Calling All Fanatics


I’VE ALWAYS kind of hated that quote by Edward Abbey about being a half-hearted fanatic (“Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast . . . a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic”). Not so much because of the racism and misogyny that characterized some of his work. And not even because of the quote itself. But rather because of how that quote has been too often misused by people who put too much emphasis on the half-hearted, and not nearly enough emphasis on the fanatic.

The fundamental truth of our time is that this culture is killing the planet. We can quibble all we want — and quibble too many do — about whether it is killing the planet or merely causing one of the six or seven greatest mass extinctions in the past several billion years, but no reasonable person can argue that industrial civilization is not grievously injuring life on Earth.

Given that fact, you’d think most people would be doing everything they can to protect life on this planet — the only life, to our knowledge, in the universe. Sadly, you’d be wrong.

I think often of a line by the psychiatrist R. D. Laing, “Few books today are forgivable.” He wrote this, I believe, because we have become so very alienated from our own experience, from who we are, and this alienation is so destructive to others and to ourselves that if a book does not take this alienation as its starting point and work toward rectifying it, we’d all be better off looking at blank pieces of paper. Or better, actually experiencing something (or someone). Or even better, entering, as Martin Buber might have written, into a relationship with something or someone.

I agree with Laing that few books today are forgivable (and the same is true for films, paintings, songs, relationships, lives, and so on), and I agree for the reasons I believe he was giving. But there’s another reason I think few books (films, paintings, songs, relationships, lives, and so on) are forgivable. There’s that little nagging fact that this culture is murdering the planet. Any book (film, painting, song, relationship, life, and so on) that doesn’t begin with this basic understanding — that the culture is murdering the planet (in part because of this alienation; and of course this murder then in turn fuels further alienation) — and doesn’t work toward rectifying it is not forgivable, for an infinitude of reasons, one of which is that without a living planet there can be no books. There can be no paintings, songs, relationships, lives, and so on. There can be nothing.

The conservation biologist Reed Noss has called his field a “combat discipline”: we are in a crisis, and our attitudes and actions need to reflect this. And so I sometimes try to apply the Ed Abbey quote to the work of a firefighter. If you were trapped in a burning building, would you want the firefighters to be reluctant enthusiasts, part-time crusaders, half-hearted fanatics? Should the mother of a very sick child be reluctant or half-hearted in defense of that child?

I’m not saying we don’t need recreation. I’m not saying we don’t need amusement. Hell, I have three mystery novels in my backpack right now. I’m not saying a firefighter doesn’t need to rest — having hauled seven unconscious people out of the burning building, we could hardly blame the firefighter for grabbing a quick drink of water or sometimes taking a day off; and I’m not saying the mother doesn’t need to sleep or take some time away from the stress of caring and advocating for her child. We all need the occasional escape, or even indulgence. But we must be able to pursue those escapes and indulgences with the knowledge that others are rushing into the burning building, that others have taken over the job of advocating for whatever is necessary to heal that child.

And that, frankly, is part of the problem: there aren’t nearly enough of us working anywhere near hard enough to stop this culture from killing the planet. Obviously, or the world would be getting healthier, instead of being desecrated with ever increasing speed. If there were more of us trying to stop this culture from killing the planet, then those who are working themselves to death could afford to take a little time off and not feel as if things would fall apart while they climbed the mountains or ran the rivers.

“It is not enough to fight for the land,” Abbey continued; “it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there.” But this part of the quote might actually bother me more, in part because of its fatalism and in part because we — humans — are not the point. Yes, absolutely we should enjoy and commune with and make love with and touch and be with and absorb and be absorbed by the land. Yes, absolutely we should sit in the sun and feel it warm our bones, and we should listen to the whispering voices of trees, and we should open our ears and our hearts to the voices of frogs. But when the forests are being flattened and the frogs are being extirpated, enjoying them isn’t enough. So long as there’s still something we can do to protect them, shouldn’t protecting them be far more important than enjoying them? Because, once again, we are not the point. The trees, the frogs, do not exist for us. It is our culture that is killing them, and it is up to us to stop it.

Have you ever had anyone you love die or come to grievous harm needlessly, from some unnecessary act of stupidity or violence? I have. And in the aftermath I have never wished I had spent more time enjoying this other, but rather wishing I had acted differently such that I was able to prevent the unnecessary losses.

As my artist and writer friend Stephanie McMillan wrote in her essay “Artists: Raise Your Weapons”: “If we lived in a time of peace and harmony, then creating escapist, serotonin-boosting hits of mild amusement wouldn’t be a crime. If all was well, such art might enhance our happy existence. There’s nothing wrong with pleasure or decorative art. But in times like these, for an artist not to devote her/his talents and energies to creating cultural weapons of resistance is a betrayal of the worst magnitude, a gesture of contempt against life itself. It is unforgivable.”

I would extend her comments beyond art: in times like these, for anyone not to devote her/his talents and energies to defending the planet is a betrayal of the worst magnitude, a gesture of contempt against life itself. It is unforgivable.

The questions I keep coming back to are these: in this time, as countless multitudes of humans and nonhumans suffer for the profits and luxuries of a few, and as species go extinct at rates greater than any in the last scores of millions of years — as large-vertebrate evolution itself is being halted — what does the world need? What does the world need from me?

I want to be very clear: I don’t mean to imply that we shouldn’t love the world or each other (human or nonhuman). Or that we shouldn’t play games or have fun. I’m not saying we shouldn’t rest or go hiking or read good books (and Desert Solitaire is a great book). I’m not even saying I have a problem with Abbey’s quote as such; my main problem with the quote is the many would-be activists who use it as an excuse for inaction.

We are in a crisis, and we need to act as such. We need to rescue people from the burning building. We need everybody’s help.

Derrick Jensen is the author of Thought to Exist in the Wild, Songs of the Dead, Endgame, Dreams, and other books. In 2008, he was named one of Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” His Orion column is called “Upping the Stakes.”


  1. This seems like an awfully short-sighted perspective, sort of like treating the symptom instead of the problem.

    Isn’t the real issue that most of us are paralyzed by a fear that we’ve lost agency and nothing we do will matter?

    We’re also not trained as activists, we’re trained as complacent beings. I don’t see would-be activists being half-hearted, I see people not knowing how to be activist at all.

  2. “… this time, as countless multitudes of humans and nonhumans suffer for the profits and luxuries of a few, and as species go extinct at rates greater than any in the last scores of millions of years….for anyone not to devote her/his talents and energies to defending the planet is a betrayal of the worst magnitude, a gesture of contempt against life itself. It is unforgivable.”

    For me, the heart of Derrick Jensen’s work is a call to awaken conscience in us. Not the superficial conscience that is full of alibis, rationalizations, denials, and all sorts of thinly disguised cop-outs, but the true deep conscience still alive in each of us, even though buried for so long under all that superficial garbage.

    True things are not always nice, and nice things are not always true. The awakening of real conscience is usually painful and inconvenient. It disturbs the relatively smooth flow of our unreflective living. It asks us first to change our thoughts and feelings, and then to take action, often in difficult and insecure directions. That awakening may open up a gap between oneself and some of those who have been close to one. One’s life could be changed in really major ways. The wish to ignore and rebury these disturbing new insights will become strong. For those who choose to persist in this awakening, life will never be the same again.

  3. I have never read the Abbey quote the way Derrick Jensen says people read it, as an excuse for inaction. I read it as a tongue-in-cheek warning not to burn out, to be all-consumed by activism. Even more that that, I take it as a call to enjoy life, to take the time to enjoy it to recharge so you have even more energy to defend what you love and what is intrinsically worth defending, for its own sake, not just ours. Personally, I find that activism is fun, resistance is fun. I get a big charge out of doing it because I know I am participating in the defense of what is most defensible of all. I wouldn’t raise a finger to defend capitalism, or even the nation-state, but defending life on Earth is something I can feel passion for. That is the one thing worth defending against the death-dealing ways of our culture and economy. Therefore, I like the spiritedness of this piece by Jensen–it feels less gloomy, even though he draws attention to a grim reality, and less harsh than some of his earlier pieces and for that reason it speaks to me a lot more than some of those others have. I am glad he admits we should find enjoyment in the things we are defending.
    Now I do not think every book or film needs to begin with the knowledge of a planet-killing culture, that we can tell other stories. However, I believe we need to live with this constant awareness in all that we do even when we write books or tell stories about different things. Especially since humanity is now going in the opposite direction, caring less about the environment, and being in greater denial, even as things get worse. For example, the oil spill is destroying the economy, culture and most of all the ecology of an entire region and yet there is little shift in consciousness. Hardly anyone is saying, enough is enough. There is talk of continuing to drill deep into the Gulf and into the sea. The spill has not altered human environmental consciousness in any meaningful direction. Makes me wonder if humans are even genetically capable of it, which, if we are not, then we are hard-wired not to survive as a species. In order to survive, humans will need to evolve toward a higher consciousness that makes us capable of feeling the connection to the Earth and all life on it. I am beginning to wonder if our species gets it, is even capable of getting it. They may be at an evolutionary dead-end. As for me, I am going to assume this is not true. I am going to assume we can all be like Derrick Jensen and start bringing the awareness of environmental destruction to the forefront of our consciousness so we can reshape our cultural practices accordingly and take a great evolutionary leap forward.

  4. On comment #3, “In order to survive, humans will need to evolve toward a higher consciousness that makes us capable of feeling the connection to the Earth and all life on it. I am beginning to wonder if our species gets it, is even capable of getting it.”

    I’d want to caution against conflating a dysfunctional culture with all humans. There are still cultures out there that teach their members to feel a connection to the earth as an extension of their bodies. Unfortunately those cultures (and their languages) are becoming extinct as fast as species are. But because those cultures contain members that are as human as I am, I am inspired to believe that it doesn’t take an evolutionary leap, just an ability to look objectively at what we are doing, an ability to determine the longest lever of change available given the tools and resources at hand, a lot of courage, and a whole lot of hard work. Not that any of that is easy but at least we don’t have to change humans, just the culture that a lot of us are living in. And culture is going to change anyway so why not jump in there, give it everything we’ve got and try to make it a positive change while we still have the chance?

  5. I agree with Mike K that ‘the heart of Derrick Jensen’s work is a call to awaken conscience in us.’ The trouble is, this essay is not going to be read by the multitudes. It is here in Orion, where many of us readers are, like Derrick himself, those same exhausted firepeople whose consciences are already so strong that we feel guilty every moment we are not doing something towards putting out fires. I struggle with this on a daily basis. Even giving my all never feels like enough. So as Alpha Griz points out, we must give ourselves permission to stop regularly and re-charge. Burnt-out firepeople don’t do their job well.

  6. I feel about Derrick Jensen the way Jensen appears to feel about Edward Abbey: much to admire, and much to critique. Often when I read Jensen, I think, “He’s writing this for himself; that is, he’s telling *himself* what he needs to hear.” He has made a career of being a prophetic voice, but even prophets need to rest, laugh, and fall in love. Take a day off, Derrick.

    We’re all embroiled in a system not of our creation, and it’ll take some time to dismantle it. Derrick flies around the country giving lectures (you can’t do it all by bicycle) and sells books that kill lots of trees. So it feels annoying to have his voice be the one always goading the rest of us fallen souls to wake up and change our ways.

    Jensen frustrates and pushes me. I’ll always eagerly read his columns – and have the sense that he, like most of the rest of us, is working out his own pain.


  7. I’m not exhausted.

    I do what I can when I can.

    Sometimes it has effect and makes a difference I can see; sometimes it is more of a gamble or an investment.

    There is no reason not to feel joy about the miracle/s of the earth, and even the humans on it, while working hard in various ways and on various levels against the evil (yes evil) that men and women as individuals and in the collective sense do.

    It is all right to mourn great losses, and mourn them hard, fight hard and fearlessly and then get up and jam with the best of the rock-n-rollers, have an occasional sensory, non-violent and low energy use bacchanal.

    I reject the puritan in much of what passes as acceptable attitudes about activism. It is how we use what we use, and in what form we expect profit to come to us that are at issue, not the seeking of pleasure and living well on a planet that can easily provide us with what we need as long as we stop thinking that we must have more of it than it can give.

    It is okay to be hopeful and still understand that we may not be successful, we may lose, it may not be in the cards… but also that there are many forms of winning and that in losing perhaps the best outcome may still occur. Suffering may be epidemic, but so is self actualization. And sometimes, maybe even often, they are part of the same package and neither can exist without the other.

    And it is fine to do these things in small ways. Rain drops fill lakes. Small waves make big canyons.

  8. Emma Goldman said much the same thing as Abbey: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

    If we do not live life to the fullest, even in the midst of a slow-motion catastrophe (remember that civilization has been with us for thousands of years), then we have already surrendered to death and may be colluding with it.

    An activist, above all, must understand the difference between what is urgent and what is truly important. If a house is on fire, it may be urgent to respond in the moment to protect life and property (though sometimes we firefighters allow a building to burn and simply prevent it from spreading), but not all fires must be fought (wildland firefighters know this – some are natural and beneficial). And a firefighter who does not enjoy life has no incentive to protect it.

    Thomas Merton, the silent contemplative whose life of not-doing had more impact on the world than a thousand fanatical activists, knew this: “To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation with violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys her own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

    And we know today that when we shift into “fight or flight” mode we are controlled by our reptile brain and our higher brain is cut out of the loop. In other words, we become dumb and reflexive. We also know that one cannot live in a constant state of arousal without destroying one’s health and ability to be responsive and responsible.

    Jensen would have us wallow in regrets, guilt and the distracting wishing that we might have averted the loss of a loved one, rather than celebrate the time we had spent together. Death and loss is as essential an element of life as the birth of a new creature or a new love. It is from loss that we mature and develop empathy for others, and learn to appreciate the evanescent, ephemeral nature of life.

    If living fully is an “escape or indulgence”, as Jensen would have us believe, then I don’t want to be part of his revolution. And, in any case, while we firefighters are drowning the inferno, other dreamers and visionaries must be also be hard at work designing the new house and creating better tools for that manifestation. What good to undo our culture without at the same time creating another one to supplant it?

    We don’t need more full-blooded fanatics who are always so sure that they are doing God’s (or the Universe’s) holy work. We need warriors who know how to maintain their own inner harmony so that they can truly be peaceweavers and not war-mongers. The most powerful warrior, after all, is the one who never unsheathes his sword.

  9. In principle, I agree with Jensen. We ARE murdering the planet, if we haven’t done so already (see Bill McKibben’s “EAARTH” for a compelling and traumatizing argument for the latter claim).

    But we don’t live “in principle.” We each live in complex realities of interrelationships and dependencies, including the complex reality of our own thoughts and feelings. And so adopting a single linear approach–“RESIST!” is likely to backfire quickly, and the first casualty will be our own peace of mind, as we become more and more frustrated, bitter, and hateful.

    Instead, we need a more complex and nuanced coping strategy, more adapted to the actual complexity of our daily lives and relationships. My own recipe for this challenge is to develop strategies that skillfully combine Vertical Healing–healing of body, mind, and spirit–with Horizontal Healing–healing of self, community, and planet. A unilateral focus on Vertical Healing will turn us into self-indulgent bliss puppies, sitting in a lotus position while the planet burns around us; a unilateral focus on Horizontal Healing–neglecting our own emotional state–will turn us into bitter, angry, frustrated, and hateful people, ignored or avoided by all around us. But a skillful mix of the two can create the next Gandhi, the next King, the next Mandela, or the next Wangari Maathai–self-integrated, planet-healing bodhisattvas. And THAT is what we need, not more angry fist-shakers.

  10. I appreciate Derrick Jenson’s call to action. I think there are several reasons why American’s are hard to mobilize. One is that we have been infused in a culture of personal choice, so that simple doable things become issues of individual choice instead of group decisions that would move us closer to a livable planet for future generations. For instance, it is quite easy to air dry clothes year round here in Montana, but not many are committed to it. They haven’t made the leap to joining forces with their neighbors and community members. They are still in the thinking mode of one person, one family.
    Further, I think we have trouble mobilizing ourselves because we have been taught though many cultural messages to expect to see results from our actions, often immediately. I hear and see in print the statement “I don’t know what difference I can make” all the time. I think this translates to “I don’t know what I can do that will guarantee a result” (or at least one I can see). OUr form of capitalism has taught us to expect and seek immediate gratification and results. But activism, like all other endeavors of the heart, is not like that. It’s the long haul, it’s knowing you may NOT see any visible result for a long time, or even in your lifetime. I love Lily Yeh’s quote, in response to the question “What should I do?” Her answer: “Do something.”
    Finally, I appreciate those, including Derrick Jenson, who are brave enough to call this moment an emergency. It is, and we need to respond as though everything was at stake, because everything IS at stake.

  11. Our planet cannot forever support a growing human population, no matter how self-integrated, planet-healing, or mindful we are. The biggest kindness an individual can bestow in their lifetime is to resist the urge to procreate beyond replacement.

  12. As an environmental lawyer and professional classical musician, Derrick’s piece cut to the core and caused me considerable self-doubt. Is performing the music of Bach a frivolity when the need for environmental action is so great? Perhaps. But what if the only thing that reaches a deadened world is our music and art?

    I’m reminded of Leonard Bernstein’s quote: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” I’m reminded of Vedran Smajlović, the cellist of Sarajevo, who as much as any writer or activist touched people’s consciousness.

    I’m reminded of this wonderful essay by violinist Karl Paulniak: “[Music] is not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.”

    If we do not celebrate that which is beautiful about life, both in nature and humanity, what is the point of preservation? If humans hasten their own demise, would not the earth be better off? Is it not, at the end of the day, as much about us as it is the oiled dolphins of the Gulf coast?

    And yes, dammit, we who work for and care about the earth should do more. In the face of this catastrophe, I identify as much with H.L. Mencken who said “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” We are past time for raising the black flag.

    But who will join us?

    Perhaps that is Derrick’s real message. Not that the activists are insufficiently active, but that we are insufficiently powerful and our message is not being heard.

    I am trying to reconcile Derrick’s passionate plea with my own inner sense that my well-being and that of others is less to be found in the law than in the arts. And yes, the real fear, as Tom Auer wrote in the comments is that “we’ve lost agency and nothing we do will matter.” Perhaps it is that above all that we must overcome whatever our chosen work.

    Here’s Karl again: “If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.”

  13. I always enjoy hearing that others are invisibly standing beside me in my journey and struggle through this life, and what I have always seen as my life’s purpose. Of all of the comments, I think that Bob Vance’s inspire me the most to go on, and give me a little more juice to struggle my hardest.

  14. I feel very strongly that our culture is killing the planet. But what can I do about it? I’m as caught up in this way of life as anyone else, only now I’m really starting to think about the consequences. I live in my air conditioned house and drive my car and I work in a stupid ass luxury automotive accessory shop; how do I get out of it? What can I possibly do to make a difference? It seems so hopeless…

  15. I’m hearing the same tired old voices calling for us to be “peaceful” and “not shake our fists” that I always hear after one of Jensen’s essays.

    You still don’t get it, do you.

    I don’t think you’re mentally deficient, though. I just think you haven’t learned to make the leap. You’re like any other human being, only believing what is right in front of your face, because we’re a visual species and must be guided by our eyesight. (I wonder sometimes how that translates for blind people. Maybe it explains why their other senses become sharper–to perceive that-which-is right in front of them even though they can’t see it.)

    So if someone busts into your house and threatens you and yours with immediate extinction, naturally you’re going to do what it takes to make them back off. Sometimes acquiescing helps. Sometimes begging helps.

    But sometimes you just have to hit the bastard. And I just *bet* that despite all your admonitions for peacefulness and your singing “Kumbaya” over and over and over… if you had to hit the bastard to save your family, you would do it.

    Now you need to extrapolate this concept to cover the entire planet. The planet is your home too. More to the point, you are a part of the planet, literally a cell in an organ of the part of its body that is living.

    There’s a cancer in the system. It isn’t humanity so much as it is one of humanity’s ideas which has spiraled way out of control. But it is a cancer, and it will kill its host–including you, and everyone you care about. Now mount that immune response.

    Don’t just sit there and do nothing because you’re “peaceful.” Immune cells do not sit still.

    Hopefully that sinks in. I doubt it, but I can hope. Hope may be all we have left.

  16. Jeanne,

    It is the advocates of violence who “just don’t get it”.

    Not only are we each a cell in the body of Gaia, we are each a hologram reflecting both the beauty and the dysfunction of the Whole.

    What you don’t “get” is that the cancer is not out there somewhere where you can attack it as a foreign body. The cancer is within you. If you attack another you destroy yourself. That’s not an immune response, it’s chemotherapy.

    The immune system always acts to restore harmony. Western medicine, like warfare and the actions of fanatics, creates a terrible amount of collateral damage.

    You cannot defeat the real enemy with anger or outrage, because those responses are two of the many faces of the enemy. Every true warrior knows that the only way to win a fight is from a place of inner peace and the goal is never to destroy the other but to restore harmony.

    That’s not “kumbaya” – that’s universal wisdom.

  17. The human world on planet earth is suffering from a profound inner sickness that will very likely destroy most of the life on our world including ourselves. We are embarked on a path of colossal failure. Anyone who fails to see this is either hopelessly uninformed, deep in unconscious denial, or deluded by wishful thinking. To fully awaken to this ongoing crisis is a necessary first step towards discovering a cure for what can only be called our terminal madness. Anything that helps this awakening is incredibly important and valuable. Derrick Jensen’s contribution is of this kind. Rather than nit pick his message, let us use his (sometimes) shocking directness to galvanize our energies and rouse us from our slumbers.

    As far as how to deal with our global emergency, I would hope that forums like this one at Orion would be motivated towards coming up with some of those answers. We clearly do not have those effective plans and methods worked out yet. We are hungry and waiting for breakthroughs in crucial areas. Let’s put our forum energies into sharing our best ideas of how to stop this death march of civilization, before it is truly too late.

  18. Mike K: if someone did have solutions to the global emergency, but weren’t scientifically “qualified”, would anyone listen to them do you think?
    The quantitative bias of science is causing the global emergency by applying its bias to the qualitative living reality of life on Earth, yet we look to science for answers. The only place science is leading us to is the extinction of H.sapiens. The 6th extinction is more accurately The First Unnatural Extinction. It’s got nothing to do with natural processes. Not only is science engineering ecological simplification, it is also engineering cultural simplification (which Prof. Harry Recher names as the Mac-culture). Climate change is symptomatic of evolutionary meltdown, not carbon emissions. Evolutionary meltdown is the main issue of our times. It is the unrelenting destruction of the qualitative web of life, over three billion years in the making, and only around four decades in the unravelling (corresponding with the ascendence of Corporate Empire’s absolute power) It is time we acknowledged the visionary right-hemispheric faculty – the feminine principle of mind – and its power to see through the illusion of materialism to the causal spatial dynamics of the at-least ninety percent of reality that is qualitative. Humanity has to survive its own rationality’s anal need for ‘proofs’, and start seeing what IS right before its eyes, and begin to read between the lines. The language of the right-‘brain’ is metaphor. Metaphor enables us to see the Big Picture of Life, and fit all of its parts within their rightful place.No two ways about it; we’ve got to evolve our visionary perception folks, before it’s too late!

  19. “I think often of a line by the psychiatrist R. D. Laing, “Few books today are forgivable.” He wrote this, I believe, because we have become so very alienated from our own experience, from who we are, and this alienation is so destructive to others and to ourselves that if a book does not take this alienation as its starting point and work toward rectifying it, we’d all be better off looking at blank pieces of paper.”

    I am surprised that no one has yet addressed what appears to be a foundational insight of Derrick’s project here, and more generally.

    He is strongly suggesting here, perhaps more clearly than he has stated in other forums, that our species has been inflicted with a disease that has attacked our very sense of who we are and from whence we have come.

    There is a self-estrangement that has us believing we are who (what) we are not. Perhaps it is due to a hundreds of generations of civilized enculturation. I believe Derrick would not object to this characterization of the situation. But, what has perhaps occured as a result of this is a forgetfulness of who we are (as a species). As others have pointed out more clearly, our original home was the Pleistocene. We are hunter-gathers, egalitarian, kinship grounded, politically anarchic, tribal animals at our base. But the conditions which supported this life, no longer exist. The physical conditions have been destroyed as much as the psychic conditions have been covered over and forgotten through the repeated developments and adumbrations of the institutionalized madness which we call civilization.

    But, still Derrick and others are able to reach out and touch that genetic memory trace, that “feral core” that remains instinctively within each of us, buried underneath the scaffolding of our civilized ways.

    So, the question becomes, how do we awaken that memory trace within the larger segment of humanity? How do we touch that alientated feral core that is still there but lost deep within our brothers and sisters? Or don’t we dare?

    Perhaps the pyschic fallout from the large scale recognition of this alienation from our feral selves would create even more havoc now. Perhaps we have gone past the middle point. Perhaps it is not just the case of peak oil, but peak humanity. We have gone too far to be capable of turning back.

    So, the question then is, how do we move forward? Is there a forward towards which we should, could, must move? But that raises another tricky issue. Part and parcel of the problem of our alienation is our civilized commitment to progress, to the future and to moving forward. Are we not deliberately deluding ourselves to think this is just another rung in the corporate ladder? Our evolution to a new plateau? I don’t know the answer. But I am suspicious of the presumption of the need to more “progress”.

    Certainly there are things we can do as ‘individuals”to recollect that feral core, to change something significant about how we live socially, physically and psychically in the world. But, the question remains about what can we achieve collectively. I am cynical. I do not believe there is any salvation for the human race at this juncture… we have gone too far. And, again, to look for science or technology to save us is, as Einstein noted, to do the same thing and expect a different outcome… madness.

    Anyway, these are some thoughts for us to all consider; they have occupied my own reflections for quite a number of years.

  20. Derrick Jensen. Where does this man find such vast reserves of hope and vision? How does he remain steadfastly optimistic and positive in the face of our current realities? I am not being sarcastic.

    I do not live in a dry place. I do hang clothes to dry when I can. I have no idea what joining forces with my neighbors would be or how one would do it.

    I could not begin to think of how to organize a neighborhood into a yard sale and the community garden a few of us mustered together down the street is rife with weeds for want of participants.

    I do not have television and my friends think me mad for continuing to use the same old cell phone that still works as a phone despite its broken camera and lack of “capabilities” and “apps.”

    And so I throw money quite randomly into the demanding envelopes that organized groups send to my mailbox. And I spend even more to put a solar-thermal system over my head and under foot.

    None of these things gives me the least bit of assurance that I am having one iota of impact on the capitalist corporate machine of dominant culture.

    I have not bred and never will. This gives me the most assurance for the future. I am not worried about “my children and grandchildren.” I harbor no anthropocentric illusions about our species’ role on this planet. The planet will survive. We might leave it a charred barren hunk of rock, but it will still go ’round as though we’d never been. It saddens me that we feel obliged and entitled to take all other life forms with us when we go, but go we must, and go we will.

    If more of us could not only accept the very finite nature of our existence, but Make It So, capitalism and consumerism would crumble. If more of us organized around the idea of carefully and conscientiously checking out for good, all the other species we feel “responsible” for would get on much better than they would with us gnashing our teeth and advocating for them yet refusing to simply leave.

    I am too nosy or curious and probably too hedonistic for suicide, and it would make so little difference anyway. By failing to produce the “future generations” who will more likely perpetuate than remediate our wrongs, I am making so much more of a difference than I could by hastening my own paltry inevitable death.

  21. I love this piece by Derrick. As a writer and publisher of a small journal, every time I begin a new piece of writing, or start putting Gaian Voices together, it’s for the Earth. Even when working in my garden, which keeps me sane and reminds me, everyday, of the beauty and resilience of Nature, I cannot escape what our so-called civilization is doing to the Earth. And especially now as oil poisons the Gulf and ultimately so much more, and the death, the images seared in my mind and heart forever.

    I’ll never forget an experience I had many years ago. My sister had been in a terrible car accident and lay in a coma, her fate according to the doctors, was to be a “vegetable” (she isn’t). Our mother was dying of cancer, a process that happened very quickly after my sister’s accident. I was pregnant with my youngest son. It was a very painful, stressful time. And yet my (now ex) husband and I had gone out to lunch and were sitting talking while we ate and I found myself laughing at something. And I caught myself in that moment: How can I sit here, enjoying myself if even for a moment, while my sister lays in a coma, while my mother lay dying? It was an important lesson in being alive. And the few moments of levity I had during those months were essential to my health and sanity. So, yes, we need to have fun and laugh and celebrate even while the shit is hitting the fan. So feeling guilty for enjoying myself and my family on occasion isn’t an option for me anymore. Neither is feeling guilty for reminding my family and friends of the dire situation we are in – something I’m apt to do every day.

    For me the very hardest part of all of this is knowing that so few people in the westernized, capitalist world really understand, or even seem to care, about what we are doing to the Earth and to the more-than-human species who share it with us. This brings me a great deal of pain and can throw me into despair. Because I know that if enough of us were to wake up and realize what’s going on and the importance of it and that, given enough numbers and commitment and will, we really COULD change it, but that’s not going to happen. People are too caught up in their own dramas, real or imagined. The Earth, nature, is so far removed from so many people’s lives these days. It’s something they see in videos or in photos or maybe, if they’re lucky, on vacation to the shore or the mountains. And even those of us fortunate enough to live in the country, most take it for granted or are too busy trying to deal with the daily grind. The oil disaster is waking some people up. But again, I hear over and over, “There’s nothing I can do about it.” I feel the same way, though I didn’t always. I used to believe I really could make a difference in the larger picture. But the larger picture is now so controlled by elites, by corporations, by big money, and money is all that matters after all. Sure it’s possible enough of us will wake up. But what will we do once awakened? How will we come together when we’re scattered all over the place, each with our own lives, our own situations (me, for example, taking care of my now-disabled sister, I can’t just up and walk away, I can’t just pack a few things and move to a tent city, I can’t even move to a small cabin somewhere and live off the grid because no way could my sister deal with that and I promised my parents, both now deceased, that I would take care of my sister. One doesn’t casually break promises one makes to dead parents. Perhaps you can tell I’ve thought of all these things, often?

    I do believe we can turn things around. We, humanity, have the power though I believe lots of that power has to do with spirit and consciousness rather than money and politics. But that belief is tempered by a huge dose of realism. I believe it’s possible, but I don’t necessarily believe it will happen. . .

  22. It is fascinating and heartening that DJ’s short essays draw so many deeply felt and thoughtful responses. A true teacher functions best as a catalyst to awaken and facilitate the creative capacities latent in others. In his book “Walking on Water” Derrick describes his teaching methods with students in prison and school. It is a stimulating and often hilarious wild ride that reveals what education could be if we removed the stifling straight-jacket it usually operates within. Having shared/facilitated in several prisons myself, I found his experience really eye opening. A dead educational system is one of the foundations of the mess we are in. I think that changing this and bringing real educative experience to our societies is one of the key levers to deep awakening of hearts and minds that would help birth a new world.

    The process of open dialog in small groups has tremendous potential that many “activists” fail to appreciate. Changing minds can change the world. The creative directions we need to discover may be forged in the fiery crucible of mutual sharing. There are essential truths that can only be realized and developed in interaction with others. This is not all “intellectual” knowledge.

    I want to thank all of you who are investing your hearts and heads in this mutual creative search. Let’s not leave all the think tank energy for the right wing spin machine!

  23. there are plenty of us who are awake here is my question…why are people splintered into groups of save this and save that, with a variety of publications EMPLOYING writers all speaking the same truth…environment…usually as if it were a separate entity from the rest of life?

    There is a plexiglass ceiling dividing the Exonn Walmart Monsanto ETC group from those that want to live in harmony with Gaia

    Look at what you spend and on what. If the product is not from your own garden, or attained through your personal harvest, then investigate it’s source. America must stop purchasing from outsourced industry, from the sick agribusiness and slaughter, stop eating GM food.and many other stops…go find out how your consumerism is tied to them… In order to stop the machine, you must take away their paycheck. See how big box stores have changed the laws that prevent small biz from thriving in your communities. They will not stop until the consumer stops.
    Deal with the addiction. Don’t just talk about it.
    Save the planet? The planet does not need saving. Humans are fodder. if we want to be more than that, we have to start acting like it.

  24. I disagree. There are lots of us who are awake, but obviously not enough. If there were, things would be different. There are those who are beginning to twitch out of their deep sleep. Maybe if enough of them awaken? Who knows.

    I like the idea of our feral core. To me this is the essense of what it means to be a human being, as a species. But while most people are aware that we are a species, they don’t really grok what that implies, or don’t want to.

    And there are many of us who already pay attention to what we buy (or don’t buy and why), where it comes from, who don’t by GMO food and who avoid patronizing box stores with crap from China, etc., and factory farmed meat and vegetables, etc. It’s not possible to be totally pure but I know lots of folks who put in a commendable effort. We are making those changes that individuals can make. But change needs to happen beyond that and instead I see more and more isolation when the opposite is what is needed.

    The big box stores haven’t changed the laws (to my knowledge anyway). But they do have the bucks to push and push and push until they get what they want. And they don’t care if the town wants them or not, they find a location and in they go. Again, it’s money talking and that’s all most folks, especially those who have managed to get elected or appointed, even in small towns, care about. Someone like myself, for example, might have supporters, but not enough to be put in a place of “power”.

    Dealing with the addiction is easy if what you’re buying isn’t something you need. But unless we make all our clothes & shoes, grow all our food, and preserve it too, live where there’s no need for a car to get to work, or from point A to point B (or are young enough and strong/healthy enough to cycle everywhere, even in winter in New England), never get seriously sick & have excellent knowledge of herbs/natural remedies for non-serious illnesses, etc. (you get the point), we’re going to have to interact with the consumer system that has so many addicted to overconsumption. This gets me down big time, too. Just saying “get over the addiction” doesn’t do it. Again, there’s only so much one can do as an individual.

    I understand, too, the frustration of all the different groups “saving this and saving that”, seemingly dispersing all that energy so it’s meaningless. I don’t have an answer except that people are reached by different means. What rips my heart out may not rip yours out, so whatever it takes, right? Some will contribute or act on behalf of old growth, others on behalf of sea turtles or polar bears or against that heartbreaking plastic world in the ocean. But it all needs doing.

    And as a writer, believe me, there’s not a lot of money to be made writing about the environment these days. I used to be able to support myself (kind of) as a freelance writer. No more. Unless it’s a slick publication with fancy ads the writers get paid a pittance, if at all.

  25. I love this. Of course, “Protecting nature should be more important than enjoying it” is clear to anyone who knows (s)he is part of his/her landbase. Ask any traditional indigenous person. And/or ask anyone who has reawakened to his/her true humanness, who has decolonized his/her mind.

    Oh, and one can find true inner-peace ‘while’ protecting his/her landbase and loved ones as much as one can find inner-peace while using any means necessary to stop some psychopath from raping a loved one. Think of how peaceful one must be after having stopped such a monster!

  26. Good to hear from you again Susan. We need your gentle wisdom and insight. Are you familiar with Paul Hawkin’s book Blessed Unrest? He advances a strong argument that the total impact of all the small groups and individual efforts for a better world may be much more effective in the long run than we realize. Several commenters have expressed varying degrees of discouragement, pessimism, or despair about whether we will be able to restore our world to health. His book could provide some solid basis for a qualified but realistic optimism.

    On the question whether it is useful to share our darkest fears and assessments with others, I think it is very healthy. To keep our “negative” thoughts and feelings to ourselves does not promote our healing. Those seeking to heal the planet must take care of their own and others healing. I am heartened that folks feel free to express the truth of where they are in this process deep ecological concern. Make believe cheeriness is no substitute for emotional honesty. There are dark passages in our journey towards a better life for all. Let’s not deny that, but rather embrace the truth of it and use it as an opportunity to share more deeply and support each other in this Work.

  27. #18 Honour: You are right; perhaps the most difficult challenge we face is how to awaken the sleeping population. Fortunately, it is not necessary to awaken everyone, or even a majority. Only the arousing of a sufficient number of influential persons will be required. We can take comfort from the fact that such awakenings have happened before.

    To mention only a couple of these phenomena: the feminist movement in the US. The movement that overthrew communism in the Soviet Union. Alcoholics Anonymous. The end of apartheid in South Africa. We can learn from all of these and others. The defeat of an industrial “superpower” in Vietnam. The growing movement in South America to overturn the ruling oligarchies.

    There is real possibility, historical precedents that give hope. Nor are these examples of change the only avenues by which a major change in consciousness could be catalyzed….

  28. Riversong said: “What you don’t “get” is that the cancer is not out there somewhere where you can attack it as a foreign body. The cancer is within you. If you attack another you destroy yourself. That’s not an immune response…”

    I have defended your words before, but this is just plain silly, R. The healthy immune system kills cancer cells, just like it kills viruses and other threats. Violence plays a role as last resort. Being dogmatic about non-violence is just as unwise as dogmatism in other areas.

  29. So Derrick says: “you’d think most people would be doing everything they can to protect life on this planet.” — Is he himself doing this? It would be nice, for a change, to hear less exhortation and more self-disclosure.

    “What does the world need from me?” — Derrick answers (in other writings), it needs me to write. I think that is a partial truth only. It equally needs each of us to live differently.

    Jason R. wrote: “Perhaps that is Derrick’s real message. Not that the activists are insufficiently active, but that we are insufficiently powerful and our message is not being heard.” & quoted: “If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.”

    Seeking power is a two edged sword, be careful what you wish for. As for the artists… sure, foster more understanding. Absolutely. But if you think that is enough, then you are part of the problem. We are not knee-deep in crap because we don’t have enough understanding or art or words. We are there because we are not *living, behaving* differently.

    Callmecynicist wrote: “I have no idea what joining forces with my neighbors would be or how one would do it. I could not begin to think of how to organize a neighborhood into a yard sale and the community garden a few of us mustered together down the street is rife with weeds for want of participants.”

    That is exactly where the frontier lies. This, we need to figure out, and do. Thank you for putting it so well!

    Susan M-L wrote: “How will we come together when we’re scattered all over the place, each with our own lives, our own situations?” and “. There are lots of us who are awake, but obviously not enough. If there were, things would be different.”

    Pardon me, but when was being awake enough to get something done? Waking is but the first step. The next is to embody our new understanding. One does not need to run off to a cabin to do that, nah? :-) And you are right, we all are embedded in a spiders’ web of dependencies on the system we deplore. That is part of the dark magic of creating a prison without walls and bars. We gotta counter it with magic of our own…

    Mike K: “The creative directions we need to discover may be forged in the fiery crucible of mutual sharing. There are essential truths that can only be realized and developed in interaction with others.”

    Bingo. 😀

    Unfortunately, none of the movements you extol did anything to change this civilization. They improved things for the inmates. Other times, changes are made that worsen things for the inmates… that seems to be one of the characteristics of the time we live in. Go to the root, friend!

  30. Hello Vera, good to hear from you. Did you read the previous post on this thread which pointed out that we americans tend to want the whole thing right now, and it better be perfect! Sound familiar? The truth is (as far as I can see) nobody has the answer to the problems of civilization all wrapped up. More like we don’t have a clue. So if you have that kind of comprehensive plan, please let me know what it is?

    Why do so many of us seem to be groping around in the dark on this one? Well, this is a really, really BIG problem. You see it involves the whole karmic history of humankind, and that goes WAY back, and is comprised of GAZILLIONS of threads, most of which are not obvious on the surface for easy noticing, but buried deep in our amazing evolutionary nervous system, just waiting to mess with us in unpleasant ways if we try to tamper with them in our oh so deeeeeep Ignorance. And that’s just the easy version of why we are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO screwed.

    Now I know that Derrick has kindly simplified this whole deal for us: “Just bring down civilization!!” Wow and I thought it was so complicated. Whew, guess I don’t have to fret my head over that one anymore………………….NOT!

    So try to be patient with some of us Vera, we may just be too slow witted to grok the obvious that others grasp so easily.

    All in good kleen fun, Vera. Don’t get pissed at me?

  31. Hey, Mike K, merry meet again. :-) Karmic history of humankind is full of cooperation. We couldn’t have survived the endless challenges the planet threw at us without it. Bring it on! — Eh… bringing down civ… well, I think he is right about this civ. Maybe there are other possible civs that are not toxic? –- Heh. Slow witted yer not. I don’t have a comprehensive plan… those belong in this civ. They are part and parcel of the domination worldview… But I do have a dawning of something… mmm… yeah. Heck, if bats can do it, and dolphins can do it, why not humans? Radical cooperation is possible.

  32. The fundamental question, challenge, initiation, koan posed to humankind from the beginning is: love or perish. There really is no substitute for solving this problem. Develop a consciousness centered in mutual love and sharing or end by destroying yourselves. Be in that mind that was in Jesus, or Buddha, or Lao Tzu, or Gandhi, or MLK, or whomever or whatever lives from love and truth. Unless you build your life and your world on that basis, you build it in vain. The failures and short comings of religions are well known. It is not necessary to be “religious” to work towards a mind and heart of love and truth. There are well known paths and methods for engendering this inner change. If for whatever reasons folks choose to ignore this essential undertaking, then the inevitable karmic results will result. The world we see around us now shows forth those tragic results. So, there is an answer to our seemingly impossible world dilemmas. All that is lacking is enough people awakening to this fundamental need for dedication to and practice of love and wisdom. No one can be forced to take this path; it is by nature non- coercive. There really is no substitute for this answer. The whole history of humankind clearly demonstrates the validity of this approach. We disregard it at our peril.

    Anything that helps bring this truth to the consciousness of people is useful. Anything that denies or ignores it is harmful. We are faced with a fateful choice: love or perish.

  33. Gone to the root on one fell swoop! :-) (sound of two hands clapping…)

    That’s the nutshell. So we know the what. Now we come to “how”.

    Mike k, been liking what you say for some time. Are there other places you write?

  34. We are a world of followers. Who leads is who has the world’s attention. Capitalism is not adult behavior, but no leader will say that in the western world. Socialism implies ‘growth’ also, and eco-socialism is way too complicated a concept, or word, for the TV-modified mind. This is the Age of Entertainment, reason’s narcotic. A world without a recovering monetary system, without energy for heating water, without petroleum for roofing, without daily meat or seafood, without cars, without newspapers, without the internet…. how much can be seriously publicly thought about by leaders?

    None of it. We need a new kind of leadership. I am tired of savvy exhorters: Chris Hedges, Korten, Derrick Jensen, Van Jones, Robert Johnson, Jeremy Scahill, Dar Jamail, the broad spectrum…. on and on and on… It is you who have the world’s attention. I want you all to take office, make a party, make a march in the streets. YOU folks are the folks with the megaphone. DO something.

    Why do you wait?

  35. The way out is the way in

    The way in is the way out

    Either way is hard to find

    But you can’t miss it

    If you don’t find it

    Keep looking

    You might have missed it

    When you didn’t find it

    Because you found it

    While you were still

    Looking for it

  36. i love Derrick Jensen so much. and i know it’s not about him, or me, it’s about saving our collective lives, stopping the mass murder and terrorizing of so much life, of so so so many lives of all species on our fair shared parent planet. but i do love this guy so much!

    as for me, i am one sadly lazy activist who tries to live most moments responsibly and wholistically, very disentangled from the disastrous nightmare web the evil-psycho-sicko bosses and their few billion lacky-consumer-workers contrive.

    here in Toronto our brilliant, heroic, beautiful-hearted, rebel youth have been abused by the hundreds to protect the pimps in their selling of our world’s families and communities of all species to the pervert ‘johns’ of big business.

    but doncha just love the upswelling in the streets of mass love and participation for a healthier way?

    peace&love;, ira
    goodnight and thanks.

  37. Thanks for sharing Ira. I have watched with dismay as the Canadian government has lurched to the fascist right. It is good to hear that there is active resistance to all that. Derrick Jensen is here to inspire people to actively oppose their “rulers”.

  38. Does it appear to you that we could move toward sustainability in a much more sensible way if we stopped willfully ignoring extant science of human population dynamics; stopped consciously refusing to communicate openly about peer-reviewed evidence of the human overpopulation of Earth? How on Earth do we reasonably address and overcome the human-driven global challenges looming before the human community if top rank scientists with appropriate expertise reject their responsibilities to acknowledge and deny their duties to examine published evidence and report findings?

    Professor Emeritus Gary L. Peters and Professor Emeritus Albert A. Bartlett have chosen a different, seldom taken path, one that is morally courageous, because they have broken the silence by speaking out so loudly and clearly while many too many of their outstanding, similarly situated colleagues have remained electively mute.

  39. After 40 years of activism I share Jensen’s frustration that the vast majority of US seem to be too afraid, uncertain, complacent and/or distracted with materialist matters to be effective change agents. Except for the relative few (like Jensen), people have to have the rug pulled out from under them before they’ll take action and even then, its often in seeking escape, revenge or blame (thus the rise of the tea party). Things may have to get much worse even than BP before they get better, or (as I’m feeling more and more these days), we are simply screwed. Maybe its time to face that reality. In the words of Wendell Barry…
    “Let hopelessness
    Shrink us to our proper size.
    Without it we are half as large
    And the world
    Is twice as large. My small
    Place grows immense as I walk
    Upon it without hope.”

  40. We are not bound to win but we are bound to be true; we are not bound to succeed but we are bound to live up to the light we possess.
    -President Barack H. Obama, (quoting former President Abraham Lincoln)

    Truth is not only violated by falsehood;
    it may be equally outraged by silence.
    -Henri-Frederic Amiel

    Speak out as if you were a million voices.
    It is silence that kills the world.
    -St. Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380

  41. Steve, unfortunately I don’t think hammering folks with abstruse scientific truths about the relation of population density to planetary well-being is going to awaken very many to taking action about this problem. The reality of this relationship is so blatantly obvious that it really doesn’t need elaborate proofs. It calls to mind all the work George Lakoff and others have done on the dynamics of persuasion. It turns out that presenting people with the facts about a subject, no matter how obvious they may be, is not an effective way to influence their minds to embrace a new way of thinking and acting. Despite science being the new religion of the modern mind, it turns out our unconscious framing of problems always trumps our rationality. Advertisers and spin doctors are keenly aware of this, and avoid reliance on reason like the plague: it just doesn’t work.

    It seems that in the battle for people’s minds we are driven to using their emotional natures if we wish them to change. As you are aware powerful social entities have already shaped people’s largely unconscious responses to questions about reproduction and population. The church, capitalism, and nationalism come to mind. Countering the persuasive influence of these institutions is the real problem of those seeking to foster new attitudes in this area.

    In short, we need some really good spin doctors and the funds to get them heard!

  42. Mike said: “In short, we need some really good spin doctors and the funds to get them heard!”

    What?! If our truths need spin doctors, then surely we are sunk.

  43. Dear mike k and vera,

    I am too damn old to learn to be a good spin-doctor and old enough to appreciate George Lakoff’s work even though I have no intention (or possess the rhetorical artistry) to start mimicking him. Referring people to scientific evidence is what I do. I have been doing the same things over and over again since the AWAREness Campaign began in 2001.

    For all members of the human community who recognize the threat posed to humanity and life as we know it by the unbridled growth of absolute global human population numbers in our time, there has been no more dangerous or pernicious a policy promulgated in the past twenty-five years than the GLOBAL GAG RULE. Please recall that this gag rule was formally instituted and became effective in the mid-1980s under President Ronald Reagan. It was rescinded by President Bill Clinton and immediately reinstituted by President George W. Bush on his first day in office in 2001. Recently, President Barack Obama overturned President Bush’s ruling. When the Global Gag Rule was in effect, no funding was provided to organizations that performed, discussed, or referred a client to an abortion provider. Organizations were also prohibited from lobbying for increased abortion rights in their respective countries. If they refused to comply with these stipulations, their funds were revoked, usually resulting in closed clinics (with a tip of the hat to the Population Connection).

    That such a global gag rule is a form of coercion which limited freedom of speech and choice was disregarded.

    Now there appears to be yet another global gag rule that issues from the elective mutism of experts within the ranks of the brightest, the best and the most knowledgeable in the communities of science of the potentially profound implications of the human overpopulation of Earth. These experts have access to the best available scientific evidence of human population dynamics and human overpopulation but are consciously refusing to assume their responsibilities and perform their duties to science by examining certain scientific research and reporting findings.

    This is precisely why the open expression of intellectual honesty and moral courage by mike k and vera is so vital. Despite pressures to follow those who have been engaged in a conspiracy of silence with regard to scientific evidence of human population dynamics, they have stepped up and spoken out.

    The research of David Pimentel and Russell Hopfenberg, in particular, needs to be rigorously scrutinized rather than denied. Can anyone even imagine a way for human beings to address and overcome human-induced challenges if the best available, relevant science is not so much as acknowledged? If the science is somehow fatally flawed, so be it. We need to know that. On the other hand if extant evidence of human population dynamics extends, however slightly and tentatively, our knowledge of the “placement” of humankind within the natural order of living things and deepens our understanding of the way the world we inhabit actually works, then we can choose to be guided by that knowledge in responding ably to any human-forced challenge rather than continue down a “primrose path” toward the precipitation of some unimaginable sort of colossal ecological wreckage.

    Thanks to Derrick Jensen and everyone who is participating in this discussion. Perhaps necessary change toward sustainability, and away from what could fairly soon become patently unsustainable, is in the offing.

  44. Hi Vera. Two (east) Indian ideas may help here. Sometimes we need to use upaya (skillful means) to bring folks to the Truth. The straight undiluted stuff might be too strong for them initially. The other idea is embodied in the saying, “sometimes it takes a thorn to pluck out a thorn”.

    BTW this Orion blog is mainly where I post. A lot of the other blogs I am familiar with are way too contentious, and nobody seems to really listen to what others have to share. Not to speak of the tendency of some to use the space as a barf bucket or latrine for their seething bile. The Orion crew, by contrast, is a pretty mild mannered and thoughtful bunch………like yourself!

  45. Hi new to the site. Much like what Vera said. I am all to familiar with our current situation and our Entertainment Tonight minded folk that need the message. The average person is whom I am referencing. If our truthters need spin doctors and bright lights and the latest fad, and free rides for the kids, old folks get in free, prize giveaways, etc. And oh I forgot, can you all listen to this for a couple of minutes and try to ingrain this into a new way of thinking and action? If the truth has to be co-opted by so much junk just to get the pill down, then like Vera said. We are truly sunk. You average person has a very gutter base way of thinking that frankly disgusts me. Many of you are the exception, but I don’t think it’s enough.

  46. Hi Steve. I really didn’t mean to discredit what you are doing to awaken your scientific peers to the need to speak out on the population crisis. In the wise words of the I Ching, “everything furthers”. There does exist an influential strata of players who are influenced by the findings of the scientific community who need to be reached with documented evidence of our situation. Like so many aspects of our global disaster, no one line of approach will be sufficient to turn the tide. I certainly commend your contributions in this crucial area of reproductive sanity. No need for me to say, “keep up the good work”. Your consistent years-long dedication tells me you will continue on, come what may….

  47. Dear mike k,

    I do not know if I am right or wrong to ask directly and repeatedly for truth, as each of us sees it, to be spoken loudly and clearly so that people can share an understanding of the global predicament looming ominously before humanity. But, it does appear to me that if people with knowledge lose faith in God’s gift of science by denying its presence and remaining electively mute while selfish, shortsighted leaders go forward unsustainably on the basis of specious, preternatural thinking, then the human community has no chance whatever of responding ably to the human-induced challenges before all of us.

    I am trying to encourage the lighting candles because the darkness enveloping the “primrose path” many too many so-called leaders are so adamantly advocating and recklessly pursuing is anathema to me.

    Sincerely yours,


  48. Hello Zeph Ant. If I thought give-aways, etc. would serve to awaken folks to reality, I would not be above endorsing it. But as you pointed out, people are much too conditioned and inadequate in functioning clear consciousness to respond even to such alluring enticements. Alas, a healthy functioning mind is a lot harder to acquire than that. And there’s the root problem. Our whole educational system is based on rote “learning” and TV essentially. Most of us have not learned to think clearly, critically, and creatively. Our present culture just doesn’t encourage that. All the better to fool you, my dear! (as the poorly disguised wolf said to red riding hood). We need minimally trained wage serfs to work the industrial empire, and naïve young folks to fight our resource wars, and unreflective consumers to buy our tons of useless junk.

    So once again, to truly state the problems with civilization we are faced with disabuses us from thinking there are quick and easy solutions to this tragic mess we find ourselves in. Lack of true consciousness is the root problem. Spiritual paths of development are an intrinsic part of any real lasting solutions. If the word “spiritual” gives your materialist soul the willies, then think of some other word that suits you better. The real work (on ourselves) remains the same. Only better people can create a better world.

