess we have made.

"Oh, people will come, Ray, people will most definitely come." (Field of Dreams)


So what's the way out of this mess? It is not in the marching and the protesting. That's indication, that's measurement of outrage, of the extent of repudiation of the political corruption of our system and the longing for a different kind of world. These moments are needed so that we can all see how alone we are not.

But the way out is in taking that repudiation and putting conscious awareness into it in a way that helps people really see and understand what has brought about this crisis (starting with the rise of the industrial growth economy and the imposition of western economic culture over the world), and then getting intensely serious about building new resilient, localized self-sustaining communities that can begin to kick the foundations out from under that system.

These marches provide an opportunity to bring people together afterwards to talk about how to do that, to get past protest to the work of new creation. Like waves that break on shore, and then recede again, the rhythm of these waves - outpouring and receding, outpouring and receding, sometimes the waves get big and crash real hard, and then again the receding - I like to think of movements like that.

Or going back to the old Circle of Praxis social change model: 1) look at or immerse oneself in the reality, usually in a local community; 2) engage a deep social analysis of what is going on there and the dynamics and root causes at work; 3) reflect on that reality in the light of faith or whatever meaning framework or spiritual orientation motivates you; 4) then commit to some action to change the reality. This becomes the starting point for repeating the circle. Look at the reality again in light of what we have done, seen, learned. What's different now? What do we do next based on this experience?

It's a circle that allows a community to deepen a praxis, to share values at a deep level, to stay open to critique and self-reflection, to keep challenging ourselves to go deeper, see more clearly, and move always from those insights. Moments like these national marches provide great input into this model of action for social change.

For those in the streets this weekend, may you be filled with new energy and inspiration. If we go home and nothing has changed, we will have wasted our time and resources. Moments like these need to be part of the transformation that leads away from "the Great Unraveling" toward "the Great Turning."

And what is that "turning" again? From Joanna Macy: it is "a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization."

From her website
The ecological and social crises we face are inflamed by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits--in other words by how fast materials can be extracted from Earth and turned into consumer products, weapons, and waste.

A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs. Future generations, if there is a livable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning. It is happening now.
It is. And each and every one of us can dive into this "essential adventure" of our times - if we want to, if we are willing to make the commitment to new creation. Trust me, it is more thrilling than just about anything else I can think of. It will fill your life with meaning.

Margaret Swedish  - Check out my bio at our old website.

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