  49. Steve: There is no doubt that real science has a crucial role to play in creating a better world. But as you are well aware the distortions, perversions, and misuses of science also pose one of the greatest threats to the continuation of our species. Hence the role of spirituality, or ethics if you prefer, in guiding and directing the fruits of scientific investigation. We can’t do it without science, but it needs to be a kinder, gentler science. Your efforts to awaken scientists to their duty to speak out in favor of humanity are commendable.

    In my opinion, there is not a single major institution of today’s society that is not in need of drastic overhauling. The source of that revolution, if it is to be benign and sustained, can only come from individuals who have overcome their own dysfunctions and thus become fit agents to facilitate the transformation of others.

  50. I’m just tired. I noticed your positivity shining. I pick up on people who radiate that. Essentially its’ not the norm. I’m not old at all. Yet I have lived the life of a 40 year old. I have no hope for the human race. I’m past cynicism or skepticism. I know the heart of man. And I know why good people become misanthropic and loners. Like someone else said earlier. I have no desire to procreate. I can only hope that the upcoming generations will curb the problems of our current “civlization.”

    I know for a fact that the young people of today have numerous more potential than the freedom fighters of the ’60s and ’70s did. Like you said education and social conditioning is the main culprit of our problems. We are in a Period of mass manipulation. I could go on. I’ll stop on that point though. I have my own opinions about the future.

  51. Zeph, all I know about you so far is the two comments you have shared. I don’t believe in “giving advice”, but I feel moved to share something with you.

    Long ago, when I was profoundly depressed and contemplating suicide, I asked myself why I could possibly want to go on living. Unexpectedly an answer came back: “you might want to know what is going to happen next as history unfolds.” That answer reminded me that I had always been intensely curious, it was my defining passion. Whether that inner voice in that crucial moment was the reason I decided to hang on another day, I’m not sure. But I did go on, and in time my life unfolded in ways that I could never have anticipated, and would not have believed then were remotely possible. What do I take from all of that?

    Just this: you never know what can happen….

  52. Uh. I commmend you for sharing that when you didn’t have to. I stand by my previous comments though. You wrote, “You never know what can happen” Not putting your comment down, but I don’t believe that. More so that depends on the situation. There are plenty of instances where you fully know all the options that are and will be available. Including the grand chance that is Universe. So thats a sweeping term that I don’t buy into. I have a pure objective view of history (all history) with no mixed emotions about anything. In other words if it smells like trash it gets put to the curb. The fact is most people don’t. And I have a problem with that. I apprecite you sharing that though. Cheers.

  53. Zeph: Didn’t mean to intrude on your world view. Maybe your sharing triggered some of my own stuff. My apologies.

  54. Hardly intruding. Like I said I noticed your positiveness in earlier messages. It isn’t a front. It struck me. You know were guys in the 21st century. Were “supposed” to be jerks. Derrick is correct though. Certain fanatics with the right sense of being grounded can accomplish amazing feats. He is talking about influence whether be from an Artist, Orator, Writers, politicians, or people we know. He’s talking about influence too.

    It isn’t that artists and writers arent’ doing enough. Its the ones who are on your T.V. everyday aren’t doing enough. So the influence and fansticism he is talking about can not and will not exist on the scale that we need for even small change. Theres Fanatics, but their not the kind that are going to accomplish anything that hes mentioning.

  55. Good to hear I didn’t piss you off. What you are sharing makes sense. I can learn from you. One thing we definitely have in common: we have a lot of admiration for DJ and what he is doing. If I could ever contribute as much as he has, I would really feel good about it.

  56. #39 Hannah Sykes: Thanks for the Wendell Berry poem, he is a national treasure. We are screwed, and thing will get a lot worse. Any vision that does not acknowledge that is delusional and dangerously misleading. But that doesn’t have to mean we are dead meat now. It isn’t over till it’s over. The fat lady hasn’t done her final aria yet. Much of beauty, love, and truth remain to be unfolded and savored. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes put it in her “Letter to a Young Activist” “We were made for these times”. Check out her letter on google, it’s truly beautiful and inspiring. Maybe you already know of it?

  57. More crap from Jensen that is full of flagrant exaggeration or a complete lack of doing the research.

    I’ve noticed that Jensen and several other people mention “the sixth extinction” in their works. This designation is linguistically incorrect and does not reflect the magnitude of extinction event that is currently in progress. It should be noted that calcitic cosmopolitan marine invertebrates are the organisms that are used to correlate stratigraphic successions and determine which extinction events constitute a mass extinction. Therefore it is not applicable to compare the extinction of megafauna or insects, which are usually not preserved in the fossil record, to previous mass extinctions because there is too little data available to compare them on those grounds. Since the number insect or plant species that are going extinct in remote areas is not known there can be a standard deviation in the measurement of the total number of species going extinct as high as one order of magnitude(ie 110). The twenty extinction events in the Ordovician to Devonian, the four trilobite biomere extinctions in the Cambrian, terminal Miocene, Ecocene, and Pleistocence extinctions were all of greater magnitude than our current extinction, both in the total number of genera that went extinct and the percentage of know genera that went extinct. The six largest extinctions were the terminal Cambrian, terminal Ordovician, Late Devonian, terminal Permian, terminal Triassic, and terminal Cretaceous. Since a greater number of genera went extinct in any one of these events that have during the entire Holocene.

    Works cited
    Palmer, A.R. (1965), Biomere: A New Kind of Biostratigraphic Unit , Journal of Paleontology, vol. 39, pp. 149.
    Raup, D. & Sepkoski, J. (1982). “Mass extinctions in the marine fossil record”. Science 215: 1501–1503.
    Rohde, R.A. & Muller, R.A. (2005). “Cycles in fossil diversity”. Nature 434: 209-210.
    Stitt, J.H. (1971), Repeating Evolutionary Pattern in Late Cambrian Trilobite Biomeres, Journal of Paleontology, vol. 45, pp. 178.

  58. Mike K, et. al.

    “Only better people can create a better world.”

    This is just a loaded and presumptuous statement. How can you live with yourself. It presumes the same ethic of “progress” that has delivered us here in the first place. It also assumes that we should “create” the world. We are not here to create, but to participate in the given. We have already tried to “create” a better world, and look where we are.

    We have already upset the apple cart, Eve is dead and the snakes are loose in the garden!

  59. A fundamental reality is that a vast minority of the human population consumes the vast majority of the earths resources (see: While a factor, population is not the most critical and, in my experience, deflects from the real problem. Consumption and materialism driven by global market capitalism underlie this madness. As any ecologist knows, populations can crash in the blink of an eye and its now clear that our corporate government couldn’t care less. After 40 something years, I’ve lost my youthful optimism folks. This is what we’re up against.

  60. to Hannah Sykes

    The problem with that pie chart is that it doesn’t reflect the production of goods and services, only the comsumption of them. If you did a pie chart of prodcution it would look about the same. IE the citizens of the US, EU, Japan, Russia, and South Korea consume the most and produce the most. Right behind them would be China. In truth both Germany has twice the raw Industrial output of China and the US has 3.5 times the industrial output of China. But most of these products are shipped to China for assembly into other products. But the trade dynamics of the 1st and 2nd world aside, the reason the 3rd world consumes so little is because it produces almost nothing. South America exports soy/cattle/fruit and the Arabian Peninsula exports oil. The rest of the 3rd world has few mineral resources compared to the US, Canada, or Russia; and poor soil compared to China, India, the US, or Russia. They have nothing to put into the global economy since even their labor is devalued by automation. You can’t consume if you don’t have money. And you can’t make money if there are few resources to exploit to make products.

  61. In response to Anon, re the pie chart….you just confirmed my point that a materialistic obsessed few consume most of the earths resources. We need a consumption reality check before we start blaming “overpopulation (i.e. the “poor masses”). Foolish, self-absorbed humans that we are, unable to see our own hubris. That’s why we’re screwed with or without “calcitic cosmopolitan stratigraphic succession”. Hey, guess what, I have a doctorate too. In science! What’s with the academic snobbery?

  62. Of course we should keep working on it but we had the scientific knowledge we needed 40 years ago. Spirituality can lead us to action but its too often naive and a self-soothing distraction. We need a major recalibration of our ability to imagine and BE the change NOW. I hate to keep saying this, but we’re screwed. Doesn’t mean I’ll give up but I’m not under any illusion that we’ll get ourselves out of this mess.

  63. Perhaps the moral offense is most egregious in moments when the ‘brightest and best’ people with knowledge, wealth and power willfully choose to remain silent and, thereby, consciously deny extant, unchallenged scientific evdence of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth in our time.

  64. Steve Salmony
    It’s more that the populations of the first and second world have plateaued or are increasing at a rate below 1.4% percent compounded yearly. That is an acceptable rate for the moment. The reason the third world population continues to grow is because it has not been stressed to the population that having fewer children is in those children’s best interests because it is easier to pay for their education. A lack of rubbers also contributes.

    I’d like to ask something. Since I don’t see any citations of peer reviewed journal articles in any of Jensens or Zerzan’s works, how are they drawing their conclusions. I’d have to see the data before I can make any assessment of their statements.

    Given the expected temperature increase of 1.9-2.7 degrees farenheight and a rise in eustatic sea level of 1 meter over the next century, I can’t see how the expense of mitigating the warming or stopping hydrocarbon use is less expensive than dealing with the beach erosion and the infiltration of saline water into some coastal aquifers that will result. And frankly there will not be increased drought due to the temperature increase. More evaporation and transpiration due to the higher temperatures will mean more total global precipitation, although some areas could become drier or wetter. This precipitation will be more seasonal in its distribution, so building more reservoirs to hold the excess runoff in the wet seasons for use later in the years would be a way to mitigate that change while also holding more water for human consumption. Frankly, given the expected warming trend we will come out of this with a net gain in arable land.

    Now the biosphere will eventually be consumed by human artifice, but this process will take 300-500 years. And I may ask, what is wrong with the death of the biosphere if it is necessary for the property of humanity. Given the ability to breed U238 and Thorium into usable U237, U239, and Pu 239; I can’t see how we will run out of electrical production capacity within the next 20Ka. And with enough electricity, replacing the life sustaining functions of the biosphere becomes a viable alternative.

    It’s not that people are ignoring the situation. Some people are biophiles and want to maintain the biosphere regardless of the circumstances. Others are technophiles and want to usher in an age of machines. Most just don’t care, and will accept whatever is cheapest and easiest at the moment. Right now utilizing the biosphere is cheaper, so we do that.

  65. Dear Anon, Let us begin with the comments of Dr. Gary Peters on the research of Russell Hopfenberg and David Pimentel, which is found in the journal, The California Geographer, 2009. The title of his article is, Population, Resources and Enviroment: “Beyond the Exponentials” Revisited.

    “The world’s population in 2009 was close to 6.8 billion. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, we can expect about 55.7 million people to die this year, so in purely demographic terms 300,000 deaths amount to just over half of one percent of all deaths. Furthermore, there are about 15,465 births per hour worldwide, so again in a purely demographic sense those 300,000 deaths can be replaced in less than 20 hours.

    Paradoxically, the very fossil fuels that have allowed us to feed the vast increase in world population over the last century or two may 113 The California Geographer n Volume 49, 2009 also be starting to increase mortality rates, even if only slightly so far. Currently we add about 80 million people to the planet each year, and we know that population growth exacerbates most environmental problems, including global warming (Speth 2008, Diamond 2005, and Friedman 2008).

    Pimentel (2001), Hopfenberg (2003), and others have established in a series of articles that human population growth is a function of food supply, yet we continue to expand food supplies to accommodate future growth—even if that growth threatens the planet’s socioeconomic systems, ecosystems, biodiversity, oceans,
    and atmosphere. Continued expansion of food supplies has come at considerable cost both to people and to Earth. As Pollan (2008, 121) commented, “Clearly the achievements of industrial agriculture have come at a cost: It can produce a great many more calories per acre, but each of those calories may supply less nutrition than
    it formerly did…. A diet based on quantity rather than quality has ushered a new creature onto the world stage: the human being who manages to be both overfed and undernourished, two characteristics seldom found in the same body in the long natural history of our species.” According to Heller and Keoleian (2000), it takes seven to ten calories of input, mainly from fossil fuels, to produce one calorie of edible food in the United States. Looking at the American landscape, Babbitt (2005, 100) observed that “[I]ndustrial agriculture has been extended too far, and the price has been too high for the land and waters to bear.” In many places, agricultural landscapes are no longer what Tuan (1993, 143) had in mind when he wrote that “In common with the vast majority of humankind, Americans
    love the small intimate world that is their home, and, immediately beyond it, a rich agricultural land.”

    According to Pimentel (2001), humans already use more than half the planet’s entire biomass, leaving less and less for other species. From there, as Hopfenberg (2009, 2) noted, “It is not a far logical leap to determine that, if human population and resource use continues to grow and we continue to kill off our neighbors in the biological community, one of the many species facing extinction will be the human. Thus, the impact of civilized humanity on the rest of the
    biological community can be seen as lethal to the point of destroying our own ecological support”. It is a reminder that, as Bush (2000, 28) noted, “If there is one lesson that the geological record offers, it is that all species will ultimately go extinct, some just do it sooner than others.” With the expansion of human numbers has come a steady increase in the background rate of extinction.

    But even among environmentalists, population has been dropped from most discussions because it is controversial; it has been snared in the web of political correctness. As Speth (2008, 78) somewhat ironically pointed out, “By any objective standard, U.S. population growth is a legitimate and serious environmental issue. But the subject is hardly on the environmental agenda, and the country has not learned how to discuss the problem even in progressive circles.” Cobb (2007, 1) put it this way, “Even if some politicians, policymakers and reporters in wealthy countries can see beyond the daily mirage of plenty to the overpopulation problem, they do
    not want to touch it.”

    It is one thing for “politicians, policymakers and reporters” not to touch research of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth. It is something altogether different when the elective mutism of scientists with appropriate expertise hides science in silence.

  66. Dear Anon,

    How on Earth are global challenges of the kind we can see looming before humanity in our time to be addressed and overcome if any root cause of what threatens us and life as we know it is not acknowledged?

    Of course, it could be that Professor Peters’ assessment of the research by Pimentel and Hopfenberg is incorrect; that their work is fatally flawed. If that is the case, we need to know it. On the other hand, if that is not the case and the research is somehow on the correct track, then discussion of the research needed to have begun years ago, at the onset of Century XXI, because this research appears, at least to me, to possess extraordinary explanatory power with potentially profound implications.

    Thanks to those within the community of scientists and to those in the population at large with a perspective to share who choose to examine the evidence to which your attention is drawn and report your findings.

    Comments from one and all in the Orion community are sure to be welcome.



  67. Peer-reviewed articles published in widely recognized journals regarding research on matters related to the scientific study of the human population can readily be found by clicking on the following link,

  68. For peer-reviewed articles, please click on my URL. If anyone has problems finding the research on human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth, please contact me directly at

  69. Hi Sandy. If all progress is bad, maybe G-O-D should have thought twice before he planted that fateful tree in the midst of the primeval garden, and added a talking snake just to make sure He had an excuse to kick us out, and on to this uncertain evolutionary adventure we are white water rafting our way through now. Or maybe it’s the big bang that He should rethink. Why not just leave the primordial “atom” be instead of blowing it up and projecting everything on this crazy, scary, wonderful trip? God only knows… And to make it worse he posted this Angel dude with a flaming sword to make sure we woudn’t even think of trying to go back to peacefully munching non-forbidden fruit for eternity.

    BTW There was no cart in the Garden. Wheels and such were only invented after we were kicked out. Damned creativity! Just buying ourselves more trouble… And Eve is not dead, She’s my wife. And yes, snakes and toads and spiders and a whole ecosystem of critters are loose in our long-tended organic garden, with our blessing.

  70. Dear Friends,

    Perhaps I am mistaken about the scientific research to which I draw attention. If that is shown to be case, I will end the AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population immediately. I make all of you the promise that from that moment forward you will not hear from me again. Given the human-induced global challenges that appear, at least to me, to be looming before humankind in our time, it will just fine if it turns out that I am indeed the fool so many people take me for now. Such an outcome has certain benefits. Fool that I am, still I will be free of a “duty to warn” and gratefully released to fulfill the promise I made years ago to my long-suffering spouse: end the AWAREness Campaign.

    Sincerely yours,


  71. One comment in response to this qoute from the article itself.

    “But there’s another reason I think few books (films, paintings, songs, relationships, lives, and so on) are forgivable. There’s that little nagging fact that this culture is murdering the planet. Any book (film, painting, song, relationship, life, and so on) that doesn’t begin with this basic understanding—that the culture is murdering the planet (in part because of this alienation; and of course this murder then in turn fuels further alienation)—and doesn’t work toward rectifying it is not forgivable, for an infinitude of reasons, one of which is that without a living planet there can be no books. ”

    The problem I have with that is that art is not something that easily follows rules. Art – be it writing, visual arts, theater, what have you – is something that comes from the heart and soul of the artist. If the artist is inspired to make art centered around saving the earth, and many are, then by all means they should. But if that is not what inspires your art, so be it. If what inspires your art is to paint roses, or perform dances about human relationships, or write historical fantasy, then paint or write or perform as your heart calls for you – and fight for the environment in other ways.

    When not doing your art, we can still write letters to the editor, lobby lawmakers, demonstrate, speak out, hang from trees, stand in front of bulldozers, convert your house to solar energy, buy local foods, plant gardens, etc.

    But art is often a poor servant of intellect, and trying to tell people what should inspire them is a mistake. Art made from guilt or ideology is usually bad art. Which doesn’t mean there aren’t artists whose inspiration comes from addressing social and political issues, from connecting to a movement and making art that deeply conveys the issues and purpose and spirit of a movement. But to insist that all art become a tool of politics is ultimately totalitarian.

    So lets not try to force every action and every form of expression and every relationship to conform to a cause, but seek to live and love and fight for the future in the way that we do best. Let us not expect all art to conform to a cause, but expect everyone to do their part, in their art or outside of it.



  72. Hello John Chapman. I agree with your insightful comments. I think Derrick got carried away in that paragraph with his passion for total war against “civilization”. It’s an example of the “just drop everything and give your life totally to my trip”. Almost a guaranteed prescription for early burn out. Don’t tell me in my role as artist (which is really beyond definition) how I should do my art. If I wanted to follow someone else’s ideas, I wouldn’t call it art. Art is all about unfettered freedom.

    Having read a lot of Derrick’s stuff, including “Walking on Water”, his account of teaching various groups creative writing, I feel sure that Derrick would agree with your criticism of that paragraph also.
    Funny how we tend to forget our own good ideas in the heat of battle.

  73. Salmony
    It will take some time to find and read all the citations that you have provided, and make an assessment of their conclusions. So I will only address a few points at this time.

    Your the sources you cited regarding demographics and population growth provided data is consistent with other peer reviewed sources. You have already proved yourself a better scholar than Jensen or Zerzan by providing these.

    The argument isn’t about population growth rate as much as it is about what the carrying capacity would be under certain circumstances. If you only wanted to do organic agriculture you could support 1 billion humans indefinitely. If you want to use nuclear breeder reactors to provide electricity to fix nitrogen, produce petrochemicals from organic carbon, and run machines then you could provide for the current population or even tens of billions of humans indefinitely.
    If you want to cover the planet in photoelectric cells, mine all the thorium and uranium out of the lithosphere, and use a majority of the worlds water as convective medium in geothermal power production then you could provide for 100 billion people or more.
    All those things are technically possible, but are not economically feasible at this time. The human race is in no risk of extinction, since it is possible to allow the population to plateau at a level that can be provided for at any one moment and then allow it to grow once more resources become available. Population growth need not be graphed by a simple equation, it can fluctuate depending on the availability of resources.

    “A diet based on quantity rather than quality has ushered a new creature onto the world stage: the human being who manages to be both overfed and undernourished, two characteristics seldom found in the same body in the long natural history of our species.” This quote was used by the authors to discuss vitamin and complex carbohydrate deficient processed foods(particularly snack foods). Alternately processed foods can be fortified, at a greater expense. A cob of corn will have the same nutritional value per gram whether it was grown using organic or industrial agriculture.

    “it takes seven to ten calories of input, mainly from fossil fuels, to produce one calorie of edible food in the United States” Indeed but as previously mentioned that energy can be supplied by any source of electricity. Although it is slightly cheaper to produce pesticides with oil or fix nitrogen using the Habner process utilizing natural gas. The plants have to take in nearly 200 calories of sunlight to produce tissues that can be metabolized by humans to produce 1 calorie. This energy loss is inevitable do to the Gibbs Free Energy law.

    The only statement you sighted that is blatantly inaccurate is “humans already use more than half the planet’s entire biomass” Pimental is obiviously exaggerating since 78% of all biomass on the earth is bacteria in the soil and phytoplankton in the photoic zone of the oceans. Humans do not regularly feed on those organisms directly, although other prey items are dependent on them. That brings up on solution to your concern about feeding billions of humans. Through the cultivation of phytoplankton and bacteria we could easily feed more humans than exist today. They already due this in some areas such as India were green vegetables are expensive. Euglena is the most common organism cultivated for this purpose.

    If you are interested in climate change modeling I suggest you look for articles collected in the Journal of Climatology and the Journal of Paleolimnogly(lake study). For articles on the use of Breeder Reactors the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists is a good source. Progress and its Sustainability. Choen’s Breeder reactors: A renewable energy source, American Journal of Physics, vol. 51, (1), Jan. 1983 and other papers by Cohen give a good description of the potential of Breeder Reactors. However I must warn you that Cohen is the Edison/Tesla of nuclear power, he is a shameless self-promoter, although with good reason. He often words his sentences to play up is inventions, note that every statement is factual but worded in a way that may be misleading to those unfamiliar with nuclear reactors. Example: Cohen would state that there is a 5 billion year supply of fissionable uranium assuming that all the U238 in the lithosphere was recovered and used in breeder reactors. However given estimated recoverable U238 reserves, an increase in electrical consumption of 10% compounded yearly, and the halflife of U238 there is only a 23,000 year supply. Of course even that assumes that all the 10% yearly increase will come from nuclear energy.

    I’m not trying to downplay the situation. To you the death of the biosphere is a terrible thing. But to those like me who are indifferent, if the human race can prosper into the foreseeable future then we have little other concern.

    I am curious what field is your doctorate in? I assume that it is Geography from the citations you provided.

  74. Not wishing to disrespect anyone’s belief in the religion of Science, but while we are waiting for Godot to appear and deliver us from all our problems, the elites who are impoverishing the vast majority of us, and working feverishly to destroy life on our planet may not leave much to save. Ah Science….promises, promises…
    It is consoling to believe that these super-smart people are coming to save us…..kind of like the audiences at a Greek tragedy in the old days could count on the deus ex machina to be lowered onto the stage, where upon a wise and stately God would intervene to resolve all the difficulties encountered in the drama they had just been absorbed in. Surely Science will ride in to magically rescue us just when our plight seems most perilous!

  75. mike k

    The technology described above doesn’t need any new advancements in material science or physics to create it. It only takes a capital investment. For the next 75 years there will be enough oil to produce gasoline at price of 4.00USD/gal, assuming an increase in the rate of consumption of gasoline of 5% compounded yearly. So it will remain economical to use oil for at least 50 years. There are still 200 years worth of coal(75% of which lies within the boundaries of the US). There is at least 125 year supply of conventional natural gas, and far more if the shale reservoirs in the the US, Canada, and Russia are exploited. Expect a shift to new electric production technologies gradually over the next 50-100 years, as they become more viable. As mentioned before the biosphere will probably die, but as things are going right now it may take a very long time.

    If anyone has an interest in hydrocarbon reservoirs, the best Journals to look in are the AAPG Bulletin, SEPM bulletin, and the Journal of Sedimentary Geology.

  76. If there was enough oil to last a thousand years, it would only make me more concerned for our poor planet and the spiritually diminished folks inhabiting it. It is not how much money you have, but what you spend it on, and how you share it or don’t. As Hannah rightly said, population or peak oil are not the only critical problems we are facing. Solving both of those could put us in even a deeper hell, lacking a real change in people. We happen to be the species with the greatest potential for good or evil. So far the dark side is clearly ascendant. The inability to see that is one of the most symptoms of our wide spread loss of soul. The denial that anything like “soul” even exists is a regular feature of the afflicted.

    Only better people can make a better world.

  77. Anon, so we can feed many more billions.. Why can’t we feed the billions that are here now?

  78. I say this as an environmentalist: “this culture” is not “killing the planet.” This sort of rhetoric gets us nowhere.

    “This culture” is killing certain things, many of them, in fact. Undeniably. I think even anti-environmentalists would agree; many of them like to kill things and do so with abandon.

    But how do you reconcile this condemnation of “killing the planet” with the natural fact that many times much of the planet’s biosphere has been wiped out, much of its flora and fauna devastated. Extinctions have been of wild proportions. They lead to great fluorescence of life afterwards.

    And still the earth toodles along.

    We are not killing it. Even a nuclear winter wouldn’t do it. Other things would come to life, new wild species would evolve and life of some sort would go on. It may not be the life you want, but it’d be some form of life.

    This is not a trite critique: I think the left and the environmental movement have never come to terms with the legacy of Darwinism. No life is more valuable than any other, except by arbitrary systems of value, which in the end they all are.

    My favourite recent example: the sad protests against culling hundreds of bunny rabbits at the University of Victoria. How could they kill the bunnies! But there is no protest of the hundreds of rat traps and poison bait stations that likely litter that campus.

    I would like to see people like Mr. Jensen think a little harder about that fact. Otherwise his essays remain semi-well-argued emotional appeals.

  79. I’m going to side with Edward Abbey on this one. Not that I think Derrick Jensen’s points are entirely invalid. And not that I think he writes all this to take a shot at Abbey(though the charges of racism and misogyny do seem more like cheap jabs than matters crucial to the plot). I’m siding with Abbey because I believe, if we’re going to worry about a hierarchy, that the “half-hearted” part is more important than the “fanatic” part, that enjoying the land is more important than fighting for it.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not equating enjoyment of the land with any human-centered, destructive act meant to provide a cheap thrill. And I’m not equating half-heartedness with self-destructive passivity. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t become so assured of and comfortable with our own purity as to succumb to some fire and brimstone kind of zealotry. I’m just saying that to defend a place out of a militaristic duty rather than from an abiding sense of joy is to embark on a mission doomed from the start.

    I like Jensen, albeit frustratedly. Endgame is on my bookshelf now, and I take the time to read and consider his columns in every Orion issue. But the rhetoric in this essay worries me. I mean, we’re introduced to the online version with reference to environmental “crusaders.” There’s a word saturated with associations if there ever was one. Then there’s the whole “fanatic” call, as though the world needs more people who think, with violence as a practical resort, that they are righter than other people. And who is it that determines, in light of the murder of our planet, what lives (books, films, paintings, songs, relationships, etc.) are and are not forgivable? This is all rhetoric I’ve heard before, and I suppose it takes little imagination to figure out where.

    I find Jensen’s invocation of Martin Buber interesting; I only wish he would have taken Buber’s philosophy to its full extent: If anybody other than the choir members are going to take Jensen or any other environmentalist up on this call for fanatics, then Jensen and other like-minded environmentalists are going to have to replace their current, patronizing “I-it” relationship with the members of this industrial civilization with the “I-Thou” relationship, a relationship that is not possible assuming that most lives are unforgivable.

  80. mike k

    We may be able to endure until the last red dwarf burns out.

    I think you may be getting the wrong impression of scientists. Contrary to popular belief our religiosity is about the same as the rest of the population.

    Science is by definition the study of natural phenomenon through objective observation and reproducible experimentation to create predictive models. Any supernatural phenomenon which may or may not exist cannot be assessed by the scientific method. Moreover even if supernatural phenomena could be observed objectively they could not be reproduced or used to create a predictive model, thereby making the attempted observation entirely pointless. When a scientist is utilizing the scientific method they do not spare a thought to the existence or nonexistence of supernatural phenomenon, because neither possibility has any impact on his observations. Science is not a worldview, it is not a philosophy. It has taken us too long to remove all philosophical and subjective content from the original Natural Philosophy to jeopardize the extremely effective tool that science has become.

    A real scientist is not an atheist, believer, or agnostic when working. They do not think about supernatural things, because doing so would be pointless.

    All that said, it is my subjective religious opinion that God wants humanity to conquer the universe all 800 billion galaxies of it. But even if we have not be given dominion by divine mandate it makes no difference. We have the power to take it, we have laid claim to this planet. And we will lay claim to all others, until the last gram of hydrogen is ours. It will take a very long time, but if we remain true to our dream and are very lucky we have hundreds of billions of years to do it. For those who would say that is impossible I can only bring up an article that supports your own pro-biosphere views. They’re math checks out, if we could maintain the 1994 population growth rate “after 6000 years, the mass of the human population would equal the estimated mass of the observable universe”. Although this is impossible to sustain at one time, an high population growth rate could be sustained each time we find new resources. The planetary mass of every new stellar system visited would be consumed only a few millenia after it is colonized, then the inhabitants could live around the star until it burns out. Even at an average velocity of 0.1C we could still consume the universe before it cools. At least that’s the endgame many of us are working for. No magic faster than light travel, no enlightened space empire, just a slow methodical expansion as far as we can make it. We won’t know if it is possible unless we try. In the distant future the remaining lifetime of Sol may seem to be a very short period. In a universe dominated by entropy “sustainability” is a myth. But we will live much longer if we try.

  81. Anon: I wonder who you work for? Stratigrapher (?) sounds like a fossil fuel guy. That would help me understand where some of your more bizarre thinking about the environment and the purpose of human life come from.

  82. Mike

    Where the “anonymous” guy is coming from is obvious. He is one of those who believes that 20k more years of control and planetary manipulation are better than the 2MM years that preceded it. He is the ideal of the disembodied (but greedy)scientific observer. He would rather we all float around, just brains consuming commercial distractions, with no bodies, on an uninhabitable planet. All I know is that when the forced extermination of a few billion humans becomes necessary, he should be among the first. [Can’t wait to see his reply… it is sure to be self servingly..SCIENTIFIC!!]LOL

  83. Sandy: Agreed. Our dysfunctional “culture” is bound to produce some truly off-the-chart types. Even the over-heated imaginations of the old comic book and SF authors would be amazed at some of our current products. Like the ruling elites who go around thinking they are the crème de la crème, rather than the loathsome scumbags they are. At the risk of offending some of the easily fooled lefties among us, Obama reminds me more and more of Mussolini jutting out his chin as if he is way above it all. What a fraud. And given the psychology of the human ego, the folks who voted for him now find it impossible to see him for the corporate tool he is. How easily deluded the undeveloped mind is. And people think all the problems are “out there”.

  84. Many thanks to Professor Emeritus Gary Peters for being a participant, not a spectator of events, and for fulfilling what President Barack H. Obama (quoting former President Abraham Lincoln) asked of us earlier this year,
    “We are not bound to win but we are bound to be true; we are not bound to succeed but we are bound to live up to the light we possess.”

    Gary Peters is true and living up to the light he possesses. He is providing stand-alone analyses of vital matters, that is to say, looming global threats to human and environmental health already visible to humanity on the far horizon.

    It is not clear to me why so many experts have chosen not to follow Dr. Peters’ example, but instead choose to remain electively muted spectators of what is happening on Earth in our time. Willful silence of experts who possess knowledge derived from the best available scientific evidence strikes me as a tragic anomaly, one that has unfortunately become a dominant, widely shared characteristic of many too many human population professionals in our time. How are we to address and overcome human-forced global challenges when population experts with appropriate expertise fail to acknowledge certain scientific evidence, however unforeseen and unwelcome, by hiding the evidence in silence?

    Keep speaking out loudly and clearly about what is true, as best you can see it, Gary.

    PS to Anon: I am a psychologist.

  85. Steve: As a psychologist you should be aware that the minds of scientists are just as conditioned by social programming as the rest of us. Reward and punishment are quite effective instruments for ensuring those receiving them will conform to the predictable patterns those wielding these instruments desire. To wit: if you want to keep your job, keep your mouth shut concerning things your employer doesn’t support. Given that our universities are now mainly tools of the corporate structure (as is the government, military, etc) if one desires tenure, research funds, etc. one is made aware that “bucking the system” is not the way to “stay on the team”. The kind of devotion to truth and the good of all that you exemplify and espouse is to put it mildly not common.

    The kind of inner transformation that I see as so essential now is all about folks finding a deeper, truer basis for their thought and action than the shallow self-serving, conformist ego most folks operate from. The inner determines the outer. Only better people can make a better world.

  86. I’ve done a few different things over the years. I’ve identified a trilobite species in the Conococheague limestone, and did some work on the Iberia Peninsula in chalky limestones that produce oil, but mostly I work in the gas reservoir sandstones of the Eastern USA. But I’m not a brilliant geologist by any means, I just have a talent for mapping gas reservoirs. I have met many smarter geologists then myself. I am a small wheel in a modestly sized gas production company, that is all.

    I’d like to stress that neither the natural nor artificial are inherently superior. Watching a sunset, hunting, cruising around in a car, reading novel, watching tv, playing PacMan; they’re all just distractions. I don’t see how people who have a taste for more mechanized forms of entertainment are somehow worse human beings for it. For me it’s not about the money, material things, or relationships, it’s about my job. Many scientists are blacksmiths that have fallen in love with their anvils. I like finding and extracting natural gas, and I like seeing human artifices being built.
    Other people like natural things. It’s a personnel preference, I can’t see how one is better than the other.

    I’m also confused about many people around here think that those who support an industrial way of life don’t think about the implications of there actions. Most people support it because they think it is what is best for the human species. A mechanistic system could keep the greatest number of humans alive for the greatest amount of time. As for the other species, well not everyone cares about them. I’m concerned about beneficial insects and bacteria while it is still preferable to have them around, However some of the organisms people dwell on like whales, polar bears, and other megafauna, really aren’t that important to the maintenance of the biosphere. We can imitate their behavior by fishing for planktonic organisms or killing seals.

  87. “I’m concerned about beneficial insects and bacteria while it is still preferable to have them around, However some of the organisms people dwell on like whales, polar bears, and other megafauna, really aren’t that important to the maintenance of the biosphere.”

    All life forms are an integral part of the biosphere. I, for one, don’t care to see a world in which grizzly bears and wolves aren’t present in the forest. I can’t even imagine a lifeless sea. A world populated by nothing but humans would be even worse. What a boring, self centered world it would be. Count me out!

  88. I second your excellent comments, Jamie. Failure to appreciate, love, and protect the total wonder of the natural world we have been gifted with represents a serious form of pathology, that has dire consequences for the individual and her/his world.

    In our juvenile hubris we pretend to understand the infinite complexity of nature. The most advanced ecologists are aware of the depth of our ignorance, and the risks we run in tampering with something so far beyond our understanding. There is no greater danger to our world than a cock-sure scientist eager to play with the fire of creation (DNA, climate, etc.). We are like little children who find some dynamite, and rush to see what it will do….

  89. Actually – everything is not a distraction.. but to the regimented rationality of a junior scientist pretending to know all perhaps all seems to be distractions.

    In fact, perhaps “scientists” need more distractions, because the life and the intrigue of life has been sucked out of everything by their cold, and seemingly objective, reasoning processes.

    Mike… this gets us back to the issue of “progress”… it is a road that leads to “Anon”, believe me.

  90. Sandy: Ah, poor “progress”! This innocent word has been twisted and tortured into whatever meanings its tormentors seek to promote. Actually, things do move along, even if only in a temporal sense. Some folks have connected that progression with the idea(s) of evolution, another hotbed of controversy.

    Extreme post-modernists deny that anything can be truly said to be better than anything else, a nasty mistake they call “ranking”. So in their minds Hitler and Gandhi stand together in glorious equality in terms of value, neither one “better” than the other. How easily some eggheads are conned out of their precious ability to distinguish good from evil. No need to drag in the nihilists, those happy philosophical campers who maintain that everything is really an endless plain of meaninglessness.

    So, to the extent that we can choose our worldview (oops, I left out the fatalists, who maintain choice is unreal) we have a range of options. For me, rather than believe that life is without meaning, purpose, or value, I choose to believe that this wonderful and mysterious process is going somewhere worth all the infinite care and depth that is woven into it, warts and all.

    Of course Derrick is right on in criticizing the rah rah boosterism that capitalist Amerikans and other nitwits are so fond of. Every word and idea admits of a dark side and a bright side. Its good to be aware of both, and as the good book says “choose life”.

  91. Sorry Mike. You and I part company here, absolutely! Indeed, time itself is an illusion, a trap, part of the scaffolding of civilization that keeps you distracted and enslaved to their programs, their progress. Even the most cutting edge physicists have determined that linear temporal flow is an illusion. Although, I did not need the physicists to tell me this. (See Julian Barbour, The End of Time.)

    I do not agree with you that there is either some grand scheme, or some purpose that either drops down from heaven or is woven into the structure of nature. Meaning is something we create… another distraction. We just cannot deal with the given, and must impart to it some telos, some final end. I don’t see it; and I don’t think it is healthy, individually or as a species, to look for some purpose, because it ultimately leads to the attempt to control, manipulate and manage the ending you visualize.

    As a matter of fact, civilized peoples, focused as we are on temporal process, unilinear flow, live constantly in fear of death, and the terror of history. Our precivilized forebearers were not so inclined, I would venture to guess. So, keep searching, and Anon will be glad to provide you with the means to realize your vision. But, me? I will just deal with the present in which I live.

  92. Sandy, that is interesting. I’ve been reflecting how I need to let go of that pervasive “planning” and “rationalizing” mentality and live in the present. But then, how will I get anything done? Crazymaking stuff.

    On another note, I’ve written a post that does a riff on Derrick’s Shorter Showers problem. For interested folks, here is the link:

  93. Sandy: I should have been warned when I read your comment to poor anon #82, “ All I know is that when the forced extermination of a few billion humans becomes necessary, he should be among the first.” Do you really know him to be so evil as to merit a death wish? I will withold my comment on the knowledge of cutting edge physicists on time or any other basic reality, lest I invoke your ire, and cause you to turn your death ray on me….

  94. Read your post at Babylon. Good one. But Derrick has his unique role, and he is very good at it. He is a one man wrecking crew of civilization apologists. If he devotes his full energy to that, it will maximize his impact. The folks that nit pick his use of a computer or space heater, are maybe looking for their romantic version of an activist saint. Folks like that can be discouraging rather that empowering to us fallible, imperfect activist wannabes. Derrick himself has said just do what you can whatever it is. He even said that providing a place for a homeless cat counted. That pleased me; we have several such felines on our farm. It also showed me the human, caring side of DJ. That counts for a lot with me.

  95. Time, like money, is a commodity. It was created by historical-scientific consciousness to enable the logistic of control over nature and people. It is at the root of the syllogism and modern rationality.

  96. Glad you liked it, Mike. I am trying to build onto what Derrick is doing. As we all are, one way or another, nah? Collaborative thinking, that’s the ticket… No one has the one right answer. But if we all hack at it, we’ll get a lot of the pieces right.

  97. Vera: I agree totally with your last post. My slice of the pie (so easy to lapse into thinking it’s the whole damn pie!) has to do with updating the ancient technologies of inner transformation to make them more accessible and effective for more people. Only new (transformed) minds will create a truly new, better world. The endlessly repeated collapse of reform movements into the same old hubris and dominator psychology is telling us something: something fundamental has not changed beneath all the shuffling of the cultural cards. We don’t need a new deal, we need a whole new game and deeply changed players to live it.

    When will we realize that the subtle determines the gross? Even in the “hard” (of course now that field is softer than a virtual field of quantum uncertainties!) science of physics, the teensiest bit of “empty” space has more energy than an enormous solar mass. “Finer than the finest is the Self” (Upanishads). That consciousness in which and as which all this manifestation is arising is subtlest of all.

    The question is, can we access that power more easily, and in such a way as to render it benignly useful, and not merely another toy dangerous to the uninitiated user? There are other ways to put this that might be easier to digest, but this is a hint as to the direction of my research. Probably sounds too far out and “woo woo” for 99.99% of those reading these comments, but who knows? There may be other fish in this pond as strange as me….

  98. I disagree with Jensen this time. Normally I don’t. Perhaps I only misunderstood him. If it weren’t for the time I spend out in nature recreating I wouldn’t have any idea what there is to save.

    I introduce people to the wilderness often and am amazed how little they know and how their first reaction is fear and their second and third, too. Without recreation, as far as they know, there is nothing to save except for a few “charismatic megafauna” they saw on TV and “natural resources” which of course are only worth saving so we can use them someday in the future.

    It has been the two summers I spent living in nature, hiking one of America’s national scenic trails, that showed me what a beautiful world we live in and that I can be comfortable, safe and happier than ever free from excess material possessions, free from cars and comforts. I became a being of nature and coming back to civilization was difficult.

    Knowing intimately how it feels to be a being of nature changed my activism. I don’t try to save the earth from civilization. I simply make decisions and take small actions to live in a way more congruent to the true self I discovered out there on the trail.

    I sometimes wonder if trying to halt the destruction of civilization is even a desirable goal. Maybe the slate needs to be wiped clean, we need to be wiped out. It’s unfortunate that all the other living beings that inhabit the web of life have to go with us, but it’s the only way to start fresh and cure this horrible mistake.

    Too few of us want to be natural people. They want to drive their Priuses to Trader Joes where they can buy all their produce individually wrapped in plastic, believing erroneously that they’ve made an environmentally benign choice. Hoping that people will wake up and save the planet before it’s too late both fails to see that it is too late already and that waking up is never going to happen on the mass scale required to make lasting change.

  99. I ready myself to compose a brief comment while taking some satisfaction in knowing that there will soon be l00 of them, each responding uniquely to Derrick Jensen’s forthright essay on a global problem of massive importance. I do not pretend to offer words more dynamic than those offered here by others. I have in mind “erstwhileterrestrial” saying in her comment about Scott Sanders’ “Mind in the Forest” (November/December 2009 issue): “We are all made of the same stuff, in a closely interwoven pattern.” Dr. Karl Sagan, significant scientist, is respected for his related, scientifically anchored statement: “We are all made of star stuff.”

    For what it may or may not be worth, I have updated my post following Sanders’ almost mystical piece today. And it IS worth saying the obvious: the “forums” after ORION articles offer the public hybrids of opinion, inspiration and fact I seldom spot elsewhere. Bravo, ORION!

  100. The Purse-seine, by Robinson Jeffers, 1937

    …….I cannot tell you
    How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible,
    then, when the crowded fish
    Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall
    to the other of their closing destiny the
    Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body
    sheeted with flame, like a live rocket
    A comet’s tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside
    the narrowing
    Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up
    to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls
    of night
    Stand erect to the stars.

    Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
    On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light:
    how could I help but recall the seine-net
    Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how
    beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
    I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
    into inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
    There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable
    of free survival, insulated
    From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all
    dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
    Is being hauled in……

  101. Steve,

    Your post is beautiful. Thank you for sharing; I have never seen that poem before. We are all fish caught up in the net, aren’t we? It’s a sad reality but oh so true.

  102. Diane. Your comments struck a deep chord in me. So beautiful. So true. Once years ago, towards the end of two weeks alone deep in the unchanged forest in Hawaii, I found myself in conversation with a dragonfly who came and perched on a twig across from me at eye level. After sitting together in silent communion for a while, she/he said to me (telepathically of course) “We creatures of the forest feel something terrible is threatening and destroying our world. Somehow this danger has to do with the energy your species is manifesting. We are just small voiceless creatures who feel powerless to stop this human invasion. You are unique in that you have come here and stayed with us long enough that we feel we can communicate with you. Will you be our voice, and tell people to stop destroying our world?” My eyes were full of tears as I promised that I would carry their message.

    Diane, when I read your statement, “I became a creature of nature and coming back to civilization was difficult”, I knew that you were someone who would understand my story. If only more people would take the time to have the experiences you and I have had in nature, we would have a different, better world…

  103. Steve –

    Your wonderful research, beautiful website, internet networking, blogging, and dependency upon the system and its tools, tells me otherwise… As I quote your poem

    “I cannot tell you how
    beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.

    I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
    into inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
    There is no escape.”

    I don’t see how it can be otherwise, until and unless there is a total destruction of the galaxies of light in the beautiful city. And then we shall see what remains.

  104. It is really interesting and instructive to notice how often the priesthood of death comes wearing the robes of liberators and salvationists. The original name posed for the Iraq invasion and lethal “shock and awe” fireworks was Operation Iraqi Liberation.
    That is until some not quite so dim bulb in the white house crew pointed out how that would play as an acronym. Oops! The wolf’s grandma disguise was in danger of slipping a bit. Of course Bush wanted to call it a “crusade”. until his handlers told him that label had a really bad reputation in the middle east.

    Makes me think of the good old days in Vietnam, when the slogan was, ‘WE HAVE TO DESTROY THE VILLAGE IN ORDER TO SAVE IT!” (Sorry for the all caps, the machine made me do it.)

    In the enthusiasm to “bring down civilization” does anyone stop to think of the cost in human lives? Oh I forgot, that comes under the heading of “collateral damage”. What’s the difference if a few million or a couple billion innocent bystanders have to be eliminated for the sake of the glorious revolution? The divine end will surely justify whatever means are necessary. After the apocalypse, the Rapture…….

  105. Sandy: Sorry, I can’t offer you anything along the lines of narcotics. Those are various representatives of the ubiquitous blue pills that help keep people asleep. My taste is for the red pills that foster awakening.

  106. Dear Sandy (#105),

    There is so much to say.

    You report, “I do not see how it can be otherwise, until and unless there is a total destruction of the galaxies of light in the beautiful city. And then we shall see what remains.”

    Let me say that only if the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us are permitted to continue adamantly advocating for the soon to become patently unsustainable things they are recklessly doing… and the humanity community keeps getting the things we are getting now…could the outcome you are fully expecting actually occur.

    Dangers for human wellbeing and environmental health of which you are already aware reside in allowing ourselves to be mesmerized by garish galaxies of light lining the “primrose path” we are so thoughtlessly and relentlessly treading.

    The future is open to a species with the distinctly human collective intelligence, self-consciousness and adaptability of a species like ours, I suppose. Human beings with feet of clay can choose to do things differently.



  107. You know, Derrick might have finally arrived at the final stage of grief. (Me, I started early)

    So, the answer to that one? Well, I can only phrase it in the form of what it DOESN’T need: You or me. It will get its wish soon enough, I reckon (if lucky). Then: Rinse and repeat as necessary.

    In the interim, I would urge you to take my advice: Take down your pants and slide on the ice.


  108. It has been reported that Britain’s foremost scientific organization has begun a two-year study into global population growth. A growing body of scientists believe the time has come for politicians and economists to become more reality-oriented by confronting extant scientific evidence thought to explain the recent emergence of global challenges posed by the unregulated increase in absolute global human population numbers.

    The eminent Royal Society of England has established a working group of leading experts to assemble recommendations on responding ably to the unbridled growth of the human population on Earth, recommendations that could set the international agenda for tackling the looming threats to environmental degradation and human wellbeing that could result from billions of extra people on an already overpopulated planet.

    Nobelist Sir John Sulston will lead the study. A failure to be open about the problems caused by the global population explosion would set back human development, he warned.

  109. Reader’s Digest Version:

    There are still too damned many of us. More is worser. Lesser is better.

    Study? Ummm….yeah…get back to us on that, Royal Academy dudes….

  110. Wade: In my darker moments of fantasy I think– wouldn’t it be nice if us underdogs came up with a mad scientist (like a DARPA guy) who could invent a plague that would knock off the icing from the world cake, and eliminate the top one% of the wealthy dudes who are gunning the planetary space-liner full speed ahead towards The Falls of Eternity. Oh well, probably wouldn’t work. With all their moolah they would probably fund some research and come up with an antidote. Durn! Guess we’ll have to rely on Derrick and his crew to take care of those folks……….somehow…

  111. I think often of the loss of humans, should I be around to witness the finally ramp-up to freefall into environmental catastrophe. I would like to think that maybe I would be one of the ones to survive.

    But I doubt that I would be one of the lucky ones. I really don’t have enough skills to live without civilization. I don’t worry about this much, though. I do not know how things will turn out.

    Jensen would have us go out there and actively dismantle civilization to save the Earth. The trouble is, the people who own civilization have guns and tanks and prisons. I’m just like the dragonfly that spoke to Mike. Life just wants to live and so do I.

    So I resist quietly. My hope is to starve the monster of its fuel: money. I take some rather drastic steps toward this goal, but maybe not drastic enough. How far would any of us be willing to go to starve the beast of money? Would Jensen approve of this tactic?

  112. Diane: I too am just like the dragonfly that spoke to me. At that time I felt an equality and communion between us, except I also felt that the dragonfly was blameless, while I as a human being was implicated more in the problem. I could not pretend that I was as blameless and innocent as this representative of suffering nature. Our encounter left me with the feeling that I would never be able to do enough to atone for humanities crimes or stop them from happening.

    How do I deal with that guilt? I try to do what I can. And I feel it is our duty to try to help, even if everything does come crashing down. Karma yoga means to do the right thing as best you can discern it, and leave the results to a higher power, however you conceive That…

    Thanks for sharing, mike

  113. “..wouldn’t it be nice if us underdogs came up with amad scientist (like a DARPA guy) who could invent a plague that would knock off the icing from the world cake, and eliminate the top one% of the wealthy dudes…”

    MIKE – guess you have no reservations about killing people either!!

  114. The current gigantic scale and growth rate of the ever expanding global “economic colossus”; conspicuous per-capita overconsumption and outrageous individual hoarding of finite resources; and unbridled human overpopulation are occurring synergistically on the surface of the Earth and threatening to precipitate the extirpation of biodiversity, the wanton dissipation of limited resources; the irreversible degradation of the environment; and the endangerment of a good enough future for children everywhere.

  115. Sandy: I had that coming to me! Pot calling kettle black and all that. In (east) Indian thought there are two stages in dealing with the negative residues in our mind-stuff. In the first, you suppress the seeds so they don’t sprout (anger, greed, etc.)

    In the second stage you burn the seeds, so they are permanently destroyed. Obviously I am still futzing around with the first stage.

    I actually thought of what I rather intemperately accused you of as I was dashing off that last post, but…….the devil (in me) made me do it anyway! Thanks for (trying) to keep me honest….

  116. Please recall that I am a psychologist. From the standpoint of a psychologist, because humans are shaped early and pervasively by cultural transmissions (memes) in our perception of reality, it becomes an evolutionary challenge for human beings to see the world as it is and, in our time, to adopt sustainable lifestyles.

    When a psychologist thinks a patient is suffering from a mental illness, that determination is a matter of evidence-based clinical judgment. However, established standards of what is normal are not clinical judgments (and sometimes do not objectively correlate with reality), but can be unverified, logically contrived, specious ‘evidence’ of socially convenient norms as well as economically expedient and politically correct cultural conventions that contain misperceptions of what is real. Because some misperceptions are valued by people with power, who widely share them and have them consensually validated in the mainstream media by their highly-paid minions, these specious memes get passed along as if they represented reality.

    In cases of deeply disturbed mental patients, they are inclined to distort reality so drastically that their distortions are not widely shared and closely held by other people. The distortions of the mentally ill are usually of no value to anyone in a culture because they yield no wealth. By contrast attractive, profit-driven misperceptions of people with power are taken to be true and shared widely as if these fallacious factoids represent what is somehow real.

    A term of art in psychology is useful here, folie a deux. The term means that two people share an identical distortion of reality. This understanding leads to other terms, folie a deux cent million for a social order or folie a deux billion for a culture. These terms refer to misperceived aspects of reality commonly shared and held by many people in aggregates. Perhaps the wealthy and powerful among us not only pay the thought leaders and opinion makers in the mass media but they also sanction these talking heads to misrepresent reality when it enhances the selfish interests of those with the greatest wealth and power.

  117. Let’s not underestimate Mother Nature. I think the earth is an entity unto itself; a living breathing organism that somehow knows what we are doing. I thought for a while maybe AIDS was nature’s solution to the human problem but it seems to have gotten weaker. It’s entirely possible that a particularly deadly strain of the flu could take out millions of us. All the hysteria about the swine flu in the last couple of years leads me to believe that the people in charge are afraid for a real good reason. Really, that’s all it would take; a deadly virus that mutates and doesn’t respond to antibiotics. Earth is back in the game!

  118. Steve: Your laser focus on the scientific evidence relating to the population explosion is laudable. We really need accurate information in this crucial area. Also try to keep in view the larger contexts in which this struggle is being waged: capitalist imperatives, nationalist expansionism, racial and ethnic competition, religious dogmatism, etc. No one approach to altering this crucial dynamic will be decisive. This is a “war” that must be won on many fronts. Thanks again for your important contribution and continuing dedication.

  119. Dear Jamie,

    While I want to give full credit to the strength of Mother Nature, a vital question still needs to be asked. How is the human community to protect itself, other creatures great and small and Mother Nature from itself?

    It is impossible for me to believe that a species so gifted as Homo sapiens will not find a way to go forward rather than endanger life as we know it and the children’s future, as we appear to be doing in our time. Somehow the miracle of life as we know it, with all its mystery, beauty and biodiversity, has to be preserved. At least we have to try, I suppose, whatever the odds.

    Many too many leaders of my not-so-great generation of elders appear to be irresponsibly directing the children down a “primrose path” to confront a world that is resource depleted, environmentally degraded and denuded of much of what is alive and well on the surface of the Earth now. Rather than acknowledge and begin to address looming global threats to human wellbeing and environmental health, these so-called leaders are willfully choosing lifestyles of effortless ease and greed. It is easy to see that these leaders have abdicated their duties to overcome problems of their own making and, furthermore, decided to avoid any hardships at all cost….. come what may for the children, global biodiversity, the Earth.

    Thanks for your comments,


  120. OOps. Didn’t read your recent post before writing you. I guess you are a lot more aware of the dimensions I noted than I gave you credit for. Apologies….

  121. Dear mike k,

    Our species has given itself the name “Homo sapiens sapiens”. In light of the deplorable, human-induced state of our planetary home as well as all of the unfinished work we have immediately ahead of us in order to begin accomplishing the many things that you and some of our brightest and best say “matter most”, are we justified by reason or common sense in naming ourselves as we have or is this way of identifying ourselves a misleading moniker of a sort that reveals more about human hubris than it says about human intelligence, much less our possessed wisdom? Would the name “Homo hubris hubris” be more accurate?

    Perhaps hubris confuses reasoning and common sense with regard to the “placement” of humanity within the natural order of living things. There is the rub, I suppose. We have learned from God’s great gifts to humanity— natural philosophy and modern science —that Earth is not the center of the universe (Copernicus); that we are set upon a tiny celestial orb among a sea of stars (Galileo); that such things as the Law of Gravity and the Laws of Thermodynamics affect living things equally, including human beings (Newton, et al); that humankind is a part of the general evolutionary process (Darwin); and that people are to a significant degree unconscious, mistake what is illusory for what is real and, therefore, have difficulty both adequately explaining the way the world works and consciously regulating our behavior (Freud).

    Now come apparently unanticipated and unfortunately unwelcome evidence of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth that indicates top rank experts in economics and demography, in particular, have for years widely shared and consensually validated a preternatural, politically convenient, economically expedient, socially satisfying and culturally syntonic understanding of human population dynamics, all the while consciously refusing to acknowledge evidence or accept the need for regulating certain distinctly human “overgrowth” activities. Humanity could soon confront a colossal global predicament resulting from 1) unrestrained per-capita consumption and outrageous individual hoarding of natural resources, 2) seemingly endless expansion of large-scale corporate production/distribution capabilities, and 3) unbridled species propagation.

    If human beings evolved on Earth (did not descend from heaven or come here from some other place in the universe) and the recent research of human population dynamics and human overpopulation are somehow on the right track, then humanity could soon come face to face with daunting global challenges that are direct consequences of human overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activties which are now threatening to dissipate the finite resources and degrade the frangible ecology of Earth. LIkewise, if the human community goes forward from this point in time by adamantly advocating the wanton increase of such activities as overconsumping and hoarding; unbridled production of unnecessary stuff; and the unregulated propagation of the human species, then how much longer can Earth be expected to remain a fit place for human habitation for children anywhere, much less everywhere?



  122. Dear Friends,

    We are witnessing a betrayal of the children by their elders that is as unconscionable as it is unbelievable. Does anyone recall a time in human history when a single generation commandeered so much for itself and left so little for its children? How much of the Earth’s resources have been devoured in one way or another by my generation? How might that compare with the devouring of resources by all previous generations in the history of Homo sapiens? I cannot find an example of another generation that behaved as if their foolhardiness, greediness and arrogance were virtues to be extolled; that their freedom was an ‘inalienable right’ which sanctions gorging and hoarding rather than an opportunity to do the right thing.

    Does each and every elder generation not have a measure of responsibility to assume for leaving the children a better place than the one that was given to us? A better place! That looks like an absolutely absurd thing to even imagine now. The mission of my generation has precious little to do with what our ancestors actually accomplished. They did change the world for the better. Economic growth in their times was organic and still sustainable. On the other hand, the formidable global challenges that loom before the human community in our time are likely the result of distinctly human activities borne of one generation’s extreme foolishness, pathological arrogance, unbridled greed and malignant narcissism. To be a species with such remarkable self-consciousness, collective intelligence and other splendid gifts and to do no better than my generation is doing is unforgiveable.

    Greed rules the world now and does so absolutely. Perhaps necessary changes toward sustainability are in the offing.



  123. These are really great comments you are posting. Your eloquent exposition of the mess we find ourselves in is wonderfully illuminating. Go man go! It is so deeply refreshing to hear someone tell it like it is. You have triggered such an avalanche of ideas in me that it will take me a bit to pare down to size what I want to say to you and all. I am a painfully slow typist, and besides it takes me time to condense the flood of ideas to a more concise message. Thanks for your sharing, Steve. It is good to know that there are thoughtful people like you out there trying to solve the world dilemma.

  124. Dear mike,

    Your comments are generous, perhaps too much so. But thank you.

    We can do more and do it better than we are doing now. But first we have to share an understanding of the colossal mess we are making. Then necessary change will begin to occur.

    According to the preferences of the Masters of the Universe among us, human beings with feet of clay are expected to embrace the “Masters'” brand of courage: ‘the courage’ to do nothing but what we are doing now…… conspicuously consuming, hoarding, travelling the world and partying hardy until the global political economy goes “over the cliff” and crashes or else collapses Earth’s ecology. The family of humanity is invited to ravenously consume and excessively hoard resources, just like the Masters of the Universe do now. Climb any mountain, cross any stream, travel to foreign lands so you, too, can worship your very own “sacred cow”. Perhaps own a fleet of autos, a private jet, a mega-yacht, a Madoff-like beach house in the Hamptons, a ski chalet in Davos, a club membership at Augusta National or day to day living in a gated community of your choosing. This is the “greed run amuck” way of life that has been legitimized, institutionalized, legalized and presented as virtuous. This “greed is good” lifestyle in which everyone is encouraged to participate is of all things, so we are told, the one and only good way to live. But this way of living in the finite and frangible world we inhabit is as reckless and unsustainable as it is obscene.

    So here we are, in the first year of a new decade after having endured a decade of moral decay, denial and darkness. Wealthy people buy politicians and the same old unsustainable business-as-usual activities continue, just as the Masters of the Universe have agreed. Corporations have their PR firms promote whatever it is they want to keep doing. We have large-scale business enterprises that are “too big to fail” and too big to succeed as viable operations because they cannot much longer be sustained on a planet with biophysical limitations of Earth.

    Nonetheless, the laser-like focus (with a “tip of the hat” to mike k.) of the Masters of the Universe remains riveted upon convenient and attractive activities associated with endless growth of the global economy, per-capita overconsuming and hoarding, and overpopulation rather than upon identifying these global human “overgrowth” activities as actual threats to human wellbeing and environmental health. By so doing, these leaders willfully and duplicitously directing the children down a “primrose path” to face some sort of human-driven wreckage that a single, selfish generation is largely responsible for precipitating.

    Perhaps it is somehow right and timely, finally, to speak out loudly, clearly, openly and often of such things even though the Masters of the Universe appear so unwilling to change their ‘virtuous’ lifestyles. I would submit that it is not human beings with feet of clay who are unready and unable to make necessary changes; to endure some hardship; and to begin addressing and overcoming global challenges. No way. The Masters of the Universe who continue choosing to disregard the wellbeing of humankind, the health of the environment, and the integrity of Earth for the ‘virtuous’ purpose of maintaining their greed-mongering way of life have unmet responsibilities to assume and duties to perform.



  125. I remember a rainy, chilly day sometime in the 70’s or was it 80’s(?) when my wife and I were trudging through a suburban neighborhood dutifully attaching flyers to doorknobs that asked people to watch the forthcoming TV special starring Jason Robards, “The Day After”, a film portraying the likely aftermath of a nuclear war. As time went on in our small anti-nuclear group, I experienced more and more the relevance of Robert Jay Lifton’s penetrating analysis of “psychic numbing and denial.” People were not only in denial, they were dead asleep!

    My years in AA gave me an experiential knowledge of how crucial psychological denial was to the possibility of recovery from alcoholism. But it only gradually dawned on me how universal this phenomenon was. Gurdjieff proclaimed, “mankind is asleep”. Indeed most of us are so totally determined by our societal conditioning, we can hardly be characterized as conscious. We are more like predictable machines than sentient beings with the power of real conscious thought and meaningful choice.

    The success of advertising and mass manipulation depends on he failure of education to achieve its true aim, that is fostering intelligent questioning, creative individuals. The problem confronting us seeking a better world, is simply this: education takes significant time to accomplish its goals. This is also true of real deep effective psychotherapy, and we are all desperately in need of that in spite of our denial and unconsciousness of our perilous lack of true sanity.

    OK. Enough for now. In a nutshell: the source of our problems is largely in ourselves.

  126. One of the keys to our possible awakening/healing is, as all psychtherapists know only too well, how can we overcome, work through, transcend our RESISTANCE to change. There are ways….

  127. We really have some sharp minds contributing here, as always. It never fails to lift my spirits when I see earnestness of so many, voicing well articulated opinions.

    Not that this will change a thing.

    I’m the most optimistic person you’ll ever meet, really, but there is no thinking person who keeps their nose to the wind (Jensen included, I’m betting) that believes deep down that the entire human race doesn’t have a shelf life.

    As far as I can tell, every generation of man believes that they are outside of history and nature. We’ve been wrong on that score for eons, and this generation is no more right than the last. What we’ve always been wrong about is the idea that the vast, vast majority of people will fail to take the opportunity to copulate, eat and accumulate as much physical comfort as their circumstances permit. Authority? See: History of Mankind To Date (Unabridged).

    Now, like I said, I’m an optimist. Optimism is a naturally selected trait, and boy have we all proven that. What I’m optimistic about mostly is that we will continue to contrive and implement ever more intricate strategies to kick the can a little further down the road. Someday, someone is not going to get to do that. Is it us, now? Maybe. Frankly though, I don’t think I’m lucky enough to live in those times. Part of me also believes that if I was, I probably wouldn’t have the ability to recongnize it. (See, that optimism again)

    So what’s a poor plowboy to do? Well, nothing more than your momma taught you: Don’t be a piggy and leave something for others. Love your neighbor and don’t waste food because that is a mortal sin. Tie your pony and wear a rubber (O.K., on that last one, Ma never went there..)

    In the end (whenever it may be) you want to be able to stand up and say that you resisted and tried to contribute as little as possible to the outcome, not because it will grant you any kind of reprieve, only because it is what decent folk do. You want to be one of those, right? Right.


  128. All language

    Is poetry

    Tempting us

    Into hidden




  129. Wade: Singing one’s song is important, even if it is unheard.

  130. Mike: I specialize in singing to the tone deaf. It really pisses them off…but, it helps to know that they are never going to develop perfect pitch, no matter how many stanzas.

  131. Steve, Mike,

    I am afraid your anger is misdirected. It is not (or perhaps I should say, no longer) the Masters of the Universe who are solely to blame for the ungoing disaster of planetary resource depletion and destruction.

    It is fascinating to see what is happening now in the world. Barely two decades into America’s uncontested, unipolar imperial status and the entire planet is apparently globalizing around our self-delusional spectacle of democratic capitalism and its digital enclaves of techno-freakiness.

    Now, for those of you who think the system is vulnerable, well perhaps you’re right. But don’t believe for one moment you are going to take it down. It will not come down by an act or even the collective acts of all the disgruntled middle class Americans and Europeans who have seen the light. There are centripetal forces holding it together as much as there are centrifugal forces pulling it apart. Aside from the controlling hands of the plutocracy (those Masters of the Universe), there is too much raw desire out there in the hinterlands of civilization, too many have-nots who have been living on the poverty stricken fringes of this beast just waiting their turn, and scratching for a piece of the elusive pie.

    The entire Soviet Bloc, for example, was systematically and forcibly excluded from all the “fun” for almost a century. But the forbidden fruits are now within their grasp. And now the Chinese have finally woken up from their slumber as well and are quickly focused on putting a car in every one of their citizens’ driveways. The Indians as well have decided they want to play in the game. In Mumbai they have made a good beginning by taking over all of the telephone customer service functions for most major American corporations. Not only that, but a majority of citizens in the West (the first world) have been living at or below the poverty line for generations. They too want a payday and a taste of the forbidden fruit.

    The only way you’re going to bring down Western civilization, its curriculum and its spectacle, is if you pry it from the dying hands of all these previously designated have-nots and the plutocrats who own and manage it. You can see it in the younger generation of Siberians here in Barnaul. They cannot live without their cell phones, their iPods, their recently financed cars and newly minted driver’s licenses. They are tasting the promise of the spectacle, and they are mesmerized by its elusive appeal. It is not just blue jeans they want… they want it all!

    So, what about those of us who have this sense of ennui today, this feeling of pre post-collapse blues? How do we act on this feeling and prepare for the reality of a post-collapse world? First, if we think that we can somehow return to the Garden, how things were before the rise of civilization – back to the life of a hunter-gatherer – we are ourselves delusional. The conditions for the possibility of a return no longer exist. The land bases have been destroyed: raped and depleted of their natural flora and fauna. Moreover, the tools of civilization have become too much like a second skin for any of us to let go of them so easily, if at all. Rousseau was right when he said that civilization replaces our natural instincts with other, newer one’s, without which we cannot long survive in civil society. So, to prepare for such a return would be a fool’s errand.

    However, it does seem that our current course is unsustainable, and will eventually consume itself in its own greed and shortsightedness. So, what does one do in this state of malaise, living with the pre post-collapse blues?

    The most likely piece of advice is to find a small piece of manageable land in the more northern climes. This assures you that most freeloaders from the collapse won’t bother you. They will most likely head south, where it is warmer, thinking life should be easier there. But when global warming really sets in the north will be a paradise (relatively speaking), the south more like hell. And you will be sitting in the catbird’s seat, so to speak.

    Next, it may be good to learn how to fish, hunt, and grow your own vegetables. Also, learn how to forage for mushrooms, berries, and nuts in the forests. A course in naturalism might be advisable. Make sure you understand which foods are edible and which are not when going into the forest.

    Begin simplifying your life; wean yourself off of technology – computers, television, stereos and cell phones. Learn how to live without it all. Automobiles! Hah, that’s a joke. There won’t be any gas or oil around to run them. Remember Mad Max!! Bicycles may be a good source of transportation for short distances. But, then, you may be wiser learning how to enjoy life in the forest, the cave or your small cottage if you’ve prepared one that’s easily maintainable.

    Try to locate a good source of drinking water to set up your outpost. And whatever you decide to do, do it with someone you trust and care for, and who cares deeply for you. You will need that security, because that will be all you get. A small tribe or perhaps a clan of loosely related, like-minded folk would be a good idea. The prospective anarchy that will follow the collapse of civilization will not resemble in the least the primal anarchy of egalitarian tribes of hunter-gatherers that preceded the fall into civilization.

    This post-collapse anarchy may more truly resemble Hobbes’ war of all against all. It is best to be prepared; or perhaps, just let it be, and enjoy the moment!! After all, the moment is all we really have.

    Good Luck!

  132. Dear Sandy,

    Well done. Thanks for your perspective. I suppose we will have to wait and see what the future holds.



  133. Sandy, Your thoughts echo mine exactly. There’s no way to stop the machine until it slowly grinds itself to a halt. I have already been thinking about a small piece of land up North. My significant other is already experimenting with solar and wind energy and I am growing a garden again this winter to try and reclaim some of the skills I had in my younger days. The hardest thing to pinpoint is when this all will take place. Will it even happen in my lifetime?

  134. Dear Jamie,

    Your question regarding ?WHEN? is one I hope we can play with in the course of this discussion.

    Always with thanks,


  135. Good to see the moneyed among us will be able to buy their way to survival. A little piece of land in the north. Wouldn’t that be nice? That is why I wonder how on earth we can stop this machine. It takes money to escape it and the only way to get that money is to participate in it, to feed it. If you quit participating, you may starve the beast, but you won’t be one of the lucky ones to survive on rabbit and purslane on your own little piece of land.

  136. Not to worry about that Diane…there is/will be plenty of squatter opportunities to exploit. I figure that the largest percentage of those will be 1/2 acre lots, possibly built on arable tilth. Start shopping now. Remember: Knowledge and experience travels light, and well. Get you some, right?

  137. First of all, I don’t think money will buy anyone out of this mess. Second of all, Plowboy is absolutely right about those squatter opportunities; there is BLM land all over the West, and if the rest of the world is in chaos who is really going to be paying attention to squatters? Diane is right, the only way to get money is to feed into the eventual downfall that will follow. Have any of you read Alas, Babylon? It might be worth another look these days.

  138. Steve: I agree, the question of WHEN is very important to consider. As a prelude to my thoughts on that I would like to share a poem written many years ago (this stuff is not new!) by William Butler Yeats. There could well be material here to craft a theme song for our wandering movement?

    The Second Coming

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight; somewhere in the sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast , its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  139. If your version of civilization collapsing is based on the romantic glosses put out by some, check out the current instalment of Amy Goodman’s recent trip to Haiti. Reality sucks compared to our wishful imaginings. Apocalypse has been with us since the very beginning, if you look in the right places, or happen to be in one of them.

  140. PS- Most of you know Amy, but if not she is online and on the air wiyh Democracy Now!

  141. Dear mike k,

    One revelatory poem deserves another. How about Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley?

    I met a traveler from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

  142. Good one, Steve. I thought of Ozymandias when I sent the Yeats, but didn’t want to overload the circuits!

  143. BTW Anyone doubting that “miraculous turnarounds in consciousness can occur that also result in large scale reorientation’s for the world at large, should check out wiki on Ashoka, the fearsome conqueror who turned to Buddhism, and left the famous pillars proclaiming the principles of nonviolence, peace, vegetarianism, etc. Could something like that happen in our times? What about Gorbachev? Not the same thing, but quite a world changing reversal. Eh?

    Please don’t somebody tell me, “yes, but he didn’t bring down civilization, and that is the one stop panacea for all that ails us.” Some of us still don’t reject steps in the right direction, even if others may say, “no way, that’s the dreaded PROGRESS DEMON!”

  144. When will the worldwide apocalyptic collapse occur? The rapturists say, “any time now.” The Jensenite’s say, “the sooner the better.” I say it is happening now, and it started happening a long, long time ago, we are part of it and it will continue.

    But, there are different ways to collapse, and that is what folks rightfully worry about. Will it all go in one big bang (our nuclear stockpiles make that a real possibility), or will it mimic the pattern of slow (but horrible) decline other civilizations have experienced, like the Roman Empire, for example. Fans of Arnold Tonybee favor the slow death scenario. JMG the Archdruid (whose site I highly recommend) is also of this opinion, and I tend to agree with him, that this is the most likely unfolding.

    On the other hand, there is the wonderful feature of basic uncertainty woven into the fabric of this continuum, and you can’t rule out a black swan or two confounding the most careful analyses. And so there will be “time yet for a hundred indecisions, and for a hundred visions and revisions, before the taking of a toast and tea.” In short, don’t expect any certainty in this prognostication: too many damn butterflies flapping there wings with disconcerting unpredictability. As frustrating as it can be, there is a kind of hope in this unknown, a sort of possible cosmic loophole we could crawl out through by sheer blind luck, like a four leaf clover shaped wormhole in space. Or a really long shot, especially in this secular time, a miracle of divine magic to help us over this hump in our spiritual development. Don’t count on it. My Sufi teacher says, “you have to work for it”. It’s like really important school work; unless you do the work its really pointless to be in school. We are in school, whether we know it or not…

  145. About squatting: Don’t think I haven’t found a good source of information on how to do this well. :)

    I just want people to really think about their back-up/escape plans. Is what you are planning just a means of escape that continues the machine just long enough for you to get yours and get out? Are you willing to stop feeding the machine before you’ve got your future survival secured? Not too far from what Jensen is arguing, I suppose.

  146. mike k – Absolutely. I totally agree. My sister was in a car accident 29 years ago. She was in a coma and it didn’t look good. A brain scan showed activity but it wasn’t ordered or patterned. The doctor admitted that there was much about brain injury that they didn’t understand, and that my sister was even still alive at this point was unexpected. After hearing what he had to say my response was, “My hope lies in what you don’t know.” My sister survived and has a rewarding, though different than it would have been, life. Ya never know.

  147. Hi Susan, good to hear from you. There is a film called “Alchemy” that is one of my favorites. I think you, and possibly your sister would really enjoy it. “Magic” still happens. Sometimes it just needs a little help from us…

  148. Furthermore, Susan, I believe the answers to our world and individual dilemmas lie in areas which science (due to historical reasons) has been slow to penetrate. Really, all “science” means is knowing, and ways of knowing. Some knowers in the East have looked into the deeper layers of reality western science has neglected .

    We each have on-board the most powerful instrument known for penetrating the depths of reality, and using constructively what we uncover there. One might legitimately question whether such knowledge could be abused and used for unholy purposes. Sufis say that “the secret protects itself”. A well known source states, “only the pure in heart can see God”. I believe that there is a fail-safe impenetrable firewall that prevents the illegitimate theft of the most basic knowledge. TMI? Maybe…

  149. How do you stop feeding the machine when that’s all you have done your whole life? We are starting to see all the things we take for granted collapse. Our government is a mess and we just keep spending money we don’t have to keep the ball rolling. ” Progress” is based on “growth”; if we keep growing we need more and more to feed into the machine and it creates an endless cycle that leads to destruction. I never even thought about any of this until the last couple of years, but it’s so crystal clear to me now. I’m not just worried about me and my survival; I’m worried about all life, human and nonhuman. Our world is a wonderful creation and it would be a shame to let mankind ruin it.

  150. Jamie Archer: If enough people wake up to our situation as you have we may be able to come up with ways to stop this madness. Find friends who are also waking up, and start a small consciousness raising group. Meet regularly and share your concerns and ideas. Look what women did with these kind of groups in the sixties. Those little groups started with four women coming together in a New York apartment. Out of this kind of ferment and energy may come new directions for turning us back from this lethal course. If you think small groups can’t do anything, think about AA, Communist cells in Tsarist Russia, or again the feminist revolution. What have we got to lose? Everything.

  151. A lot less talk and a lot more action. You don’t need groups to show you the way, you just do or not do. First, reduce consumption. It will feel good and nobody has to show you how. Spend more time in nature, and unplug that TV. If you have to drive a car, then drive easy…if not park-it and bus, bike walk or carpool. We need to wean from oil, when you drive easy you save oil, lots of oil. We need a mantra like “wean Baby wean”

  152. Jay, those are good things. I do a lot of those things and more.

    I am heartened by people who are saying “enough”. There are more and more of us. I think we are all hoping for a catalyst to make “enough” our way of life. Most people I know seem to hope for, welcome some kind of end to industrial culture.

    Jensen seems impatient for the end of industrial culture. He wants people to crash the industrial establishment with direct action and do it quickly. He uses the analogy of someone entering your home to harm your family and how you would react swiftly and decisively to save them. But I think it’s more like we are prisoners or people under a totalitarian regime and we work in secret, slowly, and once we gain enough momentum we can bring down the regime or watch as it collapses under its own weight.

    I think Jensen’s direct action would temporarily strengthen industrial culture and cause it to extract and destroy even faster, perhaps to completion. A slow crash may be better. Lots of people slowly crashing the current system by withdrawing from it.

    I can hope for this anyway. It’s what I’m working toward little-by-little.

  153. Ah, the man/woman of action! Just do it! Sitting around talking about it is just a waste of time. Get off your butt and make it happen! Reminds me of the endlessly recycled westerns I watched as a kid. Little did I suspect that I was being conditioned to a worldview that despised deep thinking, collaborative process, and all the things that make real community. Instead, forceful (in the end violent) coercive action was modeled as the way to “get things done.”

    All this glorification of the “strong” individual as hero supported a hierarchical male dominated patriarchal vision that goes way back to the dawn of civilization. How easily we slip into that old familiar jacket when we “roll up our sleeves” and “tackle” some problem determined to “deal with it quickly and decisively”. Those effete intellectuals who sit around talking and talking (here the man of action stifles a yawn) never really get anything done.

    I am not going to run this reflection as deep as it could be taken. Enough said. Please do not automatically dismiss looking deeply (Thich Nhat Hahn) and small group discussion (Amerind style) community building as a waste of time. I believe it could be crucial to our survival as a species.

  154. mike k: Again, absolutely. There are some scientists penetrating the depths of cosmos/consciousness, and there are moments, I believe, when transformation is possible. What I call, “the space between”. There are elders in ancient places praying for the Earth and that humans wake up. I believe this work is so important. I believe, also, that it is time (past time) to come together in groups to learn/explore this and other ideas and actions but it seems that is happening less and less than even 10 years ago. As we need to come together we are becoming more isolated. One of the side-effects of industrial civilization. How to break out of it when we need money to do so, and must partcipate in order to get that money is a real problem I haven’t yet been able to solve, either personally or conceptually for others. I admire people who have been able to at least break away from conventional job/wage slave and find ways of bringing in enough $ through their own efforts. In fact, I used to be able to support myself (barely) through my writing, but no more, so I’m a part-time wage slave. It feels like going back in time even as I age. I’m counting the years to “early retirement”, keeping my fingers crossed that safety net will still be there four years from now.

    Jamie, the fact that you have come a long way since two short years ago is very hopeful to me. I know there are lots and lots of people like you, recently awakened or close to becoming awakened.

    Personally, I’d love to find like-minded people willing to at least come together to seriously look at creating something tangible where we could live, garden, help one another, share “stuff”, be off the grid, or close to it . . . . An elders “back to the land” dream. But squatting here in Maine isn’t possible. Land is outrageously expensive, selling my home won’t enable me to buy into a cohousing or similar situation, they are only for the wealthy unfortunately. A lot of the equity my sister and I accumulated in our home has been lost due to the market situation here, with no signs of recovering. The land we have (4 acres) borders the Old Saco River and much of it is considered flood plain so bringing people here isn’t possible in today’s zoning regulations. Ah well. I just hope when things come down, and they will, that my sister and I have managed to come together with family & friends to help one another, love and laugh a little, share the burdens. I do believe in miracles, as I’ve said before. But they don’t just happen, they require lots of hard work.

  155. Dear mike k,

    I suppose you would agree that before responsible action is taken, there needs to be widely shared and consensually validated understanding of the predicament in which we and the rest of the human family find ourselves in these early years of Century XXI.

    If we fail to adequately come to know the root cause of what ails us, there is little chance of formulating a sensible treatment plan.



  156. BTW, if you want to starve the beast, you first need to know what it eats:

    I’m a failed Econ student (thank the Lord) and a math moron, so most of what is reported here flies right over my head…but I find that the more I try to understand, the more I do about the death throes of Keynsian economic theory. Plus, these people are hilarious in their comments. Take heart from their realistic world view and study it as JMG advises, like a teenager studying the latest “Twilight” episode. If you do, you’ll have one less reason to be surprised when the predicted pans out.

  157. Consider this: “Without Vision (Wisdom) the people perish.”

    Does anyone really think we can muddle our way through this perhaps climactic version of world crisis without coming up with ways to make wisdom the basis of our thought and action? By the way, Wisdom does not magically spring up as the result of “wise” pronouncements or intentions. It arises in the course of the persistent application of deep practices often referred to as “spiritual work on oneself” best engaged in a community of mutual support.

  158. Steve, Susan: Your insightful input happened while I was notching that last arrow. Lemme think how to respond….

  159. Please note that everyone except the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us are acknowledging the human-induced global predicament facing humanity. These so-called leaders know the situation, too, but they willfully refuse to openly speak of that which they have knowledge. As I see it, we have a group of leaders who possess stupendous wealth as well as the extraordinary power only great wealth can purchase, but they are not providing leadership. The avarice, arrogance and extreme foolhardiness of this tiny minority are dominant traits of those who are leading humankind down a “primrose path”.

    Perhaps evidence of necessary change, from what can be expected fairly soon to become unsustainable to what is sustainable, will become visible ubiquitously in the offing. Change from living unsustainably to adopting sustainable lifestyles will surely require some cooperation, sacrifice, hardship and work. Now greed, hubris and ideological idiocy rule the world.

    The ruling elites choose every day to engage in a wide array of colossal, unsustainable human activities when it is in their selfish interests to do so. At least to me, as soon as the ruling elites who are organizing and managing the seemingly endless growth of gargantuan business enterprises and gigantic instrumentalities of governance now overspreading the surface of Earth; as soon as these so-called leaders choose to see it in their interests to move toward the construction of sustainable human enterprises, then necessary changes toward human-scale structures and lifestyles will occur ubiquitously.

    The ruling elites could choose to give up their arrogant and foolish ideas of themselves as Masters of the Universe, I suppose, and become, once again, what all of us are and have been: human beings with feet of clay. As things go now, this leadership appears to be choosing to direct the children down a primrose path that could fairly soon precipitate the destruction of what these leaders claim to be protecting and preserving.

  160. There is so much to ponder when considering the state of the world that we live in. Right now I am sitting in the waiting area of a Chevy dealership in South Florida writing this and thinking about my job, which is totally pointless. I drive around (wasting oil) all day long and sell luxury items to car dealerships; leather, sunroofs, video etc. and live in an area where it’s extremely unaffordable, overcrowded, and not many people have a clue about what the natural world is like. I owe too much on a small house that’s underwater now that the housing market crashed. I will be 50 this year and I never imagined that I would be feeling this way about the world we live in. I feel so very stuck; another victim of the machine. The one thing I have going for me is that I’m not much of a victim, never have been. Unlike Susan, the only person who feels this way about the current state of our world that I know of is my boyfriend. You should be very thankful you have your sister and family members that share in your beliefs. The worst part is that I do not know what to do to change anything.

    I’ve always been somewhat of an advocate for wildlife; wolves, bears and all of the wild animals that are falling prey to human expansion; I sign petitions and donate money in an effort to help where I can. I adopt homeless dogs and cats and feed the ones I run across that I can’t catch. I try and take care of my neighbors and help them when they need it; but this is not enough. When the industrialized world we depend on for survival comes crashing down around us, what are we to do?

    I have thought about walking away from it all and moving out West, but I still have to participate in the working world because I need money to survive, just like we all do. I would like to find like-minded people who can see the end coming. Everyone I know thinks that like the banks, we are too big to fail, but I see things differently. I keep coming back to a quote attributed to Native Americans: ‎”When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

  161. Jamie….at least you are asking the questions. That puts you well ahead of about 99% of the people walking around out there today, I reckon.

    As a 51 y.o. guy, I can also confirm for you that a lot of your ideation is not unusual for someone our age. It is just the time that when we all start asking the “is this it?” question. I constantly check myself to defend my beliefs to myself. Are they well reasoned reactions to a world gone haywire, or are they the typical ruminations of a grumpy old man. (Hey you kids! Get off of my lawn!) Whatever you are up to, self doubt in some amount is a great thing. Don’t let it lead to inertia though. At some point, you should act.

    Which leads me back around to your question. What to do?

    Well, the answer to that one is always (and only): Do what you can, now. Ask yourself: What is possible here, and now. Let long range plans build on short term ones, I’d say.

    It will be up to you only to decide what that is. What it will probably take is a tolerance for discomfort outside of your personal comfort zone. It will also take a willingness to not care if you look a fool in the eyes of others.

    Oh, and if you wind up providing a positive example for others who are asking the same questions, be willing to share and even to lead when necessary.



  162. Oh, and…

    While that quote is a beautiful sentiment, it was actually written for a television screenplay in the 70’s, and falsely attributed to Chief Seattle. It is a myth that not even the screewriter has been able to stamp out, so don’t feel bad.

  163. Jamie, unfortunately my family is scattered. My closest son is 2 1/2 hours away. My sister lives with me but has lots of issues stemming from her brain injury. While she gets the situation we’re in on some level, she is very stuck in living a middle class life and has a very hard time with many of the changes I’m trying to implement. Change is hard for brain injured people. They get in patterns and it can take forever to break them and establish new ones. She is easily frustrated and her short-term memory is very bad. I am learning patience from her, and I have to admit I’m not always a great student. In many ways she’s like a child rather than an equal who can share the emotional and physical realities of living in these times. She has her moments though and I don’t want to paint it all bad. Still, I’m responsible for her and I feel it as a burden at times because it limits the choices I can make about where and how I live.
    But we do what we can. Today I harvested herbs for oils and tinctures. And now my sister is going to help me stack wood for the winter. I’m very grateful for her help w/this! I am blessed, though, with a family that does understand where I’m coming from even if they don’t always agree with me. But then I’ve been ahead of the curve – aware of what’s going on way before most people because of the work I’ve chosen to do. Where as son # 2 used to roll his eyes when I’d talk about climate change or pollution or whatever, now he says, “Mom, you were right all those years ago.” He woke up. And I can see changes he and his wife are making in their lifestyles because of it. Is it enough? No way. But I’m encouraging even little changes and hope someday we live closer so I can participate more in their lives.

  164. Susan, Jamie, et alia: The ability to stay calm and centered will be invaluable as a basis for whatever you decide or do in the days to come. Meditation is the most effective practice to develop these abilities and more. A few minutes a day of this will give benefits for the other hours of your days that can only be experienced to be fully appreciated. Come what may you will be there; will it be a you that is agitated, afraid, angry, confused? It doesn’t have to be.

    As to methods, the basic technique of counting your breaths has served zen practitioners well for centuries. Sit (no special posture needed) close your eyes, and begin counting your exhalations from one to ten. When (if) you get to ten, simply continue, starting at one again. If thoughts arise and you forget the count, just easily go back to one and continue on. Thoughts arising and distracting you from the breath count are natural and expected, and do not pose a problem; they are part of the meditation process.

    Five minutes is a good beginning length, but in time you will want to gradually increase to twenty minutes, twice a day. Before breakfast or when you first get out of bed, and before the evening meal are good times to fit your practice in.

    The benefits of this ancient, universal practice will begin with the first time you do it. With consistent practice the deep benefits will begin to come clear to you. Be assured that really profound and beneficial changes in the functioning of your nervous system will result from your practice. There is now a ton of solid scientific evidence confirming this, in addition to the subjective improvements all of us regular meditators report.

    Good luck on your meditative journey/adventure. (There are some delightful experiences along the Way….)

  165. Susan, Jamie, et alia: The ability to stay calm and centered will be invaluable as a basis for whatever you decide or do in the days to come. Meditation is the most effective practice to develop these abilities and more. A few minutes a day of this will give benefits for the other hours of your days that can only be experienced to be fully appreciated. Come what may you will be there; will it be a you that is agitated, afraid, angry, confused? It doesn’t have to be.

    As to methods, the basic technique of counting your breaths has served zen practitioners well for centuries. Sit (no special posture needed) close your eyes, and begin counting your exhalations from one to ten. When (if) you get to ten, simply continue, starting at one again. If thoughts arise and you forget the count, just easily go back to one and continue on. Thoughts arising and distracting you from the breath count are natural and expected, and do not pose a problem; they are part of the meditation process.

    Five minutes is a good beginning length, but in time you will want to gradually increase to twenty minutes, twice a day. Before breakfast or when you first get out of bed, and before the evening meal are good times to fit your practice in.

    The benefits of this ancient, universal practice will begin with the first time you do it. With consistent practice the deep benfits will begin to come clear to you. Be assured that really profound and beneficial changes in the functioning of your nervous system will result from your practice. There is now a ton of solid scientific evidence confirming this, in addition to the subjective improvements all of us regular meditators report.

    Good luck on your meditative journey/adventure. (There are some delightful experiences along the Way….)

  166. Steve #160 I agree. The first stage of awakening is becoming aware of how screwed up we are. Further stages go into this more deeply. DJ is great in spelling out and making one aware of how deeply dysfunctional our culture (and by implication ourselves) are. The rest of any true healing path concerns finding out and enacting the things we can do to go beyond our illness. The guys in one of my prison groups said it well: “If you are in a mess, you are the mess you are in.” Responsibility requires a deeper self honesty than most of us exhibit or are capable of in the midst of our malaise. Fortunately working in a group where older members model this new level of self-confrontation can gradually teach us to change.

  167. Sitting on my porch

    Phasing in and out

    Of meditation

    A butterfly landed

    On my knee

    We had a little chat

    And my new friend

    Reminded me that

    Everything is not

    On the surface

    There are hidden

    Depths rich with

    Exquisite beauty

  168. Thanks Steve, I find your comments deeply meaningful and enriching.

  169. Sorry for the double post. Dang machine! Of course it probably was me, again…

  170. BTW if anyone should take up the meditation practice I suggested, I would be glad to answer any questions that might arise. I have shared this in several settings. I am NOT a “guru”!

  171. Ahhh, the MacMillan quotation captures something I’ve been thinking a lot about. It’s the same sentiment that has me believing lately that satire is the only form of sanity. … As for being paralyzed into inaction, as per Tom Auer’s comment: I agree that most of us feel like we’re facing this crisis like an infant faces a Rubik’s cube. We don’t know where to begin. Which is why beginning with thought–however passive that may seem to an activist–can lead ultimately to a life of resistance. And sometimes ACTION isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, y’know? It’s love of action that has us drilling, digging, accumulating, *doing*. How about embracing thoughtful *being* & targeted *non-doing* once in a while?

  172. 102. From ‘Paracelsus’
    By Robert Browning (1812–1889)


    TRUTH is within ourselves; it takes no rise
    From outward things, whate’er you may believe.
    There is an inmost centre in us all,
    Where truth abides in fullness; and around,
    Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in, 5
    This perfect, clear perception—which is truth.
    A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
    Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW,
    Rather consists in opening out a way
    Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape, 10
    Than in effecting entry for a light
    Supposed to be without.

  173. ‎”We stand now where two roads diverge…… The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road-the one “less traveled by”-offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
    -Rachel Carson

    Even though I am one who has come late to that fateful crossroads where two roads to the future diverge, perhaps it is not yet too late to make a difference that makes a difference by choosing the path to sustainability now.
    -Steve Salmony

  174. Mike k, I do have a question. I recently read Vinay Gupta saying that his inner chatter quit permanently after 6 years of meditating. Have you had a similar experience?

  175. Portland, Oregon “The City of Roses” Since offering my remarks (#99), I have followed those of several, the majority of them by four ORION readers. Not surprisingly, access to a state beyond body and time by stepping into meditation, has been held up as recommended. Very well and good!I personally, like so many others today and in the course of millennia, find insight into and momentum to address the current lapses and opulence omnipresent and global in P O E T R Y. Or in music, for me that which has survived from the l7th century to early 20th — most raucous contemporary sounds not as profoundly nourishing as, say, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and that of talents cherished before and after his lifetime.

    How fitting that “The Second Coming” by Yeats, “Ozymandias” by Shelley, lines by Browning and a fragment by Frost, the poet who took the road less travelled, are cited. Each poem can be found in any poetry anthology. And reading
    or reciting poetry in general is not the tedious, “academic” ordeal some insist it is, certainly not on the part of students (high school to university) I taught before stepping into retirement. That was their vocal AND written stance.

    To add to the poems cited as gates into sharper perceptions in a time of acute affluenza and fear, may I quietly share what the T’ang Dynasty Chinese poet TU FU (712-770 A.D.) wrote and which I put into English based on a literal “translation” of his ideograms by Wm. Hung. I saw in l969 that Tu Fu understood the acidic words the Romans used: SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI or “Thus passes the glory of the world,” a maxim as objective today as it was yesterday.

    Within a narrow gorge
    The wind whines dully
    Through the pines and
    Gray rats slip among
    Bits of shattered tile.
    No way to know which
    Prince built this place,
    Now like the great rocks.
    In the dank, shadowed rooms
    Blue ghost fires flit.
    By the abandoned roadway
    A shallow creek moves down.

    From the fall and swirl
    Of a million leaves a
    Rustling music —
    October leaves are so stark!
    Yes, even splendid women
    Are now turned to soil beneath
    Those mounds: much of that
    Beauty ws only powder and rouge.
    And of the noble crowd
    Behind the royal carriage –merely
    A weathered relief of a rearing
    Horse is left. I sit to one side
    Now in the grass, unhappiness…

    Unhappiness having overcome me,
    I try to wipe away the tears, but
    I cannot forget that this is the
    Destination of each and all,
    This the anxious traveler’s goal.

    Tu Fu might have agreed with me when I am tonight led to say that truths or realities, accept them or reject them, tap each of us on the shoulder, and whether we feel the stimulus depends on the degree to which we have clarified our senses, our emotions and our thoughts — or are trying to! Please accept an opening bud of my white “Pascali” rose. fgr

  176. Dear Frederick G. Rodgers,

    Thanks for sharing such wondrous, naked imagery…..more beauty that is a little terrible, as Robinson Jeffers might have put it.

    Very best regards,


  177. Another log on the (inner) fire:

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
    As I foretold you, were all spirits and
    Are melted into air, into thin air:
    And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
    The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
    And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
    Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on, and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.

    William Shakespeare
    From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

    Some of our commenters may be wondering what the @#$% poetry has to do with saving the earth? EVERYTHING!

  178. Hi Vera. I wrote a long-winded, erudite disquisition on your simple question last night, but the machine ate my homework. Thank God. This morning, with hopefully clearer mind, I can give you the simple answer: Don’t ask!

    Eh….maybe that was too simple? The point is that we want to avoid complicating our actual time of practice with these kinds of questions which are born of our wonderful enquiring, desiring, impatient minds. Meditation is a process of letting go of all of that customary baggage of the ordinary mind. “Be still and know”. The whole difficulty that leads to the often prolonged time frame necessary for meditation to manifest its deepest treasures is that we are addicted, hooked on incessant mental activity.
    So, when you sit to meditate, let go of any concern for how long realization will take. Just innocently release yourself into the stream of practice. Just doing the simple practice indicated will automatically take you deeper into………..don’t ask!

    I guess we are touching on the meaning of faith or surrender. It is similar to scientific faith: we just follow the experimental directions and remain open to experience whatever may come…

    If you are really curious (and I know you are, just like me) and you promise yourself to put all that aside when you meditate, here are a couple of good resources to provide some hints as to what the inner journey may be like. But remember, the map is not the territory!)

    The Science of Yoga by I.K.Taimni (Patanjali”s sutras). And Ken Wilber’s journal entries One Taste.

  179. Another log on the (inner) fire

    ‘Our revels now are ended’
    Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
    As I foretold you, were all spirits and
    Are melted into air, into thin air:
    And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
    The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
    And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
    Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on, and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.

    William Shakespeare
    From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

    Some of our commenters may be wondering what the @#$% poetry has to do with saving the earth? EVERYTHING!

  180. Oops! That first line of the quote should not be there, it was a “title” someone gave to this passage. Sorry…

  181. This is an excellent essay and discussion. I would add another quote that fits well with some of those above. Woody Allen once said that “Mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

  182. Thanks Gary/Woody. Nothing like a little black humor to cheer up my day!

  183. We are all

    Burning candles

    Let us all

    Burn for some

    Higher purpose

    Until the

    Welcoming darkness

    Finally enfolds us

  184. I do not know if participants in this discussion are familiar with the seminal work of Professor Emeritus Gary L. Peters (#186). Without saying more now and if you are inclined to consider his perspective, a recent discussion on The Oil Drum(TOD) highlighted his point of view in an essay entitled POPULATION GROWTH MUST STOP. Incidentally, the discussion of Gary’s presentation produced more than 600 comments from an array of thoughtful people, who remind me of the members in the Orion community.

    Thanks to all participants and especially to Scott Walker for moderating this discussion.

  185. “The choice is with us still, but the civilization now in jeopardy is all humanity. As the ancient myth makers knew, we are children equally of the earth and the sky. In our tenure of this planet we’ve accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage — propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders — all of which puts our survival in some doubt…”
    -Carl Sagan

  186. Gary: Your article in TOD was right on nailing one of the most tragic problems we are facing today. I was aware of this nuclear (family) threat even before Ehrlich and ZPG. People are so deeply asleep it is really frightening. We are living in a time when all people want is an ego-massage and reassurance that everything will be fine, no matter what. The number of trivial and dismissive comments to your serious assessments was sickening to me. How do you educate a population that doesn’t want to learn? This really is our fundamental problem. Only better people can make a better world.

  187. Vera: Was my answer re: meditation helpful, or confusing?
    Sometimes its hard to keep it simple about a subject that you are really into…

  188. A good way to “meditate” in my opinion is to walk. A nice long walk. Something like Georgia to Maine or Mexico to Canada. In the wilderness. Alone. Works wonders.

  189. Mike K (# 191),

    Thank you for your kind comment on my TOD piece and thanks to Steve Salmony for mentioning it on this thread.

    It should be clear to anyone with common sense that population growth cannot go on forever, but a lot of folks don’t have even a modicum of common sense or they are wearing thick blinders. As Mark Twain commented, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”

    As E. O. Wilson noted, “The pattern of human population growth in the twentieth century was more bacterial than primate.” He also noted than even a small rate of population growth would lead to a situation where “humanity will still, in theory, eventually come to weigh as much as the Earth and, if given enough time, will come to exceed the mass of the visible universe. This fantasy is a mathematician’s way of saying that anything above zero population growth cannot be sustained.”

    That reasonable people fail to understand this will always perplex me. Unlike the rest of the animal kingdom, we have an opportunity to make choices about our numbers. We could choose to control our growth in humane ways, mainly by discouraging women from having more than two children, OR we can sit back and wait for the four horsemen to saddle up and ride again, pruning our numbers back to a more sustainable level. The choice is ours.

  190. Diane: I couldn’t agree more. Being alone in nature for extended periods has brought me many interior blessings. Walking aimlessly (a Taoist practice sometime translated as “sauntering”) with all the time in the world; how marvelous! Or just sitting quietly by a stream in the deep forest, the mind quiets and becomes present to That which is always. That which was covered up by our restless seeking mind.

    If we are too busy to take these essential time-outs to reconnect with and nourish our souls, we may lose our chance at authentic being in the mad scramble of life. How many trivial, distracting, and ultimately maddening activities we squander our lives in! What does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our souls?

  191. Diane: I couldn’t agree more. Being alone in nature for extended periods has brought me many interior blessings. Walking aimlessly (a Taoist practice sometime translated as “sauntering”) with all the time in the world; how marvelous! Or just sitting quietly by a stream in the deep forest, the mind quiets and becomes present to That which is always. That which was covered up by our restless seeking mind.

    If we are too busy to take these essential time-outs to reconnect with and nourish our souls, we may lose our chance at authentic being in the mad scramble of life. How many trivial, distracting, and ultimately maddening activities we squander our lives in! What does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our souls?
    Diane: I couldn’t agree more. Being alone in nature for extended periods has brought me many interior blessings. Walking aimlessly (a Taoist practice sometime translated as “sauntering”) with all the time in the world; how marvelous! Or just sitting quietly by a stream in the deep forest, the mind quiets and becomes present to That which is always. That which was covered up by our restless seeking mind.

    If we are too busy to take these essential time-outs to reconnect with and nourish our souls, we may lose our chance at authentic being in the mad scramble of life. How many trivial, distracting, and ultimately maddening activities we squander our lives in! What does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our souls?

  192. Gary: Denial is a key obstacle to a better world; it is just as real as a massive concrete wall separating people from truths that should be obviously apparent. Denial is a feature of all addictions. Our present culture is addicted to cheap and easy enjoyments, ultimately meaningless games of acquisition and consumption. We are averse to things that are difficult and challenging to our comfortable assumptions. Finding ways to help people break through their denial is a necessary first step towards their changing their minds and ultimately their behavior.

    Your post reminded me of the mathematician Herman Kahn, who years ago did a calculation of how many humans it would take for their cumulative body temperature to melt the earth! I guess there are some limits after all…

  193. Regarding taking a very long walk. It’s not just the quiet and the peaceful streams that silence the mind and allow for meditation. It’s the combination of 12 to 14 hours of solid walking day after day and meeting your immediate needs for food, water and sleep. There is nothing else to do. Oddly, there is no time to think, which clears your mind.

    But there is more to it than that. If you follow a long trail of 1000 miles or more (or less) you have to take every step, every hill, every adversity the trail offers. Every fallen log, every raging glacial torrent, every baking desert must be crossed. You have to learn to accept the steep hills, the bone crunching descents, the maddening mosquitoes, the wet bushes that drench your feet with every step. You have no choice. So you accept.

    If you can pass the test (and I don’t claim I was able to pass every test, the wet bushes did drive me to temper tantrums), a calm confidence comes over you. What you can withstand shows you the difference between discomfort and pain, inconvenience and danger.

    These are things that are completely lost in our culture of infantile greed and gratification. It would be nice to blow that culture up and have instantaneous return to beautiful nature, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’re going to have to take every step on the way, including all the bone crunching descents into the worst of what is to come.

  194. Diane #198: Sounds like you reached some beautiful inner spaces in your demanding treks. I too have tasted the unexpected fruits of prolonged severe exertion. There certainly are many paths to shedding our too binding city skins, and egos. The Sufi work my wife and I did for three months every year for several years was quite demanding, to put it mildly. And all that on one meal a day, which was often pretty skimpy! But the results were beautiful. Thoughtful asceticism need not be the dour affair its usually thought to be. Ah, the wine of the Sufis…..

  195. Dear Diane,

    Thanks for your presence and experience.

    Your journey could be the kind of example that adequately describes “the road less travelled”. Your description of it leads me to recall the incredible experience of a fellow from France, as I recall, who walked the span between the two World Trade Center towers on a tightrope.

    Since the WTC is now dust, it has been a reminder of the impermanence of skyscraping Towers of Babel as well as the superhighways to billions of greenbacks, effortless ease, cheap thrills, expensive junkets, endless pleasures and ‘success’.



  196. I want to thank all of you who are taking part in this online discussion group. I have learned a lot from each of you, especially those who have disagreed with me, or put forth ideas I had trouble getting my head around. I feel that this process of sharing around issues vital to us all is an essential part of finding solutions to our very real and urgent world problems. Action without prior consideration often back-fires or leads to harmful unintended consequences.

    My own sketches of the better world that we all dream of include a much richer community of sharing with each other our ideas and hopes and experience. I envision a world where people come together to share the infinite adventure of learning and growing in creativity, love, and mutual support. This is not a trivial or futile exercise, but the very foundation of what kind of industry, commerce, government we create.

    In this little online forum we have the human world and its possibilities in microcosm. If we can learn to share the sometimes contentious and separative issues of our times in a spirit of mutual respect and listening, it is a step towards a world of less conflict and unreflective violence. If we cannot find a peaceful way to reason together and share from our hearts in a small group dedicated towards learning in this way, what hope is there for the world? As Rodney King put it, “Can we just get along?”
    That question hangs over our world. Thanks again for trying…

    And thanks to all the folks who create Orion, as the beautiful invitation to deeper caring for our world that it is. Let’s share our copies with others, or encourage them to visit Orion online, so that we can build this community concern, learning, and activism.

  197. Thank you Derrick for your continued insightful plea to awaken, to see, and really love this home we call earth. Daring to see the devastation our culture and institutions (that I am a full participant in) are infusing into our ecosytems is the vital and essential work of our species. This shift has to happen now.

  198. At least to me, something new and necessary is occurring now in this thread. I believe Scott Walker will agree on this point. Ideas have been articulated here that are novel and vital. Surely we can agree with mike k that sharing and thereby raising awareness about what is actually happening in the world we inhabit is essential to discovering solutions to human-driven world problems which are confronting us now and threatening the future of children anywhere and everywhere.

    As Gary Peters instructs all of us, we cannot respond ably to the global challenges before us if we willfully deny scientific evidence, common sense and reason… all of which provide us with understanding needed to adequately adapt to the practical requirements of whatsoever could somehow be real about the world in which we are blessed to live so well.

  199. Peter, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Derrick Jensen deserves our thanks for all that he is doing. It is truly inspiring to see one who suffered all the abuse he lived through, dedicate his life to promoting a better world, and striving to awaken people to the nightmare we are wreaking on our beautiful planet and each other. As much as I disagree with some of his suggestions about how to “bring down civilization” (through sabotage, etc.) , I know that he is a sensitive and caring person, and a tremendous asset in our work for a better world.

  200. While it does appear that human beings cannot become independent from ‘nature’, it does look as if the future may hold something that is somehow altogether new; that humans cannot go back linearly to get to the future. Always, Steve
    6 hours ago · LikeUnlike · .John Feeney Steve, perhaps we need not even see time as linear. Our view of it as a linear “progression” may be one of the elements which makes us think of human history as a line of progress from which we resist deviating. Some cultures see time as cyclical. I have a hard time trying to shift how I see it, but it’s something which intrigues me.

    At any rate, …
    See More
    since foraging (hunting-gathering) is the only way of living for humans ever proven sustainable, I see a human future that will ultimately look very similar to our past.

    It seems it has been our tendency to think we can find a “better” way to do everything, better than simply living as other species, as contributing members of local ecosystems, that has got us into this mess.

    On a smaller scale, by the way, societies have many times reached dead ends in agricultural civilization and returned to hunting and gathering. (though they were of course ultimately reabsorbed by the spread of civilization) If they could do it… :)
    2 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Steven Earl Salmony Dear John, Well said. Thanks. We’re really at a point where vision and even imagination fail us, I suppose. We are trying to communicate about something that is beyond our consciousness; beyond our ability to “grasp”. It seems to me there is a good purpose served by pointing in the direction that others will go……someday soon enough, I trust, while there is still time. Steve

  201. Sorry for the confusing last post in which comments from John Feeney were inadvertently included.

    The post should read as follows.

    While it does appear that human beings cannot become independent from ‘nature’, it does look as if the future may hold something that is somehow altogether new; that humans cannot go back linearly to get to the future. We’re really at a point where vision and even imagination fail us, I suppose. We are trying to communicate about something that is beyond our consciousness; beyond our ability to “grasp”. It seems to me there is a good purpose served by pointing in the direction that others will go……someday soon enough, I trust, while there is still time.

  202. how to address our inappropriate relationship with Nature? – more education more, time more sensitivity, eco-sustainability or perhaps more love n understanding. sure they will help? but will they help in time? certainly NOT. So what’s most urgent now? and if known, what kind of organization is needed?…or may be what will make people organize? may be this story will help: a student asked a teacher he wants to meet God, he said ‘I have looked everywhere yet could not meet him/her’ he declared. The teacher said you will meet God only if you yearning to meet God is strong, urgent, desperate, just like a drowning person desperate for air’ – so may be our collective urgency for better relationship with the planet is still in its low end…and writer like Derrick Jensen is an example [for me] of how true desperation is in action…[love ya Derrick!]

  203. teve: I found your conversation with ‘John’ interesting. I do not think we are going back to a world-wide planetary hunter/gatherer way of life. But if we did, what would be the point of starting the whole fatally flawed civilization project all over again? And recur it inevitably would. The romantic dream that we would have ‘learned our lesson’ and remain in idyllic simplicity is just an empty daydream. A man’s, indeed a peoples character, is their fate. Unless we change deeply within ourselves, we will continue manifesting the same nightmares in our outer lives and relationships. We are destined to repeat all that we have not wakened to, worked on, and transformed in ourselves. External solutions will not ultimately free us from inner toxicity. However much we seek to avoid the necessary inner work on ourselves, it will always determine our possibilities.

    Some Quakers were preparing to enter a peace meeting, when John Woolman joined them. He began turning out his pockets, as if seeking something therein. “What are you looking for John, one of the men asked. He answered, “I am looking to be sure I will not be carrying the seeds of war in my own pockets.”

  204. Dear mike k,

    We are beginning to wrap our heads around the formidable predicament before all of us, I believe.

    John C. Feeney, Ph.D. is a professional colleague of mine. Even though we are both psychologists, we share a passion for the study of the human condition, with particular attention paid to the colossal human-induced global predicament the human community faces in our time. I might add here that John has done fine work in raising awareness of concerns expressed daily in the Orion community.

    Somehow we have to keep talking about this predicament, even it happens to threaten leaders with vested interests in existing patterns of behavior. There is no other way forward that makes any sense to me.

    I agree with you, mike. There are many ways absolute global human population numbers could be dramatically reduced, either by human action or by natural occurrence. But if we will have learned nothing about the predicament we are in now, others who come after us will likely make the very same errors that bring us now to this point in human history and space-time. Just now, I am reminded of Nietzche’s idea of the “eternal recurrence”. If we choose to willfully ignore scientific evidence, reason and common sense in order to satisfy the self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us who organize and manage the existing order of life as we know it for their own benefit primarily, then surely the colossal mistakes of the present will occur in the future, I suppose. On the other hand, if people with knowledge, who have remained electively mute, speak truth to the powerful, and thereby fulfill their responsibilities to humanity and duties science, then a chance exists for making necessary changes in the behavioral repertoire of human species leading us from what can be seen now as unsustainable behavior to alternative ways of living in the world. Rightsized human-scale business enterprises and sustainable lifestyles would become the order of the day.



  205. Steve Salmony, Mike K., and others:

    Perhaps humanity is reaching some kind of crossroads, but nothing about where we are heading is clear, at least not to me. As Nassim Taleb noted, in his book The Black Swan, “…our minds are wonderful explanation machines, capable of making sense out of almost anything, capable of mounting explanations for all manner of phenomena, and generally incapable of accepting the idea of unpredictability.” He also noted that “History and societies do not crawl. They make jumps.”

    Those jumps are especially unpredictable. Furthermore, history is full of failed predictions. Even as we cannot predict the future, we don’t have a very good grasp of the past either.

    For example, someone noted above that hunting and gathering was our only sustainable lifestyle, but there is no proof that even hunting and gathering was sustainable. Once our early ancestors gained control of fire they used it to alter environments considerably.

    The same minds that controlled fire would give rise to those who would gradually begin the long process of an agricultural revolution, beginning only some 10,000 years ago and about which even today we know surprisingly little. It is probably not a coincidence that the beginning of agriculture, then the rise of trading and cities, followed by the rise of our first human civilizations, did not begin until the last Ice Age was coming to an end and sea levels, critical for early humans, stabilized considerably.

    Though homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000 years, they were hunters and gatherers until about the last 5% of their time on the planet. Agriculture increased Earth’s carrying capacity, so human numbers grew a bit more rapidly than in earlier times. However, even as late as the 17th or 18th centuries no one could have predicted either our shift to inanimate energy sources and the Industrial Revolution OR the rapid growth of human populations that would accompany that revolution over the next two centuries or so.

    Even if we cannot predict the future, I think we can safely say that our current path is unsustainable. We also could argue that there are probably far too many of us and that a reduction in our numbers would certainly take some pressure off Earth’s natural environments and stock of natural resources.

    Rather than accept “growthmania,” driven by modern neoclassical economics, as the only way of life, humans could change, but to me that seems unlikely because the appeal of modern economies is so great. Since our impact on Earth depends on both our numbers and our affluence, if we cannot change the latter, at least any time soon, we should be working harder than ever to change the former.

    But that isn’t happening, in part because a number of misinformed writers, mainly journalists, have argued that human population growth is no longer a problem because the rate of growth has slowed. As I’ve often pointed out, they are misreading the data. Our numbers continue to increase by about 80 million per year, or the entire population of the U.S. every four years. If that is not a problem, then, as Shakespeare noted on a much different theme, “I never wrote nor no man ever loved.”

    I encourage you and others to continue this discussion.


  206. Haven’t several anons from /sci/ and /tg/ already pointed out that this “unsustainable” argument is utter crap? Use electricity derived from nuclear, geothermal, solar, wind, and tidal power to fix nitrogen and carbon from the atmosphere. Use electricity to grind up rocks for phosphates, dredge up muck from the ocean for more carbon. Strip all the soil and use the components for hydroponic agriculture. Farm animals that are designed to stand in one place and grow without any brains to waste metabolic activy, and feed them the plant by products deemed unfit for human consumption. Pave over entire surface area of earth with photoelectric cells. That is the plan.

    Just to put your precious biosphere in perspective. Get an apple and cut it in half. The skin of that apple is as thick as the entire astenophere and lithosphere. Take a big breath and breath on that apple. The condensation on its surface should be proportional to the entire hydrosphere. The biosphere is proportional to the bacteria on the apple. The biosphere is small time. But we will devour the entire apple. And this solar system is full of low hanging fruit just waiting to be plucked. Be assured we can survive in space, there is no technological limitation that keeps us from doing so. It is just more expensive than living on earth for the moment. Look up Project Orion, Mars in two weeks, Saturn in two months.

    Philosophy is for fools. Put your shoulders to the grindstone and push with the rest of us. Come and help us rend this planet down to dust.

  207. Would everyone please ignore the various anon/tg trolls? It’s gotten damn tedious. If you ignore’em, they’ll go away.

  208. Good point about the trolls, Vera. BTW I am still waiting for your report of your blissful experiences of transcendental consciousness during your daily meditation practise?

  209. Anon, dude…..didn’t we all agree that you should switch to Sanka?

  210. I have not seen the movie ‘Inception’, but read a brief review. The movie deals with the idea that life is dreams within dreams. That our experience of life is a dream is an ancient idea with real meaning and significance. Veda Vyasa the legendary author of the Vedas (among the oldest known scriptural writings) reputedly said, “life is a long dream”. Chuang Tzu said, “I dreamed last night that I was a butterfly. Now that I am awake, I wonder; am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man?” Gurdjieff claimed that mankind was asleep, but under the illusion that they were awake. When he was asked about the impending world war I, he said, “Several million sleeping men are preparing to kill several million other sleeping people.” The basic practice in the dream yoga of Tibetan (Bon) religion is to constantly remind yourself during the day, “this is a dream.”

    Spiritual literature is full of references to the need for ‘awakening’. What is the relevance of all this to our current world predicament? Isn’t it true that the vast majority of people today are sleepwalking towards the abyss? Isn’t the very basis of modern psychology the understanding that unconscious contents and processes of the human mind have tremendous consequences for behavior and mental health? Isn’t it clear that most modern people, and especially their leaders and elites are in the grip of severe mental illness?

    Our quest to heal the earth should take the form of seeking an effective therapeutic modality to restore sanity to the deranged minds responsible for inflicting this insanity on our planet and ourselves. There are plenty of proven effective models to draw on in devising this kind of approach. The creative development of this methodology will cut through to the root of our problems: ourselves.

  211. Dear mike k,

    We do not need to wait for catastrophic economic or ecologic event(s) to occur that “awakens” us out of our slumber. Perhaps we can begin to think deeply and plan proactively as a prelude to advocating an alternative “path” and ethos that could serve as a new foundation for a sustainable society.

    Always with thanks,


  212. Anonymous will stop trolling when you get out of your hugboxes, and stop whining about how everyone else is sheep that can’t see the obvious facts. Yes, the obvious facts with no support from the data presented in any peer reviewed publication.

    You go on and on about how we have to change, and I agree. Our current imperialistic attitude is not good enough. We need to be more vicious, more driven. We need to cultivate at hatred for all that is natural. We will separate ourselves from the biosphere and create more brutally efficient world, a world that we alone are fit to exist in.

  213. Steve, I agree that violent shocks are not a preferred method for constructive awakening. And yet……what are we to do with those sooooooooooo deeply asleep? That’s the problem in a nutshell. Now some Sufis have addressed this problem in the context of “spiritual awakening.” (And after all, what awakening is worth much if it is not spiritual? I won’t say now what spiritual means to me, except to note that it has little to do with dark skinned folks singing down by the river, or folks sitting around a table hoping to hear from their dead grandpa

    At any rate, the Sufis contemplating the really painful and sometimes lethal methods folks were using to “get spiritual”, decided there must be less vigorous and damaging technologies to get the job done, and that these improved methods would give results lees skewed and contaminated than the old ways. They worked to find and experimentally verify such methods. Just an example of what folks can do if they can see a serious problem (the ones we are presently facing are just the latest editions of the age-old classics) and really work to solve it.

    The truth is that shocks are necessary for the find of awakening we are considering here. Wake up! That was just an example of a pretty mild shock, probably inadequate to wake up members of the sleeping multitude we share planet earth with today. On the other hand the kind of brutal and harmful shock therapy that some psychiatrists are fond of administrating is certainly far from anything I would have in mind. (see Peter Breggin: Toxic Psychiatry)

    So, what I have in mind is more like a gentle but effective therapy that gradually (but not too gradually!) brings people to a level (there are levels) of consciousness sufficient to cognize the disaster we are involved in , and motivated to do something about it. A dose of reading Derrick Jensen could even be part of the overall therapeutic plan. Of course this kind of awakening is best facilitated in a group context.

  214. We really do need to see a New Age. The problem is that we will not see it arrive by some sort of preordained miracle. We will have to work for it. We will have to awaken to the urgent need for it. We will have to think deeply about it. And we will have to join with others to make it happen. Simple? No. Possible? Yes. Difficult? You betcha!

  215. Hello Gary. #211 If only the unconsciousness about population were the only blind spot in the general culture, even among those you would think would be more aware. The problem is that most people are living in and abetting this nightmare world without a clue as to what is really going on in any respect whatever. Name any significant area of modern life and you will find that most folks are sadly deluded as to its real nature. I am reminded of Bruegel’s famous painting of several blind men hanging onto a long pole, whose leader is about to plunge them all into a ditch.(Did that lead guy look something like Obama?…hm)

  216. Dear mike k,

    I cannot agree that we live in a nightmare world. This planetary home in which we live is wondrous and miraculous. What worries me is what this world could become, that is nightmarish, if the leaders of the human community keep advocating the unsustainable things they are doing now and encouraging everyone else in the human family to do the same patently unsustainable reckless overconsumption, unconscionable hoarding, relentless overproduction of unnecessary stuff, and unbridled overpopulation of Earth.



  217. Steve: The nightmare world I was referencing was the human dimension. Millions of humans and uncountable numbers of other innocent living beings are living, suffering this man made nightmare as we speak. Of course the “world without us” is profoundly beautiful. As an old Japanese hermit who permitted me to live in his remote piece of paradise for a time said to me one day, as he made a sweeping gesture including the distant Pali and forest, “All this beautiful, just us not.” Of course we humans do have the possibility to “open out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape.” But that remains only a possibility until we do the Great Work of Alchemy, transmuting the gross stuff of ego into the gold of Spirit.

  218. Dear mike k,

    I reacted too quickly. Somehow I knew you could not mean what I thought, at first glance, you appeared to be saying. Thanks for the heads-up.



  219. Thanks Steve. You and I are really sharing a resonant frequency. We may disagree on some things, and that is OK, but we are largely on the same page. To be able to work and reason together in spite of some differences is something we all need to learn as we pool our efforts to “defeat Goliath.” This is where participation in a small group process can knock the sharp edges off of egos. Humility and the willingness to admit mistakes is a rare quality in our narcissistic

    Thanks again for sharing. Only by engaging in a truly open dialogue will we grow a new kind of society.
    Competing egos will never be able to do this. Better people can create a better world.

  220. Mike, re meditation, my question was not clear. I wanted to know… is it typical that eventually one’s inner chatter quits? Or is this rare for to happen?

  221. Inasmuch as we are focusing inwardly for the moment, I would like to share an email recently received from a friend. Because this email comes from a greatly respected person from another culture, I pass this along with the understanding that I have no direct experience of such peace as that which is reported in what follows. (BTW, Dr. Sailesh Rao welcomes communication from one and all.)

    Of all the stories in Hindu mythology, the one about the cosmic fig tree is among the most profound. In this story, the proverbial rich uncle visits his nieces and nephews who are playing inside their hut. He tells them, “Why are you inside, playing with your twigs and rag dolls when the Cosmic Fig tree is right outside? Go out under the tree and wish for anything you want and the tree will give it to you.” At first, the children are hesitant but by and by, they get out and start wishing under the tree. They wish for sweets and they get it! But they gorge on the sweets and they get sick. They wish for fancy toys and they get them, but they soon get bored of these toys. They didn’t comprehend that the fig tree always granted wishes in pairs – what was wished for always came with its exact opposite. For that was the way of the universe as everything comes in complementary pairs.

    The children grow up, but they can’t stop wishing under the tree. As adults, they wish for sex, fame, money and power, the four main fruits of the fig tree. They get their wishes fulfilled, but sex comes with jealousy, fame with isolation, money with worries and power with palace intrigues. Yet they go on wishing and wishing and wind up leading miserable lives. As old men and women, they congregate once again under the tree to contemplate their spent lives. The first group, the cynics, say, “This has all been just a big hoax!” Obviously, they had learnt nothing. The second group, the know-it-alls say, “We must have been making all the wrong wishes. If only we could go back and wish for different things, we would have been a lot happier during our lives.” They had learnt less than nothing.

    The third group, the depressed, wish that they were dead. And the obliging tree grants them their death wish. Except that they are immediately reborn underneath the same tree for the tree always grants wishes in complementary pairs.

    A lame boy had been watching all this from the window of the hut, for he was too weak to push through the enormous crowd thronging to wish under the tree. He had only wanted to wish for a strong pair of legs, but as he saw the spectacle of people struggling to cope with the consequences of their wishing, he was filled with compassion for their plight. And he lost the desire to go out and wish, thus, slicing that fig tree with detachment!

    Detachment is the very foundation of happiness as clearly enunciated by the Buddha 2500 years ago and yet, humanity as a whole, has failed to comprehend his simple teachings. Not detachment through emotionless stoicism, but detachment achieved by dissociating our happiness from desires and external influences. As Anthony DeMello reiterates in his beautiful book “Awareness”, the only tool we need to achieve this dissociation is awareness, an open-minded ability to see through these influences. But, this is the exact opposite of what is heavily promoted in our current culture as the relationship between consumption and happiness is the very foundation of our consumer economies.

    Consider an ordinary consumer who rushes out to buy the latest technological products from, say, Apple Computer. Sure, the acquisition of these products might temporarily raise his sense of well-being, but when he lets his happiness be altered by such external influences, he is also setting himself up for the decline, e.g., when his cat scratches the IPad case or when his iPhone drops calls. A more aware consumer, perhaps a Bodhisattva, would not let his happiness be substantially altered by the acquisition of these products and won’t be depressed when these adverse events occur, either.

    The Buddha essentially stated that when your happiness is dictated by such attachments, the average of your happiness will be quite low. Indeed, you would, in general, be suffering and quite miserable. On the other hand, if your happiness is mostly unaffected by such attachments, the average of your happiness would be quite high.


    Sailesh Krishna Rao, Ph. D.
    Executive Director, Climate Healers, Inc.
    696 San Ramon Valley Blvd. #355
    Danville, CA 94526
    Ph: (732)-809-3526
    +91-9444693341 (India Mobile)
    Skype: saileshrao

  222. In my craft or sullen art
    Exercised in the still night
    When only the moon rages
    And the lovers lie abed
    With all their griefs in their arms,
    I labor by singing light
    Not for ambition or bread
    Or the strut and trade of charms
    On the ivory stages
    But for the common wages
    Of their most secret heart.

    Not for the proud man apart
    From the raging moon I write
    On these spindrift pages
    Nor for the towering dead
    With their nightingales and psalms
    But for the lovers, their arms
    Round the griefs of the ages,
    Who pay no praise or wages
    Nor heed my craft or art.

  223. Mike K. (# 230),

    I think you owe a little credit here to Robert Frost.

  224. I don’t think we need some kind of new age awakening in order to move forward. It sounds so full of mumbo-jumbo. I haven’t had a mystical awakening and I still care deeply about the environment. I’m pretty much asleep most of the time but I still care. You know what I thought about most of the 2663 miles I was out hiking? Food.

    Steve’s Hindu story is good. It made sense to me. Maybe all people need to do is turn off the TV. It seems that wanting a spiritual awakening for others is as much a hopeless want as anything. You have to have some compassion for everyone and their wishing. We all just want to be happy, every one of us. Does it help them to wish they would change?

    Things are going to change whether we awaken or not, whether we help things along or try to prevent them from happening. That’s the whole meaning of the word unsustainable.

    We’ll never be hunter-gatherers again, but you can be certain we’ll be excellent scavengers. So long as there’s still air to breathe, rats and weeds to eat, landfills to mine and fierce determination, we’ll still be around trying to find stuff to make us happy.

    I believe we should just take different actions without worrying too much about the spiritual. We can act without having a spiritual awakening. If anything, acting comes before the awakening.

  225. I have to agree with Diane about mystical/spiritual awakenings. The closest thing I’ve ever experienced to spirituality is the breeze on my skin, the sun warming my face and the sight of a beautiful wild landscape that belongs to nature. People will survive; we’re resourceful and inventive. What worries me is that it will happen quickly and utter chaos will result, pitting those who are prepared against those who are not. I know plenty of naysayers who say that the end of the industrial age will never happen and therefore they will not be prepared when it does collapse. In my entire life I cannot remember having to go hungry… ever. What will happen when we are all hungry?

  226. Gary #231: Thanks for catching me on my failure to attribute that poem to Dylan Thomas. Would that I could write like that!

  227. Hi Vera. It is common for folks who persist in regular meditation to reach a state where the mind is silent except when needed. Even in the early days of meditation practice, one begins to realize that mental activity is compulsive; that is, it continues on without interruption whether we want it to or not. If we forcibly try to stop the flow of thoughts, we find that we cannot. We might be able to stop thinking for a few moments, but it would soon pop up again. It would be similar to holding one’s breath. This little experiment in stopping thoughts should tell us that we have become the helpless victim of our thinking mind.

    Underneath the contents of our mind is pure consciousness, silent, clear awareness. As the process of meditation progresses one becomes more aware of this silent, peaceful ocean of undisturbed consciousness underlying all the mental activity on the surface.

    How long does it take to be free from the domination of the surface mind? This varies due to factors too numerous to mention here. But those who persist will inevitably reach the silent witness state.
    There are no statistics available to say what the average time is to reach a deep state of inner freedom from the domination of the thinking mind. However, it usually takes some years to reach the deeper state of liberation. On the other hand some degree of inner freedom begins to happen from the very first meditation. Within a couple of months clearly discernible benefits will begin to occur. The amount of stress that our constant thinking generates cannot be appreciated until one has experienced some degree of relief from it.

  228. Thank you, Mike… I was not concerned over the time, just over the probability of this happening. I am one of those people who find silent sitting unpleasant, and sitting somewhere in zazen all weekend a glorious weekend wasted. Don’t we all sit already way too much?

    But I have reached a point where surrendering my chattering mind to silence makes enormous amount of sense. I will begin. To continue, I will have to find a way to meditate while hiking.

    I think a lot of people balk when folks talk about spiritual awakening… I think for most people, there is nothing like The Awakening. Many little ones, though, to those I can attest.

  229. Just to veer off here…and not to minimize the efficacy of self-improvement at all…but here’s a cat who is rolling up his sleeves and spitting on his hands:

    If any frequent visitor to this site has never read any of John Michael Greer’s practical broadsides….I’d only say: GO!

    From the chair I sit in, I think that it is probable that the human race’s headstone will probably bear the inscription: “Too Stupid To Live.” We are way over resourced, and way under educated about natural systems, ecological cycles (thermodynamics in particular). Please forgive me for presuming to say that we all need to get smarter….by yesterday.


  230. If a viable way is not found soon and immediately implemented to humanely accelerate the current decline in human fertility rates worldwide, other ‘essential’ petro concerns will likely not take on the significance they do now?

    The current gargantuan scale and unbridled growth of absolute global human population numbers in our time is the global challenge that dwarfs all other human-driven threats to human wellbeing and environmental health.

  231. Steve, I don’t disagree that population growth is the only issue that matters…but that is sort of like agreeing that sunlight is causing it all. Every organism on earth, past or present, follows the trajectory we are on: Resources are exploited until they are consumed and the population crashes. That we are now exploiting historic sunshine in the form of fossil fuels doesn’t change that trajectory one iota.

    It is axiomatic to state that we have (at least at present) enough global resources to support the present population…otherwise, we wouldn’t have the numbers we have. It will be a race to the finish to see if the population overshoots the resources, or if rapid resource depletion holds the upper hand, which I guess is saying the same thing in two different ways. Whatever the proportions of the disaster, the result is the same.

    In that sense, the idea that we will ever reach some kind of sustainable resource utopia is naive in the extreme. No organism as ever voluntarily stopped short of resource overshoot, and we are very, very unlikely to be the first.

    Squirrels each season try to eat every tomato I grow, making little squirrels as if there were no tomorrow, them not considering that the party may end. But it does when I bring out my box trap and rifle about this time of year. If you subsitute us for the squirrels in this little parable, hydrocarbon-based food supply for the tomatoes and peak oil decline as a stand-in for my squirrel control methods….well, that pretty much tells us all we need to know.

    No, our only reason to strive, I believe, is to lessen that impact when it inevitably happens. We are different from squirrels in one crucial aspect. We should know that the party is ending. Still, I talk to many people who are no better than squirrels in that regard. We will call these people “surprised.”


  232. Wade: I am a regular visitor to JMG’s blog. This dude’s got a ton of down home, upstairs Wisdom to share. Some commenter’s seem to have concluded that if you meditate, or spend time out in nature absorbing the omnipresent beauty and wisdom to be found there by just being there and being open to it all, then you are just wasting your time and never have anything else in your life of kinetic or relational value. There is so much shallow and dismissive ignorance out there directed at those of us who dare to think that inner sensitivity and a quest for deeper understanding have anything useful to contribute towards helping this poor old human created culture, that some of us are so deluded as to want desperately to save from itself.

    Au contraire mes amis! Real inner development is the basis for real and effective action. The shallow, superficial programs of today’s “men/women of action” are a major symptom of our largely bankrupt culture. Only widely studied deeper thinkers and truer more compassionate hearts can create a better world. Without Wisdom the people truly perish. And BTW, the old time prophets were something more than figures of cartoonish fun and irrelevance. They pointed to the need for folks to develop a new mind and heart, or reap the consequences of their present tendencies. They did not mean the shallow programs of ego embellishment that are the current image (and often reality) of “self-improvement programs.” The real transformative programs of inner change are what are generically called “spiritual paths”. and they are a hell of a lot more demanding and effective than their modern versions in the “self-help” market place.

  233. Bla bla, spiritual change, bla bla, be nice to the trees, ect. ect.

    Spirituality, moral philosophy, emotions, desires, all irrelevant. We are machines flesh, nothing more. I am a religious man and I still think we are nothing more than machines. So worship your Gaia or a false vision of a caring and generous Almightly. In reality he is a cold, heartless, mindless, thing and we are but puppets that dance on the strings of causality that dangle from his skeletal fingers. Free will, love, and, empathy are only malicious software programs that inhibit our ability to function. That man is the most heartless and vicious of all the higher forms of life is proper. But we cannot allow what weakness that remains to hold us back. We must strip all the unneeded weaknesses from us. We will become cold and mindless and thoughtless like our lord.

    I remember that Jensen in one of his books complained that the Lord as he was portrayed in religious canon is a bodiless monster. He says this like it is an insult when it is the highest praise possible. Hail the Daemon Sultan on the Throne of Creation. Hail the Nuclear Chaos that birthed existence. Hail the monstrous, gibbering, amorphous God that whose existence can never be proven nor disproven. If their are other gods then they are weak ephemeral things that are tied to the living. I prefer the impersonal Cosmic Lovecraftian God.

  234. “Free will, love, and, empathy are only malicious software programs that inhibit our ability to function.”

    A psychopath, and strutting his stuff! Gadz…

  235. Ted….big fan here…I didn’t know they gave you guys computer privileges at Super Max. Loved your last work. Sounds like you’re already working hard on the follow up. (Bummer that you don’t have that little writer’s retreat anymore,huh?) Wait, wait…..I don’t tell me how it ends.

    Yer pal, Wade.

  236. Some recent craziness on this blog would be merely humorous if one did not remember Hale Bopp, skin heads, christian dominionists….and the list goes on and on. Check with Morris Dees if you want a more complete picture of the variants of insanity flourishing in out supposedly sane culture. The tip of the iceberg, amigos.

    I think Vera had it right when she recommended ignoring these perversions. To try to cure the incurable is a waste of precious time and energy better spent reasoning with those who are reachable. So, silence does have some practical uses!

  237. Jamie #233 “The closest thing I have ever experienced to spirituality is the breeze on my skin, the sun warming my face and the sight of a beautiful wild landscape that belongs to nature.”

    That was it! Whether you choose to call that moment “spiritual” matters not in the least. Lao Tzu says, : The Tao which can be named is not the eternal Tao.” What’s in a name? A rose by another name would be as sweet. Must we be theologians to cherish such precious experiences? We get so hung up over words, and what we think they mean. One of the famous Zen gathas begins, “Outside of words and scriptures, Looking into the heart of man….” (I apologize for the sexist language of this fragment; it’s ancient; what can you do with these old ducks….?

  238. When it comes to overpopulation, don’t forget that every one of our overconsuming babies is equivalent to tens of those underconsuming, so-called “overpopulated” babies in the “underdeveloped” world. So the responsibility not to overpopulate begins with us.

  239. To the Orion Blog Monitor: I received an email from Orion at 5:36PM Thursday July 22 apparently written by someone going under the blog name Anonymous as follows:

    “Ted Kaczinski was an ecofriendly pansy like you guys. Don’t lump me in with that trash.”

    I find the discriminatory slur in this message to be highly offensive, and in my mind steps way beyond acceptable public speech. I cannot believe that Orion would countenance the use of its blog for this kind of obvious hate speech.

    I am requesting that this “Anon” be barred from further participation in what has been a very serious and friendly discussion to this point. I am a big defender of free speech, but this kind of insulting and prejudiced language is over the line.

  240. Vera: The “little awakenings” are really important. Sufis call them states of “hal”, they are natural precursors of the more prolonged and eventually permanent “maqams” or stations of consciousness. Only they won’t come if you call them. They come when you are ready, prepared, “cooked”. You can’t command them, they are like cats and will silently appear when you least expect them.

    There are ways to meditate while hiking, or while doing anything for that matter. Pick up one of Thich Nhat Hahn’s little books for info on that. He is big on walking meditation. I think he wrote one called Peace in Every Step.

  241. There’s nothing wrong with meditation. It’s just not a precondition to getting people to act to save the planet.

    You can get people to change the way they behave in many ways. Lots of different kinds of carrots and sticks you can apply. Taxing, tax breaks, raising prices, paying them to change, appealing to their sense of moral outrage, embarrassing them, creating a fashion trend, telling lies, telling truths. It doesn’t really matter as far as the Earth goes.

    Personally, I do what I do from a sense of moral outrage and a touch of tin-foil paranoia. I think Jensen appeals to that side of me.

  242. You do know that there is 10+ anons using a fake IP right, if the mods ban it they will just switch to another.

  243. Dianne (# 248),

    You are half right at best. Of the 80 million people added to Earth annually, most are added to the poor nations of the world. However, growing numbers of them are not going to stay there. Instead they are going to be going to where the money is: mainly here and the EU. Once here their impact will be greater than if they had stayed home, but still less than a typical American child.

    Additionally, most Islamic countries have high birth rates, young populations, poor educational systems, crowded urban centers, and a lack of jobs. Additional children in these nations are the suicide bombers of the future.

    I agree that the U.S. should set an example; we are growing right now at a rate of one person every 11 seconds. Japan and many European nations are far better examples than we are.

  244. First: These people that post as anonymous; why are they afraid to use real names? If you really have something to say, why would you want to say it anonymously?

    Second: Overpopulation is a huge problem. We glorify people like the Duggars (19 and Counting) and the Gosselins (Kate plus Eight) by giving them their own reality TV shows and the money and fame that goes with it when they should be penalized for adding to the population problem. We should get tax breaks for NOT having children. This culture has problems, most definitely. The best thing I have done for this planet is not to reproduce.

    Third: There is a really disturbing natural gas extraction process known as “fracking” going on across the United States right now. It is ruining the water supply where this type of drilling is done. Watch Gasland, a documentary now showing on HBO or go to the website. This is scary and requires action from all of us!

    Fourth: I’d really like to say something on spirituality, but what I’ve already said covers it for me. There is so much beauty in the natural world if you choose to see it. Looking at natural landscapes in terms of monetary value will never lead to good, only destruction. Thank goodness we had the foresight to set aside particularly beautiful places and make them National Parks before industry got hold of them.

  245. Sorry about that Mike K…I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist gigging that one. I should remember that fish in a rain barrel ain’t sport.


  246. Jamie Archer
    Another anon already explained what fracing is and how it works.

    “There is a really disturbing natural gas extraction process known as “fracking” going on across the United States right now”
    >Implying that fracing hasn’t been used continuously for 40 years on any almost every gas well that has been drilled. You’re only 4 decades late to the party buddy.

    >Implying that an HBO documentary is more pertinent than reports from the DEP.

  247. Plowboy: If it wasn’t for Columbine and all the damage that these little psychos can inflict, they would just provide some comic relief. But these nut cases are serious about their nonsensical rants. Your shot about Ted K. was right on unfortunately. I got a laugh out of it because it was so right on, in a barrel or not.

    But after the chuckle, I thought why are people like this attracted to Orion? Opposites attract? The need of the insane to attack sanity? Go figure…

  248. Trolls are magical beings that cannot be eliminated by recourse to some “authority.” They can morph identities as fast as an obsessive admin can eliminate them.

    They have a weak spot, however, as all magical beings do. The trolls’ weakness is hunger for yanking people’s chains. They feed on the chaotic emotional energy they stir up, and on the attention paid them.

    Therefore, here is the pertinent magical incantation; and be assured, it works like a … er… a charm.

    — Don’t feed the trolls! —

  249. You smacked it right on its pointy little noggin, Vera! The power of not doing. The silent treatment. Just like in meditation when your own persistently annoying mind keeps butting in with its nitshit inanities, you just easily go back to your breath or other focus, deftly sidestepping the entangling interruption.

    Now let’s see if we can all join together in creating a wall of silence, ignoring those who would disrupt it….

  250. In the preamble to the 12 steps in AA’s big book there is a passage: “We are not saints; we claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.” We just need better people, not super/women/men. The kind of groups I envision would have education as a major focus. Not the totally inadequate and false bullshit that is palmed off as education by our busted cultural delusion, but a real process of learning how to get at the truth and see through all the lies we are so accustomed to believing. I think Jensen, Chomsky and others would be core curriculum for such groups. The consciousness raising groups that did so much for the rise of modern feminism were laboratories for learning to think in a whole new way for many women. They were exciting, awakening, and liberating. And the inner changes in women the groups catalyzed played out in major real changes in society. We can learn from that experience.

    If ever there was a wide scale societal dysfunction crying out for a whole new way of thinking and resultant action, we are right in the middle of it today. What we need is a format, an agenda, and a few folks who are turned on enough to start something happening. Four women met without any preformed plan or intention in a New York apartment, and the consciousness raising groups were born and evolve from there. It was an idea whose time had come.

    Here’s a scenario: Some folks get together on a regular basis to try out formats etc. for a “total ecological breakthrough” group. (Finding the right name for this process would be an early item on the agenda.) The group solves its problems and comes up with creative ideas to share and expand to others based on what it is experiencing and learning. A few others catch wind of something exciting that is happening and start their own groups. At this point, some one writes a provocative article for say Orion. And from there, the movement catches fire…

    Improbable fantasy? Maybe, but that was how AA exploded. An article by Jack Alexander in the Saturday Evening Post about the fledgling program resulted in an avalanche of letters requesting more information, and the subsequent formation of more and more AA groups. And the rest is history. Who says this couldn’t work?? If anyone out there is interested in getting something like this started, let’s get in touch and do it!

  251. I appreciate your fervor Mike. I’ve been doing it in some form or the other for decades. You probably have also. It is as simple as offering an example to others.

    But, that said, giving yourself a name and a mission statement is the surest way to draw a target on your chest for opportunists and interlopers to see. That is why the first rule of Fight Club is….

    Me-my-own-personal-self sees no need, but yours and others may vary.

    Too, I understand the attractiveness of the AA model, but I don’t think it really translates. That therapy works exactly because the collective support of the group, in person, is an essential element. Not so for understanding the physical limitations of the world and acting responsibly. Me, I see your proposal as just leading to more institutionalized paralysis by analysis catering to those (not saying “you”, understand) who want to think that, by talking, we can avoid the unpleasant fact that in our future we’ll all need to get hot, tired and dirty everyday just to keep body and soul together.

    Bummer that, but there it is.


  252. Dear Wade,

    I agree with every word you have spoken… every one. But I am also for trying out sensible ideas and hoping of something else, something unforeseen… and better than the apocalypse we can see, already visible, on the far horizon.

    I am in, mike.


  253. Wade, that is shrewd, man. Exactly.

    On the other hand… we are all horribly addicted to a shitty economic system, and it could be that an AA group, as part of the larger AA world, would be of use. Not as THE solution… just one of the myriad conspiracies out there….

  254. Plowboy: A simple attempt to clone AA is far from my mind. For example, my proposed reading for a group would include folks like Derrick Jensen, Noam Chomsky, C. Wright Mills and others. Would you believe there are folks out there who don’t have a clue as to what is happening to the country they happen to live in? Worse a lot of them believe they already know what’s what!

    How do you get people to really change their minds, hence their behavior? You are not going to create a situation where you can talk with them and create an opportunity in the right kind of group setting to open themselves to new ideas? It always puzzles me when people insist, “nothing ever comes from talking”. Should we remain mute, like the strong silent type so well portrayed by Gary Cooper and John Wayne? No, I’ve got it! Things started going wrong not when we came down out of the trees: it was when we started yammering at each other that civilization’s fatal descent really took off.

    Admittedly, language does give us a tool for greater good or ill. Perhaps we can learn together to use this tricky tool to defuse some of the harms it has been misused to perpetrate? If you have ever tried to have harmony in a family, for example, how would that go if you tried to live together without your little group sitting down anf sharing your hopes, dreams, complaints, questions, anger, love etc. together? Wouldn’t work too well. I know what that’s like.

    BTW the type of group I am interested in would probably want to read the Archdruid’s blog too. You are not against reading, I hope.
    (All in friendly fun Wade, honest. Don’t get pissed…..if you can help it!)

  255. Vera: I hope you don’t think I am proposing one more of the already numerous 12 step clones that are out there. I guess I haven’t really made my ideas clear yet.

    I am merely citing *some* of AA’s ideas as a possible ingredient in a much richer stew meant to deal with the ubiquitous menu of addictions and maladaptions our society ( and each of us members in spite of ourselves) is heir to.
    “the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy of the unworthy takes…” In short all the stuff that makes life as not worth living as we would like ( as Hamlet catalogued the ills that beset us, often leading us to ask, “is it really worth living after all?”)

    Pardon the digression, sometimes my mind just wanders like an untethered cow… OD’ed on Finnegan’s Wake….To die, to sleep but in that sleep of death what dreams may come? Must give us pause…..

  256. Mike, I am for it all. Straight AA stuff, modified AA stuff with lots of add ons… sure. Bring it on: “10,000 conspiracies” is my motto. :-)

  257. Even the idiots in charge of conquering our foreign “enemies” and ripping off all their assets know that winning hearts and minds is the key. As we say in aikido, lead the mind and the body will follow. My question is; how do those of us who oppose wars of pillage and environmental destruction win hearts and minds that have been brainwashed into zombie states of mindless compliance by a huge, well funded propaganda machine?

    A lot of folks out there seem to think that the government-corporation-media noise machine is telling them the truth. How do you create a situation where these folks can be deprogrammed without the unpleasantness of kidnapping them and holding them incommunicado for a few weeks? Well, the secret (or part of it) is you have to induce them to do it to themselves and each other of their own free will.

    Now I do not wish to convey the impression that I have this all worked out in fine detail, road tested and ready to go, guaranteed to work the first time or your money back. No. This will be a lot of hard work, experimenting and creative sharing. (Because of the tendency of some to go into a trance when they hear the name AA, and immediately assume that someone wants to shanghai them into a weird program they already know all about and sure as hell don’t want to be part of, I hesitate to say what I am going to say anyway. Please see my disclaimer in a previous recent post.)

    The early history of AA was an exciting and often contentious cauldron of every imaginable idea and scheme. I suspect that is the way this new unique form of group process would also generate its
    creative ferment and birth pangs. We would have to be our own midwives, and at times the old saying,“ if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” would definitely apply. I’m not ruling out wonderful collaborative synergy, that would be there, but a good dose realism about herding cats would also often be in order. Let’s face it, our kind of folks don’t like being controlled. I don’t. But there are ways……

  258. Well… I am myself interested in furthering the path of those of us who have already taken the red pill. Trying to convert the heathen? 😉

    Um… I think as the system keeps on falling apart, the realities will convert them soon enough. I am concerned that those of us who already understand, take our energies in hand and build something of use in the days ahead. That way, when we encounter one of the teetering, we can invite them in.

    As I have said to Christian missionary types, what’s the point of going out to try to convince the others when you yourself have not a clue about the kingdom of God and the best you can do it invite them to the same old boring stagnant church they maybe fled years before?

    That’s what I want: a better game to invite folks to join us in, when they are ready.

  259. These small groups coming together already exist. They are doing the things that Jensen poo-poohs. They grow gardens, share the bounty with each other, learn to compost, save and share seeds, share information about the evils of industrial food and offer strategies to counteract that. As they learn about sustainable food production, their interests spread toward other related things. Canning and preserving. Reusing and recycling unwanted items from the home. Buying sustainable products of all kinds. Learning to sew. Making their own music. Raising chickens. Installing solar power. Riding bikes and walking more. Jensen poo-poohs this stuff but it’s the seeds from which the future will grow. Every time I attend the annual seed exchange or visit the local food exchange I feel optimistic. Every time I eat home grown produce, plant seeds my friends saved, and otherwise avoid voting for industrial culture with my wallet, I hope I am making a little bit of a difference. I’d go blow up a dam but then I’d be forced to eat industrial food and wash with industrial soap in prison.

  260. “those of us who have already taken the red pill”

    I always find it slightly ironic when someone quotes the Matrix while professing they are “awakened” to the true nature of the world. Because even the first Matrix movie had plot holes you could drive a semi through, an illogical premise, protagonists as well as antagonist that didn’t know how to fight and used poorly thought out tactics given the resources that the exposition tells us are at their disposal. Also an unforgivable lack of neutron bombs and Faraday cages. Basically if you think the Matrix is an intelligent and well developed story, I cannot help you.

  261. Here is something to think about. In planning, thinking about, dreaming, creating a new reality it is necessary to entertain a mental state that Coleridge said was necessary for the creation and appreciation of poetry; namely “a voluntary suspension of disbelief”. Why is that?

    If we hang on doggedly to our judging mind that has on the basis of its prior conditioning and set beliefs a tendency to react automatically to accept or reject whatever is presented to it, then our creative imagination is short-circuited, and we are trapped within the circle of what we think we already know.

    This ability to suspend disbelief does not come included in our usual mental equipment – language, reason, memory, etc. No. It has to be learned, understood, embraced, and practiced. Then you can use it most of the time when you are confronted with something new and unfamiliar to you. If you think that you always have approached novel ideas this way without any need of conscious effort, I am almost sure on the basis of long experience with self and others that you are mistaken. We so easily assume abilities that we don’t really have! Check it out…

    Now, none of this is meant to deny the importance of having a critical mind. This is crucial equipment for discerning what is real, true, valuable or not, and possible, or desirable. The point is not to let this watchdog and judge jump in before all sides of a given case have been fully presented. It is harder than one thinks to give new ideas a fair trial. We have a tendency to shoot things down from the hip before we really get a good look at them.

    I recall the remark of the chess great Nimzovitch, “Criticism can do much: for instance embitter the existence of young talents.” Let us not douse a little flame before discerning if it might have something of value to offer. And remember, those with closed minds are closed to the realization that they might be closed! Who wants to be tagged with being closed-minded?

  262. Diane #269 The pleasant world you describe sounds to me like the best side of the communes I took part in during the sixties. Maybe stuff like that is more happening in, say, New England than where I am now in Appalachia. Or Northern California? At any rate those happy communities in some ways shadow forth a better world some of us would like to see spread around the world.

    Nevertheless, the “groups” you vaguely allude to are not what I have in mind. What I am thinking of is folks who meet regularly at least once a week to intensively explore how to change themselves and society in even more basic ways than those you describe. After all I have “seen the best minds of my generation” (Howl) go mad and destroy themselves and their hopeful movement.

    Also, reading your comments makes me appreciate even more deeply what Derrick is saying. Your little back to nature, off grid fantasy land will mean nothing to the ongoing fascist machine that is full speed grinding up the planet and all living beings on it. We must find ways to stop the monster that civilization has become, or your little paradise will be ground to dust along with everything else of beauty and value on this terminally ill planet. The groups I have in mind are revolutionary, not adaptive. With great respect for you and what you are contributing to our discussion/search.

  263. mike k:”need of the insane to attack sanity?”
    Sanity is for the weak.

  264. The following from the Totnes (town in England?) Heart and Soul division of Transition Towns has some ideas reflecting where I am trying to go with my sharing:

    bringing psychological awareness and understanding to our view of self, community and the natural world;
    reconnecting with nature;
    expressing how it feels to be alive and engaged at such an uncertain and critical time;
    creating community celebrations;
    learning and sharing skills in communication, group process, interpersonal dynamics, resolving conflict etc. which are needed everywhere in the Transition movement!
    expanding our capacity for presence, stillness, joy, creativity, empowerment, love, aliveness;
    developing the personal and group skills needed to create an inclusive, empowered and positive future for our world.

    You can learn more about their approach to the coming changes at their website.

  265. Diane, Isn’t it ironic how the “enlightened” feel little about putting down someone else so casually. Maybe it’s time to take a break and go play outside for awhile. The sun is marvelous in my part of nature.

  266. for Hanson

    “Enlihhtenment and “wisdom” are a waste of time. Knowledge of physical processes and the application of the knowledge to attain power is all that matters.

  267. Jay, I am not sure what you are talking about? Who is putting down whom (excepting the anon trolls)?

    Diane, Mike k, I thing youz both right. We need it all, and more. Resilience building is crucial, IMO, and immensely empowering in addition to being satisfying and practical, as Diane points out, but not enough. (That is how I am modifying for myself Jensen’s understanding).

    Think not “either/or”, think “that *and* this”.

  268. Isn’t antiphonal polyphonic music marvelous, if a little weird at times? lol….

  269. Desiderata

    Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible, without surrender,
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even to the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
    they are vexatious to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain or bitter,
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs,
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals,
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.
    Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love,
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
    it is as perennial as the grass.
    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be.
    And whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life,
    keep peace in your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

    — written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s —

  270. Why does it feel like posting Desiderata was like casting a protective spell……..?

  271. Vera: It would be nice to have a “church” that didn’t pay rent or have a preacher/priest/rabbi, and had the intimacy and intensity of a small group. But wait a sec, is that a “church”? I think I just swept some of the basic structures out the door…. Oh well, maybe ,we could call it something else if we think it needs a name.

    We could call it a revolutionary cell! Oops, why do I feel someone looking over my shoulder?? Did I just trigger an algorithm on a big mainframe somewhere? What’s that droning sound I hear getting closer…… Could it be that one of those more than 800,000 faithful employees hired to watch over us noticed my verboten language slip? Orwell warned me about this….

  272. Tee hee. Orwell *knew*.

    Don’t call it. Just do it. :-)

  273. I’m not talking about communes. I’m talking about people in our Southern California neighborhood getting together to share the bounty of our gardens and possibly the excess from our closets. Our neighborhood foodshed. An incredibly boring idea with a seed of subversion tucked inside.

    Some of these same people put on a yearly seed exchange. People in my community save seeds from their gardens. You don’t have to buy seeds for your garden. They give them away. I used to volunteer at a garden where they researched and grew food from the era when the Mission padres colonized California. They save seeds, too. Gives me hope in a world where corporations create suicide genes and all that stuff. People are keeping the genes and the knowledge alive and these people LOVE sharing their knowledge.

    Other people in my community get together in the park just to play music. Can you believe there are some people who have never heard acoustical music not played by a professional band? We’re just people who enjoy playing together. People stop and dance and take pictures and smile. It’s wonderful. What does that have to do with anything? It’s about not having to suck on a corporate teat to meet every dang experience in your human life.

    I’ve figured out that I can meet most of my mundane daily needs shopping at the farmers market and the thrift store. This means all the things I need for my normal daily existence –food, beauty/cleanliness, clothing– can be purchased without plastic packaging and toxic chemicals. My food is reasonably local. My clothing is reused, recycled. My hygiene/beauty products are natural and non-toxic.

    Not only that, but I’m learning to be a pretty darn good scavenger. Produce hanging over fences, free stuff left on the curb, turning waste things into useful things.

    What does that have to do with anything? The corporate machine runs on money. I’m not giving mine to them. If you think about it, because I can get a lot of my needs met by local farmers and because I recreate out in nature, nature is already meeting my needs. I may be living in a small city but I often feel like I live in a parallel universe. I already found the hole in the fence and have moved a little over to the other side. I inch over a little more every day. If I can do it, can’t anyone else?

    Seriously, it doesn’t have to be so complicated. The current system will collapse. Many people are already living in ways we all might have to when the collapse comes. I figure it’s a good idea to get to know these people because we’re going to need each other when things get really bad.

    Maybe that’s not spiritual or enlightened, but I think it’s incredibly hopeful and powerful. If we can just get more of us to move a little more in this direction. That’s the hard part.

  274. Diane, of course it’s enlightened. And it’s fantastic.

    But do you think it’s enough?

  275. Well apparently some don’t think that it’s enough. Is not Bhakti Yoga flowing on the same energy as zazen. Is one better than the other? Do we not understand and revel in the realization of the great “I Am”? When someone is speaking from the heart chakra and using their own words, is it not superior to all the Desiderata quotes one can conjur to protect oneself?

    Diane…How is your garden doing this season? We’ve had lots of sun and great rain and our community market is a very sacred place. A beautiful place to Be.

  276. Still here…just listening.Y’all are doing some good here, me thinks.

  277. Of course it isn’t enough. But industrial culture wasn’t built in a day either. In the process of finding substitutes, some of which are admittedly derived from industrial culture, I learn resourcefullness, which means I learn new skills outside the boundaries of what it expects/wants me to do.

    About my garden. Instead of a regular garden I have 8 40-foot avocado trees that shade the whole yard. We’ve given away hundreds of pounds of avocados, some half the size of a football. I have a passionfruit vine that has smothered half the yard. Somewhere underneath it there was an orange and a lime tree. The tangerine shrublet still has sunlight. We’d cut the passion fruit back but it’s covered in fruit and we need the fruit.

    I have a small container garden on the roof. It is doing poorly but there is some basil that is looking well and volunteer tomatoes and squash-like-objects pop up out of the compost. I’m really a terrible gardener. About all I have to offer in the realm of the natural is that I know where all the wildflowers bloom and when.

  278. Plowboy: Your silent presence is appreciated, as are your insightful comments. Hang in there; we might just cook this turkey yet!

  279. Vera: This kind of (gourmet we hope) cooking requires constant checking on, otherwise if all the cooks should leave the kitchen for any length of time, our confection might die of neglect, and end up buried in some cyberspace graveyard
    without decent final rites.

  280. Hello folks. This is your green behind the ears, first time weblog commenter. I hope I have not stepped on too many toes in my blundering attempts to communicate.
    I know that some of us are sensitive and sometimes reactive to our offerings being less than wholeheartedly embraced by our fellow posters: I am.

    I just want to say that I don’t intentionally wish to offend anyone, but if I did I am sorry, and hope you can forgive my awkwardly jostling you. I know that readers of Orion are my kind of people; and even if we may disagree on some things, we are all here because of our desire for peace and a better world for all beings.

  281. Long ago…

    No one tore the ground with plowshares

    Or parceled out the land

    Or swept the sea with dipping oars —

    The shore was the world’s end.

    Clever human nature, victim of your inventions,

    Disastrously creative,

    Why cordon cities with towered walls?

    Why arm for war?

    Ovid, Amores, Book 3

  282. Ah, Diane. I think I will follow your lead. I had a beautiful avocado tree out back until Hurricane Wilma took it out and I too gave away hundreds of them. I planted another about a year ago and it is maybe 4 ft high now. I dug up a 5×15 foot area on the side of the house that should be a perfect spot for a garden this winter. I gave up bottled water quite some time ago and refill from water fountains wherever I happen to be. I recycle plastic and canned goods and have been doing so for the last decade. 4 years ago I sold my 8 cylinder truck and got a 4 cylinder car. I shop at some thrift stores but I am going to make this a priority from now on. It seems like petty bullshit when you look at what we are up against, but it’s SOMETHING…

  283. Doing something helps you feel less stuck. One thing leads to another, too. You keep finding new things you can do.

    Something else I’ve begun doing is bringing my own cup, spoon and knife with me so I can reject the disposable plastic stuff.

    Scavenging the discards of industrial culture is still relying on industrial culture, so when I need something new I’m trying to choose things made by small enterprises. I’m waiting for my handmade shoes to come. They are making them to a tracing of my foot. They should fit my duck feet well and help stop the horrible shoe-shopping cycle where you finally find a shoe that fits well and then planned obsolescence kicks in and you have to go on the hunt for a decent shoe again.

    I bought a used sewing machine and have started learning to sew. There’s a local store that sells leftover industrial scraps and they have a lot of nice fabric, but I will also modify thrift store stuff and fix things that have holes or stains. I sewed my own mosquito tent and I fused some plastic bags together and sewed a reusable shopping bag from it that I take everywhere with me. I also sewed reusable produce bags. I can toss them in the laundry.

    I just can’t sit around waiting for other people to wake up and change. I know my little actions have such a tiny effect, but it’s something. I am not willing to dismantle industrial culture with violence. But I am willing to do something. The nice thing is that it’s really cheap living this way so maybe I’ll be able to afford another 5 month hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

  284. has an interesting current count of world popultion that keeps running as you tour the site. Lots of good stuff there. Drop in and drop a couple of bucks if you have some to spare…

  285. The story goes: A farmer was repairing his stone wall in Vermont. A stranger came up and, leaning on the fence asked,’Who owns this land? The man answered,”I do”. The stranger asked, “how did you come to own it?” My father left it to me.
    How did he get it? His father left it to him. And how did his father get it? Again the man said his father left it for him.

    Finally the stranger asked and how did he get it? And the man, exasperated by now said, “He fought for it!” The stranger thought a moment then said, “Okay, then I’ll fight you for it.”

    All land ownership is soaked in blood.

  286. Well, what a hopefull and interesting story to go to sleep by. Is that original? Here is a old quote for the chef…”Rome is burning while you fiddle”. Remember that too much turkey can make you sleepy.
    Diane: What can we barter for some of those Avocados?

  287. 295

    mike, it’s called territoriality. All humans exhibit it even if they are completely nomadic. If you can squat on a piece of dirt or wander around a general region, patrol the boundaries you set, and hold it against all comers, by definition you own that land. Just because you pay taxes to the state to get the cops to patrol and defend your property instead of doing it personally makes no difference.

  288. Jay: Not original by me. I thought that story was by Robert Frost or maybe Carl Sandburg, but I couldn’t find it on google.
    Here’s another thought provoker by Thomas Wolfe:

    Who owns the Earth?

  289. I guess the point of these quotes about ownership is that our problems with “getting along” (Rodney King) go way back and are way deep in our psyches. And yet, throughout our history we have also striven to mitigate the powerful gravity of these lower chakra imperatives for safety and control, by means of laws and agreements, voluntary sharing and charity, and by development of inner restraints through education or religion or ethical or spiritual development.

    It should be clear now (but apparently isn’t to most) that our very survival depends on coming up with a higher level solution to these problems. Our obsession with individual safety and power is shredding the delicate net of cooperative and ethical relationships. When the need to develop a higher level of self-definition and sense of purpose is put forward, people roll their eyes and say, “that sounds too much like all that woo-woo new age spirituality or old time religion for me!”

    How folks can be induced to do the work needed to transcend their conditioned minds when they are firmly convinced that their minds are not conditioned remains a fundamental obstacle to creating a better world. The ancient Delphic admonition to “Know Thyself” remains to this day misunderstood and largely unpracticed.

    Mission Control, we have a problem: us.

  290. When I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail I learned about something called Trail Magic. There are two kinds of trail magic.

    One is the planned kind. Usually that consists of a cooler left near a road. You might be tired, thirsty, hot, hungry and you’ve put in 20 miles today. You suddenly find this cooler and it’s full of drinks or snicker bars and you rejoice!

    The other kind of trail magic is the real kind. You are hiking along and need something and then suddenly it appears. That cooler left for you may come exactly when you have no more food or water and are starting to wonder what you are going to do. Or maybe you broke your sunglasses and then suddenly you see a pair of sunglasses dangling in a tree. Or you are at an emotional low and the next person you meet is a real life counselor and knows just what to say.

    There is something called the gift economy. It’s present in the natural world and in the world of the traveler. It’s amazing magic. What you need comes to you when you need it most. When you learn that it is real, you learn how to plug into it.

    Yes, people are territorial and will steal from each other. But another world provides for you. Plug into one or the other. It’s your choice.

    I’m not sure how to give my avocados away. They cannot be put in the mail. And I cannot invite people on the Internet to just come over and get them. I hope you understand. Perhaps if you are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail someday you’ll come upon a box of avocados.

  291. Dear Friends,

    It seems to me that there is no sensible way to address looming global problems while knowledgeable people deny credible evidence about the possible cause(s) of the problems themselves.

    Let’s imagine for a moment that the human population on Earth is exploding in an unbridled way, at least in part, because people do not share an adequate understanding of all of the possible causes of the skyrocketing growth. The best available scientific evidence of human population dynamics is being willfully denied. How do we move forward toward sustainability and assure the children a good enough future when human population numbers are growing unsustainably and experts refuse to openly discuss one of the possible root causes of this situation?

    Thanks, Steve

  292. Steve, There is no sensible way because the majority of the population is in denial. A few of us get it but most of us don’t. People think it’s there right to reproduce freely and until things change they will keep doing so. We reward the poor by giving them money to reproduce. I think the only thing that’s going to convince people is a mass die off when the population crashes; just like it happens in the natural world. It’s not going to be pretty when it happens, but it’s the only thing that will convince people. Only then will we see the error of our ways.

  293. Steve, Jamie: I agree that population is an immense and tragic component of our cascading problems. It is also an index of how deeply asleep and in denial most of us are. I don’t have much hope that some major disaster will cause people to see the error of their ways. Taking the Black Death in the Middle Ages as an example, people tended to regress rather than become more conscious and reflective. If we should enter into a Mad Max period, I don’t think any good would ensue from it. On the contrary, it would make the long and winding road to true sanity even harder to navigate.

    There are no cheap and easy solutions in sight, although many solace themselves with that vision. It has never been easy to become a truly loving and sane human being. We need to find ways to facilitate and expedite that process of growing into authentic humanity before it is too late. Spiritual growth by whatever name is no longer a luxury or side trip, it is our only valid ticket into the future. Flawed human beings can only produce a broken and doomed world, such as the one we are living in this very day. The way out is not easy but there is truly none other.

    I was at a Quaker event some years ago, and the leader of one of our breakout groups said to the group as a whole, “I am glad to be alive today, because it may well be in my time that the question whether we are fit to continue living on Earth will be decided.”

  294. My dear Orion commenter’s, let me propose a little psychological test designed to give an initial evaluation of your state of awakeness:

    How many among you are aware that at this moment you are living in a full-blown fascist state masquerading under the name of the United States of America? And furthermore that this regime is presently led by perhaps the most evil and vicious monsters in human form that have ever been on this planet?

    Does the above seem bizarre or untrue to you? Does it make you nervous that someone would openly say that?

    Would you be afraid to agree with those statements openly?

    Just wondering…….


    I went to this website to research fascism because its’ definition is hard to pin down. I have to agree that our country has a lot of these elements: Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, disdain for the importance of human rights, identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause,the supremacy of the military/avid militarism, rampant sexism, a controlled mass media, obsession with national security, religion and ruling elite tied together, power of corporations protected, power of labor suppressed or eliminated, disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts, obsession with crime and punishment, rampant cronyism and corruption, and fraudulent elections. Sounds a lot like the USA to me.

    I have to respectfully disagree that “this regime is presently led by perhaps the most evil and vicious monsters in human form that have ever been on this planet”. I really think that Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and a few others still hold the title of most evil and vicious monster in terms of the destruction of human life. Environmental destruction is a whole ‘nother ballgame.

  296. Thanks for the excellent research, Jamie. Those other nasty folks you mentioned are certainly up front in the struggle for top honors in terrorism. I guess I was thinking that our rulers are not just folks elected recently into various prominent power roles, but all those figures behind the scenes some of whom were doing there mischief as far back as Vietnam and before. And of course the power elite in America really believe they can achieve the ultimate goal of all fascists: total world domination. With our busy crew of mad scientists cranking out ever more fiendish weapons of destruction and control, and our huge ring of military bases around the world, who knows, they just might make it.

    BTW you passed the awakeness test with flying colors in my book. Judging by your previous posts I kinda thought you would, but your clear grasp of the situation was like a fresh breeze to me. To often I have brought up the obvious in social situations to be met with blank stares or open suspicion. (How can he say those things? Is he crazy or maybe dangerous?)

  297. A follow up question: Do you know what famous Nobel Prize scientist said, “The war on cancer is largely a fraud”? Was he right?

  298. “Everyone Should Know That the ‘War on Cancer’ is Largely a Fraud” –
    Linus Pauling”

    Looks like chemotherapy and conventional cancer treatments are a money making machine. Cha-ching!

    This needs a lot more research than I have time for tonight. Have to get up early tomorrow to go be a slave to the corporation. G’night all.

  299. So Steve, what is your solution to overpopulation? Seems to me that to have a growing economic machine you have to crank out the humans that feed it.

    Yikes, mike… no, I don’t agree we have full blown fascism. Soft fascism getting harder… yes.

    War on cancer… Pauling? Is it a fraud? In some ways, it has been. In others, many scientists are busting their gut to find ways to treat. Cancer treatment is a perilous ideological quagmire… and has been for the last 60-70 years. Certainly a very weird thing… btw, any war on something is a fraud… war on poverty, drugs, whatever.

  300. Well– fascism!!

    Most of us feel that “terrorism” has put some serious constraints upon our freedom here in the “homeland.” But what it may have done is inadvertently expose the pretense of freedom under which we have been laboring for these many years, perhaps centuries. Perhaps it has succeeded in “outing” the underlying motive beneath our politics, its maneuverings and behind-the-scenes deal making, whether with big business, lobbyists or private contractors. Maybe it has betrayed the prime motivation beneath all political systems – power, its control, and aggrandizement.

    Well, I imagine we will soon begin to see things more clearly. The full force and impact of the Obama presidency is on its way to the light of day, straight through the corridors of darkness and the possible instantiation of a domestic “thought police.”

    Of course, we can thank W and his troupe for starting us down this path, with passage of legislation allowing more flexible wire tapping rules and other “homeland security” measures intended to infringe upon our so-called civil liberties. But Obama is doing more than his fair share in escalating the endeavor.

    After having given his nod to fines and jail time for citizen non-compliance with health-care reform legislation, Obama has tipped his hand to the next challenge, making sure all of us citizens believe what we are told by his administration, and do as we are asked by those in power.

    I believe it was George Orwell who first raised the specter of the “thought police” in his novel, 1984. In Orwell’s horrifying proleptic vision, it was the job of this agency to uncover and punish thought-crimes using a host of covert psychological and surveillance techniques to find and eliminate members of society whose very thoughts were challenging to the controlling hegemony.

    Well, Obama is about to make Orwell’s vision a reality for the homeland in 2010. His pick to head the department of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Dr. Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law Professor, proposed such an agency in a recent (2008) article published in the Journal of Political Philosophy.

    Professor Sunstein wrote in “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures,” that such theories pose “real risks to the government’s antiterrorism policies,” stemming as they do from a “crippled epistemology.” What he means by this is that conspiracy theorists have limited or poor information. His cure is to infiltrate these ill-advised groups with independent undercover agents (reporting to and paid by the administration) to correct the knowledge base of these disparate, renegade groups. As the article states:

    “Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.”[20]

    In this manner, he hopes to undermine the credibility and internal coherence of these heterodox groups. Sunstein has already been criticized as a potentate for implementing censorship, online and elsewhere.

    Stand aside China, America is in lock step, or is that goose-step, with your sentiments about Google and censorship. The insipient fascism of our state belies the fascist tendencies of all states. Nietzsche was correct; there is no truth and no freedom where there is political society.

    State is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it tells lies…in all tongues of good and evil;…state, where the slow suicide of all is called ‘life.’ [Kaufmann, 160-1]

    Politicians have one concern (no matter what they tell the public); and that is protection and expansion of power. Obama is no different than W. And the USA is no different than Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, China, Iran or North Korea.

    We are moving slowly, but definitively into a police state. If you refuse to buy health insurance or if you even think the wrong thoughts, you are an enemy of the state. My friends, by writing this article, I am already labeled a heretic. I am already singled out as a potential problem to be solved or silenced.

    The siren song is getting louder as we approach the Scylla and Charybdis of our own historic destiny; do not be fooled by its enticements. We are doomed as long as there is someone telling us what to believe and how to live our lives: someone who knows nothing of us personally – our suffering, our longing, our simple pleasures and our needs. This is especially so when all the maneuvering is behind the scenes, part of the scaffolding holding up the spectacle. The time to reflect is over. The time to make your voices heard is at hand. Or should we just retreat to the toilet and put a gun in our mouth?

    Only where the state ends, there begins the human being who is not superfluous; there begins the song of necessity, the unique and inimitable tune. Where the state ends – look there, my brothers! [Kaufmann, 163]

  301. Dear Vera,

    I would like to make a suggestion. This idea would require the assistance of this group. Perhaps the interested members of this discussion would agree to participate in an open discussion of the human overpopulation predicament that looms ominously before us. Our friend Scott Walker might be willing to assist here by asking knowledgeable experts on the subject like Paul Ehrlich, David Pimentel, Gary Peters, Albert Bartlett and/or other leading scientists to be involved as moderator(s), for example, of the discussion of any and all credible evidence related to the topic of human population dynamics.

    Thanks for your question, Vera.



    PS: It seems to me that many too many people are consciously refusing to openly discuss the science of human population dynamics and, by so doing, artificially masking credible evidence that could awaken people to the forbidding urgency of the human-driven global predicament soon to confront the human family.

    People are not being helped by top-rank experts and leaders to see the evidence of the colossal predicament in which we have placed ourselves by ‘virtue’ of denying research people could be discussing.

    People in positions to make a difference because they possess knowledge, wealth, and power over communication are abjectly failing to assume responsibilities to humankind and perform duties as stewards of the Earth.

  302. Vera: “soft” fascism? You mean something like a velvet glove covering a steel fist? Of course it depends on whether you constitute any kind of perceived threat to Goliath if the glove comes off or not. When only “others” are the targets of the naked force of Empire, it is easy to think our rulers are “soft.” Not so for those disappeared and tortured, or those whose loved ones have been ruthlessly murdered.

    Are we akin to the frog in steadily heating water who waits too late to jump for his life? Are we like one being interrogated with the help of a thumb screw, thinking, “It isn’t too painful yet”? Or are we like Jews in Nazi Germany thinking, “They probably won’t come for me”?

    “It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in the process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably always will always exist to get people to love their servitude.”
    Aldous Huxley 1932

    “There’s someone in my head but it’s not me.”
    “Brain Damage”
    Pink Floyd

  303. Welcome back Sandy. Excellent post.
    Your coefficient of awakening is obviously high.

  304. Sandy, very perceptive of you. Of course, people are waking to the fact that the current terrorists are not folks hiding in Afghan caves but the banksters and global financiers, hiding in plain view.

    Steve, are you saying that the cure for overpopulation is education? I tried to alert educated folks who knew perfectly well that Haiti is horribly overpopulated to consider the exchange of a smallholding (enough land and tools to feed a person) for the agreement to not reproduce any more (and free provision of the means to achieve this). The whole forum practically piled on top of me, shrieking unfair, horrible, condescending!

    People stop cranking out kids when they become an economic liability. As long as they are an asset, they will keep at it.

    Mike, I lived under communism, and I can tell the difference. This is not totality, yet. If it were, we would not be talking here.

  305. Oh, and one more thing. I think that Americans still have renegade blood in them, the blood of the non-conformists that came here for breathing spaces. The turnaround will come.

  306. Jamie: For more research on why the cancer “war” is a phony device for making millionaires:

    The Cancer Industry by Ralph Moss. He has an excellent bi-weekly free newsletter online.

    Cancer Wars by Robert Procter. How environment causes cancer, and why this is not the focus of our efforts to eliminate it.

    Knockout be Suzanne Somers. A look at the pioneering natural treatments and preventatives for cancer. A good read, and very awakening.

    If you or a friend should have cancer, these books could save your life.

  307. Vera: The eclipse of human rights, free speech is never total; people will find their ways, their underground channels. The reason we can express our ideas here is that we are not (yet) perceived as a threat to the power and agenda of our Rulers.

    Also, to define “fascism” in terms of the regimes we are historically familiar with is too narrow an approach. This postmodern totalitarianism is a whole new breed of cat. Forget a lot of the means and methods of former nightmares. The Huxley quote I posted was very prescient. The new way of tyranny specializes in lulling you into the belief that your freedoms are still intact, while actually they have been stolen away, and all you have left is an empty shell, and even that is yours only as long as your masters allow it to be so. Act up in any significant way, and you will quickly come to know how little real freedom you had.

  308. Steve: I agree that we need widespread education about the realities of the population crisis. However I feel that the wake up call we need to instigate goes a lot deeper than just scientific information, as valuable as that is.

    You know from my previous posts that I think our ignorance about the world crisis goes a lot wider and deeper than any single issue focus. In fact, in order to really understand any particular area or problem we need to be able to put it into the context of the overall problem(s) of civilization itself. I am on the same page as Derrick Jensen on that. Those who are asleep and in denial about war, pollution, capitalist exploitation, etc, etc, will not be awake with regard to population either. We need a general, systemic awakening! The question is how to foment it?

  309. Huxley: “That we are in the process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably always will always exist to get people to love their servitude.”

    Huxley is here committing the same fallacy exposed so well by Daniel Quinn. But we know now that he is wrong… oligarchies have not existed for the 97% of our time on earth as Homo sapiens, and there is no reason to think that they will “always exist.” Isn’t there at present every sign that they have “evolved themselves” into a dead end and will soon be eliminated by the same Mother Nature that, in the long run, suffers no fools? The question is whether they will take us all down with them.

    Cancer, along with diabetes and heart disease, is largely a disease of civilization. How do we cure it? Eliminate the cause. :-)

    Mike: “Act up in any significant way, and you will quickly come to know how little real freedom you had.”

    So tell me, when has this not been true in the history of America?

  310. Vera: That side-arm of yours must be set on rapid fire! Let me try to field one shot at a time. First, let me do poor old Aldous a favor by excising that bothersome nit on his simian behind (I’d be glad to engage in a little mutual grooming with Ishmael too, if he would hold still for it).
    Without the offending parasite his quote would look like this: “…we are in the process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy to get people to love their servitude.”

    That was the real point of his message to me, not the mooted question of when civilization began. I thought it was really a prescient insight on his part at a time when the full power of modern mind control technology was just starting to crank up.
    And yes, the science of mind f…ing goes way back, but the full expertise of modern knowledge is giving it a power, depth, and subtlety like never before.

  311. Mike, although your theories about our collective state of affairs have widespread currency these days, part of me thinks the situation might be better described by the old Hunter/Garcia lyric: “Ain’t nobody messin’ with you [us], but you [us]…”

    There are as many kinds of freedom, and as many kinds of slavery, as there are people, probably. In this culture we can be as bizarrely radical, or as firmly bound as we care to be. The choice is still very much ours.

    But, I think the lack of freedom you reference is the one most topical at present: Lack of economic freedom, or at least the feeling by most that they lack options in their lives due to economic constraints. On that point, I’ve got pretty firm opinions.

    Frankly, never in the history of man have so many had as much information to help them achieve economic freedoms, or had the tools to become more aware of how crimes against their economic well being are perpetrated. These crimes are nothing new under the sun, btw. What has changed is our appreciation of how they are done and the speed at which they are reported to us. Well, at least some of us have an appreciation. For the overwhelming majority of us, we couldn’t be bothered to know. So, we feed it with our ignorance.

    Do 1 in 10 reading and posting here have any appreciation of the monetary policies of Ben Berneke et al? Is anyone here likely to know what is behind the happpy news reporting on the equities “trading” markets? Kenynsian economics and how they’ve led us to this juncture anyone?

    My point though is not to claim some kind of intellectual superiority here (Shoot, I was an English major for pete’s sake) The point I do want to make is that ignorance and freedom sleep in separate beds, and if you gain the knowledge and it doesn’t prompt you to act (or at least think) differently then YOU my friend are peening the rivets on your own shackles.

    (Not saying you personally Mike, understand, just those who might fit this description…..and I see and hear them quite frequently)


  312. Let me also add something on this subject of economic freedom: Be careful what you ask for. If some amongst us are reading the signs correctly, the world is entering a period of economic instability not seen on this scale before. Sovereign debt default and hyper-inflation in the EU and other key regions is not just a doomsday fantasy….it has to be treated as a possible outcome. If the global reserve currency (that would be our dollar)is printed out of viability by our fed to make demands on yet unrealized (and unrealizable)wealth, and nations like China demur on purchasing anymore of our debt, all bets are off. If such a case, the “freedom” that is likely to be visited on us will exceed all of our wildest expectations. On the menu will be freedom to starve, freedom to freeze and the whole panoply of golden oldies.


  313. Modified huxley: “we are in the process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy to get people to love their servitude”

    Ok, let’s tackle this one just for fun, then I gotta let my arm rest. :-) Who exactly is “loving” their servitude these days? Isn’t it more true that this idea was given up in the 60s when the elites realized that the happy party is costing too much? What I see is a pi*sed off, impoverished America sinking into greater misery, and a really pi*sed off Europe, with people seeing their vaunted “security” slowly fizzling out (or quickly, in the case of Greece and Iceland).

    The only people still having some fun are the toy-happy professionals, and since most of them are parasitic on a system that is going down, and many of them are out of work depending on unemployment benefits being extended from month to month… well, you get my drift. Once these former executives start executing minimum wage jobs, will they be inclined to love Big Brother?

    Frankly, I think that we are witnessing something quite other than what Huxley envisioned in his very bourgeouis Brave New World. We are witnessing the return of planned immiseration coupled with very fancy technology of suppression. No need for pretense when people are just scrambling to stay afloat. The interesting question is… will this keep the elites secure?

    “peening the rivets on your own shackles” — I vote it as the best phrase of the forum so far. :-)

  314. Good thoughts on Huxley, Vera. Thanks for correcting my thoughts. Where do you think the energy of your pissed off multitudes is going to go? Chaotic mad tea parties with little real impact? Or growing anger that will be manipulated by the fascist elite to their own purposes? History is so hard to predict.

    Between Mad Max and JMG’s long descent of empire, who can say? And the Black Swan is also lurking about to upset our expectations with it’s nonlinear wing flapping….

  315. Wade: In the course of an improbably long life I have read more economics than I ever cared to. Briefly, what can we expect from Bernanke when his predecessor claimed to be shocked that a tribe of bloodthirsty, take no prisoners wall streeters ripped off everything in sight and left us regular peons holding the bag? Maybe if Alan G. had popped some of that speed his guru Ayn was high on he woudn’t have been dead asleep at the switch?

    Then again, what can you expect from a system founded on the belief that unbridled selfishness will lead to ultimate benefits for all? Reminds of RR’s “all boats will be lifted.” All yachts that is.
    Those in lesser crafts will meet Davy Jones face to face.

    But after all, we thus avoid a fate worse than death itself: SOCIALISM. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……that’s scary…..

  316. It’ll be a scramble, as you say, Mike. I am not much into predictioneering… I am focused on figuring out what those of us who maintain a measure of sanity can do to come up a better alternative… besides ineffective thrashing and Mad Max and the zombies and all.

    Have you seen Vinay Gupta’s essay on Zombies and Vampires yet?

  317. Oh no! Ayn was popping speed? Say it ain’t so Joe! And here I naively thought she was just popping Nathaniel’s cork. 😀

  318. Sounds like you’ve done the catechism Mike, yeah. What you’ve probably found, like me, is that far more damage in the world is done through garden variety hubris and incompetence than by all the evil dogmas that ever were. Here of late is a great example. We just ain’t that smart to pull off most of what we plot with our clever little monkey brains. As you and I have noted here before, as Pascal said, failure to just sit still in a room….

    So, have you heard, small is the new big?

    But on the subject of freedoms, I tend to disagree with what I think is your fundamental precept: That our (speaking of us in the West) freedoms are being corrupted, reduced and manipulated on a unprecedented scale. My view is that we’ve only slipped one set of chains only to substitute those of our own making….like the tiger who has faced the locked cage door so long that it fails to comprehend that the keeper has left it swinging wide.

    Today, just one small example: Comprehensive leak of Afghan war documents. Daniel Ellsberg’s wet dream come true. Cameras showing real time gusher of oil a mile down under water is another. Folks, we’ve never had better information to act on than right now….no need to equivocate or quibble about authenticity…it is in our face. So, we react how? By complaining that we are bridled and saddled and tied to a tree? No, you bear witness, and you keep calling b.s. until you can’t hear yourself above the din of all the other voices doing the same thing.

    You watch.

  319. Wade, your exhortation is for us to yell?! Puh-lease.

    Pushing against power just makes the power push back harder. Setting up louder and bigger marches have evolved the storm troopers. Making louder cries will evolve better techniques to silence us. Just like with antibiotics, cracking down harder on the microbes has done them a favor: they’ve evolved more resistant forms. “What you resist persists.” We gotta be far sneakier than that.

    After economics, I recommend studying systems theory.

  320. Vera: Ayn on speed? From — “What’s generally acknowledged, however — by proponents and detractors alike — is that for decades she took Dexedrine or other speed-y psychostimulants every single day.”

  321. Too late Vera, genie is out of the bottle. Viral information sharing and awareness cannot be re-contained. (Ask Mel Gibson’s Publicists about how that is going for them.) Shoot, no dictator in history has ever even succeeded in shutting down the print media. You think that anything is out there to silence digital information sharing? And if such is possible, what exactly are they waiting for? Seems to me to be a self-proving point, as I just posted this on an international website

    Besides, speaking up loud and often is what I’m talking about, not marching into riot shields, which sort of always seemed pretty damned stupid to me anyway….might give you a charge, but completely ineffective for making a larger point.

    Just so’s I’m clear on this too, what exactly are we supposed to be stealthy about avoiding anyway? Thought police? Brown shirted storm troopers? Hang up calls late at night? This is a war on dumb Vera, and if the smarter ones don’t speak up, the dumberer it gets.

    No, the only thing that succeeds for those who don’t wish for us to know certain truths is a thing done with our complicity. If that happens, than we really are too dumb to live.

    Puh-lease back atcha sista girl.


  322. Vera: And after systems theory, chaos theory, and then the theory of everything, then the theory of nothing, and voila we are back to Zen Buddhism! But watch that Zen nothing; it’s loaded!

  323. Wade: I like the part about speaking up loud and often, but are you sure we are unstoppable? From what Vera shares about her life under Communism, she may not be easily reassured…….

  324. Nope Mike, I’m not certain about jack, except that those with strong opinions that run contrary to the accepted agenda haven’t been stopped YET. In point of fact, from my take on the zeitgeist, there is probably significant progress to report.

    As for Vera’s experience, she’s the only one who can say, but I come from a very long line of big mouths and secessionists. The second anyone withholds an opinion because they feel it will be met with resistance by those with muscle who oppose that viewpoint….game over before it began.

    Besides, drama about “them” and the “powers that be” is just plain silly to me. Jensen makes a lot of money with his politics of opposition, and he’d no doubt thrill a whole lot less if he recognized some realities for his readership. Fact is, you can read from sunup to sundown and you’ll barely scratch the surface of the content written by people out there stating these truths everyday to whoever will listen to them. What? “They” going to come and carry us all away to the gulag for posting and reading those? They better build it big.

    The only crying shame here is that most of these intelligent people get read very little by the majority of the literate public, and many who do read have no ability to do that critically and to draw their own conclusions.

    I God. When did we turn ourselves into such a nation of cowards and know-nothings?


  325. Well spoken Wade! To hell with security anyway.

    “To venture is to risk defeat; but not to venture is to lose one’s soul.” Soren Kierkegaard

  326. Well whaddayaknow… I get a bit edgy and nobody bites me head off? How could that be? 😀

    Heh. We are obviously talking about two different things. I am all for the yelling that is going on now on the net and elsewhere. I thought, Wade, you meant that yelling harder would fix the system. I shoulda known better! I venerate this particular genie and feed it daily.

    What exactly are we supposed to be stealthy about? Well, obviously, I cannot say. Tee-hee!

    War on stupid? Oh, I dunno. They’ve got us beat for thousands of years now… no underestimating the powerful idiots. They know how to buy smarts. Whom do you think Da Vinci served?

    “They better build it big.” They have. ‘Sides, they know how to terrorize the few key people to shut up the rest. That particular strategy was perfected by the good Cardinal Richelieu.

    Not to end on the memory of an evil schemer… Nevertheless. As Katherine Hepburn says pointedly before the German ship blows in African Queen: Never the less! :-)

  327. I don’t think the point is to scream our lungs out at our fellow choir members, although a bit of mutual support and encouragement has real value on what sometimes can be a long and lonely road. The real juice will start to flow when we figure out how to interrupt the snoring sleep-in that grips suburbia. When I talk about some kind of small group process, I mean something that has a total awakening impact, not just some one-and-done single issue event.
    How did folks like us sharing in this forum arrive at our world-views? If you are like me, it took quite a while, a lot of living, and a lot of help from my friends, those in the flesh and those in books or making music, and a lot of plain old pig luck.

    We need to come up with a process that raises people’s consciousness about this world of ours a hell of a lot faster than it took us. It has happened before in other contexts, and it really needs to happen pronto now. If we assume it won’t work, people are too set in there ways, nobody will listen, etc etc — then we won’t do anything, and we will become the prophets of our own defeat.

  328. Dear Friends,

    Why? Why do I keep focusing on human population dynamics. Please bear with me while I offer a feeble explanation.

    Please note that virtually no top rank scientists will openly discuss the science of human population dynamics. Gary Peters is an exception. Uncontested scientific evidence is extant and scientists with appropriate expertise willfully refuse to acknowledge it. Why?

    I believe if reasonable and sensible people recognized that human population dynamics are essentially similar to the population dynamics of other species, the world would have to change because people would see that there is no choice but to begin making necessary adaptations. That means to stop doing things in a business-as-usual way. They could see that we cannot keep sleepwalking through space-time as we are now. We cannot keep reflexively overpopulating; rapaciously overconsuming and outrageously hoarding; and relentlessly overproducing and polluting on the surface of a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth. We are living in a patently unsustainable way. There is no question about it. We will see that we have reached a fork in the road. We will either embrace fundamental change or face unimaginable consequences.

    It has been said that open discussion of the unbridled growth of absolute global human population numbers would overcome “the last taboo”. But that is not correct. As I see it, the last taboo remains hidden. At the core of the human-driven global challenges that loom so ominously before the human family in our time is this unacknowledged,unchallenged scientific evidence: human population dynamics are common to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species and absolute global human population numbers appear as a function of food supply. From a global perspective, more food equals more people; less food equals less people; and no food, no people. The implications of this scientific evidence is nothing short of profound, I believe.



    PS: To Gary Peters and Scott Walker. Keep going, my friends, and keep in touch. Perhaps, as one of the children’s songwriters puts it so well, we will not have to speak out (and stand by) much longer while “waiting for the world to change” (John Mayer). And also as the children say, “Keep hope alive.” Changes toward sustainable lifestyles and human-scale business enterprises can already be seen in the offing.

  329. Vera….You know, when I typed that flippant remark about the size of the gulag, I knew the likely response. Yeah, they did, and although I think that the idea of American exceptionalism is overblown and harmful at times, I do see some distinctions to be made on a comparison of the two cultures. But, “never here” is a fairly brash proclamation to make. So, let me ask you, are you serious about that as a possible outcome? If so, I’d love to have your views on that.

    (Please allow me to take off the table the idea that our current domestic prison population, or Gitmo, proves that we are already there. I’m talking about imprisoning someone on ideological or strictly political grounds)

    Myself, I currently live in the American South…a region I’ve lived in most of my life. Here, as in many other parts of this country, any overt attempt to limit free expression through incarceration would likely unleash War of Secession, Part II. Judging from the outcome of the last one, we’re not likely to pull any punches in ramping up an extremely violent response on short notice.

    That is why any prior restraint on free speech seems to only happen on the margins around here…with our tacit consent I might add. Otherwise, we’ll tell you in a second who we think has the blame.

    An example: Late last night I was holding the light for my local power company lineman as he hoisted a fuse link up the pole in my back lot. After that, it took about two minutes for him to share his political views with me. I didn’t agree with them, but by God it warmed my heart to hear him spout off without even knowing who I was or in what capacity I might be employed. That is something that is uniquely American, and it has reached full flower in the American South. Despite our differing views, I will guarantee you that if he and I were to find ourselves one day resisting a greater power that wanted to limit either of our abilities to voice an opinion….Katy bar the door.

    Long may it live.


  330. Wade, hmmm… I am not sure if I am coming out askew. America has the most prisoners of any country at the moment… now they are mostly the underclass, but that could change. There is a lot of capacity there. Just thinkin’ here…

    Do I think that a real gulag could exist? I really do see it existing, just not in the same way. Where I am from, it was accepted that people who put unapproved ideas in their heads could be jailed, here it is accepted that people who put unapproved chemicals into their bodies can be jailed. Is it really that different? People who agree to such stupid meanspiritedness toward their fellow citizens will accept other nastiness, if it is properly sold to them. The drug war is sheer ideological boondoggle. If people buy that (and they have, for about 100 years now), why not other crap?

    Now of course, living in America myself, I am hoping it will not come to people being busted for speaking out. Still though, there are a lot of people out there paid to infiltrate little Quaker ladies’ peace groups, and cause trouble. At least there were when there were still peace groups… Maybe now they are infiltrating the teabaggers. A man’s gotta make a living, eh?

    I hope you are right and the tide can be stemmed. I certainly am one of the hopeful. But I worry, and don’t take the outcome for granted.

  331. I respect Derrick Jensen tremendously and think the message of his “Calling All Fanatics” is a good one. The article would have been more useful if Jensen had finshed with, “…and here are the five things any person can do that will contribute most to the transformation of predatory global capitalism!” Like many people, I feel I should be willing to risk my life to save the planet. I should manifest the integrity and courage of Ken Saro Wiwa. But what should I do? Where should I do it?

  332. John D, In the words of Derrick Jensen:”Why do you think I laid out the premises explicitly for you, put you in a position of actively choosing to agree or disagree with them? Whey do you think I’ve approached this form so many directions? Why do you think I’ve expressed my own fears, expressed my own confusion? Why do you think I’ve made points, undercut or contradicted them, and then made them again? … The point is the process I am trying to model. The point is that you puzzle your own way through, and figure out for yourself what, if anything, you need to do.” Endgame

  333. Jamie: Could I get a page number for that Jensen quote from Endgame? We tend to freeze those we want to criticize in a narrow position that makes a handy target. But DJ is much broader, more open and flexible than many are aware of. Of course the small format of an essay in Orion doesn’t allow for a full exposition of one’s ideas. Maybe we should cut DJ some slack until we have a fuller picture of his thought….

  334. Steve: Keep on treking. Water wears away the stone.

  335. Mike, p. 886. I was responding in a very broad way also and no criticism was intended at all. I would not want to tell someone what to do, only they can decide that. Especially when the law and jails are likely to be involved!

  336. Dear mike k, Scott Walker, Gary Peters, Derrick Jensen and Friends Al,

    I am going to keep trekking…..

    But it is not difficult to understand, even to sense the feelings that arise when someone reports, “I give up.”

    We are in a long arduous uphill struggle against a formidable foe and great odds. I am one who has come late to the battlefield, this field of action where the outcome of the struggle is still in doubt. No doubt about that. The socially aggreeable, politically convenient, economic expedient, religiously dogmatic, ideologically idiotic and culturally prescribed have all been assembled and arrayed against science and humanity.

    As I recall, it was two to three years that I was blogging on the NYTimes’ Dot Earth Blog and a fellow, who refused to identify himself other than with the moniker, sas NY City, and I were discussing human population dynamics. Please note that on the Dot Earth Blog, as Professor Emeritus Gary L. Peters knows all too well, discussion of the science of human population dynamics is all but forbidden. My comments on this peer-reviewed research are tolerated but not invited.

    Anyway, I was doing what I have been doing for a long time: blogging about human population dynamics. The blogger, sas NY City, said that I should present this bad science to those at The Oil Drum Blog. He assured me that the TOD editors and commentators would take me and my ‘science’ apart, limb by limb.

    TOD was new to me then. I went to the TOD website, registered, and looked around. Because the topics seemed so focused on oil, I thought it would be inappropriate to mount the “offensive” I have recently initiated, thanks to the encouragement and assistance of a kind friend, Fred Magyar. Again, now here, I want to thank Fred.

    There are probably less than one million people who recognize and understand the potentially profound implications of this virtually unassailable scientific evidence. With few exceptions, they are standing shoulder to shoulder, hiding scientific evidence in silence, refusing the assume their responsibilities to science, and denying their “duty to warn” the human family at large of human-induced threats to future human wellbeing and environmental health.

    If I am mistaken about what I report, then shame on me. But if the science of human population dynamics to which I have been trying to draw attention is somehow on the “right” track, then I say, “Shame on all of them.”

    Science is not a game either to be played or played with like we play “the economic globalization game”. Science is not some artificially designed, ideologically driven, manmade construction like the global political economy. Science is a gift to humanity. Science is. Whatsoever is is, is it not?

    Talking heads, opinion makers, thought leaders and other ‘famous’ people who are hiding science in silence say, “Our way of life is non-negotiable.” But that cannot be correct, not really. This way of life that is everywhere extolled by the powerful, rich and famous as the only way to live happens to be a way of life that could soon become patently unsustainable.

    I suppose that science is our best guide to determining what could somehow be real, and what is to be our future path to sustainability. The best available scientific research needs to be everywhere embraced and “the only way to live” has to be modified and eventually replaced because it cannot be sustained much longer.

    Extolling the virtue of what is unsustainable is a game for losers, even though the organizers and managers of “the only game in town” are clearly winning. Look at their billion dollar bank accounts, gated communities, private clubs, multiple McMansions, fleets of autos, mega-yachts, distant hideaways and personal aircraft. Conspicuous per-capita overconsumption and outrageous individual hoarding order the days of their lives. But at what cost to the future of children everywhere is this unsustainable behavior so recklessly occurring? That is the question. Perhaps the cost of such outlandish behavior is too high.

    Hopefully necessary change toward sustainability is in the offing.



  337. Thanks for the page# Jamie. Let me quote Derrick a little further on in that paragraph: “I’m asking you to be responsible for your own thinking, responsible to your own heart, answerable to your own understanding. I’m asking you to think and feel and understand for yourself.

    If you start doing that, civilization will begin to crumble before your eyes. Because above all else, civilization cannot survive free men and women who feel and think and act from their own hearts and minds, free men and women who are willing to act in defense of those they love.”

    Stirring words, appropriate for an ending to a great speech, or a great book such as Endgame. But will those words, or that book be adequate to stir sufficient numbers to take up their challenge? Must give us pause.

    Then what will it take? I have suggested ten thousand intensive small action/study groups that would give rise to tens of thousands of deeply informed, committed, and powerfully active members to transform the way people look at their world and live in it. How would those groups function, what themes would they work with, how would they coordinate with each other? Those are things that can be worked out on the basis of successful models of already established groups. Some creativity and novelty and room for diverse experimentation would be essential.

    We will learn and grow from our beginnings, and venture to create the communal processes that till now we have only dreamed of. The false idea that we could make significant change through atomic individual efforts would fade away. Working and sharing together will give us the elusive power we came to realize was lacking in prior efforts. The world truly and desperately awaits the processes of its deliverance. To venture will bring success….

  338. Vera — Where can I find Gupta’s article on zombies, etc? I read one on Truthout with that slant a while back, but can’t remember the author. How to wake the living dead remains the crucial problem. Talk about sleep walking towards the abyss……we’re in it baby! Hold on to your spiritual parachute….

  339. Steve — That there are scientists like yourself willing to stick their necks out for the truth is very encouraging. The relatively small number who are willing to take that risk, however is disheartening. How wake up the laggards, and support them in their “coming out” is what we need.

    How about forming little discussion groups to help this? You and a couple of your simpatico pals could be the core to get something
    started. It could be kept semi-confidential, like AA. Or you could have variants that go “wikileaks” style. Eventually you might figure out how to make a big splash, maybe “out” some major opponent(s) or whatever. Just brainstorming a little…. Surely there are other scientists who harbor ideas such as yourself. Start a little node of agitation. Start a newsletter. You and your cronies are really sharp folks; put your heads together and see what you come up with. Great oaks from little acorns grow (to quote an old chestnut…….) :-)

  340. The zombie article is right on, Vera! I posted a comment there.
    Gupta grasps our predicament exactly. Intensive small transformation/action groups are the answer. From there more would be possible….

  341. Just to be clear, The article Zombies & Vampires, Oh My! is not written by Vinay Gupta, it is one of my contributions to Vinay’s The Future We Deserve project.

  342. Perhaps all these remarkable scientific reports and naturally persuasive testamonials of ecologic damage from top-rank environmentalists in the Orion community indicate clearly that the way of life that is adamantly prescribed by the most wealthy and powerful leaders of the predominant culture on Earth is leading the human family down a “primrose path” toward some unimaginable sort of colossal, human-driven ecological wreckage, the likes of which only Ozymandias, King of ancient pompous kings and modern-day masters of the universe, has ever witnessed.

    Please note that I am in complete disagreement with regard to any determination that a majority of the human family is adverse to being given knowledge of the way the world we inhabit or the placement of humankind within the natural order of living things. Human beings with feet of clay seek this understanding but it is denied them because the rich, powerful and famous among us, all self-proclaimed “masters of the universe”, have designed and built a gigantic dreamworld on Earth for their personal benefit primarily. They live in this dreamworld by exploiting knowledge and vanquishing science with silence.

    The dreamworld of the masters of the universe is not the making of the majority of human family. The dreamworld that is threatening human wellbeing and environmental health in our time is a soon to become unsustainable Economic Colossus constructed by a small minority so-called masters of the universe, who organize and manage the global political economy for their own benefit primarily. This minority has consolidated much of the world’s wealth with which they have purchased the power to suppress unwelcome science and promote whatsoever fantasies suit their selfish interests. Science, sustainability and humanity are not matters either of serious concern or primary regard to most of them.

    The malignant narcissism, pathological arrogance, extreme foolhardiness and unbridled greed of this tiny minority rule the world….and rule it absolutely, I believe. Their bold-faced effort to extol as a virtue that “greed is good” and then to surreptitiously arrange for this ‘virtue’ to be cleverly institutionalized and willfully legalized within the global political economy of the family of humanity appears to be wickedly misguided.

  343. O.K., so what is the plan? Do You have any suggestions or is it over? If the latter, we better dig in and re-localize ’cause it’s going to get bumpy. The clock is ticking

  344. Jay: It’s not about The Plan. It’s about coming up with a lot of little think tanks that generate a lot of different plans, some of which then make it to the testing stage, and eventually some of those pan out enough that they attract major energy, and then society begins to change from the impacts of those successful plans.

    Out of all this work their might come out one or two really powerful change agents, but who knows until we do the necessary ground work? Like all creative endeavors there is a lot of uncertainty involved, and only some people can live with that. For others, there is always the whiz bang thank you ma’am quick fix guaranteed wonder workers of the day….

  345. Steve: I really like the way you point the finger right at those most responsible for our global disasters. These psychopaths are so skilled at pointing their fingers at anyone or anything but themselves. I guess that’s part of the definition of a psychopath: one who has no conscience and hence never questions the rightness of what he does. (Didn’t mean to exempt some of you ladies from that dubious category! Just a little unintentional linguistic sexism.)

    Keep it coming Steve! It’s music to my ears. So many pussy foot around calling these monsters what they are.

  346. Dear Jay Hanson,

    Thanks for all the work you have been doing and for all that left to be accomplished.

    The struggle is not over. We have yet to begin to respond ably and in earnest.

    How can anyone expect the global challenges before humanity to acknowledged, addressed and overcome when talking heads, thought leaders and opinion makers are filling the mass media with what is politically convenient and economically expedient? First people with knowledge, who have been denying what could somehow be real with regard to the global predicament, will choose to eschew the socially convenient and instead will speak truth to power loudly and clearly. The failure of many too many top-rank experts to do this single thing in our time by colluding with the “masters of the universe” is a colossal mistake of historic proportions and consequences.

    Thanks again, Jay,


  347. What is the secret for avoiding rejection of comments with this site? It is virtually impossible to get past the image screen.

  348. Keep at it, Jay. We need to hear from you…. and mike k, Jamie, Vera, Barbara, Antonio and others. We need many more voices speaking out loudly and clearly whatsoever is true to you, as best you can express it.

  349. Jay — You might try a comment adressed to the site monitor “Scott”. Ask him why your comments aren’t getting published.

  350. Don’t let “realists” discourage your dreams. A society without creative agents of imagination is as good as dead.

  351. And this is Scott, chiming in. Address site issues please to With 360 comments and counting on this article alone, I’d have to think that the system is working fairly well, though. This has been a fabulous, positive, thoughtful discussion.

  352. Thanks Scott. You are doing a great job, as is Orion in providing us the opportunity to dream aloud, and share our thoughts with each other.

  353. I want to support mike k’s comments about Scott Walker and the efforts of everyone else in the Orion community. Thank you, Scott.

    Perhaps now is a good time for me to directly ask Scott and the Orion community that an expert like Professor Emeritus Gary L. Peters be selected to lead a discussion of credible scientific evidence on the subject of human population dynamics and human overpopulation. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it seems that the very last of “the last taboos” is open discussion of this apparently unforeseen and exceedingly inconvenient scientific evidence. During the past decade of denial, it has appeared that everything else under the sun has been subject to sensible inquiry and reasonable examination.

    Best to Jay, mike k, Scott and All,


  354. Just so you know, Orion has heard your requests for special discussions and is actively considering doing so, probably in our new Reader’s Corner discussion section. Stay tuned…

  355. Gary Peters — Why don’t you write an article for Orion about the crucial importance of the population problem, backing it up with the latest scientific information on it? A lot of us would look forward to an article like that!

  356. Steve, you might as well write an article, too. You have put enough good material on this blog to make an article. Or, you could collaborate with Gary, or some of your other like minded pals.

    This could be the start of something Big! Especially put out the word you have a place fellow scientists can share their concerns anonymously, that is until they have the courage to go public. That place could be this Orion site, or you might want to create a web site specifically for that purpose.

  357. Dear mike k,

    The subject of human population dynamics and human overpopulation is so difficult to acknowledge openly that I am inclined to suggest that a top-rank expert like Gary Peters make an initial presentation. Others like David and Marcia Pimentel, Russell Hopfenberg, Lindsay Grant, John Guillebaud, Al Bartlett, Ken Smail, Douglass Carmichael, Vivien Ponniah, Dame Jane Goodall, Jeff McNeely, John Holdren, Gretchen Daily, M.H. King, E.O. Wilson, Joel Cohen, Jesse Ausubel, Hania Zlotnik, Thoraya Obaid, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Caroline Ash, Dave Tilman, Dee Boersma, Stuart Pimm, Tony McMichael, Colin Butler, Virginia Abernethy, Charles W. Fowler, Bruce Alberts, Mickey Glantz, John Rowley, Chris Rapley, Paul Stern, Robert Walker, Jeff McKee, Amy Coen, Ellen Carnevale, Jennifer Ferenstein and many other similarly situated top notch experts could choose to join Gary or not, or become involved in some other way.

    For someone so unprepared, poorly equipped and inexpert as I am to make this case is not the best way for us to begin. Necessary credibility resides with the established experts from the fields of population biology, ecology and human demographics among others.

    Please be assured of my active participation in the role of a discussant….. for now.

    Sincerely yours,


  358. Hey guys, just came from /sci/. Is it time for to kill biosphere nao?

    But seriously after reading this thread I have an honest question. What about anon’s plan makes it impossible? I’m and engineering student in the third year for my PhD, and it seems like these long term solutions they proposed would work. Or is it that you guys think that living seperate from or completely without the biosphere is morally wrong? Are you arguing that it is spirtualy unfulfilling?

    I read Jensen’s stuff on google books and I have to say that his citation leaves much to be desired. I’m not particularly for killing all the trees, but how is a dead world and a solar system filled by humans objectively worse than a living planet inhabited by humans?

    Also I’d like to recommend the comic “BLAME!” to any of you who would like to read about a completely mechanistic world. Since that is anathema to you guys the setting will be even moodier than usual. And I know the the other anons will call me weeaboo for recommending a Japanese comic, but this isn’t the usual fair.

  359. Anon-R: Here is a couple of questions for you.

    1) Are you intending to remain civil, to listen, and to abstain from bombing us with /sci/ stuff?

    2) Why are you coming here to inquire, when surely there are plenty of people out there who are much more familiar with what /sci/ is saying, and who have mounted cogent critical responses?

  360. “Anon” is just anybody who feels like posting anonymously, a few of the previous guys were probably working together but I just came here because the someone posted their trolling on the science/sci/ board and I thought it was amusing, so I came hear to read the thread. However after reading the tread I didn’t see anyone trying to refute any of the Anonymous arguments or give a physical reason why that whole “devour the planet” plan would not be feasible. Frankly I can’t see a reason either, although it may take a very long time for it to occur, possibly 1,000 years or more. This isn’t a common topic on /sci/ it’s just them posting a worldview that is the polar opposite of yours and supporting their proposal with a few sources.

    I assume that your arguments against a mechanistic world view are based on a philosophical/theological/emotional argument against such a system give the comments I have read. However I must stress that all these arguments are subjective and to try and force a biocentric view on everyone just because you believe it is “just” would be as unfair as a technophile trying to force everybody to become cyborgs.

    Now you can say that by slowly destroying the biosphere you’re children will be forced into a technocentric society, but I frankly doubt that the entire biosphere will die out. Megafauna will probably die out, but opportunistic or hardy species will likely survive, even if it is in environments dominated by human artifice. There probably will be areas of the planet where trees will be allowed to grow if only because some people like trees.

    All I think that they were saying is that it is not necessary or even desirable to maintain the biosphere if our only concern is the prosperity and survival of the human species. They problem they seem to have with you is not that you are biophilic, but rather that you think civilization is going to collapse based on an argument without data from a peer reviewed source to support it.

  361. Even the noosphere is polluted with the detritus of civilization; maybe even more full of toxic ideation than the other dimensions of our world are with their own congeries of aberrant ingredients.
    Amazing, but only to be expected from societies teetering on the edge of psychosis.

  362. Interesting note: I’m friends with a cyborg right now. Bennett Novitch from the Neuroscience department had a hole drilled in his head and had a series of implants placed in his visual cortex(don’t ask me specifics I’m no biologist) and Can now see with a low resolution camera he sometimes wears with a strap on his head. He said Guo Ming also tried the experiment, but the implants wouldn’t take and had to be removed. Apparently this is supposed to test the plasticity of the brain to see whether it can easily interface with implants. Ben said that will only 30 total hours of getting used to wearing the implant in the lab he was able to perceive the image as an extended portion of his visual field. He hooked it up for us one day and told us how many fingers we were holding up with his back turned to us and the camera facing us. He says that the image is blurry and only black/white but he is able to determine shapes and even read print larger than 32 font.

    to mike k
    So just because people are mean or heartless sometimes makes the intertubes bad? You don’t find trolling or fooling around on the web even a little funny? Well no accounting for tastes I suppose.
    One of your previous comments indicated that if civilization could sustain itself indefinitely that would be the whose possible outcome. Why do you hold this opinion? I assume that you believe that nonhuman live deserves respect, and this is your primary motivation.

  363. I should have listened to Vera, “don’t feed the trolls.” But even Vera couldn’t follow her own advice! No matter, I am raising my shields, enabling cloaking devices, and going on silent running from here on…..

  364. Here are a few rules for you anon-r, or any other anon. Pick a moniker and stick with it for the duration of this forum.

    Remain civil.

    Pick one question you want to ask here, put forth your rationale with a link documenting it further. Also document with another paragraph of a criticism of your rationale, preferably also documented.

    If you play by my rules, I will bite. If not, this is the last peep you hear from me.

    Mike, I give anyone a second chance. Even trolls sometimes come around! :-)

  365. Clarification:
    Make a claim. Reason it out. Provide counter rationale. Ask us a question based on what you provided.

    Thank you.

  366. “Had we but world enough, and time
    This coyness, lady, were no crime.
    But at my back I always hear
    Time’s winged chariot hurrying near….”

    In spite of a life spent endlessly suffering fools, including myself, I am now at a point where husbanding my energies for serious things must take precedence over trivial pursuits. This does not preclude occasional rib ticklers among friends, but I need to feel that my time is not being squandered to no good purpose. Because whatever levity we may indulge from time to time, the fate of many sentient beings is at stake here. And if we take the Bodhisattva’s’s vow to be more than an idle wish, then we better get on with it.

    PS — I don’t think Andy Marvel would roll in his grave if I failed to attribute the above lines of poesy to him, but here’s to you old chap — damn nice poem that “To His Coy Mistress”.

  367. I’ll keep trying. It will be short. We all know what the problems are and most of us know what the solutions are. Can we open the next level? It has been over a month and 48 pages. You have one of the “tiny groups”, now bring it home, give it a final stir and lets see what we have.

  368. Please bear with me. I would like to address several Orion community members now.

    To Jay Hanson: No matter what the obstacles and delays, do keep going. Your work is vital.

    To mike k: Your suggestion that Gary Peters compose something for the Orion community is a good one.

    To Anon: Your perspective is valued.

    To Jamie, Vera, Antonio and Barbara: Your input will be needed.

    To Gary Peters: Thanks for participating here…just as you are doing.

    To Scott Walker: Following on your comment regarding a “Reader’s Corner” and mike k’s idea of a Gary Peters presentation, perhaps Professor Peters will be invited by you to compose an initial essay on the subject of human population dynamics and human overpopulation for the forthcoming Reader’s Corner thread. Having a top-rank scientist lead off the Reader’s Corner thread could set the stage for other thoughtful discussions in the future.

    Thanks to all,


  369. Steve,

    I am all for it. Having Gary Peters contibute an essay about human overpopulation would be a great start.

  370. Steve — Citing some of our contributors to this discussion was a nice thought, but inevitably you left out a lot of folks who have also contributed really significant input. I’m sure this was inadvertent. But I want to give credit to all who have made this forum so meaningful. I won’t mention any names, because again I would probably fail to acknowledge someone(s).

    I have begun the enjoyable and rewarding task of reading this entire sharing from the beginning. I am amazed and gratified by the depth of insight and heartfelt concern that folks have expressed here. If we were to print this whole affair as a little booklet, what might we title it? “Diverse Responses to our World crisis”? Maybe someone could come up with a better title? Taking part here has sure taught me a lot, and inspired a lot of reflection, plus a large dose of motivation to pursue the line of inquiry that we have opened, and become more active in responding to the insights gained. My thanks to all of you who are taking part in this quest for a better world for all. And last but not least, I want to thank Derrick Jensen for providing the spark that ignited all these responses.

  371. Dear mike k,

    Thanks for your comments. Of course you are correct noting how many people, unnamed and unheralded members in the Orion community, have contributed mightily to this discussion. To all of you, I ask forbearance.

    This open communication is vital, I believe. And it cannot wait. We cannot address human-driven global challenges that knowledgeable people willfully deny even exist. It seems to me that the children deserve more and much better than they are getting from my not-so-great generation of elders.

    Somehow all of us have to help one another more adequately see how the world we inhabit actually works and, as important, how the human species more realistically fits into the natural order of living things.

    As things stand now, many too many leaders are adamantly advocating and recklessly behaving as if the planetary home in which we live so well is an unbounded cornucopia and the human community has ‘inalienable rights’ to endlessly plunder its natural resources; relentlessly overproduce unnecessary stuff and pollute it; and righteously propagate more billions of the human species on Earth without regard to its actual size, its frangible ecology and its evident finiteness. Leaders are living fantasy-driven lifestyles and misguidedly expanding the global economy to the point of its unsustainability… come what may for the children, coming generations, life as we know it, and the Earth as a fit place for human habitation.

    Never in the course of human events has a single generation commandeered so much for itself, left so little for others, and committed such widespread destruction on Earth. One generation appears to be destroying the very things it claims to be most ardently protecting and preserving. In words everyone knows, we are tje witnesses of “a tale told by an idiot,” I suppose. Perhaps necessary change toward sustainability is in the offing.



  372. Sorry, I haven’t read all the comments. I will eventually. But here’s my initial response to reading Jensen’s latest piece here. I really get confused about all this, especially when Jensen writes things like,

    “…there aren’t nearly enough …of us working anywhere near hard enough to stop this culture from killing the planet. Obviously, or the world would be getting healthier, instead of being desecrated with ever increasing speed. If there were more of us trying to stop this culture from killing the planet, then those who are working themselves to death could afford to take a little time off and not feel as if things would fall apart while they climbed the mountains or ran the rivers.”

    I often read his pieces in Orion, like this month’s below, and feel so guilty. Like I am just full of excuses for inaction, or justifications for inaction like my burnout or whatever – or I feel everything I do isn’t doing anything. He even devalued those of us like me chosing to not have kids as doing nothing by that act to help the planet. (That was another article.) He certainly doesn’t think people need comfort. And he, and many others, don’t seem to be into humor and love directed at humans, just the earth – as if we aren’t a part of it. They are frustrated with the status quo. I am, too. But I am busy being the status quo, too.

    And, the truth for me is that after almost 30 years as an “activist,” I feel at a real loss as to what to do anymore – about ecocide and it all. I am numb to the rants…or at least paralyzed by guilt reading them. I don’t believe anger and aggression work anymore for me. It ate me alive -painfully – and still does.

    I feel I am trying to have my work come from a place of compassion, but then I read Jensen or see McMillan’s work, and feel maybe their is some way to hammer away at the guilt until it breaks loose into action – and I need to be doing that for myself and others. I am not sure joy pounds away at it. Joy helps me heal the trauma of looking at all this, bliss does that, too. But I feel the truth for me is that I have avoided the scary healing work that needs to take place to empower me fully.

    I haven’t learned to live with as much anger at all this that I really have. My anger scares me, overwhelms me, frightens me. I want a place for my anger but I haven’t learned to be with it. I haven’t learned compassion for that part of me. And I get angry, (ha) at Jensen and others for stoking it. It’s like it’s in a cage inside me and when they stoke it, it starts pacing and grabbing the bars of the cage and screeching at me with terrible howls to be set free. When I don’t, it wails in the corner because I don’t trust it and leave it imprisoned. It says it hates me for wanting to be all love and nicey-nice about everything. It gets mean. It eats at me anyway. It says what is going on is not nicey-nice. I dialogue back and forth but even when anger says it just wants a place at the table to be heard, I have to say there is no table. No one wants to hear. And that’s why I don’t trust my anger, because without being heard, anger wants to act out. Anger can’t do that morph dance back to her origins of love where she comes from. And so, with anger trapped, love is trapped, too. They come from the same place. They are really one.

    So what am I saying? I just need a place to be witnessed, whole. Anger needs to be there, and despair and numbness and emptiness and fear…They are the gateways to my love, joy, action, creativity, care wonder and joy. They hold the keys. They won’t let me pass unless I satisfy them. And all they are asking for is to be able to express themselves. They are not asking permission to be violent, but to be allowed to be honest about the impulse, to speak freely so that the impulse has a chance to loosen it’s grip. I think what we hide from becomes monstrous in its hold on us.

    If people don’t feel heard, they often rehearse endlessly what they feel isn’t being heard, saying the same things over and over. Some people use anger to motivate themselves. I don’t think my anger wants to be used anymore by anyone. I think its tired of screaming the same things and not being heard. I know my anger wants to simply be allowed to breath and not be cut off from me as some negative thing. It doesn’t want to war anymore. It wants to figure out, along with me, how to be honest and disarming and full of surprises and creative effective responses to ecocide. It wants to be trusted and free to be an ally of joy, not seen as it’s enemy. The two could be a powerful team.

    Maybe in alliance, soft nudges of compassionate truth might emerge that embrace the whole and truly motivate? I don’t know. I just give up most of the time, I get so confused. And often I think it’s all too late anyway, so I think my work ought to be about loving while I got time, love letters to the earth, grand eulogies to what’s dying, fantastic apologies, whatever…but that doesn’t feel quite right either.

    Thanks, Derrick and all of you here for making me think about all this. Somethings nudged a bit further out of the way of my ability to see into the cave of my despair and inaction.

  373. Chris m: Thanks for all that you have shared. You deserve a lot of credit for your openness and willingness tell how you really are seeing things, and what you are feeling. I am no stranger to feelings of guilt, confusion, and despair. And I feel there are many of us gathered here around this cyber-flame of communion who have experienced these things as well.

    It is an irony of this path of truth seeking and developing compassion, that we who walk it often experience more keenly than others pain that we are witness to. Somehow we need to find ways to sustain us through these trials. Sharing as you have just done in a group of sensitive fellow seekers is one of those ways. For me, the teachings of our great forebears like Gandhi, MLK, Mandela, and others has helped sustain me through dark hours.

    If you are strengthened and nourished by spiritual teachings by whatever name, these can be very helpful. Ultimately to be part of a small group embarked on this journey can be a tremendous resource. Try to find such a group if you choose, or start one yourself. I think little groups like this are a vital key to planetary awakening. Welcome to this online gathering, I hope you will share more of your valuable experience with us.

  374. Steve — Your clear vision of our situation, and your masterful expression of it is really impressive to me. I just hope your words can reach more of those who need to hear their message of truth. Thanks for telling it like it is, that really turns me on!

  375. As I read this quote, I felt quite saddened, deeply pained and condemned:

    “If we lived in a time of peace and harmony, then creating escapist, serotonin-boosting hits of mild amusement wouldn’t be a crime. If all was well, such art might enhance our happy existence. There’s nothing wrong with pleasure or decorative art. But in times like these, for an artist not to devote her/his talents and energies to creating cultural weapons of resistance is a betrayal of the worst magnitude, a gesture of contempt against life itself. It is unforgivable.”

    I am what some might call a collage artist, although I call myself a co-creator and my little creations eco-collages, since they are made of all recycled magazines. They have a dreamy quality about them. They are a spiritual practice or a meditation of sorts. They are many things, but mostly they are about expressing love, mostly of the earth, and sharing that love. They are often about pleasure and joy. McMillan would call many of them “decorative” or “mild amusements.” I have come to the opposite conclusion of this woman and of Derrick Jensen on that – and many things.

    It just might be far more subversive to share love instead of chastise. Compassion might open more doors than blame slams.

    I feel sharing love and joy are what move me and are moving the people around me to live lives of integrity and commitment to change, not sharing my pissed off feelings about humanity or clever expressions of it’s failures anymore…the worn-out so-called weapons of resistance. Those feelings are important to share in a consciousness-raising group, not act upon in the world.

    I recently created a collage series celebrating my past year of intense immersion in the world of birds. I birded hours every day to listen to the birds, to be with the land that I longed for as an urban dweller. I’d taken a sabbatical from 30 years of “activism” to see what insights might arise and to dare myself to let go of my obsession with “taking action.” All the old tactics weren’t working. I needed to enter the unknown. I needed to feel. I needed to reflect – be without answers, let go of being right or wrong or effective. What has arisen in me after that year is a surprise – and a FIERCE determination.

    The first collage I did to celebrate that year was of the skull of a horse, a Little Blue Heron Head coming up through one eye socket of the horse, a carp through the other and a yellow flower held in the mouth of the horse skull. The background was made up of many melting colors. As I made it, I felt an old urgency pushing inside my psyche. Something wanted out. Despair over seeing Little Blue Herons and many other birds and earthlife being sprayed by many biocides on Conservation Lands in Missouri had overwhelmed and pained me beyond what I thought was my endurance over that year. Running around squawking frustratedly to anyone who’d listen, I realized that being with the birds had deepened my pain over what humans were doing and furthered my growing “insanity” or traumatic stress…instead of help heal it as I thought it might.

    This collage revealed a sudden and surprising truth for me. Avian seduction and Earth’s seduction are not for the faint-hearted or the hilarity-challenged. I learned that to survive the “insanity” that naturally arises from paying attention, we might need to embrace hysteria to the fullest extent. We might want to stop trying to heal it We might want to make sure everyone has a creative expression outlet and support groups for those willing to open themselves to these challenges. We might want to make sure we have a LOVE culture on the rise. And if out of your collage, birds and fish burst from the sockets of skulls offering you flowers, take one. Rejecting life’s sense of humor and offerings about the “insanity” will only get you a kick in the head by a “horse with no name” – will cut off what we need to be with this crisis. We need to be able to lead unhealed lives. The compassion rising from the dead mouth of a horse whispered a new humility to me. Those of us privileged enough to have time to pay attention, process this and find ways to survive it need to know that it is truly that – a privilege. Yeah, lovepain is a privilege. Many are not making it. Many won’t. Many are confused.

    I want to share a short story. I was moving out of an apartment on a blistering hot day. As I was putting an overloaded box of kitchen stuff in a car, I noticed a woman and her dog walking slowly by. The dog was old. He kept stopping to rest. His tongue was hanging out. I said to the woman, “You want me to get him some water?” She looked surprised at this offer from a stranger, but said, “Sure, that’d be wonderful.” I didn’t even hesitate. I grabbed the wok sticking out of the box, filled it with water and stood talking as he drank. The next day, a note was in my box from the ‘dog,’ thanking me. Not expecting a thank you, I was really touched. Just as I had taken the time to notice this overheated dog, she’d taken the time to thoughtfully appreciate the act. What stays with me about this is the kindness that resulted from slowing down our lives. I know this has rippled out into my life a hundred fold every time I think upon it. It reminds me of the joy in slowing down, the difference we make to each other in paying attention, the huge ramification of being present. But most profoundly, it reminds me of what most people really need – to be noticed, a little genuinely felt love and appreciation…some warmth (another apt ironic climate change metaphor.)

    People know what’s going on in the world. They know the horrors being committed by humanity. It’s arrogant to think they don’t. They just haven’t been loved in a while, they’ve forgotten how to love and they don’t know how to be with the insanity of the pain that comes with it. And loving humans and the earth is a big LOVEPAIN affair to deal with.

    My activist path is taking a new turn that may not be considered activist by any here. I am going to keep paying attention, keep falling in love and experience the beauty and the pain of the whole of it- and then put it out there, share it through my “art” and love and appreciation. If people begin to believe I can do it – sustain the gaze, then they will believe they can do it. Perhaps they’ll see the joy found in the midst of the suffering. And then they might do it and then they might change and come up with more ways to keep being with this as they ripple out ideas and responses to it – and sustain themselves. I believe in them. I believe in me. I believe the means equal the ends. I’ve lived it. I believe in process, not product. I like cliches that resonate.

    What do any of us know of how to love the earth, how to be with the pain of loving it? What do we know of fearing loving again or gazing at the beauty we know is being destroyed? How do you love someone with cancer who is still very much alive?

    Much of the art of “resistance” is about mocking or shocking or guilting folks into awakening. But I want to repeat this, people are awake. They do not appreciate the furthering of the trauma they avoid every day. They avoid what they know for the simple reason that it’s traumatic. Can you help them with their trauma? If not, then I say shut up or get learning how. That’s what I am trying to do.

    We are all struggling with the seeds of the death culture turning us into the walking dead every day. No one wants to miss their lives, watch it pass by without it touching them. But many of us have no idea how to avoid the zombism of this culture. Many of us are growing more and more “insane” from the horrible contradiction of being alive and avoiding life at the same time – through a myriad of endless addictions that barely fend it off for a few minutes.

    I gave myself permission to bird for a year when I decided to love myself. It was a gift and a shot in the dark. I didn’t know the affect it would have. I followed my instincts. I followed delight instead of misery. If nothing is working, try something new? Why did that feel so radical?

    And I began to learn to fall in love so deeply, I began to melt. As the glaciers melt, they are the most pressing and ironic metaphor for what we truly need – a great big melting of our own frozen nature-phobic, human-loathing hearts. Melting to stop the melting?

    I want to serve myself and others as a midwife through this crisis. I imagine everyone discussing here does, too. Do we love ourselves enough to love humans enough to honor our pain and theirs to make it the bedrock of our work and to stop belittling humans as unawake but see that our entrenched phobia of the wild for what it is – a phobia of our truth, the deepest nastiest way we have been oppressed and hurt by this culture? To teach us to lie to ourselves about our feelings is to kill us.

    People fear falling apart, they fear the guilt, they fear not being forgiven, they fear fear, they fear sharing their truth. But they really fear a loss of control. It makes them reactionary and rebellious and backlash prone to have all this shoved in their face. No one likes to think of millions of peoples’ and millions of earth’s creations’ blood on their hands. No one likes to think of collapse. It gives them the creeps like in Poe’s murderer in the Tell-Tale Heart – only much more so. If you listen, you hear the hearts of the frogs, the birds, the fish, the dragonflies, the trees…all beating under the floorboards.

    If we want people screaming for drugs to be numbed, wishing the baby wasn’t coming NOW, aborting like crazy what could shift this crisis, well, keep shoving purist platitudes like McMillan’s at ’em that would have you convinced you were the devil incarnate. But those desiring to be midwives of the unknown earth-loving possibilities of the human, faced with an ever growing crisis, inside and out, might want to join me in the corniest of the corny – letting someone talk about what this stuff makes them feel for real. Are we willing to trust that process? Are we willing to not have answers? For every word I type, another bird is dead. Do you know how that makes me feel? I read McMillan’s quote and I wept and I raged and I decided not to let her words cause me any more pain – sharing helps. I refuse to believe that this is her vulnerable truth – or Jensen’s. It feels more like hidden hostility toward humans that will only further divide and alienate. I know I felt like fighting them on it after I read it. But how can I also not help to love a woman and a man who are truly in just as much pain as I am about what’s happening – and just as desperate about it? I forgive them like I forgive myself – for they love this place and are grasping, like I am. It is in the revealing of that grasping that I feel we will find ourselves the most tender, the most lovable. It’s much like the innocence we respond to in the youngsters of most species. We sometimes say, “Oh, how adorable!” about a little puppy, for instance. As Toni Cade Bambara says, “The role of the revolutionary artist is to make revolution irresistible.” I’m gonna work on that – with gusto. How about you?

  376. My dear chris m,

    Where have you been for all our lives? YOU are a wonder.

    I thought I had something to add, but words escape me now. Better that I just sit here and contemplate what you have shared.



  377. Chris m — Thanks so much for sharing with us. You are touching on very important issues for all activists. I don’t have time to fully respond…..more later. But here is a link I found while chasing down Che Guevara’s saying, “the true revolutionary is filled with love.”

  378. I’m in total agreement. But we have to do what is for each of us to do. As a therapist, I feel that my job is not to wake people up, but to applaud their existing awakeness when they come in depressed over the sad state of affairs, far more overwhelming for one person to do much about. That’s the place that yearns for practical answers that they can do; alone and in community with others. For each individual that we co-strengthn back into their body and knowing, the better equiped they are to assist the whole. Call me an old fashioned cheerleader to connect others with a passion for life, that says Yes! we do know what to do, but (happily) can’t do alone. There! I’m busted right out of my alienation and loneliness! What could be more important?

  379. Karen, Will you please expand your views on “practical answers” for alone or community action. Your insights are needed for the direction of this discussion. Do you have a blog in order to further your observations?

  380. Chris m — Like Steve, I am just bowled over by what you are sharing. I am reading and rereading it. I love that you indicate what a small circle of like minded friends can do for each other in terms of deepening each other’s journeys. It has made all the difference for me on this sometimes wrenching path of activism. How much we can do depends so much on the support and learning we can give each other. The lone hero/ine is an archetype of a previous era. If we can’t learn how “get along” in a small group setting of our kind of folks, how can we pretend to address the wider problems of cooperation in the larger world?

    We all have our own unique set of personal inner problems to work with if we are to be real agents for a better world. Participation in a small intensive group has done wonders for me in exposing and learning to work on changing some of my own less than constructive tendencies. This is not “therapy” in the traditional sense, but more the natural result of interacting in a small leaderless group that comes to trust each other enough to share their deeper concerns and problems at the same time that they mobilize to make some positive change in their society. Let’s not fall into the illusion that all the problems are “out there”. I lived some of the results of that unconscious hubris in the sixties.

    Please keep sharing your valuable experience and deep insights with us, Chris. You are the type of person who has a lot to contribute to our mutual search.

  381. I am not as eloquent as chris, but I’ll share once more.

    I just returned from spending a few days in the wilderness. The wilderness was full of wildflowers and beautiful fragrances. My bird friends were still there singing the same old songs I remembered hearing the last two summers. My bed each night was on the trail, my home, and I slept well.

    I walked. I saw the mountains approach and recede. One thing I learned from my 3000 miles of hiking the past two summers is my own physical power. Seeing a big volcanic mountain approach over the horizon, finding myself on its shoulder the following day, and seeing it fade into the haze behind me the following day was one of the most profound experiences of my life. It showed me I am powerful, strong and independent. I do not need machines to move myself vast distances over the earth. I can do things I never would have thought I can do. It’s a sense of freedom more real than the standard kind. It’s a deep feeling I carry inside myself as I navigate my off-trail life in a world that wants me to believe I’m powerless, weak and dependent.

    If I never took time out in the wilderness to learn this I would never know. All I would have to fall back on would be righteous anger of activism, something that doesn’t seem to work very well anymore.

    Anger only goes so far. Facts don’t seem to sink in at all. Maybe the numbers are too large or maybe human brains don’t really respond to facts. But human brains do respond to what the body knows.

    I will continue to go out there because I believe it is what is being asked of me. It’s the only thing I’ve ever succeeded at anyway.

  382. Diane…When you hike the mountains is it solo or with companions. I’ve a wandering Taoist within me as do most folks on the journey, and now I’m keeping a eye out for some avocados on the trail. I’ve been living in very rural Northern, Mn, surrounded by 6500 acres of diverse forest…which is a pretty good group of trees, but it ain’t the Mountains.

  383. I hiked 3000 miles the last two summers alone. This last trip I went with someone.

    I carry with me a small tent, a down quilt, a foam pad and a small stove I made from a used soda can. It burns alcohol. I bring a few things to wear if it gets cold, but otherwise I’m wearing all the clothes I need. I wear sandals on my feet or running shoes. I have a few toiletries and a journal and maps. I bring a musical instrument, usually a pennywhistle. On a long trip I might have a book to read.

    I have survived mosquitoes so vicious I ran across the whole state of Oregon full speed, 30 miles every day, just because it was impossible to sit and rest. I’ve had to swim across streams too deep to ford. I was rained on every day for 10 days. It was very cold and I had sent my warm jacket home. I was soaking wet and so cold I had to walk 30 miles a day just to stay warm. I saw bears and snakes. I felt alive and safe and despite my minimalism and at times my bad attitude, I did have everything I needed to stay warm, safe and dry. Having so minimal an amount of stuff showed me how little I really need and kept me close to nature, even the nature I didn’t like very much.

    Before I hiked these 3000 miles, I don’t think I would have had more than a cerebral understanding of how little I need to be happy. Now I have a deep, visceral understanding. Before this experience, I did not know my own strength. Before this, I didn’t know there is a force in the universe that takes care of us and that it is there and will be there when the world falls apart, waiting for us to come home. I feel like I found a small chink in the fence.

    One of the many amazing realizations I had out there was when one evening I arrived near a town but I could not figure out how to get to the town. I needed to go into town to get new shoes and food. I tried to hitch a ride but nobody would pick me up. I started to worry. What was I going to do? The sun was setting. Where would I go? Then I realized, I have everything I need. I’m already home. I can put up my tent and morning will come like it always does.

    It’s a different understanding from the one that our industrial culture would like us to have. It wants us to believe we need to pay some big corporation for walls and a bed in order to sleep. That we have to purchase comforts and amusements to be happy and gadgets and weapons to be safe. We don’t need all that stuff. At least not every day all the time.

    For most people I meet, when I tell them about spending time like that in nature, their first thought is fear. What about bears? Snakes? Bad people? Did you have a GPS? A gun? A knife? Weren’t you scared to be alone? It baffles me because I think now of the wild places as home and I am not afraid.

    I fear that without experience in the wilderness–quiet, unmediated recreational experience without machines or motors or professionals–people out there won’t know what there is to save. It’s like Chris said about love. People need to love what they need to save. We’ll save our home when we learn that our home isn’t the four walls owned by the big bank. It’s that wild place out there. We’ll learn to love it when we learn how to be comfortable in it. Love will give us the strength we need to move forward. Most of our industrial way of life is based on fear and we’re going to need love to combat it.

  384. Dear Diane,

    Your reports of the wilderness are sublime. They remind me of something centuries old…..

    As I recall, it was St. Augustine who reported to all of us,

    “Men go forth to wonder at the great heights of mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the broad flow of the rivers, the vast compass of the oceans, the courses of the stars: and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

    Humankind has come a long way since the time of St. Augustine but I remain convinced that the willful blindness, deafness and muteness of the brightest and best among us, when it comes to wondering aloud about human population dynamics and human overpopulation of Earth, is a tragic failing with potentially profound implications for future human wellbeing and environmental health.

    We need to look at ourselves so that we come to more accurately understand “the placement” of the human species within the natural order of living things…..with all deliberate speed.

    All that I report is to say simply that human beings need to wonder about our population dynamics, our colossal global presence, and our increasingly pernicious impact upon the planetary home God has blessed us to inhabit. Forward movements toward sustainability will follow, I suppose.



  385. Our population is a problem. However, we are only behaving as bacteria or locusts or bermuda grass in the garden. Who will willingly sacrifice their future for an old age with nobody to care for them? It must be forced and nobody likes that. Who gets to conceive and who doesn’t and who decides? I had no children and am glad for it, but would I feel the same if I lived in a traditional culture and needed children to tend my farm and provide for me in my old age?

    I have unpopular beliefs about this issue. Rather than try to stem the flow from the womb I believe we need to allow our natural predators to cull our herds.

  386. Dear Diane,

    While you are correct that we are acting like non-human organisms, we are human beings. We have incomparable collective intelligence, singular self-consciousness and other splendid gifts to deploy….. if we choose to do so.



  387. @Diane – Not as eloquent as me? Oh, contraire! I found myself cherishing every word you shared of your experiences, wanting more.

    @Mike K – Thanks for that lovely link on “LOVE AND REVOLUTION” – it was perfect. I have a link below that I think you might find adds an interesting depth to this whole discussion.

    @Anyone – I’d like to share my email address with those here who’d like to communicate further and/or who’d like to have a link to my eco-collages. I tried to share the link in a message on here before but it didn’t go through. I don’t sell them so I am not sure why I wasn’t allowed to share the link (maybe cause it’s a Facebook link), but that’s okay.

    However, since what stood out for me in Jensen’s article was not so much the Abbey quote-focus but the initial Laing quote extolling how “few books today are forgivable” and the quote of McMillan’s closer to the end about the “artist…creating cultural weapons,” I felt that not only was a discussion about the role of “art” (books, visual, etc.) and change appropriate but also some sharing of art pertinant to the discussion. Therefore, I desired to share some of my collages to highlight some of my points about art and love without having to try to describe my collages in words so much. (I think sharing our reactions to different approaches to “art” as a “weapon” would be invaluable.)

    But given the limitations around this here, I still want to throw this out. I wonder if any of you have seen Jensen and McMillan’s collaborative piece AS THE WORLD BURNS: 50 SIMPLE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO STAY IN DENIAL, and what you think of it. For me, it rings of what I mentioned in an earlier comment, a mockery of humans, even in the title. I felt pained by their book; it didn’t feel like love but hostility. It seemed created not just for those who already ‘get’ that civilization needs to be torn down, to paraphrase Jensen as to the audience he is writing to, but it seemed created almost as an inside joke that furthers, as I’ve said, hostility at those not “there.” It wasn’t concerned with compassionate or creative ways to share, since it’d given up on everybody but the few that already “get it.” It felt downright elitist. Jensen may have given up on everybody, but I haven’t.

    I have struggled with my fascination with Jensen’s work (and McMillan’s) for years since I get such mixed feelings reading and/or viewing most of it. I have wondered why I read his pieces in Orion every time it comes out when I usually just find it irritates me. I have never understood why so many of us are drawn here to discuss his ideas when many of us don’t seem very aligned with his methods (anger as a motivator versus love), although we seem with him in essence (we all have strong feelings over what’s happening to the earth and desire to see change.) I might finally have some insight into this. And I have to say I am grateful to Jensen for this as a catalyst for bringing. And maybe that’s what we’re all here for, to figure out what we’re here for.

    Here goes. (And I am a sucker for metaphors, so bear with me.) Jensen’s work is like being addicted to simple carbohydrates. You get a quick hit, a rush of sorts, a thrill from anger or feeling empowered or whatever, even comfort. You fuel yourself but it doesn’t sustain. It’s like eating a donut or drinking a glass of wine. It’s a treat of sorts, to hear someone rant like you’d like to. He’s so uninhibited, right? And you feel so when you read his words? As a matter of fact, like being drunk on uninhibited anger, a person may need more and more to stay that way?

    But, it’s not like that with complex carbohydrates that have a slow release, that feed you in a healthy way, whole, full of nutrition that sustains you. Okay, I eat crap every now and then. And I like it. But I know what it does to me. I am aware of the negative effects, so I don’t do it that often. In some cases, like with alcohol, I know better than to do it at all. I think the words we take in, and the images, etc. are much the same. They are a form of food we need to be intentional about ingesting.

    Jensen and McMillan are coming out with a new book together for children called MISCHIEF IN THE FOREST that I am eager to see. I bet it’s loving. Like I said, we are more tender and caring with the young. We haven’t quite given up on them the way we have adults who we often, as I feel is what Jensen’s work does, just want to hit over the head/attack/mock to “wake up” – the understandable impulse of many of us frustrated impatient urgent “activists.” The tragedy is how true much of this is for me still. I often don’t seem to have patience for adult humans like I do children

    Rachel Carson often talked of wanting to keep wonder alive for children – and she felt at least one adult was needed in their life to do that. How can adults do that who’ve lost their sense of wonder? And most have. Adults need to reclaim that wonder, like Diane is, like I am. But it comes with the price of paying attention today – the pain of awareness. And those who can help a child hold that whole are genuinely fostering a truth and beauty in which liees the possibility for a miracle for the earth. As Ron Sakolksy says in his article, “Why Misery Loves Company,”

    “Those parents who instill an unquestioning acceptance of the status quo into the next generation do so not only as a conscious means of attempting to insure their offspring’s survival in ‘the real world,’ but as an unconscious way of normalizing their own condition of resignation.”

    I have already gone on and on about that, and tending it – the whole of the pain and joy experienced with true awareness. But I think we might want to consider treating others as we would a child or something we can grasp a feeling of love or kindness toward (even a donut, ha, ha). Buddhists often talk of this as needed to cultivate Bodhicitta – the combination of compassion and wisdom. I am not a Buddhist, but I love their wisdom.

    As much as I may not like the effect Jensen and McMillan’s work has on me and as much as I question it’s efficacy, I still feel they have a right to create it and express their outrage. They’ve been given the privilege to do so in a culture that denies those rights to most. And to the extent that most don’t, we all need to work toward all of us having it.

    As far as the most loving anti-elitist articulation of what we need to create an environment that could foster a revolution of culture, the long defunct organization called the Alliance For Cultural Democracy put together the best DECLARATION OF CULTURAL HUMAN RIGHTS yet:

    As it says, “Through the arts individuals and groups can uniquely communicate experience, perspectives, beliefs, hope, outrage, despair, desire, problems, and solutions. For cultural democracy to flourish, every cultural group, community and individual must have the means, opportunity, and public arena to make and to exhibit its arts, and to interact with its audiences.”

    Here’s my email address:

  388. Many of us who are sharing here have read some of Derrick Jensen’s prodigious output, beyond the really brief essays in Orion.
    Rather than just focusing on how his work makes you feel, let’s try to look at its basic content objectively.

    DJ’s basic technique is to expose you to some of the real atrocities the “leaders” of our culture have perpetrated and are continuing to perpetrate. His research is pretty good, quite convincing as to the reality of the things he is bringing to your attention. You can’t really say he just made this stuff up. Kind of like Howard Zinn on steroids, he is highlighting some real history that you may not have looked at up close and personal. And a lot of it is horrifying! It turns your stomach and wrenches your guts, and you wish he had not put it in your face. OK?
    Now a lot of us activists have chided the media and the government for not showing the grim reality of war. Some of us remember the picture of the little girl running, screaming from napalm burns all over her body. It hurts me deeply even now to recall that. Some maintain that sort of coverage helped end that war, and prevent more atrocities. If it did, would you criticize that photographer or those journalists for bringing those images into our living rooms? Maybe some of us should think again about how we are evaluating Derrick Jensen….

    Is it possible that some people need this kind of shock treatment to awaken them to what use their votes and dollars are being put? And if so, who are we to protest those artists and activists who are serving this strong coffee to the sleeping public? Do you really think Derrick is exaggerating the psychopathic nature of these masters of war, these money obsessed maniacs who are destroying the earth? Do you want to be one who prefers sleep and pretty dreams to confrontation with the ugly realities that are destroying everything true and beautiful in our world? I look forward to your thoughts on these matters. This is only part one of my evaluation of DJ’s contributions, but enough for now….

  389. Jay: Practical answers might be to help them hook up with other local like minded folk they may not be aware of locally, or via internet such as this. But also to connect them with (depending on their level of motivation or ability) sustainable business or activities where they live. I didn’t feel useful myself until in my 30’s an instructor hooked me up with an evironmental lawyer (for example) and together we created ecoLaw (back in the day). For the first time I realized I wasn’t taking on the weight of the world. A second time was my first Bioregional gathering in 1992, when for the first time I realized I wasn’t just one of handful in my own region, but there were others (probably like yourself) who were promoting change through their own communities. I cried. I miss gatherings of this sort. We felt a sense of power amongst ourselves.

  390. Mike K: No, DJ’s not exaggerating. Would I criticize the photographer who took the photo of the napalmed young girl? Yes, just the same. But I think the photo would stand up more to my scrutiny of whether it was about love or anger better. And that photo didn’t stop the war. The war became too ‘unprofitable’ for the heinous elites. The elites moved on to other more incidious things. Once they crap too much in one spot, that’s what they do.

    I dialogue about integrity in our work as ‘activist artists’ all the time and look at my own actions and work through the same lens I am looking at DJ’s. I am offering a different perspective and thoughts on how his work makes me feel. How someone’s work makes a person feel is critical to whether they allow it in and inspire change. What allowed you to let that photo ‘in,’ so to speak? Does DJ care about that?

    I do. And so that’s what I want in response to my work – care and challenge. I am offering care and challenge in my imperfect way – for all of us to apply to ourselves, not just DJ. By the way, how close are you to those most infatuated with DJ’s work? I am very close to some, including myself, ha, ha. What I see makes me deeply concerned about its effect. Most of them are not voters. Most of them are not awakened by his work since they are already awakened. And most of them are elitists.

    On DJ’s discussion list, I wouldn’t even be allowed to write what I have written here. He’d call it attacking and kick me off.

    And last, apply Jensen’s logic to his own work. What would the trees and the birds and, by interconnectedness, the entire earth say about dying, literally, for the printing of it? I think they’d agree with Laing. Most books are not forgivable. Jensen seems to be justifying his own books by saying that every book that starts out with the premise that we are murdering the planet and then goes on to talk about rectifying this is okay. I don’t think that is the only criteria for a book being forgivable. Since I have written way too much already about MY criteria, so to speak, I won’t repeat myself.

    The irony of all this for me is that in this particular article he writes of addressing alienation being primary, while I feel alienation is the result of his work. And sadly, people have a propensity for alienation since it resonates with most of the ways many of us have been hurt as youngsters. I believe they are drawn to his work for this reason and it reinforces the alienation, especially if unexamined. And so I volunteered myself and my experience for the examination of this phenomenon. I feel Jensen’s work could be potent beyond anything he could ever dream if he were to write about the same exact things he writes about, but with compassion/love for humans. And then I don’t think it would alienate. I don’t believe furthering alienation is what we need right now to rectify the murder of the planet – or more shock without love.

  391. One clarification – I don’t vote often or espouse it as a method of change. I don’t see the point as long as corporations rule. But when we dismantle corporate power, then I will vote – frequently.

  392. We need to overturn that law that says a corporation is equivalent to a real person. And if corporations are the biggest source of the problem, what else can we do?

  393. Corporations need to be held responsible for the damage they do to all living things and the environment. If upper level management were held responsible for the decisions they made and its’ direct and indirect consequences I bet the world would be a better place. If these people were hit where it hurts (their pocketbooks, being the greedy bastards they are) they might think twice before commencing upon destructive actions. BP being a prime example; what will really happen to Tony Hayward? He walks away with a huge settlement while the Gulf Coast suffers probably for decades to come.

  394. Diane: You probably know all this, but here’s my answer to your question as to what else can we do?

    I work from the premise of where I think people are at with all this. Humans are mired in pain, hurts and many forms of internalized and external oppressions. This causes most of us to have little space to think well about anything. (I don’t expect someone to tackle corporate personhood or blowing up dams in that state.) Our pains fill us with a self-loathing that we take out on ourselves as well as project out onto each other and the planet. (I think I said this already but I am giving the context for what I am about to say.)

    ANYTHING any of us are drawn to do that we think will help unlock and unchain us from these pains is critical right now…as long as your work provides a LOVING context for those pains that links them SOMEHOW to the larger issues of the nature of oppression and ecocide. You know what I mean. For example, don’t just help a woman feel better about her body if she hates it, but also help her understand it’s not her own personal pathology – that it’s society’s pathology, part of sexist oppression and linked to the way the flesh and the earth is seen in an ecocidal culture. Old-fashioned consciousness-raising can be done in many ways. And trust that what happened to you when your consciousness was raised will happen to others…

    …More of us came to be able to love again, feel our interconnectedness and free up space to think well about the “bad news” and change with creative vigor. This might be the major thing that could result in (and exponentially increase the possibility of) the stopping of the murder of the planet, the dismantling of corporate power and the creation of ways to live well with all.

    But there’s one other key component to our work that relates to the urgency of this: we have to teach each other that we have a choice as to where we put our attention. We will be tempted, after we raise our consciousness, to still go back and focus on our pains and other internalized stuff, instead of the crisis we are faced with. We will be tempted by despair to focus on giving up. We will be tempted by anything that can bring back the oblivion of denial. But this is all a matter of choice. We can keep our attention on compassion and change and joy, if we choose. (Yes, the planet needs us to feel that joy that arises when we are wild-connected…we make the best choices from that place.) Sharing this, and practicing putting our attention where we want it, is truly the most empowering thing we can do for each other and the earth. We will need a loving discipline around this.

    To tackle the entire spectrum of interwoven issues related to the murder of the planet, you need bait (you know, make the revolution irresistible, right?…)and a sinker (you know, hold steady?…with some folks to help you hall in your catch cause this kind of fishing is a little different….) When you pull on one, the rest all come. As John Muir said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” As is true in nature, is true with us. That’s the beauty of the possibilities inherent in this approach. It will effect everything else. The hard part is everything else will affect you, that’s what you need the folks around you for. Not just to keep you from trying to do EVERYTHING, but keep you from burning out as the monstrous nature of the interwoven issues become evident and pounds away in your heart. Again, we need each other to remind each other that we can keep choosing where we put our attention. This is a way of loving. It’s not about denying that hurtful things happened and are happening. It’s about keeping our attention focused where we think it best in order to change that – now.

    Follow your bliss on this fish.

    Let’s wild-love each other so we all dare to know and live as ourselves, boldly walk in the world as the free and magical creations we are, actively refuse to collude with oppression and the defilement of life, and are outspoken about the joys and difficulties of doing so. Let’s irresistibly unnerve well-meaning people who fear conflict and ignore the full reality of oppression around them. Let’s trust ourselves and encourage ourselves to embrace the creative (instead of conformist), unique, different, questioning of “norms,” and insisting on appearing wildly foolish or militant if that is what it means to be authentic, genuine, alive, responsive and real.

  395. Abu Ghraib, the Pentagon Papers, Wikileaks ? All big mistakes to pull the covers off the real perpetrators? Better to look the other way? Too upsetting to consider, might disturb suburbia? Nothing works anyway, we are all doomed to join the zombie walk to the precipice, so get in line and quit complaining? This way to the showers?

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good people to remain silent.

    Of course their might be some risk in speaking up. You might lose a few “friends.” Or worse, Big Brother might send someone to knock on your door late some night….

  396. Chris m — Thanks for your feedback. I really like what you said in your last post. Keep up the good work. I try my best not to personalize disagreements. Like Derrick and some others I admire, I do press hard on issues I believe in, but I also try to be open to revising my ideas and learning from wise and sensitive persons like yourself.

  397. Are we stuck at the consciousness-raising stage? When do we move beyond it to action and see real change?

  398. Consciousness raising continues throughout all possible stages of growth. In some ways, it is even more important in higher stages, where real power increases. You never graduate from that school. That said, as consciousness grows, action becomes more effective at every stage. Experiment (action) expands as theory grows in science. Ill considered action is counter-productive and ineffective. The sixties, for example, were full of shallowly based action, and the results showed it.

    The idea that a consciousness raising group must wait until some kind of full clarity, need not be embraced. Action is a source of new data and new ideas. It is the lab course that supplements chemical theory. Even meditation is done for the sake of more powerful action, not as an end in itself. Such a group is an active ongoing experiment in creating real changes in the world. We need a lot of small groups pursuing this goal to come up with the ideas that will really work and create the levers we need to move the world from where it is and where it is headed. Does it not make common sense to get together with interested folks to share this quest for a way out of our deadly impasse?

  399. Mike K, Comment 430: WOW! I love the way you articulate. That was so beautifully expressed. I am completely with ya, of course. And it doesn’t just make common sense, it makes every kind of sense. I really appreciate this discussing with you and the other folks joining in to push it along. I know what you mean in your comment 408 about not personalizing disagreements. I’ll keep working on that. Glad you were able to “listen” despite that.

  400. This book is out of print, but well worth finding. It’s my favorite resource on support groups for emotional support, education and action. It’s also got fantastic sections of how to use questions as a powerful change tool. And it has a super section on a process called clearness, for the individual looking for care and challenge around a big decision:

    Insight and Action: How to Discover and Support a Life of Integrity and Commitment to Change

    By Tova Green, Peter Woodrow, and Fran Peavey (Author)

  401. Nature is a noun too small to contain the vastness it feebly pretends to contain. Perhaps the only way to truly approach nature is with the profound humility demanded by an ultimate Mystery.

    As Heidegger says, we are “thrown” into this vortex of reality, lacking any certainty as to what it means, or even what it is. Our task is to find the hidden compass that can guide us towards the light of understanding, liberation, and infinite love. The clues are everywhere manifest, but invisible until we open the inner senses to reveal them. Until then, we are all lost and wandering in the forest of our own unrecognized projections. The realization of our brokenness is the beginning of our awakening. Finding others to share the common journey is a further step towards a way beyond our confusion.

    The creative group process will be the fiery crucible within which the means for human transcendence to the next level of cosmic competence will be forged.

    The only problem needing all our focus and consideration is how to reach the next evolutionary level. It is only from there that our pressing problems will find their true resolution.

  402. I still lose most posts, so it’s gotta be short until I figure this thing out.
    Diane, you are right on. Groups are good and necessary at certain stages, but to assume that the only way for “Fanatic”s is to sit down and find a group to validate their program is just what they want. There are infinite paths and the suggestion seems to be to not trust the ultimate council within you and sit down for discussions of approval. Is DJ talking of thousands of discussion groups raising consciousness to a satisfactory level or is he calling the Fanatic’s to find their center, focus and let’s do it. I don’t want to just put down groups for some folks, but it just weighs down others. Different paths, but the Shamen stands alone.

  403. I’ve followed the discussions on this and other Jensen articles. Like J Hanson and Diane, my occasional posts have been largely ignored by an overwhelming majority who don’t want to hear anything about political approaches to the problem. But dismantling the corporate body won’t come about by any other means.
    Of course it’s a huge and confusing topic. I agree with the majority that personal change is needed for the world to move on to the next level, but with corporations in charge of most of the learning environments for upcoming generations we can expect that process to be very slow on a global level. We’re not going to just tune them out mentally. That’s like a child sticking his fingers in his ears when an adult corrects him. The powers that be are still there in front of him, and in the end he’s powerless to resist.
    Corporations are not people. People made them, people gave them their power, people can take away that power (altho not so easily). We’re not going to break them with our buying habits, and we’re not going to break them by living an alternate lifestyle on the sidelines. And when I speak of breaking I’m not referring to anything violent. I mean step by step removing the legal foundation that gives them their excessive powers.
    After several posts on an earlier article, a person posting as Cerulean gave me a link that proved to be an interesting beginning point for action.
    one part of which included a “Model Resolution to Legalize Democracy and Abolish Corporate Personhood”.
    Something that could be brought up at a town hall or city council meeting. Just one step.
    To be followed with very vocal calls for your elected officials to get involved in the same issues.
    Sure, keep on living your life, expanding your consciousness, making your art freely. But let’s also try to give future generations a chance to do the same.

  404. Hey Ed, a breath of fresh air. I live in a very large “green” community of very sustainable homesteaders in rural Minnesota. We hold our space in spite of a powerful but shrinking majority. We steward thousands of acres of land, rivers and creeks and all the critters. We are very involved and control our Township Board and can turn out hundreds of folks for local elections and referendums. These are very conscious people living on and off the grid. We’ve been doing Transition for 35 years and it shows. We do what we can nationally, but they still won’t let Ralph debate.

    On our homestead, we just finished our first post fossil fuel cabin, complete with passive solar, water catchment, wood cook stove, forest garden, etc. We are very active at this point and out reaching is huge. Does Belly Dancing qualify as a consciousness raising group activity?

    We challenge the corporations continuously with our buying habits. We began a grassroots action four years ago to help the community at large begin to wean off oil. Our effort has taken off without and grants or subsidies to the point that we have over 30,000 global supporters and could grow exponentially if we could actually figure this Internet thing out. Why do we forget the non-violent action of Martin during the Montgomery bus boycott. Did the folks not attack the bottom line and open up the prize a little more.

    We aggressively challenge the system; as in Corporations, financial, lame ass government,…racism, sexism, ageism, whatever. We think that we are pretty free fanatics even though we might lose it all. The “Man” has knocked on our door several times, but we invite them in for a little Chamomile tea.
    At one time we we’re called Hippies, then alternative folks, then “Green” got tagged on us, but we believe that eventually the grassroots will swell to person-hood and the corps and feds will just begin to wither away. Talk about organic lifestyle with a healthy dash of action. It is exploding all over the planet by millions of very conscious people who still believe…keep the faith. We can all get their together by following our own journey and when we stumble a little, maybe some music and dancing might help. Sure do miss those mountains though. You take care of them for us Diane.

  405. Ed, Jay — Thanks so much for sharing your insights and experience. If it seems your input has been ignored, then we need to correct that. When any of us focus on some favorite area of solutions, we temporarily lose sight of the many other rich possibilities that are out there. Ed, I went to the link you provided, and it is a very constructive approach. Jay, you live in some neighborhood! I wish folks were as progressive in my neck of the woods — Appalachian Kentucky. The nearest Transition Towns location to me is Berea, about 50 miles distant. You already have me wondering if I can stir up a few people here to start one in Irvine. I tend to get isolated on our farm, and not unlike many others, have tended to be turned off to “politics”. But the scene you portrayed was anything but “politics as usual.” Like many nature lovers who have retreated from the “madding crowd” into relative seclusion, I tend to be introverted, and eschew politics. But your comments are making me reconsider my position. We should be open to pursuing more than one track in our activism….

  406. I eschew politics, too. If it worked we wouldn’t be where we are. Yet I’ll vote for things that try to make things less bad.

    While I hiked the Pacific Crest I observed loggers taking logs in the dark of night. They have to steal them in the night because they know even if it’s legal nobody likes it. If there wasn’t some sort of pressure on the logging they’d take the whole forest in one big blowout, invent a bunch of new kleenex products to rush the trees to the landfill and then celebrate their big windfalls as they moved on to the next thing to devour. At least our meager political efforts slow things down a bit.

    (By the way, clear-cuts grow back a lot nicer than planted forests, and thinned forests don’t look too bad when the thinning is done near towns and highways. Looks awful when done out in the middle of nowhere where nobody can see. There they take the big healthy trees, strip the branches and leave them behind with all the sick trees, degrading everything. Don’t believe anything anybody tells you. Always go see for yourself.)

  407. Let me share what I feel is an important distinction to keep in mind as we consider our ideas about changing ourselves and our society for the better. I got this understanding from studying the writings of Ken Wilber. The distinction is between approaches that are translational, and those that are transformational.

    Translational approaches are those that take the fundamental understandings of a system or area as givens, and try to change various features of that given framework to make them work better and give more desirable results. Critics of this approach would characterize it as “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”, or “painting the walls of one’s prison cell.”

    Transformative approaches seek to go beyond the assumptions and limits of the system, and redo the whole basis of the game. An example would be that instead of coming up with new constraints and laws to rein in corporate or financial institutions, one could seek to do away with them entirely, and propose a completely new model of economic exchanges. Critics of these kinds of ideas usually complain that they are fantastic, won’t work, have never
    happened before, ignore “human nature”, etc.

    It should be obvious that Derrick Jensen is firmly in the transformational camp. No half-measures for him. His contempt for life-style changes, such as shorter showers, is evident. His very skillfully argued position (and he is not alone in this) is that civilization itself in all of its manifestations is the root cause of all our problems, hence the solution is to “bring down civilization.” Of course many have questioned what he would envision as the sequel to a collapsed civilization. His answers so far have been vague eulogies of the supposed virtues of indigenous cultural dynamics.

    I leave you with this thought: Is it necessarily the case that these must be totally separate and competing approaches that are mutually incompatible as Jensen and others would have us believe? The frustrating thing about reading Jensen is that he really is half right in all he says, but at the same time he is half wrong in his contempt for and exclusion of the other (translational) part of the equation. As Wilber has pointed out, the translational methods, including such of them as religion (even in its current flawed form), science (with its own serious flaws), politics, etc. are all absolutely necessary to any realistic and integral solution to our immense problems.

    The small groups I propose would use these two perspectives like two legs to walk toward a better future, not limiting themselves to one leg only. I look forward to your feedback; I need it!

  408. @Diane I’m glad that you do participate to some extent in the political process (and who could possibly believe in it wholeheartedly? – it’s as dirty as our chimpanzee heritage has made it). And I’m with you on going to see for yourself.
    @Michael Kavanaugh, all I know of Derick Jensen is the 5 or 6 recent articles I’ve read in Orion, and these do not support what the commentators have said about him. I have no interest in defending him (whether on not he is as they say) or in “bringing down civilization”. But regarding your interest in translational vs
    transformative approaches, I’d like to point you to the upper left hand corner of this page, where the “featured content” will bring you to an interview called
    “Change Everything Now”,
    It’s an interview with “Gus” Speth, cofounder of the Natural Resources Defense Council and author of “The Bridge at the Edge of the World” (Yale University Press), which Orion’s introduction calls “nothing less than a
    call for an uprising that would reinvent modern capitalism”. Speth calls for a grassroots movement akin to the civil rights movement, which would demand that corporations pay their way, and stop focusing solely on profits and growth. Speth is no bomb-throwing radical. He’s someone who’s been deeply involved in government programs that have already been working to protect the environment over the past 30 or more years. He says we need more of the same PLUS something
    fundamentally different – focus on dismantling corporate power.
    @Jay Hanson, I’ve lived in the woods in Spain for 7yrs, but had to leave (immigration issues), and now (for at least another 5mo) I work for an immense corporation (one that’s now angling to control your access to the internet). I’ll have no sympathy for the interests of the shareholders until they make some real moves to protect the environment we all share.

  409. Vera, I enjoyed your screed. You wrote: “it is the lack of social permission to speak up that holds people back.” I feel this a lot. I don’t like conflict at all.

    I feel really strongly about all the plastic in our environment. I decided I would print a home-made poster about plastic trash in the ocean as an iron-on transfer and adhere it to my reusable shopping bag. I could shop the aisles using my reusable produce bags that I sewed myself, and maybe somebody would see my little poster on the side my shopping bag and understand. It took me a lot of courage to go out with my bag and do it. Somebody did see me and asked where I got the produce bags. It kind of bummed me out that she asked me where did I buy them. I sewed them myself from scraps. Corporate American isn’t going to give us the tools to change the system. We have to do it ourselves. The “want-get” way of life has to be replaced with need-make. I realized my focus is in the wrong place. People are so helpless they have to learn how to be resourceful as much as they need awareness of the problem. Maybe I did help someone but in a way I didn’t expect.

    I also printed up the same little poster to pin up places around town. So far I have not had the courage to do this. And this is nearly anonymous speech and I’m afraid to speak up!

    Meanwhile, I feel like it is totally hopeless and stupid to focus on whether or not I put my groceries in a plastic bag, or whether or not people litter in the poor neighborhood where I live when big giant corporations crank out plastic wrapped and plastic-infused crap by the millions of tons every second. What we need is to outlaw globally all single-use plastic, all plastic wrappers, all plastic particles in cosmetics, all uses of plastic that are not for things intended to last as long as plastic itself. Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.

    Like you said, everybody knows what’s going on. The bigwigs are so blatant they don’t even try to hide what they are doing anymore. They know we won’t do anything. Most people can’t do anything. They simply don’t know how to think outside the want-get system. Most people’s attentions are focused into their iPhones where they apps focus their attention into sales channels for these same big giant corporations. It’s totally hopeless.

    Only one more week and I am on the trail again. In the Real World. Home.

  410. “demand that corporations pay their way, and stop focusing solely on profits and growth”

    Yeah. And we can demand that the Pentagon levitate. I expect equal rates of success…

    “The bigwigs are so blatant they don’t even try to hide what they are doing anymore.”

    Yup… but not hopeless… no. Not hopeless. Dark before the dawn. Diane, thank you for the good words, and also for all your inspiring stories. I gotta get out there too. Home.

    Psst… do it. I will be looking for those little posters, once they go viral! :-)

  411. The hallmark of the improperly developed ego is the inability to cooperate.

    The renunciation of power over others is essential for real love.

    The individual person is inadequate to solve the problems facing us.

    The authentic Self is necessary to solve our crises.

    Our larger Self entwines with all we are related to: everything.

    Our present situation is a culmination of all the lawful processes that brought us here.

    Failure to meet this growth challenge will be horrible beyond imagining.

    We are currently failing to meet the world challenge.

    The wisdom that has already been opened to us contains in essence all we need to avert this disaster.

    If we use the best we know and are, it will not only cause us to survive, but to flourish to unimagined heights of love and beauty.

    To fail to meet this historic moment would be an ultimate tragedy, squandering forever the rich legacy of our divine possibility…..

  412. I find the “Principles of Spiritual Leadership” encouraged by the Satyana Institute to be of invaluable guidance in my work. They seem very fitting to the discussion at this point as a resource others might find useful. I will list them here in the manner that the Institute states them these days, but I prefer the expanded original version of them that can still be found at:

    The Satyana Institute is a non-profit service and training organization (that I have no connection with) that states that its mission is to: “support individuals, communities, and organizations to combine inner work of the heart with outer service in the world. The name satyana comes from two sanskrit roots: sat, which means truth or being, and also refers to action aligned or suffused with spirit; and yana, which means vehicle. So “satyana” means a vehicle for action infused with the grace of spirit.”

    Here are the Principles, which they offer “not as definitive truths, but rather as key learnings and guidelines that, taken together, comprise a useful framework for ‘spiritual activism.'”

    1. Transformation of motivation from anger/fear/despair to compassion/love/purpose. This is a vital challenge for today’s social change movement. This is not to deny the noble emotion of appropriate anger or outrage in the face of social injustice. Rather, this entails a crucial shift from fighting against evil to working for love, and the long-term results are very different, even if the outer activities appear virtually identical. Action follows Being, as the Sufi saying goes. Thus “a positive future cannot emerge from the mind of anger and despair” (Dalai Lama).

    2. Non-attachment to outcome. This is difficult to put into practice, yet to the extent that we are attached to the results of our work, we rise and fall with our successes and failures—a sure path to burnout. Hold a clear intention, and let go of the outcome—recognizing that a larger wisdom is always operating. As Gandhi said, “the victory is in the doing,” not the results. Also, remain flexible in the face of changing circumstances: “Planning is invaluable, but plans are useless.”(Churchill)

    3. Integrity is your protection. If your work has integrity, this will tend to protect you from negative energy and circumstances. You can often sidestep negative energy from others by becoming “transparent” to it, allowing it to pass through you with no adverse effect upon you. This is a consciousness practice that might be called “psychic aikido.”

    4. Integrity in means and ends. Integrity in means cultivates integrity in the fruit of one’s work. A noble goal cannot be achieved utilizing ignoble means.

    5. Don’t demonize your adversaries. It makes them more defensive and less receptive to your views. People respond to arrogance with their own arrogance, creating rigid polarization. Be a perpetual learner, and constantly challenge your own views.

    6. You are unique. Find and fulfill your true calling. “It is better to tread your own path, however humbly, than that of another, however successfully.” (Bhagavad Gita)

    7. Love thy enemy. Or at least, have compassion for them. This is a vital challenge for our times. This does not mean indulging falsehood or corruption. It means moving from “us/them” thinking to “we” consciousness, from separation to cooperation, recognizing that we human beings are ultimately far more alike than we are different. This is challenging in situations with people whose views are radically opposed to yours. Be hard on the issues, soft on the people.

    8. Your work is for the world, not for you. In doing service work, you are working for others. The full harvest of your work may not take place in your lifetime, yet your efforts now are making possible a better life for future generations. Let your fulfillment come in gratitude for being called to do this work, and from doing it with as much compassion, authenticity, fortitude, and forgiveness as you can muster.

    9. Selfless service is a myth. In serving others, we serve our true selves. “It is in giving that we receive.” We are sustained by those we serve, just as we are blessed when we forgive others. As Gandhi says, the practice of satyagraha (“clinging to truth”) confers a “matchless and universal power” upon those who practice it. Service work is enlightened self-interest, because it cultivates an expanded sense of self that includes all others.

    10. Do not insulate yourself from the pain of the world. Shielding yourself from heartbreak prevents transformation. Let your heart break open, and learn to move in the world with a broken heart. As Gibran says, “Your pain is the medicine by which the physician within heals thyself.” When we open ourselves to the pain of the world, we become the medicine that heals the world. This is what Gandhi understood so deeply in his principles of ahimsa and satyagraha. A broken heart becomes an open heart, and genuine transformation begins.

    11. What you attend to, you become. Your essence is pliable, and ultimately you become that which you most deeply focus your attention upon. You reap what you sow, so choose your actions carefully. If you constantly engage in battles, you become embattled yourself. If you constantly give love, you become love itself.

    12. Rely on faith, and let go of having to figure it all out. There are larger ‘divine’ forces at work that we can trust completely without knowing their precise workings or agendas. Faith means trusting the unknown, and offering yourself as a vehicle for the intrinsic benevolence of the cosmos. “The first step to wisdom is silence. The second is listening.” If you genuinely ask inwardly and listen for guidance, and then follow it carefully—you are working in accord with these larger forces, and you become the instrument for their music.

    13. Love creates the form. Not the other way around. The heart crosses the abyss that the mind creates, and operates at depths unknown to the mind. Don’t get trapped by “pessimism concerning human nature that is not balanced by an optimism concerning divine nature, or you will overlook the cure of grace.” (Martin Luther King) Let your heart’s love infuse your work and you cannot fail, though your dreams may manifest in ways different from what you imagine.

  413. I might seem to be flip-flopping here, but please bear with me as I explore my confusion and the complexity of the possibility that anger expressed in Derrick’s work (and others) may not be the negative force that I have been criticizing it as. Derrick is my teacher on this, whether I want him as my teacher or not. I am magnetically drawn to his writing over and over again. I have already written some about what I think this is about – my struggle to think well about what will help stop the murder of the planet and my concern that works of anger will alienate. I even criticized it as arrogant and elitist and mocking – amongst other things. I fear that these were mostly my own projections.

    I wax on and on about being loving, etc., but yet these rules hypocritically fly out the window when it comes to how I respond to Derrick and his writing. (He actually was a delightful and fun person to interview long ago.)

    I have a feeling that the truth lies somewhere deeper as to what draws me to Derrick, and may reveal a deeper insight for my work as activist. I fear anger. I have come to the conclusion that Derrick is the earth speaking to us and I am deeply saddened by the earth’s pain and anger. I am afraid to hear it and Derrick because it triggers much confusion around anger that I learned as a young girl. My childhood was filled with anger, abuse, alcoholics, etc. I wanted everything to be okay as a kid. I didn’t want my parents or anyone to feel bad, to feel angry at me – it resulted in bad things happening to me and others and themselves.

    I wanted forgiveness and love and to be held by the hand and led to through a magical childhood. I didn’t have that magical childhood – neither did many people. As an adult, I still dream of being loved in some huge unconditional way and for anger to stop. I dream of being allowed to express my own anger, the anger that was not allowed as a child, the anger that got me in trouble. I became an activist to stop anger, ironically, with anger. The first time my cousin was thrown against a wall by his parents at the age of 5, or my brother smacked around, and I wasn’t allowed to cry or say anything, I knew right then that I would someday say something. I waited. I would get even with these angry out of control monsters for human beings. I would not tolerate anger.

    Importantly, I didn’t differentiate between shared anger of those suffering from injustices and targeted anger of an abuser/oppressor. I react to Derrick sharing earth’s anger with all the same fear and anger I had about anger as a child. The earth has no voice in human affairs unless we give it one. That voice is very rageful due to its ravages. I need to be able to hear the screaming of the earth – or I am doomed. We all need to be able to hear it. Maybe my work needs to be about helping everyone be able to hear that anger. Many people have probably gone through what I have; their parents could not hear their anger and they were punished for it as their parents hypocritically blasted them with acts of repressed anger. Anger gets a bad rap in this culture. It’s not proper behavior. What if we allowed ourselves to share our anger? What do we fear? I don’t think all this anger management stuff and religious philosophy on its dangers is actually about healing, so much as control.

    Maybe part of my problem is that I see something in Derrick’s words that I was taught not to like in myself – my anger, a vital source of information for my survival and the earth’s.

    I spoke of anger in an earlier post as something that belonged inside a consciousness-raising group not in our work – even my previous post’s #1 principle is to transform it into love. But I must speak of what I feel is my own arrogance in saying what I have said about anger – and what I believe is the arrogance even in the philosophies promoting its transformation.

    We cannot shut up the voices of anger. We need to make room, lots of room for them. Others and our own – and first and foremost, the earth’s. I said in an earlier post that there was no place at the table for my anger in our culture and so my anger grew angrier. I need to listen to myself there. We need to make a place at all our tables. Maybe that’s what draws me to Derrick. He makes a lot of room for anger.

    Derrick is like this fearsome voice of the earth coming through as if the Goddess Kali of the East and the Goddess Ceridwen of the West teamed up and wrote a book. At one point on here, I was going to write that it’s easy to be angry and hard to love. Ha! It’s way more difficult to love anger and hence harder to share it. Everybody loves it when you’re positive, right? But if you are angry, they run or fight it? Don’t listen? So maybe my issues with Derrick are not issues with Derrick at all. Maybe it’s that Derrick is doing what I long to do but fear to do – share the anger of the earth. I truly am afraid to do that; my attempts have gotten such a horrible reception in the past. But what if it starts a chain reaction like Derrick has done for me…a struggle to claim the earth’s anger as my own – and to be unapologetic about it – and share what I need to share to be truly empowered? Maybe in truly embracing anger, we will see it truly for what it is – love. But that’s not the point. If we squash anger and we rush to love first, without sharing and hearing anger, it seems we are skipping the pain of the process of life that we need to truly inform us best. Love is empty platitudes without the truth of anger, isn’t it? To be truly effective, we might need to get over our fear of anger…of honesty…of the truth. It is not that I am saying to use anger as a motivation for our work exactly I am saying that sharing our anger needs to be incorporated as fundamental to our work – not just in consciousness-raising settings. And what is a consciousness-raising group anyway? Could it be someone reading Derrick’s article – that person and Derrick’s words?

    I remember the white feminists of my generation being called racist because they couldn’t hear black women’s anger without reacting with hostility to it. The white women attacked the black with words and attempted to humiliate them for expressing themselves in such an “inappropriate way.” This horrified me, but it still didn’t really help me hear anger any better. It’s just stayed with me as something important in my psyche to address, to right the wrongs of.

    Perhaps the closer to the fire you are, the more it burns and the less you are concerned with how you say what you need to say…you just say it. And whether it is called anger or love, it is simply the truth needing to be heard about the fire “as the world burns.” What is anger anyway but a response to a preceived injustice to something or someone you love? Anger is love. Can I change this in myself? Can I hear anger’s truth?

    But I feel that we still must be smart about this. As Andrew Harvey stated in an interview with Colleen O’Connor, “Everybody is totally bewildered. They know that the world is potentially on the brink of total apocalypse. There’s a tremendous danger that as people wake up to the horror of what is going on, they will run into political extremism or into fundamentalism of one kind or another. So it’s extremely important that the wisdom of the ‘dark night of the soul’ gets across, because if people understand the necessity of this crucifixion, and understand that it’s preparing a resurrection and empowerment, then they will be prepared to go through it without too much fear….”

    He continued, “…It’s quite clear that humanity is now terminally ill, and can only be transfigured by a totally shocking revelation of its shadow side. And this is what we’re living through, these shadow sides exploding in every direction because we have done nothing but betray the sacred in us. We have lacerated the sacred in others. We have betrayed the sacred in an orgy of fundamentalism. We have brutalized the sacred in nature. We are now terminally destructive. So, only an almost terminal destruction that reveals to us the full extent of our responsibility in this destruction can wake us up. And that is what is happening….”

    And what must humans do about this? Harvey sounds like Jensen when he writes that we need to be empowered in the core of ourselves “to become what everybody who has a heart and a mind must become – a spiritual revolutionary devoting their entire life and all their resources to the preservation of the planet.”

    Harvey concludes with an interesting take, “Finding the Black Madonna, in whatever form you want to find her, realizing the massive task that she’s doing and turning to her for protection is now crucial to the preservation of the planet. It’s extremely important that people really come to understand the feminine and turn towards it. Because it’s our betrayal of the feminine in ourselves and the divine that has led to this crisis.”

    Interesting – the betrayal of the feminine anger is more like it, the anger of the earth over the dishonoring of her rich, fertile, darkness and rich, fertile creations and peoples.

    Of course, the Black Madonna is thought of by Harvey as “all those powers that the ‘masculine’ mind repressees…” It is okay for a woman to speak up in anger regarding her child, but is it okay for her to speak up in anger for an injustice to herself? To the earth? Is it okay for a man to speak up in anger for the earth when men are only supposed to be angry outwardly, not share feelings? I hear the feelings in Jensen’s work. I hear the pain, the rage. He’s not supposed to do that! He’s not supposed to let “feelings” creep in to his work! He’s supposed to stay, er, a polite intellectual? And like when I was a kid, I want to make it all okay for him and since I can’t I get angry at him. Ha! Things are not okay, will not be made okay. And like a kid, I often feel powerless when I can’t make it all okay. And I don’t like those feelings. As an adult, I know now that I am not powerless and that I can be with these feelings of others. Things don’t have to be okay for me to feel empowered. I don’t need outcomes, I don’t need hope, I don’t need to be secure or grounded or make others so …I just need to be patient with where I am and others are. And be together – angry and all. What if we could feel our anger and be held tight through our tantrums and earthquakes and tornadoes of being? What, again, do we fear? What has made sharing anger so maligned when it is the opposite that has reeked havoc – it’s repression?

    An important new insight has come through for me in all this writing which I have been unconsciouly aware of for years, but have never put words to it until now. As I said before, Toni Cade Bambara said it is the role of the revolutionary artist to make the revolution irresistible. I coming to the conclusion that the revolution is about anger. Though this sounds completely wacky, and I am not sure how I am going to do it, I am going to figure out how to make anger irresistable.

  414. Thanks again, vera. We can always count on you to bring in some levity whenever politics shows its ugly face.

  415. I hope you did not find it too flippant, Ed. It was the “demand” thing that got me! :-)

    I do not think the effort to end corporate personhood will fix our main problems. But if that is what inly rejoices you to do, when you get it on the ballot I will vote for it. Every bit helps, from whatever quarter.

  416. Chris, I am so happy for you that you continue to go deeper into yourself to touch the roots of your feeling self. I sense that you are getting in touch with your soul in those depths, and that is truly wonderful and amazing. You are exemplifying for us the type of work that we all sooner or later need to do. My own deepest spiritual epiphany came at a moment of profound brokenness, as if that Light had been waiting buried in that abysmal darkness, waiting for me to have the humility and courage to face the darkness, and thus uncover That Love-Radiance.

    I encourage you to continue your honest and courageous search within yourself. What you are finding is full of truth and so beautiful for me to witness. We all owe you so much for sharing your inner world with us.
    My own personal history included much abuse that deeply wounded me. Violent hatred seethed within me for many years, as I longed to revenge those hurts and do to other perpetrators as was done to me. My years of spiritual searching had their birth in those dark precincts of anger, sadness, and suicidal depression. It took a huge amount of help from others and from beyond for me to put my feet uncertainly at first upon the Path to something higher than my nightmares.

    So you see, I have deep resonances with Derrick too. His willingness to share his pain is something that those who have not been there fail to appreciate. But to me his writings are a blessing from a brother on the path of recovery. Like him, I have come to understand that our entire culture in its long history has been one of incredible mutual abuse. It is so difficult for those who live in the cultural trance to realize that we are the arch terrorists on this planet. That is what I realized in my conversation with the dragonfly deep in the Hawaiian forest years ago. We are murdering each other and all beautiful living beings on this sacred planet. Like Derrick, I feel we must stop this at any cost.

    Like James Joyce, I feel that “history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Thank you for helping me and all of us towards that awakening.

  417. And thanks for the spiritual guidelines you posted Chris. Those were all really right on in my book. We have so much to learn in sharing with each other. And folks often don’t realize how much working with our emotions and unconscious stuff is crucial to our reaching across the great divides that often separate us from each other.

  418. Chris, you are very good at these impassioned rants! :-) Have you thought of starting a blog? I think you’d be a natural…

    I wanted to just briefly respond to your quote: “…we have done nothing but betray the sacred in us. We have lacerated the sacred in others. We have betrayed the sacred in an orgy of fundamentalism. We have brutalized the sacred in nature. We are now terminally destructive. So, only an almost terminal destruction that reveals to us the full extent of our responsibility in this destruction can wake us up.”

    My take is that this is grossly unfair to humanity. First of all, there are still some tribes extant who are not part of this. Secondly, “we” is a term bandied about too freely here. I personally have not betrayed anything in an orgy of fundamentalism, I am pretty sure of it. And I take this a blast of frustration, understandable but adding to the general prevailing blame game. My personal responsibility for all the crap is small. To put my responsibility for the mountaintop removal in WV on par with the responsibility of those who actually directly do these things, and directly profit from them, is rather obscene.

    I am not terminally destructive. The culture within which I am trapped, this prison that civilization has become, is terminally destructive, but I am trapped within it. Nobody gave me another choice when I was born. How is excoriating me in this hugely inclusive “we” make sense? If I could not be part of it, I would not be. In fact, I am busting my gut trying to figure out how not to be. So lay off, Mr. Harvey. If you want to blame, blame the real perpetrators. Follow the power and greed!

  419. Hey all, I’m starting to hear some speaking from the heart. We can deal with a lot of different dynamics when people are real and work from the heart center. It’s important to hear what you feel and think rather than always trotting out somebody Else’s words. Good job. Our home is under attack and we need well grounded, solid progress and wisdom. It sounds like a few folks here have been part of “The council Of All Beings”.

  420. Some passing thoughts on the rhetoric of “Calling All Fanatics,” then a reaction to one of the comments in this discussion…

    I implied in an earlier post (#79, I believe, or somewhere thereabouts), that parts of this column remind me of the rhetoric of sectarian hate speech—just this idea that certain lives (books, etc.) are unforgivable so long as they do not meet the standards of a given inquisitor.

    Sticking to what I said in my previous post about reservedly and frustratedly liking Jensen as a writer (he truly has some great and important things to say), I realized, in skimming over this column again, that my problem with the “unforgivable” decree can be taken a little further than merely making the connection between one form of bigotry and another.

    And so my deeper problem with “Calling All Fanatics” is this: Jensen has in effect made his thesis into a metric for determining righteousness. There is a very short, if not nonexistent, line between saying that “Any book (film, painting, song, relationship, life, and so on) that doesn’t begin with [the basic understanding that this culture is murdering the planet]…and doesn’t work toward rectifying it is not forgivable,” and saying that “Any book, life, and so on that doesn’t agree with me and that doesn’t act upon such agreement is not forgivable.” At best this kind of rhetoric is alienating and makes for difficult discussion. There is no telling what the worst might look like, but history is replete with examples. (Not to mention that this rhetoric does not take into account perfectly good books and lives that do not begin with such a shared premise.)

    One other point on the rhetoric: The firefighter/burning building metaphors have got to go. Not only because they are clichés, but because they don’t make sense in the greater context of Jensen’s arguments. Who, after all, would be the first responders were someone to take Jensen up on his call for fanatics by blowing up a dam?

    All that aside, I liked the comparison someone made between reading Jensen and eating simple carbohydrates. I enjoy doing both from time to time, sometimes too much. But what’s lacking in both, as someone pointed out, is genuine sustenance. Which makes me wonder: What writers do we have who offer a more complex, wholesome diet? Several come to mind. At the risk of ridicule for a lack of creativity, I’ll go with Wendell Berry. Not a startling new find, sure, but if Jensen’s writing, as a previous commentator said, is like a doughnut, then surely Berry’s is about as close to being like a homemade loaf of multigrain bread as it gets.

    I suppose my questions are these: How does one reconcile these two writers? Is it a reconciliation that even needs to be attempted? Why does Berry, full of rage as some of his writing has been, never mention burning buildings, or unforgivable people, or art-as-weaponry in such writing? Why, for that matter, did Berry once defend Edward Abbey from the same kind of charges that Jensen revisits in this column? I’m of course not saying that every “environmental” writer working today is bound to stay in Berry’s shadow. And I’m not trying to impose a false dichotomy on these two authors. It’s just that I find it hard to love both; I’d take a meal at my great-grandmother’s over one at McDonald’s any day.

    I’ll close this with a quote from Berry that I think relates directly to this column. It’s from “The Unforeseen Wilderness,” and it goes: “Going to the woods and the wild places has little to do with recreation, and much to do with creation.” This is not the antithesis of what Jensen says in “Calling All Fanatics,” though it presents Jensen’s arguments in a way that avoids duality. To truly enjoy a place and to truly defend it need not be different things. Indeed, “The Unforeseen Wilderness”—a book of great rage and great enjoyment—helped save the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. We do not need to “save people from the burning building,” but rather to help others see, through seeing it ourselves, that we stand in the midst of a sanctuary.

  421. Jay — You remind me of an occasion years ago when I took part in an enactment of The Council of All Beings as proposed by John Seed in his book Thinking Like a Mountain. We gathered in the woods at a retreat center, and each of us, wearing a mask representing the aspect or inhabitant of nature we had chosen to speak for got deeply into our roles and spoke with surprising passion.
    Several dragonflies came around me and reminded me of my promise to try to speak for all the creatures of the forest. The whole affair very effectively reminded each of us how much we loved nature and how much nature needed our help in defending her.

  422. Dear River Otter — I truly don’t want to end up on your shit-list, so don’t take my response as some sort of personal attack. What I have to say is really addressed to the wider audience for Derrick’s writings.

    I am frankly amazed at how many routinely describe DJ as “angry.” However I must at the same time recall how often I have observed someone in a group I was sharing in accuse someone of “attacking” them or “being angry” simply in response to that person having strongly disagreed with something they said. One has to wonder how much psychological projection is involved in such an assessment?

    When I have passionately put forward some criticisms that are deeply meaningful to me, and someone then tells me I am “being angry”, with the implication that this somehow invalidates the content of what I have said, then I have to restrain myself from really getting angry at their pious judgementalism. The holier than thou style of passive aggression can really be hard to respond to gracefully.
    I could say a lot more about anger, but if I did I might loose it! :-)

  423. I am thinking to write a series of promos (for lack of a better word) for the small group process. Why? A lot of folks either don’t have a clue about it, or (almost worse) think they already know all about it (they don’t). Nobody does. But here goes.

    Let’s talk education. Ah, the wonderful years of grade school, high school, college! What an ecstatic experience! Thank God its over!
    OK whatever your experience of it was, agony or ecstasy, it was not what you are able to learn in a small group, properly structured. So please make an effort to set aside all you learned or thought you learned in those years, in those venues. This will be different. One of the main objectives of this encounter will be to flush a lot of what you thought you learned down the toilet…..

    And open up some new subjects that were not part of your prior curriculums. You might want to look into Derrick Jensen’s little teaching memoir, “Walking On Water” to get a hint at some of the further growth possibilities in a non-conventional learning environment. But since only a few will do that, I guess I’ll have to dangle some juicy enticing fruit before your eyes, even though I know that the best part of the whole deal is its total unpredictability and creative magic.

    As you can see by now, I will never get a job on Madison Avenue, having most likely lost more than half my audience already. No matter, they probably wouldn’t stay on board long anyway. (sour grapes) And now I am out of gas typing-wise; so, more anon…maybe…

  424. I’m looking for small groups to go out paste posters around town. Or to go out and plant seeds in guerrilla gardens. Or maybe people to get together and share homemade stuff they’re using to substitute for the corporate crap made of toxins from cheap labor overseas. Or hey, I’d like to join a group of stealthy hackers and funnel 1/4 a cent out of every online transaction into a bank account. Then take the money and buy up all the land developers hold for hostage whenever they know nobody wants them to build on some pristine coastal bluff or whatever. (Note to Homeland Security: Just kidding. I’d never do that. I’m just trying to make a point.) Yeah, where can I find people who act more than talk? Does that exist?

  425. People say words are cheap. Depends on the words. What’s really cheap in this world is action without thought. That’s how we got here. Shoot from the hip, it’s the cowboy way. Rambo wasn’t what you would call an intellectual, but boy did he make things happen!

    One wonders if our amazing educational system hasn’t created a world of speed freak action addicted know nothings. Can’t sit still restless do something, anything doesn’t matter what. Just do it! Yeah Nike gave us the go ahead. What are we waiting for?

    What we need is a strong leader to give us the marching orders, then we will just go out there and kick ass! Wow! No more of this pussy footing around. Let’s not waste time talking about it. Let’s just do it! If there’s some bad guys out there, let’s just go gettem!

    We all know what to do. Let’s just do it! Enough sitting around talking about it. Thinking about things never got anything done.

  426. Diane — That last blast wasn’t really aimed at you. I guess your post just triggered some smoldering part of me that was fed up with some of the superior sounding critics of more thoughtful approaches. Chalk it up to the intellectual kid I was, having too many loads of sand kicked in my face by some empty headed jocks.

    From my previous posts it should be clear that I am not opposed to reasonably well thought out actions, such as the ones you suggested in your recent comment. Sorry if my foot came down on your toe. You are definitely not the target.

  427. The path of the activist is not a sprint. It is more like an endurance race. One has to pace oneself and take breaks as needed. Burnout is not an option. Learning to enjoy the whole process is a key to continuing. When someone asked Derrick Jensen why he didn’t just give up the struggle, he replied, “why would I quit. I’m having too much fun. I am enjoying my life.” (Not an exact quote.)

    What more exciting and challenging adventure could one find, than seeking ways to save Earth and Mankind? What greater Quest on the Hero’s Journey (Joseph Campbell) could there be? What better school to discover one’s hidden strengths and overcome one’s weaknesses? What better companions on life’s way than those dedicated to the highest goal beyond self?
    We should be grateful to have this opportunity to live a life of real meaning and value.

  428. I suppose it is a function of advanced age, but my conscience is screaming and I am becoming impatient with blogmeisters who hold powerful positions in the mass media, but willfully refuse to do all that can be done to disclose science (rather than cloak peer-reviewed evidence in silence) of a potentially colossal threat to human wellbeing and environmental health which is presented to all of us… and precipitated by all of us…in the form of grave and ominous global challenges.

    Will the leaders of the human community be allowed to keep adamantly advocating and relentlessly pursuing so potentially ruinous a road to the future, while everyone else silently consents to these leaders’ egregious behavior and follows them down the soon to become patently unsustainable “primrose path” we are now taking?

    I am a psychologist. In our ethical code psychologists are instructed that there are rare occasions when we have a “duty to warn”, for example, when life is in imminent danger. It appears to me as if the very future of life as we know it is being put at risk now by the proverbial “mother” of global challenges: the human overpopulation of Earth. If the human-driven global predicament looming on the horizon does not meet the standard for warning, perhaps I no longer see what set of circumstances would warrant the performance of such a duty.

    I do not know if I am right or wrong to ask directly and repeatedly for truth, as each of us sees it, to be spoken loudly and clearly so that people can better share an understanding of the global emergency the human family could soon confront. But, it does appear to me that if people with knowledge lose faith in God’s gift of science by denying its presence, embracing silence and remaining electively mute while selfish, shortsighted leaders go forward on the basis of specious preternatural thinking, then the human community has virtually no chance of responding ably to the human-induced challenges before all of us.

    Perhaps I am mistaken about the scientific research to which I draw attention. If that is shown to be case, I will end the AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population immediately. I make all of you the promise that from that moment forward you will not hear from me again. Given the human-forced global challenges that appear to be converging before humankind in our time, it will just fine if it turns out that I am indeed the fool so many people take me for now. Such an outcome has certain benefits. Fool that I am, still I will be free of a “duty to warn” and gratefully released to fulfill the promise I made years ago to my long-suffering spouse: end the AWAREness Campaign I began in 2001.

    I am trying to encourage the lighting of candles because the darkness enveloping the “primrose path” many too many misguided leaders are trodding is anathema to me.

  429. Mike K: Regarding being a hero

    Joanna Macy wrote, “Hope is often for something you’ve already known, like the Lone Ranger coming to save you….If we don’t hang on, if we let go of hope, we will be open for what can be.:

    She also wrote,”We don’t break free from denial and repression by gritting our teeth and trying to be nobler, braver citizens. We don’t retrieve our passion for life, our wild, innate creativity, by scolding ourselves and soldiering on with a stiff upper lip. That model of heroic behavior belongs to the worldview that gave us the Industrial Growth Society.”

    And lastly, I find her guidelines for working to stop the murder of the planet, or as she calls it, the great turning, to be just what I need. In many ways, she says what you are saying, but just differently enough that it makes a difference to me:

  430. Chris — Vive la difference! There are as many unique and beautiful paths as there are folks creating them. Someone said, “we create the path by walking on it.” Yours is such a path. And when we find others to weave our path with, it becomes even more rewarding. Joanna Macy is certainly a master weaver, sharing her path with so many others…..

  431. Steve — Your dedication and activism deserves the gratitude of all of us. I hope some reading these comments will go to the AWAREness Campaign for Human Population, and feast on all the wisdom that you have helped gather there. There can be no question that population is a fundamental key to saving our world and ourselves.

    I had lunch today with a remarkable lady who has been ordained a priest in a movement to break the male domination of that office within the Catholic Church. She assured me that attitudes in the Church would change on matters of birth control, abortion, etc. when women become members of the Catholic hierarchy. Many rigid orthodoxies need to be revised in order to meet the burgeoning problems of the modern world.

  432. Chris — I just went to the link you provided. Blew me away! She is such a beautiful Soul. I made a copy to read at my next spiritual growth network meeting. Thanks for gifting me with that inspiring message.

  433. Dear Mike K,

    In response to your comment (#436):

    Rest assured, you are not on my “shit-list,” nor do I have one. And I’ll take your word that your response was “not some sort of personal attack.” In the deepest sense, nothing said between anybody on this forum can be “personal,” for we do not know each other, and are separated by a great deal of circuitry and ether.

    That being said, I do wonder why you addressed me singularly, but then went on to describe your amazement over the audacity that some people have to criticize Jensen for “being angry.” Whether or not your comments were aimed at me, and I believe you when you say they weren’t, I will go ahead and say that I have no problem with Jensen’s anger. His anger is entirely justifiable in light of the waste humans are laying to creation, some much more or much less than others. I, too, am angry about it. Since I mentioned an admiration for Wendell Berry in the post to which you responded, I’ll say that I think even he is angry. I have no problem with anger as such.

    I also wonder how helpful it is to chalk up anyone’s disagreements—with Jensen’s writing, in this case, and whether or not you were doing so with my own disagreements—to mere “psychological projection.” This seems to imply that 1) Jensen’s work is beyond criticism, and 2) anyone with the gumption to criticize Jensen’s work must have psychological issues. This idea is similar to Premise Ten from Endgame: “The culture as a whole and most of its members are insane.” I’m not saying that cultural insanity is not a problem or that there are not some members of this cultural who are insane in regard to the treatment of the earth; my problem is with the wording, the rhetoric, the way Jensen presents his arguments. In the case of Premise Ten, the little word “most” is quite significant and, for me, throws the whole thing off.

    Which brings me to my last point.

    I have no interest here, as a participant in this discussion, in “the wider audience for Derrick’s writings.” In fact, though I have quoted Endgame above, my principle interest here is not with Derrick’s “writings” in the plural at all. All I had to say in the post to which you responded, and all I intend to say from here on out, has to do with “Calling All Fanatics.” So, mostly in response to your comment, there are some things I feel I ought to underscore.

    You mention the “pious judgmentalism” of your own personal detractors that you encountered in some or another small group forum, and imply that there is a tendency for the same among those who criticize Jensen’s work. Perhaps there is. But what also strikes me as piously judgmental are the statements I mentioned from “Calling All Fanatics.” Sure, I didn’t really care for this column for the simple and harmless reason that much of its slogans could have been lifted from a script of Captain Planet. What bothers me much more deeply about it are the statements therein that border on demagoguery and rival the preachments of Pat Robertson. Case in point: Jensen affirms more than once that “few” lives today are forgivable. There is something on the order of six or seven billion people on this planet; to say that few of them are leading forgivable lives is a rather strange approach to getting them to join your fanatical bandwagon.

    Let me reiterate that I have no “personal” issues with Jensen. I like him, as I’ve said, even enough to buy a couple of his books. I thought “Side with the Living” was a fine column, and I’ve found pieces here and there in his work that have really meant a good deal to me. But, as with all writers I admire, I have certain points of departure with Jensen; it just seems that I’d sooner depart from him than, say, writers like Wendell Berry, Brenda Peterson, Janisse Ray, Erik Reece, others (such as Edward Abbey).

    So I like Jensen fine and I’ll stay with him and I’m glad he’s making a difference in people’s lives and, hopefully, in the healing of the world. But “Calling All Fanatics”? I don’t think it is constructive in the least.

    With all my respect.

  434. First, I want to say that this whole thread has been outstanding. I am so glad I have met you all, and been continually stimulated by the thoughtful responses here! :-)

    As for Derrick’s anger… I think by now, it’s become, at least to some considerable extent, his schtick. It sells his stuff.

    I also want to respond to Chris’ reaction to the call for artists to put out certain art, the rest of it being “unforgivable.” It suddenly brought me back to the days of “socialist realism” art… that is how communists functioned… art had to be agitprop for the system of “dictatorship of the proletariat” and if it wasn’t, better watch out. I don’t think this path is healthy at all.

    Maybe Derrick is out of ideas? It is easy for people who desperately wish for certain changes to be infected with “pious judgmentalism” which could also be called the occupational disease of prophets. But pious judgmentalism only feeds the system by creating further discord, further divisions. Nah?

  435. I really have to wonder what’s up when people start comparing DJ to Stalin or Hitler. Did we all read the same essay? Maybe not. Makes me want to dig out some material on post-modern constructivism. I have learned one thing though, people really don’t like even a hint that they might be projecting some of their own stuff onto someone else. But, of course that is the whole underlying dynamic of projection: defensiveness. Having opened myself to an angry rebuttal, I might as well go on any way. Diplomacy takes second place to truth.

    To give an alternative take on the essay we are all discussing (mine), here is how I unpacked Derrick’s message. For it is a message that intends to awaken and motivate people to think and act differently. That is what rhetoric is. Rhetoric is not a bad thing in itself, it depends on other factors to evaluate it. Plato’s Socrates was often at loggerheads with the rhetoricians of his time, but he was certainly a master of it himself. MLK used his gift for rhetoric to inspire a generation to decisive action in defense of justice for all. So let’s not sell rhetoric short. Some rhetoric is full of truth and power.

    To me Derrick is like a coach of a high school football team giving his guys a strong pep talk before the championship game. He is urging them to give it their all, reminding them that this is the big one, half-hearted efforts are totally unacceptable, unforgivable. He may shout, his tone may become harsh, but in the end he only wants them to be the best they can be.

    Does his rant resonate with each and every player gathered in that locker room? No way. He is making some of them very uncomfortable, some are even growing to hate him as he accuses them of being slackers, playing on their shame, pushing them beyond where they want to go. But there are others too, who feel inspired and inwardly thank the coach for this fiery speech. Inside, they feel, “I needed that!”

    Then there are others, who neither hate nor idolize the coach, but think to themselves, “I guess some of these other guys get off on that kind of stuff, so be it, let’s all go out there and play a hell of a game.”

    I guess I am one of those last guys relative to DJ’s rhetoric. Let’s go out there and play our hearts out. It’s only the fate of the earth and all of us that’s at stake.

  436. Chris, I hope it is obvious that the type of “hero/ine I referred to was not one who “belongs to the worldview that gave us the Industrial Growth Society.” I do not regard such as truly heroic. My kind of folks would be characterized as anti-heroes by the types Macy refers to.

  437. Vera — It’s so disagreeable to disagree with you, because you are so agreeable to me. But my inner daimon that drives me to question everything in my quest for truth, makes me do things that my more “politic” Prufrock would never dare to do. That is not to say that my questions or opinions are always correct: far from it. Sometimes I learn more from someone’s rebuttal than I bargained for. Those are real bonus rounds for truth, since it gives me a look at my presumptuous ego. So here goes nothing….

    You wrote, “As for Derrick’s anger… I think by now it’s become, at least to some considerable extent, his schtick. It sells his stuff.”

    I assume that you know what an ad hominem attack is in rhetorical or debating discourse. Reducing Derrick’s prodigious heartfelt life’s work to “his schtick” implies that his whole effort is on a par with some second rate stand up comic. It’s a show biz term. It’s just a gimmick.

    “It sells his stuff.” Aside from reducing his high quality literary output to “stuff”, it implies that he does all this simply to make money.

    Now I know you now well enough to be certain that you would not openly say the things I have interpreted your words to imply. We often let things slip out that bypass our inner editor, without realizing how they might be received by others. The only reason I have brought this up, is that I have kind of had it with all the commenters who seem to see nothing in Derrick’s work but targets for their dismissive criticism. The main part of DJ’s work has been to point out the devastating abuses of our so called culture. It seems there are a lot of folks who would rather not have that put in their face. To those I would say, take an extra blue pill if it bothers you.

  438. Vera — It’s way too late for you to take blue pills; it might cause an explosion! :-)

  439. River Otter:

    I can barely get to the reading I am attempting at the moment but I’d appreciate very much the titles of a few of your top favs by the authors you mentioned –
    Wendell Berry, Brenda Peterson, Janisse Ray, Erik Reece, and others.

    I’d appreciate anybody’s inspiring favorites – and a little on what make them so.

    Regarding “Pious judgmentalism”

    It’s definitely a turn-off but it seems to be difficult to avoid in a culture that promotes a war model for communication. That’s no excuse for it. I try to have compassion for myself when I do it and extend that compassion to those who also give in to it – since I give in to it way more than I’d like, here especially.

    It’s a lot of work to change. However, I feel that if we don’t change it, war is what we’re going to keep getting, little ones and big ones. Meanness will beget meanness.

    I try to listen for the ‘truth’ behind what a person is saying, but I admit (as is obvious in my posts) ‘pious judgementalism’ (and other defensive and offensive ways of communicating – in the war model sense) makes it more difficult – and brings out my defensiveness and desire to be judgemental. Debates really tire me out. Sharing non-defensively doesn’t. Sharing of that kind energizes me. I can feel the difference immediately in others work and my own.

    MOST IMPORTANT: Most folks aren’t like me. They are not going to go through all this processing to try to hear the ‘truth’ in what Jensen is saying.

    For those interested in folks working to change this model of communicating, my fav is Sharon Ellison and her book, TAKING THE WAR OUT OF OUR WORDS.

    Mike K: Again, the irony in characterizing what folks are writing in response to you as an “angry rebuttal” is that it seems okay to you for Jensen to do this (that’s what much of his writing feels like, particularly CALLING ALL FANATICS – angry rebuttals) but not folks discussing here?

    Everyone writing here is also attempting to get us to awaken and to motivate us to think and act differently, using their best wisdom and communication styles. Like me, they are using Jensen’s effect on them as a springboard to to do that.

    It won’t harm Jensen to hear about the effect he has if he truly desires to be more effective, will it? And if Jensen won’t listen, I sure am. I care about this deeply.

    My point is that in all my work as a feminist, we are clear about one thing: criticism and self/criticism are paramount to feminist process, and the methods we use are very important to nurturing the ends. The best quide to this I have found is PEACE & POWER: A HANDBOOK OF FEMINIST PROCESS.

    Here is an outline of the chapter called, “Keeping It Together: Criticism and Self/Criticism.”

    “Criticism/Self-criticism is:

    -PEACE and power in action
    -evaluting the group’s effectiveneess
    -gaining self-knowledge and knowledge of the group
    -resolving conflicts
    -focusing on process rather than product
    -love and protection of individuals and the group

    Criticism/Self-criticism is done by:
    – getting your head and heart together
    – being specific about your feelings/observations
    – stating directly what you want
    – identifying your purposes

    Criticism/self-criticism is NOT:
    – putting yourself down
    – putting others down
    – patting yourself on the back
    – making nice
    – attacking another’s personality
    – defending yourself”

    What drew me to this guide was how it detailed what PEACE (Praxis, Empowerment, Awareness, Consensus and Evolvement) was and was not for them. It also detailed what Power was and was not for them.

    I wish it was online somewhere in it’s entirety. But this is what it says PEACE is NOT:

    “- letting things slide for the sake of friendship
    – doing whatever is required to keep on good terms
    – criticizing someone behind her back
    – being silent at a meeting only to gossip afterwards
    – letting things drift if they don’t affect you personally
    – playing safe in order to avoid blame
    – seeking vengeance
    – manipulating others to avoid open conflict
    – coercing someone to do what you want
    – hearing distortions of truth without refuting them
    – indulging another’s behavior when it is destructive”

    I want to add these words from it:


    Having the intent of PEACE is critical when you are entering a group interaction. However, having the intent is not enough. The behavior that follows is just as essential and is the critical test of intent. Examine how fully your intent flows with your actions by asking yourself the following questions:

    – Do I Know what I Do, and do I Do what I Know?
    – Am I expressing my own will in the context of love and protection for others?
    – Am I fully aware of myself and others?
    – Do I face conflicts openly and integrate differences in forming solutions?
    – Do I value the growth adn change for myself, others and the group?”

    I am a big adherent of being careful with negative criticism (even though I got a long way to go on it) and carry this around in my pocket, “Sidney Simon’s Filters” – to use before giving negative criticism:

    1. Is this person in any shape to receive criticism now?
    2. Are you willing to stick around long enough to help pick up the pieces? or are you dumping and running?
    3. How many times has this person heard this before?
    4. Can the person do anything about it? in their present circumstances?
    5. Are you positive that none of your own hang-ups, distress, deep-seated psychological needs, hurts or fears are causing you to make this criticism?
    6. Are you sure that what this person needs is another criticism? Would they be better off with validation or appreciation?

    Still, as in the handbook I mentioned earlier, criticism can be “precise thoughtful reflection/action directed toward transformation. It’s a tool for becoming aware of actions and behaviors that promote an unjust, and oppressive society…learning those actions and behaviors that promote feminist values – used with those who have some intent and commitment to such values.” They detail a process they use that entails four basics statements during a crit/self-crit:

    1. – I am….(state feeling)
    2. – When…(state observation)
    3. – I want…(state action)
    4. – Because…(state purpose)

    It’s worth listing what is seen by the authors as feminist ‘alternative’ powers versus patriarchal (They define them more in the guide but this message is already way too long, as usual.):

    – Power of Process versus power of results
    – Power of Letting Go versus power of prescription
    – Power of the Whole versus power of division
    – Power of Collectivity versus power of force
    – Power of Solidarity versus power of hierarchy
    – Power of Sharing versus power of command
    – Power of Integration versus power of opposites
    – Power of Nurturing versus power of use
    – Power of Intuition versus power of causality
    – Power of Consciousness versus power of expediency
    – Power of Diversity versus power of xenophobia
    – Power of Responsibility versus power of secrets

    I also look to Pema Chodron’s advice often in her article online, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”

    Describing Derrick as a football coach, shaming, pushing for the best his ‘team’ can be (obvious war ad cliche), etc. are all perfect metaphors for what is so problematic about his writing. Football is based on a war model, just as Derrick’s words are. We all need to examine this in ourselves and explore alternatives.

    I’ve become so sensitive these days to language, that I no longer like to use even the word “resistance.” It’s not Tai-chi enough for me, ha, ha. (“Martially, Tai chi chuan is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces; the study of yielding and “sticking” to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force” – and shifting the attacks energy.) I use “persistance” these days, while I search for something that resonates better.

    Regarding ‘demanding’ corporations to ‘pay’ being problematic language

    I don’t believe in making corporations pay. They need to be stopped long before they need to pay for a harm. I believe in ending all together such an incidious method of gathering power (incorporation) that elites have twisted over the years to use to plunder. Sure, it’s a pretty darn far-fetched vision to imagine dismantling corporate power, but most who work on these issues use it to inspire community building around what people feel most powerless around – corporations/the state. It is much more sustaining and empowering to imagine the foundation of our work being in solidarity with a beautiful vision of dismantling corporate/elite power and creating many new little experiments in eco-loving than to feel you are out there working on your little issue all alone with your few fellow fanatics. Corporate power is going to collapse at some point. In the mean time, let’s not have them splinter us into a million different directions so much as inform an interconnected vision of related work. Paul Cienfuegos makes an excellent point about this here:

    Thanks to all who keep this stimulating… Vera, Steve, Diane, Mike, River Otter, Ed, Jay and all….

  440. So sorry for all the typos in the previous post…It was off-the-cuff typing with no spell-checking.

  441. Mike, it never ceases to amaze me that Derrick’s fans rise to his defense as though – unlike all human beings – he did not have feet of clay.

    Schtick also means simply a routine… if I wrote for a living as long as DJ has, I’d have a routine too.

    1. A characteristic attribute, talent, or trait that is helpful in securing recognition or attention
    2. An entertainment routine or gimmick

    Is it an insult to say someone has a routine or a characteristic talent in his long term money making business? Doesn’t every one if successful?

    I am sorry, Mike, but nobody could possibly claim that Derrick does what he does “simply to make money.” Neither did I. To suggest so is perhaps a strawman? I think that my long presence in this (ongoing) forums attests to my being quite the fan of DJ. That does not mean I like it all. And no, I don’t like those coaching methods either.

    Chris, fantastic references! It will take me a while to look it all up. I too think that pious judmentalism is a form of verbal abuse.

  442. Chris — I wondered about the football metaphor when I wrote it. I am not a football fan, I never watch it. As you correctly said, it is a brutal example of our violent culture. As a New Yorker article revealed, severe brain damage begins to be discernible even in youngsters just beginning the “sport”. These stadiums are our modern equivalent to the Roman “Games.” If I had my way football would be illegal.

    As far as my own use of “violent” language, let’s not get carried away. I am capable of a lot worse than anything I have shared here. Have I “burned” the seeds of violence in me, so that they can never sprout again. No. I have largely suppressed the seeds, so that they are not currently on a growth spurt, but they are not dead. I will probably carry those seeds in their potentially viable form to my grave. Maybe next incarnation…..?

    The old Quaker John Woolman (one of my heroes) examined his pockets carefully before entering a peace meeting, “to check lest he carry the seeds of war on his own person.” Then he went into the meeting. It is not recorded what he found in his pockets, but if I had been him, I would have found plenty of war seeds in my pockets, then I would have gone on in anyway, figuring I needed the meeting more than anyone.
    As a result of witnessing my Korean friend Ohn quell an incipient street fight, by gently but firmly putting the large football player type aggressor in a pain hold that only hurt if he resisted it, I decide to study judo with him, and ordered tatami mats from Japan. My teacher had been on the elite judo team of Seoul Korea University, and I soon learned that judo was a lot rougher than I had imagined. When I later went to the University of Hawaii to study eastern philosophy, I began training in Aikido, which roughly translated means The Way of Harmonizing With the Loving Energy of the Universe. Much more gentle than judo, but still quite demanding.

    While pursuing my studies, I lived at the Quaker Meeting House, and also practiced Zen under the guidance of Roshi Robert Aitken. So even though I was always aware that the seeds were there, I did manage to prevent their sprouting and flourishing in their full glory, the stories of which I will mercifully spare you. The Path of Love and Peace has no end.
    My thanks to all who generously remind me that my seeds are still intact. And my apologies to any who may have been injured or offended by them….

  443. Sorry I nitpicked you, Vera. I lost it. My inner devil jumped out. I get tired of people bashing DJ. You were not the target. DJ sure can stir up some energy, pro and con! But I’m not blaming him. Mea culpa….

  444. No biggie, Mike! We all have an inner jackal that runs out foaming at the muzzle occasionally… :-) I hope that when mine runs out and nips, I can fess up to it as gracefully as you have…

  445. Thanks Vera. I needed that. I have an inner child that says, “if they don’t like me I’ll just leave, and never come back.” If it wasn’t for forgiveness, I would never have any friends.

  446. I am going to read the comments before here, but first I want to say, and actually hope that i’m duplicating someone else’s sentiments: I am looking forward to Jensen’s thoughts after “the oil spill“ because they are probably quite forthright and meaningful too!

    Also though, I see he suggests protest art! I just wonder where is the best place to put protest art that it will make a difference? Because he is definitely right, i have not heard of many coherent art protests against “the oil spill“ (It’s so hard to know what to call it, it is a truly different way of thinking about America, under attack, by a corporation? Someone somewhere that we think has been harming the planet was ruing this day… and `methinks it came pretty early!

  447. Let me be clear: I do not support Derrick Jensen’s call for sabotage to “bring down civilization”. I do endorse his indictment of civilization for it’s grievous shortcomings and atrocities. I don’t think enough of us fully grasp the depth of the crimes civilization has perpetrated against people and nature. DJ in my book is a master of the prosecution. When it comes to doling out punishment, I think his own wounds contribute to his really wacko and ineffective ideas of a solution.

    As hard as it may be for black and white thinkers to grasp, along with all it’s disastrous faults, civilization has brought some wonderful gifts and advances to the human project. I am for reforming civilization, and recalling it to it’s true excellence’s, rather than just destroying it in the naive hope that something better would magically replace it.

    I know it is difficult to tease apart the two strands of Derrick’s thinking, as I have tried to do here, but it has been important for me personally to do so in order to properly evaluate his contribution to the struggle for a better world for all.

    Many of us seem to want our heroes and guides to be either snow white or jet black, goodness incarnate or the essence of evil, but reality always presents us with real human beings in all their confusing ambiguity and complexity. Gradually on my own path I came to realize that there are no perfect teachers. Hold fast to what is good, and reject the rest. But don’t demand that anyone be perfect. To do so is an injustice to them, and ultimately to yourself.

    A good student can learn, even from a bad teacher. But a bad student cannot learn, even from a good teacher.

  448. Where to display art depends on how much approval you want and from whom. I like wearable art myself.

    With the images I saw of the floods in Pakistan, the big glacier break-off in Greenland, the fires in Russia and now learning that my own home town has had the coldest, foggiest summer ever recorded (we’ve been projected to become a fog desert), it appears that there is no need for violence. The powers that continue on their merry way are perfectly capable of engineering our population reduction. In fact they already have engineered it. The solution is coming whether we like the outcome or not.

    The great purge is in process. Nature will prevail and there will be beauty once again, but it’s going to be a long and difficult road.

  449. Dear Diane,

    The “great purge” you are describing does not have to be the way things play out. What is occurring amounts to a colossal tragedy.

    Our imperious unwillingness to share an understanding of the root causes of what ails the human community and threatens the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the children is making it impossible to do things better than we are doing them now. Science is being denied while ideological idiocy is positively regarded.

    We are witnessing the abject failure of nerve and moral courage on the one hand and the triumph of whatsoever is politically convenient and economically expedient to rule thought and behavior on the other.

    The “engineering” of which you speak is borne of foolhardiness, arrogance and greed by those in postions of power who could make a better world by doing things differently.

    The perncious silence of the brightest and best in a single, soft, selfish, sanctimonious generation of elders is resulting in our children being directed down “a long and difficult road”, as you have put it, to probably face some unimaginable sort of human-forced ecological wreckage unless, of course, the rampaging growth of the global economy hits the ‘WALL OF UNSUSTAINBILITY’ before unbridled economic globalization can dissipate Earth’s limited resources, irreversibly degrade its environment and ultimately collapse Earth’s ecosystems.



  450. Regarding civilization, I think DJ is right on both counts. “This civilization” has got to go. In what way do you think, Mike, that this civilization is reformable? Frankly, I don’t even see how Washington is reformable, much less civilization… :-(

    I agree that civ has given us gifts I hate to lose, but if it’s also gifted us with eventual self-destruction, as it sure seems to have done, then, well…

    To return to Quinn’s imagery, we are flying in a flying machine that is really in free fall. Can such a machine be repaired in mid-flight? Call me skeptical.

  451. “Science is being denied while ideological idiocy is positively regarded.”

    Steve, I think you may be thinking a bit naively on this point. Scientific method is at the foundation of the problem, laying the basis not only for control over nature, but for the economic and political control over mankind.

    Just my humble opinion.

  452. I have had another glimpse into Derrick, myself, and others who have looked unblinkingly into the abyss. Because of the unrelenting honesty of his search growing from his pain and compassion at the unremitting destruction of all that he had come to love in nature — which had become his refuge and cherished friend, as an escape from the horrible abuse he was exposed to at home — because of this deep search to find the cause and cure of these awful realities, he reached a point of despair.

    In one of his books he recounts a conversation he had with a trusted and esteemed Native American woman. He said to her, “we aren’t going to make it, are we?” And she said, “No we aren’t.” Now what do you do when you reach the conclusion that the destructive momentum of civilization will not stop until it has crushed every hope and every higher value, and indeed every living thing within it’s power to destroy? You can go mad. You can respond like a man desperately throwing a rock at a tank. Or you can just become resigned, and give up. Derrick became the man with a rock in his hand. He desperately thinks that if he can just enlist enough folks to throw rocks, maybe it will stop the tank, or at least slow it down. A gesture of tragic futility, in my opinion. My heart goes out to those driven to pursue this useless option. I know how they feel. I have been there myself.

    For some years, I pursued another option. I turned my back on the environment and the world’s problems, and devoted myself to spiritual practice. Although I am still following that path, I have recently discovered that I cannot shut out the cries of suffering that pervade my world. However impossible my mind tells me it is to stop this oncoming tank, we have to find a way. No one can say it is impossible until we have tried every conceivable avenue to do so.

  453. Umm… I think a tank is not the right imagery. Let’s just say we have a machine. This machine has become mindbogglingly destructive. Like that tank, it’s not, actually, so hard to stop it. (Pour some sugar in the tank’s fuel!) BUT! The machine ALSO gives us goodies! What to do? We both want to stop it and don’t want to stop it. And therein lies our predicament.

    I am reminded of a story where a beautiful, fertile valley was destroyed in England to provide water for a large city. Many intellectuals and nature lovers joined with the farmers to protest that dam, many years ago. Of course the protesters were in the same bind: they knew their city could not keep on without such destruction. And so their protest was so much sentimental hypocrisy, and went nowhere.

  454. Dear Sandy,

    You point is well-taken.

    The way I see things, science is. Whatsoever is is, is it not? The scientific method provides our best means of testing reality, gaining knowledge of the way the world in which we live so well actually works, and making it possible for us to more adequately and accurately see humankind’s “placement” within the natural order of living things. In this sense, science dicloses the world to humankind as well as the human family to itself. All this is good.

    When science is coopted by the most foolish, arrogant and avaricious, it is usually for the purpose of turning a profit. If a profit cannot be made, science is usually ignored or else willfully denied, especially on occasions where the science discloses the necessity for unwelcome human behavior change.

    When ideologically-driven idiots, who control the global political economy for their own benefit primarly and rule the human world in the process, put science to use what occurs is typically not good.

    Thanks for speaking out.



  455. Mike K,

    Not to disrupt the flow of the current conversation, but to return to some previous points…

    It took me a minute to figure out who was “comparing DJ to Stalin or Hitler,” and then I realized, after skimming through several posts, that you’re insinuating I was. I look forward to your forthcoming primer on “post-modern constructivism,” then, since I apparently am a subconscious subscriber to this branch of philosophy and have imposed such a liberal, relative reading onto the text of “Calling All Fanatics” (the Jensen/Stalin/Hitler comparison being the case in point) as to blind myself to whatever truth may be in it.

    But actually, I did not compare Jensen to Stalin or Hitler; you seem to have gotten that from me saying that parts of his column “border demagoguery and rival the preachments of Pat Robertson.” This is not something I intend to get embroiled in, but there is some irony in the fact that you linked my comments to post-modern constructivist theory and then went on to impose your own liberal reading onto my comments.

    The key word in my statement is “border”: In my opinion, parts of Jensen’s essay border demagoguery—meaning they come up close to it, perhaps even touch it, but are not it. Saying, for instance, that Canada borders the United States is not near the same thing as saying that Canada is the United States.

    Then there’s the word “demagoguery” itself. While Stalin and Hitler are certainly examples of demagogues, and the worst kind at that, they do not define the word. “Demagogue,” is, of course, not exactly a compliment, but one not need automatically take the word to its most extreme manifestations. I imagine it’s easy to follow Jensen or any similar voice, in some cases thoughtlessly, when you’re pissed off at the destruction of the earth and the people who abet such destruction. I imagine it’s easy to fall into an “Us vs. Them” (or “I vs. It,” or “Righteous” vs. “Unforgivable”) mentality in light of such things. I imagine, as a fairly popular writer who’s working for civilization’s fall, that it’s easy to try and appeal to such mindsets. That’s all I meant by demagoguery. You brought up Stalin and Hitler, and, since you then went on to once again bring up my “defensiveness,” that brings the irony count to two.

    Is it possible that we simply disagree? No psychological projections, no defensiveness, just plain disagreement? I don’t think that trying to analyze why I or anyone else who disagrees with you or Derrick Jensen is really going to help anything. If you’d simply comment on the points of disagreement (as you did with the football coach metaphor) rather than focus on psychoanalysis, I think this conversation could get somewhere.

    Respectfully, as always.

  456. Chris M. (I am also a Chris M.),

    I believe it was you who made the carbohydrate comparison, and as mentioned I was able to connect to that and got me to thinking more on the subject. I also appreciate your recent comment on how you’re willing to wrestle with Jensen’s writing despite basic disagreements—I feel the same way. Most people I know who are not environmentalists (I’m really not one, myself) wouldn’t give his work the time of day.

    As to recommendations:

    Wendell Berry: Too many really to name. “Compromise, Hell!” (it’s on Orion’s website) would be a good one to compare to “Calling All Fanatics.” Two hardnosed, angry essays, for sure, but, to me, one is far less alienating. “A Few Words in Defense of Edward Abbey” (its online also–just Google search it, for some reason this is not letting me post links) is also directly related to “Calling All Fanatics,” obviously for the Abbey criticisms in the latter. My favorite Berry essay is “Christianity and the Survival of Creation” (also online–Crosscurrents). If you like novels, go with Jayber Crow. For poetry, The Collected Poems: 1957-1982 is very good.

    Brenda Peterson: I found her through Orion. She relates to “Calling All Fanatics,” I suppose, because she does not hesitate to make the connection between end-of-times fundamentalism and end-of-times environmentalism. “Saving Seals” (on Orion’s website) is a good one. She’s got a new book out called “I Want to Be Left Behind” that looks good and that I plan on getting.

    Janisse Ray: Ecology of a Cracker Childhood is her classic. I think Wild Card Quilt is just as good. She’s also got a handful of essays in Orion, and has some good essays and poems in two anthologies of Southern nature writing: The Woods Stretched on for Miles and Elemental South.

    Erik Reece: Lost Mountain is the book that most know him for, for good reason. An American Gospel didn’t get great reviews but I loved it. He’s got some good essays in Orion, mostly about mountaintop removal or the state of Appalachia in one way or another. My favorite of his essays, though, is called “Notes from a Very Small Island” (also on Orion’s website).

  457. I am not feeling insightful, enlightened, full of answers or questions…I am not even feeling like processing much, doing much of anything. I’m a fake. This tragedy we all are so passionate about, the murder of the planet, is so huge it seems to have taken root in my heart in a way that is diseased. I write as if I am well. Ha! I need to be honest about it. I am barely hanging on. I don’t think I will recover the will to respond anymore. I have been trying so hard to find heart paddles, those electrode “paddles” of a heart defibrillator, to give myself a high voltage shock or something, bring myself back to life. Yes, I did Councils of All Beings, worked with Joanna Macy, worked with John Seed, the Institute for Deep Ecology, Matthew Fox, the Institute for Social Ecology, and on and on – on this. I’m an overeducated, overexperienced dense failed fool.

    I’m that firefighter Jensen talks about, just having come from the building for what feels like the last time…and pulled out one injured but alive bird left amongst the millions of dead… carnage unimaginable to my sensitive being. Sitting. Stunned. Unable to go back in, not seeing the point, wanting to go down in the flames with it all at times.

    There’s a small bit of land left unburned. I know that. There’s something to firefight for. Not much, but I can see (not well), through a firefighter’s burnout, that it probably will burn. Shock, grief, and other words don’t do my state justice.

    No, I don’t want to go back in. That’s the truth. I want to sit with this injured bird, both of us seemingly paralyzed. And continue weeping. A slow weep that began as a gusher when I started firefighting years ago. My kind of firefighter doesn’t use hoses and water; they use their tears, shed or not. In the early days, I cried buckets to throw on the fires. And I did. I have an activist rap sheet that’s quite long. I have known for a long time what Jensen writes in this article:

    “We are in a crisis, and we need to act as such. We need to rescue people from the burning building. We need everybody’s help.”

    But as he pointed out in this same article, there weren’t (and aren’t) enough of us realizing this, or realizing it and doing something. It became a double tragedy feature – murder of the planet, compounded by barely anyone doing anything. But, me being me, I stubbornly refused to understand why everyone didn’t just drop everything and focus on all this tragedy. I pondered it endlessly, looking for ways to inspire others and keep myself sustained.

    The year I fell apart I was working with rape survivors. Every time I was there for a woman who was raped, that same message ran through my head: why isn’t everyone stopping what they are doing to tend to this? And I crumbled at the larger portent for the planet, if we didn’t even care about ourselves. A confusing futility hit me that’s been hard to shake. I am not a fatalist, as Jensen might accuse me of from this statement in the article:

    “…So long as there’s still something we can do to protect them, shouldn’t protecting them be far more important than enjoying them?”

    I do believe there is more that can be done. Lots more. And here’s where I might be chopped to pieces by Jensen or others…there’s more that can be done, just not by me, right now or into the near future.

    Because my heart feels finally broken. Yeah, it’s corny. But it’s very real. It’s not an excuse. I could write a litany of the big and little heartbreaks that led to it. I know that many here could also. But maybe I am weaker in constitution. That is my truth. I am trying to live with it. I don’t like it. I want to be super-woman, not the pathetic heartbroken mess I am.

    Derrick writes in this article:

    “…without a living planet there can be no books…”

    Books…they are one of the things that I indeed cherish that I suppose you could say ‘civilization’ created. As a poor white kid growing up in the city, they were the only thing that helped me escape my asphalted mind. When I was old enough, I finally roamed the land left and was catapulted back into believing in fairytales…except they were real, the magic of the most marvelous kind was alive…but I was soon to discover, the magic was not well due to humans. To find it and lose it all at once has proved fatal – to me.

    I haven’t given up. I wouldn’t be on here. I desperately read for something that might act as that defibrilator. Every now and then something brings me back to life for a few days or a month or so. My year of birding last year had more to do with that, than anything else. I was already in touch with the wonder. That’s not really why I did it. I was looking for a miracle cure for catatonia.

    Jensen asks:

    “what does the world need? What does the world need from me?”

    I fear that if a broken-heart is useless, as I have often felt it is, then I have nothing to give. I could parcel out my limitless broken heart and mail pieces of it to everyone I know and don’t know. Maybe I will.

    This is not about self-pity. It is about being honest. I do not pit myself. I know my broken heart is the result of a huge love that I am very gifted to experience. I would never trade it for ‘well-being.’ I’ll take my messy puddle of a life.

    But I yearn to still be an inspiring puddle somehow. Maybe I’ll write an adult/children’s fairytale/comic about Chris’s magic puddle – whenever anyone steps in it, they develop the sudden ability to see the wonder of the planet and the murder of the planet all around them at the same time… and are charged by an accompanying unstoppable desire to stop the murder. The challenge of the tale is to figure out how to stay afloat this double-edged sword puddle of wonder/pain that threatens to drown them. With some kind of patient-compassion raft device, they might go about it. Or is it going to be some football coach chewing them out for sucking their thumbs on the bench.

    I already feel ashamed enough. Maybe someone else will have to write the non-ending.

    River Otter: Thank you so much for your words and for your recommendations…

  458. Dear Sandy,

    As simply as I can put it, I suppose that I am trying to say that science and the scientific method are good; but the uses to which the knowledge and methods are put can be bad….or mad.



  459. I think that it already is too late to stop the destruction. It is under way.

    There are too many people and I don’t think we can all be sustained without industrial agriculture. Yet industrial agriculture is part of the problem. And I don’t think it is realistic to seek salvation through less births because it will take too long to get our population to a reasonable size.

    A vast environmental destruction is unfolding and it will continue to unfold and no amount of prayer or meditation or science will stop it unless they can figure out how to get around those pesky laws of physics. While it unfolds, millions of us are going to die. Sorry to be so blunt.

    The best we can do is to start sewing the seeds of what comes after. Revive the lost skills of pre- and post-industrialization and hope that you get to be the one to use these skills in the future.

    Perhaps there needs to be more art that leads us into this future and shows it as a hopeful, good place. Make it inviting so that we may choose to move toward it.

    We can continue to talk and try to find a solution to this mess, but meanwhile the glaciers have already melted, the climate has already changed, the ocean has already filled with plastic and changed its ph and millions of species have already gone extinct.

    We simply cannot continue to live our comfortable lives of consumption, of driving our cars to work, eating food from the grocery store, investing in our 401ks, keeping our homes heated with oil and gas and cooled with air-conditioning, sleeping in our comfy beds swathed in chemicals and sending our ewaste to China so we can keep up with technology. We simply cannot continue to do that. But we won’t stop, will we? We keep hoping for a way out. We want to have our cake and eat it too and we hope that if we just pray or raise awareness or talk or trust science we’ll discover the way to have all this without harming the planet.

    Even Derrick thinks there’s a way out. I do not believe there is a way out anymore except through it. I would love to see what’s on the other side of this mess, but I probably won’t get to. I am hopeful that it will be nicer than now. But I’m bracing myself for it to be much worse for a while first.

    But you all are obviously much smarter than I am and much better writers. If you can figure out how to change everything without changing anything, more power to you.

  460. Steve Salmony: I think science, as expressed by a cosmologist like Brian Swimme, has potential for righting itself, so to speak – or let’s say, greening itself. I see the problem of science much the way M.C. Richards does.

    M.C. Richards wrote in her book, Centering: Pottery, Poetry and the Person, “The ordinary so-called science and so-called religion of our day, in the civilization of the West, tend to conduct a cold war of their own. They attempt to co-exist and to divide the world between them. There is palpable disunion. This split obstructs the poetic consciousness; it is a characteristic malady of our society…The inner soul withdraws, goes underground, splits off from the part that keeps walking around. Vitality ebbs. Psychic disturbance is acute. Suicide may be attempted.”

    There are so many marvelous interviews with Brian Swimme that I feel address this “psychic disturbance.” There are videos by him on Youtube for free. His POWERS OF THE UNIVERSE is a sheer dream of optimism as he lays out our crisis and the opportunities inherent in it. Here’s a link to an interview with him called “Comprehensive Compassion”:

  461. Diane: Couldn’t agree more with you… or have written it better.

    I have often felt that extolling the virtues of stopping the murder of the planet is like extolling the virtues of someone fighting their cancer – and blaming them if they fail to do so. Not everyone wants to “fight it” or even thinks that’s the response that’s the most needed or healing. “Fighting” something has become equated with positive thinking in this culture. Even to consider negative outcomes is anathema. And this leads to a further entrenchment of personal self-blame and national denial. (Ever read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America? I’m also getting into THE ART OF QUITTING: WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – very freeing from all the entrapments of polarized thinking.)

    A person has some big choices to face when faced with the death of themselves/death of the planet as we know it that’s becoming more immediate and apparent – and a big process to go through, big feelings. But no! Be positive! Fight it! (I’m sick of cheerleaders, radical or otherwise.)

    So maybe saying stop the murder of the truth is more accurate for me. It may set us free, it may not.

    Healing of the body/earth is for the unknown. We all have to make choices. To continue the cancer metaphor, I feel that a person might not want to use whatever time they have left on chemo and other crisis intervention methods. They might want to chose to instead use the time they have left on being with loved ones, repairing relationships, healing soul, righting life, so to speak… that’s their choice. You could compare that to suggestions you’ve made to spend time sewing seeds for what comes, reviving lost skills, creating art that is visionary. Both seem to be about a return to love and to the wild. Who knows, maybe that will heal the body/earth in ways we can’t know? Sometimes it happens that when a person focuses on healing their heart, their body is healed, too. Not often. But it doesn’t matter, does it? If I can heal my relationship with myself, my world, the earth and pass that on some…how beautiful is that, irregardless of the body living on? What if it’s the only thing that will change anything for anything? A second of that kind of joy reached through the grief is murder-stopping for me – maybe the whole planet?

    If someone were to try to kill me, or my lover, in front of me, what would I do? (Derrick is famous for asking these kind of questions.) Stand there? No. But extending that question to the earth as my lover means defending the earth from 7 billion people killing the entire crust of the planet as we know it (and themselves), myself being one of them. A little more of a complex metaphor seems in order, doesn’t it? And I don’t think anyone has one. Maybe metaphors get stopped cold by things this big.

    As Joanna Macy wrote, “Nourish respect and compassion. Hold yourself and those whom you meet in utmost respect and compassion for simply being alive and conscious at this crucial turning of our collective journey. Don’t scold. Don’t moralize, don’t expect people to easily embrace the magnitude of what needs to be done. We have no experience for this, we don’t have language for it, we don’t have rituals for it. Pause reflectively, bow in reverence to the recognition that what is happening for us is really very new. And when your brothers and sisters want to stick their heads in the sand, just remember how much you’d like to do that, too. Nourish compassion, knowing that they’re not going to do that forever. And respect yourself for suffering with our world. It’s a measure of your aliveness and your humanity. Listen when you feel that pain, listen for the accompanying message which is, ‘This is my body.’ Sarajevo, Africa, the trees in the Amazon, it hurts because it is your body, our body.”

  462. You do what you can, when you can, where you can. I, like Diane and Chris, believe that the end is going to be messy. People are too caught up in reality TV shows, pleasing the boss and paying the bills to really pay attention to what goes on around them. By the time they realize what is at stake it will be too late.

    There are a few things we could do right now that would help us in the future. Growing a garden and keeping chickens for eggs crossed my mind. In the old days people that lived in cities still kept chickens; now it is illegal in most places. I spend 2 days a week in Miami where there are still free roaming chickens. I like it and wish we had them here.

    We spend millions of dollars landscaping public property, why? Why not grow edible landscapes and plant fruit trees? The same workers that plant seasonal flowers could plant vegetables and fruit trees and harvest them and they could be sold at Farmer’s Markets. What humans do these days does not make sense. The crazy thing is, when I mention things like this to people they think I’m the one that’s crazy.

  463. The strangest thing is that all of the problems of today have come from whatever shook humankind from its true ecological niche millenia ago — when, like it is today for chimpanzees and gorillas, food was generally available except in case of plant diseases, the housing was free and already built.

    People are maybe scared to say now, with all of the “innova“tion (a very nice sounding word that should be feared), that yes, this is still a single species or species-group continuing on through time and space on Earth; a species that was never given a specific, special message from the heavens to start destroying, at some point the destroying just began…

    We seem to pretend that destruction cannot be identified as such, but it is so different from the actions of all other species that even in today’s complex world it is still ready to be identified and , if only, reprimanded strongly by someone with a voice.

  464. “every hope and every higher value”

    Mike – these are some of the traps of civilization… they are illusions spun by scientific (historical) and religious consciousness… the two principal means that civilization uses for keeping us slaves to the treadmill of unilinear time they have created.

    Steve S – we will just disagree. Science assumes an objectivist reality, where the ‘subject’ of study is independent of the observer. Even in light of some of the findings of contemporary philosophers of science, the basic stance is to objectify what is out there in order to understand it and control it.

    Although, Paul Feyerabend had some interesting thoughts on Anarchic approaches to knowledge

    Diane and Thru_messages are both correct

  465. Not much to add to Sandy and Diane’s last comments. Maybe a little story. A while ago, about 3:O0 a.m., I opened the door to the front porch and witnessed our old orange cat sharing her food bowl with a possum I just stood there and watch the two of them having a feast together. It was a great moment and the stars shined and the plants swayed in the breeze. It brought water to my eyes and still does.

  466. Jay — Thanks for the possum/cat vignette. Beautiful. Your place must be on it’s way to the peaceable kingdom. Our three orange cats are not into sharing, but the possums get their left-overs.

  467. And I have known the eyes already, known them all —

    The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

    And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

    Pinned and wriggling on the wall,

    Then how should I begin

    To spit out the butt-ends of all my days and ways?

    And how should I presume?

    T.S. Eliot

  468. It is as if when we are thrown into life (Heidegger), we are presented with a birthday gift: a riddle. This puzzle is vast and profound. The Thrower says, “I hope you enjoy my gift; your very life and Soul depend on solving it. But don’t worry, you have as long as it takes to solve it. But you must solve it.”

  469. Beyond good and evil, there is a field.

    I’ll meet you there.


  470. Vera — I never met a phor I didn’t like.

  471. Caught up again

    In the game

    Without a name

    Who’s to blame?

  472. Sadness, anger, pain, despair __ all these need to go into our alchemical alembic (ourselves) in order to give the transmuted essence the special potency it needs. What is compassion without the cup of suffering? Of course we will not neglect to toss in the finest of love, beauty, goodness, sacrifice and many another blessed offering…. Who turns aside from this sacred communion of earthly life, must surely needs drink from this cup in some time to come, in order to fulfill their destiny. On with it! Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble….

  473. Sandy — Read your piece. Didn’t know you were a philosopher. But I could sense that you were a wisdom lover, on the quest.

    I admire Derrick’s courage too. Talk about a guy with a target on his back! A lot of folks are taken aback by his brutal honesty, but I applaud it. Oh well, different strokes for different folks, I guess. I always was a little weird….

  474. Steve — I agree with you. Science is good, and bad. Depends on how you use it. For me, the same is true of civilization and it’s many blessings/curses. Maybe a poem I wrote years ago will throw some light on my inner struggle with our paradoxical amazing world…

    The Only Question

    The only question that matters now
    Is this: when I die will there be
    A blessing or a curse
    Upon my lips?

    In my life, in this world
    There has been the magic presence
    Of flowers — their perfumes, their poetry,
    Their graceful, smiling beauty.

    I have seen the sunlight
    Dancing in the water, wind
    Caressing the tall grasses…
    And it was perfect, enchanting —
    Enough fulfillment forever.

    Then there were the people
    with their rich and subtle depths:
    Smiling, passionate, caring, crying
    Celebrating, sharing, and just being
    Their unique and mysterious selves.
    What a joy, what a gift!

    I might go on and on in this vein…
    But a cloud comes now
    Covering the bright sun,
    Putting everything suddenly in doubt,
    Unrolling from each thing
    A dark and sinister shadow.

    The uncaring violence of the storm
    Rends and crushes the delicate
    And vulnerable flowers.

    The pitiless tide of selfish greed
    And cynical thirst for power

    Rolls across the human world
    Like a black wave, engulfing and
    Destroying the fond hopes of the innocent
    And smashing the ugly dreams of the guilty as well.

    A toxic smoke of fear and hatred
    Poisons every moment and
    Spoils any possible refuge.
    The escalating alienation and madness
    Of mankind signals a terrible doom
    Descending with relentless force
    On our delicately balanced little planet…

    The only thing that really matters now
    Is this: what will be on my lips when I die —
    A blessing, or a curse?

  475. Before we can meaningfully address the gigantic human-induced challenge posed by the unbridled growth of absolute global human population numbers, we need to widely share an understanding of human population dynamics. Without this knowled…ge, which is already living in the world but universally denied by the brightest and best among us, we will simply do what we are doing now: playing around the edges of what ails humanity in our time and threatens the Earth as fit place for habitation by the children. We are filddlin’ like Nero chose to do while Rome burned many years ago. Today the Earth itself is beginning to combust.

  476. For all those interested in thoughtfully evaluating Derrick Jensen’s contributions, and seeking to go beyond the simplistic attack/ defense dualism with regard to the profound and critical issue of the conditions under which violence may or may not be justifiably called for in the face of massive oppression, I recommend viewing the documentary “The Weathermen” on Link TV. This is available online. The documentary avoids taking a position on this difficult issue, but presents opinions on all sides, many expressed by those who took part in that movement, not all of whom now support what they did then.

    For me, I get a basic feel for where a person is at from their answer to the question “Do you know that the United States of America is the worst terrorist nation on Earth today?”

  477. Chris m — Seems like you have read just about everything I have. Reminds me of the Kilroy graffiti of a former time. When I open a new wisdom book I have discovered, there it will be: “Chris m was here!”

    I assume you have perused Ken Wilber. Our Wilber group has after several years of bi-weekly meetings, moved on to study Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, his attempt to move spiritual practice into the modern era. Read that one? It’s HEAVY!

  478. Come on folks. Say something. Anything! We may be going for a record here: 500 comments! If not a record, at least a milestone…

  479. Heh. Anything?

    Here goes. Steve, you are preaching to the choir here. We already know the population dynamics stuff. We got weaned on the Story of B. What now?

    Wilber? Er… I looked at it, and my “overintellectualized overhyped overcategorized overstylized” feelers began to twitch. Wrong?

    Mike, I am not interested in the moral justification of violence. Anything can be justified if a person is clever enough. I see violence as sometimes necessary. But I claim no justification for it.

    The earth is a violent place. We cannot avoid it. We can, however, avoid being dicks. So that is my focus… 😉

  480. Vera — There’s no required reading in any of my courses. (That’s me pretending to be a “teacher”, I’m not one.) I’m more of a JC guy, “follow your bliss”, “where your heart is, there is your treasure.” Maybe too much so, I skipped a lot of unappetizing courses in school, and in life, that I might have learned a lot from.

    As to justice, that was a concern of Plato in the Republic. This dude Thrasymachus maintained “justice is the interest of the stronger.” We sure see a lot of that these days. But Socrates says that there is a Higher Justice (dare we say divine?) that transcends the flimsy creations of men. A true justice. What say you?

    Also, it is worth considering that the hard to define category “violence” includes infinite shades and gradations. I think JC the First had some things to say about those subtle forms of nonlove.
    Occam’s razor is sometimes a useful tool, but it can also obscure ambiguities and fine shades of meaning and overlap.

  481. I was actually wondering if you felt that I am mischaracterizing Wilber and that you have found him otherwise.

    How did justice enter into it? (Meaning, I am not sure what your words about justice are apropos to, and so I am lacking context for making a responsive comment.)

  482. Vera — Wilber has truly deep insights as to how our minds and thus behaviors got so screwed up, and how we might use the useful insights from a diverse set of disciplines to chart a better course. Needless to say, he steps on a lot of toes to do this, and a bunch of sacred cows get shooed out of the feed lot. There’s a whole cottage industry of foaming critics gunning for him. I stay in touch with them too; even they root up a tasty truffle now and then.

    If you wan to start easy, A Theory of Everything is a good place to start. But if you want to dive in to the big enchilada, Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality is the one to bite into. It’s a bit chewy, but quite tasty, and very nourishing — to the Spirit and the Quest. (Don’t let the caps turn you off, sometimes I have to honor the dignity of the Path to ? You name it……..

    I am running out of gas, and have to be off to a distant meeting/small group. So, look at your previous post re: justifying violence. Just briefly, I think deep down we all feel a need to do that — it’s a Soul thing. The GI’s coming back from our current atrocities experience PTSD largely from the inability to justify the horrible things they have done.

  483. Mike, thanks for the Wilber pointer. I’ll give him another chance, then. I don’t mind the sacred cows shooing, but I do mind having to slog through dry user-hostile academic-style poopadoodle (as Stewart Brand once called it, though not in reference to him). :-)

    Moral justification? Ah… My take is that we need to do this because this is what this culture has told us we must do to deal with our shadow side. I don’t agree. And I think it does our souls ill.

    Should people who have committed atrocities be able to justify them? Was it a good thing that Eichmann was so good at justifying what he helped do? I beg permission to yelp NOOOOO!

    There is another way to help people deal with the PTSD. It was applied by the Normans after the slaughter of the English in 1066. It’s called…. drumroll…. repentance. Or if you prefer a more modern term, genuine remorse. That’s where soul healing can begin.

  484. What if I said to my partner that protecting him was more important to me than enjoying him? This throws a different light on the main thrust of Jensen’s article for me – and gives me a wild idea – and old, probably. It came after reading this interview with Brian Swimme on “Love in the Cosmos.”

    He describes our crisis in this way:

    “… my own sense is that with this whole movement of globalization that we hear about and so forth, we’re seeing the moment when life is folding back on itself in human consciousness. It’s folding back on itself and awakening to its meaning, its magnificence, and its attempting to bring forth, as I say, a species that embodies love.”

    He goes on to explain:

    “After 13.7 billion years of the universe, after 3.9 billion years of life, we find ourselves in a moment when this crucial activity of deepening our love for one another, our compassion for one another, not just for humans, but our compassion for and our care for and our love for all of the different species in all of the different components of our planet.”

    Just how do we experience this love? He gives this as his favorite suggestion during the interview:

    “It’s a way of experiencing–and we’re talking about love and allurement–experiencing that in the body directly. It starts off with a thought experiment and that is, just imagine the planet and it’s round. We tend to think of ourselves on top of the planet. But, obviously it doesn’t matter where you are on the planet.

    So what I’d like you to do is go out some night but get a blanket and lie down under the stars. So you’re lying there on your back and you’re looking up. It’s great to have a child with you because they’re freer than we are in our adult consciousness. So there you are, you’re looking up and if it’s a clear night, you’d see these thousands of stars. The cultural conditioning is that we’re looking up.

    But what I want you to do with your imagination is just put yourself on the bottom of the planet. So imagine that you’re looking down because wherever you are can be the bottom of the planet and in this cultural convention is what’s up and what’s down. Then as you’re looking down; looking down, down, down, I want you to realize that all of those stars you see are drawing you toward them. Then if the earth could be made to disappear, you would just be drawn right down toward them.

    You’d fall, you would fall down into the stars and the only reason you weren’t there is because the earth is drawing you to itself. Now, what’s important to realize is that we kind of think that we’re lying there on the ground, we’re thinking that it’s a weight but actually you have to realize that weight is a relationship. It’s a relationship between you and the earth. If you can make the earth disappear, you have no weight whatsoever. So you can even feel your weight as the way your body is experiencing the earth’s attraction of you.

    So simultaneously, this moment comes when you make that switch and you realize, “Wow! I’m looking down at the stars and the only reason I’m here, suspended in space is because the earth is attracted to me.” The moment can come and may not come the first time, but when it comes, it’s really an ecstatic experience.

    Chip August: That we’re being embraced by the planet.

    Brian Swimme: By love, by love of the planet and we’re being drawn by the love of the stars. Then we all find ourselves inside of this power of love.

    Chip August: Right, and then we live in that dynamic of being drawn to the beauty of the stars and being embraced by love of the planet.

    Brian Swimme: That’s our home.”

    And I thought about Jensen’s pleas to protect the earth and the debates about needing to fall in love with it to desire to do that and so on. Then I had this possibly exciting thought. I once read in a We’Moon calendar this beautiful little column on a woman marrying herself. It was a gorgeous idea – and it felt empowering just to read the idea of being so true to myself, writing vows to myself. She invited a group of friends and made a ritual of it. What if we had rituals where we married the earth? I know the power of loving myself engenders a desire to protect myself, to care about myself.

    I think maryying the earth as a public action could get across both the need to love and protect. We could have these fabulous rituals where we each marry the planet in front of a community, in public somewhere. We could each write our own vows…”I vow to love and protect…” and so on…

    The earth, being polyamorous as he/she is, would just love it – having all these committed partners. And we’d all be related.

    Now, normally I think of myself as the last one to suggest using a worn-out oppressive patriarchal tradition as a model of anything. But it’s not really about marriage…it’s about a commitment ceremony/ritual that goes way back to possibly non-oppressive indigenous tribes. I wouldn’t know. It’s just a brainstorm I wanted to share cause it jazzed me.

    I remembering reading an article in an Ecopsychology text on funerals for pieces of land decimated, quilts for extinct species, etc. I didn’t think about this at the time.

    I love it when my brain gets an idea that feels fulfilling.

    And this ritual feels long overdue. I love it! I want to start writing my wildhearted vows right now. And dream big about my commitment! I write love letters to the earth all the time. I am not sure what’s held me back – fear of commitment, ha, ha? Will I leave the earth at the altar, ha, ha? No way! What if we made it legal and the earth got rights, ha, ha? And what if the earth wrote vows back? We could get oh so creative with this….

  485. That’s not what I meant about PTSD, Vera. Those GI’s will NEVER be able to justify what was done there, because those atrocities were fundamentally unjust in the true sense of the idea of justice. The solution for them, such as there is, is to forgive themselves as best they can. Also acts of atonement help; such as the GI’s who have formed groups of ex-GI’s speaking out against the wars, and indeed all wars.

    Interestingly, a study of treating PTSD by the VA of five methods, therapy, drugs, counseling, visualizations, and meditation (transcendental) showed meditation the only one with positive results. And the results were very good. One of the mechanisms facilitated by meditation is releasing traumatic material that has been repressed because of its painful and threatening nature. Meditation creates a safe context in which this stuff can be released and replaced with a more peaceful, less stressed consciousness.

    Sometimes the wounds inflicted on our minds and hearts are so deep that they cannot be completely healed in this lifetime, but much important healing can still be effected. For us poor folks thus damaged, we can only hope — maybe next time around…

  486. Congratulations Chris m, you win the grand prize as the 500th commenter. Applause!!!!!! Also your idea of Earth/Human nuptials is worthy of a prize for the most imaginative one so far. Sounds like a blast. I understand you two have had a long engagement, have you set a date yet? I feel sure you will be very happy together. Congratulations on your mutual choice.

  487. Mike: Why not try repentance and pilgrimage? True and tried…

    Self-forgiveness is like a judge who done wrong presiding over her own trial and letting herself off. Nah.

    Yes, acts of atonement do help. In my experience, once a person faces their own wrongdoing, much healing becomes possible, through a variety of methods. If I were in the soldier’s shoes, I would follow what his religious tradition advocates. If he has one.

  488. Vera — Forgiveness of self and others is a fundamental spiritual key. Sufis speak of two selves, the true Self, and the nafs or the unforgiving self. Just think of the opposite of forgiveness and you will get the point. If not, think of Israel and the Palestinians.

    Of course we can easily write off the counterfeits of forgiveness or justice, but the true coin is priceless… Rumi says,”the existence of counterfeit money proves one thing: the existence of real money.”

  489. Mike, I know that that is what a lot of people say. But dealing with my own wrongdoing, I have come to the firm sense that the judge analogy is correct, and that it is akin to cheating. Do you have a counter analogy?

    (I wasn’t talking of other-forgiveness.)

    When it comes to my own wrongs, my guidance points me in the direction of surrender. Forgiveness is divine business, not human…

  490. Chris, I got sidetracked, but I want to say that this imagery of Swimme has blown me away. I never understood gravity in physics classes… now it finally makes sense! :-)

    It’s not gravity… it’s lovity.

  491. You sure know how to ask the hard questions, Vera. That’s good; I am the same way. As Thich Nhat Hahn says, “look deeply.” Members of our spiritual growth group are constantly revisiting this issue of forgiveness. Sometimes it seems that the entire gospel story about Jesus’s ministry is about forgiveness. As you know, they are still hassling over this in his part of the world today.

    First let me make my standard disclaimer: I am not a member of any religion, nor have I signed my name in blood to any certain set of tenets or beliefs of a religious, scientific, political, or cultural nature. On the other hand, I have learned a lot from a wide selection of the aforementioned sources. Whew….had to get that out there just so I could talk about Jesus. So many folks assume you are big into Christianity if you as much as utter the name Jesus. “Christianity” is a whole other affair from the teachings of Rabbi Zen Master Social Activist Jesus of Nazareth. Check out the Legend of the Grand Inquisitor in the Brothers Karamazov if that point is unclear to you. One of the most beautiful passages in world literature. One of the things about Russian Culture that impelled me to enter Russian Studies in graduate school at the U. of Chicago. Of course the geniuses of Russian Music had a lot to do with it, too.

    Where was I? Lost in the tunnels of my checkered past… Ah yes, forgiveness. Let me briefly note some of my own understandings about forgiveness of self or others. And BTW there are no others. When JC said love others in the same way that you love yourself, I know that he understood that others are yourself.

    1. Forgiveness is never complete, perfect, or finished.

    2. Forgiveness is a process, not a fact.

    3. Forgiveness is a deep inner mystery like love, that can never be wholly captured in words and ideas.

    4. Forgiveness is essential to the creation of the precious we space that is the foundation of the possibility of deep communication and real love.

    5. Deep forgiveness asks for nothing, proves nothing, and flowers beyond the fields of reason and legalistic judgements.

    6. Forgiveness transcends and dissolves the ego.

    So, just some thoughts for further enquiry. Not rules, not absolutes, lacking any pretension to authority or truth. Just more grist for the inner mill….

  492. Out beyond right and wrong

    There is a field

    I’ll meet you there


  493. Vera, and group (if being included, however loosely, in a “group” makes you antsy, just ignore the invitation and carry on) — There is a good book: Unconditional Love and Forgiveness, by Edith R, Stauffer. I once attended a workshop sponsored by Psychosynthesis of Kentucky (with which I a loosely affiliated) based on Edith’s work. Quite effective in creating a structure that allows and supports letting go of old grudges and enemies, including oneself!

  494. And would it have been worth it, after all,

    After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

    Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

    Would it have been worth while,

    To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

    To have squeezed the universe into a ball

    To roll it toward some overwhelming question,

    To say: “”I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

    Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” —

    If one, settling a pillow by her head,

    Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.

    That is not it, at all.”

    From “Prufrock”

  495. Vera, and friends — There is an interesting article about meditation and neuroscience on Huffington Post today. Check it out.

  496. Talking about protest art t-shirts, I guess! Someone suggested it a few pages back … “Lol“ here is one, “The planet is our handmedown“ …

    An older one is “War is not helping our progress“ or “Wars do not help people“ … :0 I think war and the harming of the environment surroundings kind of go hand in hand… any change in overall behavior would be based on language which would discard easily the notions of war activities and planet-harming activities quite quickly : )

  497. Mike, will check out the book. Thank you for the tip.

    Thru: My favorite T-shirt slogan right now is–

    Life is short.
    Don’t be a dick.


  498. Regarding forgiveness – quotes and meanderings through my own experience….

    bell hooks wrote:

    “Genuine desire to change our world by cultivating compassion and the will to forgive should make us more able to vigilantly resist oppression and exploitation, to joyfully engage in oppositional struggle. I know that there are those among us who worry that being too forgiving will somehow diminish our ability to sustain resistance. Again, I think it important that we remember that forgiveness does not mean that we cease to assertively identify wrongs, hold others to account, and demand justice. It is because we can practice ‘forgiveness’ and are transformed that we have the compassion and insight to see that the same is true for those who might appear to be ‘enemies.’ This is true realization of justice – that we want what is peaceful and life-sustaining for all and not just for ourselves.”

    In an interview with Maya Angelou, bell hooks stated (

    “I think this is a difficult question, how we deal with the question of forgiveness. For me forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?

    “I remember when the Mike Tyson/ Desiree Washington case was happening and people kept wanting me to choose, and I kept saying, well, I feel for both of these people. I feel this man should be held accountable for any actions he may have done; at the same time, I also feel for the culture he’s been raised in that has made him an instrument of violence. Increasingly in my life, I’m appalled at how people so desperately want to choose either/or, rather than to have compassion in a larger, more complex way.”

    Regarding the ‘weapons’ we need to change our world, Joanna Macy has an exercise that points to compassion and insight in which she states: (

    “The weapons are compassion and insight….You have to have compassion because it gives you the juice, the power, the passion to move. It means not to be afraid of the pain of the world. Then you can open to it, step forward, act. But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other—you need insight into the radical interdependence of all phenomena. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With insight into our profound inter-relatedness—our deep ecology—you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern. By itself, that insight may appear too cool, too conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of compassion. Together these two can sustain us as agents of wholesome change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world.”

    I know the “line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart.”

    When this insight became very real for me, it changed my life. My own personal reasons for exploring forgiveness started when I realized that staying stuck in rage burns me out. Rage may feel empowering at times (and is very appropriate at times), but it’s a tricky booger. If I keep it alive past its due, it eats away at me – then I eat away at others. I felt such self-righteous rage as an activist. Taking it out on my partner for 20 years, I turned into a landmine field of explosive moods that almost destroyed our relationship.

    Only when things came to a crisis, where he almost left me, was I willing to stop just thinking about self-forgiveness and do it. I changed almost overnight when I decided to love myself so I could love him. I was stunned at the change in me. One of the keys for me was that I finally really put myself in his place. I really felt what I was putting him through – because the crisis involved him putting me through something similar (and allowed me to see him as human like me, too), in a very small way, compared to what I’d been putting him through. The remorse was intense. The shame, the pain, the desire to atone…but mostly, thanks to his forgiveness (and mine of him), I was given a second chance at something so beautiful that I’d been trashing for years.

    The only truly frightening thing was the implications for my work as an activist. Did we have to go through crisis to truly take action to change? I knew what I was doing all those years. I had even felt bad about it quite often. I had justified it very frequently. But I did not change.

    It was only when my relationship was genuinely threatened, did I change. When I could no longer take him for granted, I changed. When he took angry hurtful steps of his own, I chose to change.

    I don’t think everyone would have decided to change in my situation. What happened to me was that I made a choice. I chose not to use what he’d done to further my self-loathing, reactionary rage and own nasty meanness and righteousness. I chose to grab hold of every ounce of compassion I could muster toward the two of us and take that second chance. I chose to change. And I changed. We changed. We wanted joy together.

    What various variables, factors, etc. came to play on this minor miracle? There were many, I am sure. Two stand out. At one critical moment after his actions that turned my world upside down, we were talking. I said I didn’t know the pain I’d been putting him through until he put me through the same thing. It was a profound moment. I was able to feel his pain through my own. Owning what I’d done moved him. As I shared the pain over the way I’d been all those years and my desire to change, he offered to help me for the first time – to do whatever it took, go to therapy, whatever. He wasn’t going to leave me alone anymore with my stuff. He saw that what he’d done to me was out of anger and frustration. He could understand my pain through his pain. He’d knocked himself off his pedestal and now we were equals.

    The second big part for me was that after being knocked off his pedestal, he was able to see himself more clearly and that he needed to change some things, too. He’d never done that before. He’d never owned any sort of dynamic that might have been going on between us creating a lot of our difficulties.

    My point is that we both opened up to such a deep ability to forgive ourselves and each other, to empathize, to experience compassion, that we became changed beings.

    I will not catalog my list of offenses in the relationship. Just say they were numerous and abusive and hurtful. My partner’s offenses are much like the rest of society that hides their heads in the sand around the crisis in their face. His witnessing of my tormented sensitive strugglings as a being trying to be responsive to this crisis were stand-offish and ignorant, as he never dared it himself much. (My activist-artist passions are what drew him to me as much as they repelled him at times.) Watching me fall apart and burn out and develop huge health issues, he still remained distant, afraid, ignorant, boggled. He didn’t know how to help. He didn’t even know where to seek to help me. He also didn’t have much motivation, since I was hurting him all the time. And he wasn’t about to fall apart with me, no matter how much I wanted company. Maybe, like me, he was waiting for me to change, as well as figure out how to be a passionate activist and not fall apart – how to make anger irresistible. Then he’d join?

    Despite all my offenses, he stayed with me, feeling helpless, by my side and did his best to support me in his way. I refused to see it. I was too busy with my self-loathing and projecting. Now that much of that self-loathing is not clouding my vision of him, it sometimes pains me to see the beauty of his love – and all I’d been trashing.

    I offer this as a testament to love, forgiveness, compassion and miracles. I especially dedicate this to the fact that matters are very complex and that the line between good and evil clearly runs through all our hearts.

    As simple as Jensen may want to make the crisis – as one that we must all be addressing even more head-on so we can each take turns taking breaks, addressing it head-on and angry is very very precarious way to go. It led me and others I know to PTSD and secondary PTSD…and to fall apart. I wouldn’t be alive (well, I’d be homeless possibly) if I weren’t fortunate enough to have my partner.

    When others advocate paying attention to this crisis and responding (with benign or dangerous methods), it’s problematic to not fully address the ramifications honestly.

    So I say this to Jensen. Every book that does not address the PTSD, the secondary PTSD, the stress, the falling apart, the difficulties of facing and acting on the crisis of the planet being murdered in our faces, is forgivable. It took me years to see and act on what I was doing to others in thinking that this was not affecting me or my work or my relations – and ultimately any possibility of my work being the change I wanted to see. I was forgiven. I wish that for us all.

    Anyone who runs around pretending it’s all fun while they suffer tremendous health problems and offer anger as fuel, is forgivable….I was forgiven. And like me, I wish for them not just an awareness of the whole of the truth of the matter, but the ability to let it change them. I wish that more of us who hit bottom around this make it through in loving arms.

    And to all of us fanatics standing, we are truly bloody miracles.

  499. Chris — Your sharing is amazing and beautiful. With so much sensitivity and insight, it is difficult for me to understand how you can still experience trials and low spots as you have also shared with us. I salute the courage, wisdom, and compassion that you have displayed on your journey. On the other hand, I know from my own life how deep some wounds can go. We are all wounded and diminished by the dysfunctional and abusive culture we were brought up in, the same culture we are desperately trying to heal, even as we tend our own wounds.

    I feel that you are my companion along with many others on the path to a more compassionate world. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. You make my path a little easier, and strengthen me for the road ahead.

  500. The Bhagavad Gita, a basic scripture of the Hindu religion, deals with the problem of violence and spirituality as a central theme. Even Mohandas Gandhi had to deal with it’s provocative thesis.
    It asks the question, can a man on a spiritual path take part in war and killing? And if so, how will such a compassionate warrior behave in battle? Is it possible to kill with compassion in one’s heart?

    To learn the surprising answer, you might want to read this Hindu mystery thriller. In the process of finding his way, the Hero, Arjuna must encounter God Himself (in this case in the form of Krishna, a Divine Emanation some have compared to Christ) and challenge the Deity to resolve this enigma. I won’t reveal the stunning climax, but it’s a wows-er!

    You might want to read this one, it’s really pretty short.

  501. Mike, if I was trying to save someone from a warrior aiming to kill her, my concern would not be whether the warrior had compassion or hate or terror in his heart. My concern would be, how do I stop the murderous fu**er? I guess I don’t understand the point you are making.

  502. vera – lovity – love the word.
    And chris, thank you for the upside down image. When I lay on the ground looking into space I always picture myself at the front of a spaceship moving forward toward all that. Seeing it as upside down gives a real sense of the attraction to the mother ship/being.
    And all the rest is probably moving away from us. So here we are.

  503. Vera — I wasn’t trying to make a point. Just sharing something that folks might find interesting. We aren’t the first people to wrestle this bear. This is one of the classic dilemmas of those seeking to establish a peaceable kingdom in a world prone to violence, war, and oppression. How do you overthrow a powerful Empire without being drawn into the madness of violence yourself?

    Folks in the past have not found this to be an easy task. I am not creating this problem out of thin air. I wish it wasn’t there, but it is there. Why the hell do you think I lived with Quakers, Buddhists, Aikido Teachers, and on and on… Like many who post here, I would like to find some real workable answers to this crucial problem of violence. Just don’t tell me it isn’t a real problem, or that the simple answer is already known, because that is not true. And please don’t do me in just because I bring up questions that are troubling and real. This kind of question takes all of us way outside our comfort zones, but after all this is what we are talking about: how do we end the violence. I think most of us realize this is not an easy one to answer. I respect the fact that it can drive you nuts at times, it has me. But I still feel that looking the demons in the eye may be part of finding some new answers, or better versions of the old ones. Or maybe some that are waaaaay outside the box.

    What did it mean when Che Guevara said, “The true revolutionary has a heart full of love?”

  504. Mike K: I think you might find George Lakey’s approach to answering the violence/non-violence debate in his article “Non-violence as the Sword That Heals” fascinating. (I’ve mentioned this work here before. This debate always comes up around Jensen.)

    Here’s Lakey’s intro…”Ward Churchill’s book ‘Pacifism as Pathology’ has become an important reference point for many of the ‘new activists’ who have made headlines in the ‘battle of Seattle,’ in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Prague and other confrontations with economic and social injustice. Ward Churchill is an activist with the American Indian Movement and other groups, a prolific writer, and a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado.

    While hanging out with the new activists I decided to write a response to Churchill’s book, and was spurred on by the chance to participate in a public debate with him in Boulder in February,01. We had a good and spirited interchange; audience members remarked on the value of seeing two older activists with real differences talk with each other as allies alert for the emergence of common ground.

    Ward and I are both looking for sources of power that are strong enough to cut away the chains of injustice and oppression, and at the same time support the healing of this scarred planet Earth and its trampled people. Martin Luther King believed that nonviolent action is that ‘sword that heals, so I’ve taken the title of this essay from King’s writing. I’ll start out with some points of agreement between Ward and me, and then go on to challenge some of the points Ward makes in his book.”

    – end of Lakey’s intro

    Oh, and regarding it being “difficult for [you] to understand how [I} can still experience trials and low spots…” with all my “sensitivity and insight.” The answer’s right there. A sensitive and insightful person is guaranteed trials and low spots. That means everybody, in my book.

    Aren’t you the same person who remarked how necessary consciousness-raising was all along the way? Your remark is very strange in light of what I thought was your understanding of this.

    I admit I felt ticked off by your remark, since it makes me sound like I got my crap together, so what the hell is wrong with me, eh? Didn’t I just get done expounding on what a mess I am? I’m not allowed to think well about some things and be a mess at the same time?

    It always angers me when people think because you’ve read all this, written all that, done that and this, that somehow that should translate into this enlightenment that eradicate lows or trials. Oh, if only. If only my internalized crap would melt away. Ha! No, unfortunately it’s not as easy as the wicked witch makes it look. Internalized crap doesn’t melt…it’s more like trying to remove tar and feathers.

  505. Yay! Nice rant, Mike. Actually, I really love it! Exciting reading. Gotta think about it. I am not about to read the Gita, but it sounds like I ought to be reading Che. Life sure brings interesting turns.

  506. I skimmed through the Lakey book and it gave me two insights.

    1) It’s not violent vs non-violent revolution. I don’t want new bosses that were put in their place via non-violence either. I don’t want bosses at all.

    2) There is a difference btw non-violent action that pushes against the Powers that Be, and the kind that simply practices not-doing, noncompliance. I like the second, not the first. Pushing against the Powers that Be energizes them, and they begin to push back.

  507. “How do you overthrow a powerful Empire without being drawn into the madness of violence yourself? Folks in the past have not found this to be an easy task. I am not creating this problem out of thin air.”

    That is the core problem we need to hack.

    “This kind of question takes all of us way outside our comfort zones, but after all this is what we are talking about: how do we end the violence.”

    The core problem is not the violence itself. The violence (apart from the modest levels of violence all humans are prone to) is a consequence. The consequence of domination.

    So I would rephrase your key question as follows: How do you overthrow a powerful Empire without being drawn into the madness of power yourself?

  508. forgive my rude intrusion. but here is something important i want to share from James Lovelock’s book Vanishing face of Gaia…to survive this time round better start adaptation programs. Forget all renewables, forget green-lifestyle and of course forget also oil-based activities. Better lobby for nuclear power while earth system is still permitting. whatever time we have now better spend it on ‘adapting’ and practicing/teaching how to adapt for a new world climate.
    God bless n goodluck all!

  509. Some thought provoking comments are coming in now. Good, our minds need these little tickles.

    When does violence, domination, coercion, stress, competition, less than love, come into our lives? Before birth. With birth our initiation to our world which is characterized by all the above dysfunctions begins in earnest.

    A fascinating book — The Biology of Transcendence — by Joseph Chilton Pearce (remember The Crack in the Cosmic Egg?) looks into structural neurological changes that our early experiences create, and the ongoing patterns of behavior they give rise to. The final chapter, “The Resurrection of Eve” is worth reading for its deep insights into the source of so many of our difficulties. In an epilogue, He mentions research on an indigenous tribe where the idea of making children do anything was totally unknown and incomprehensible. There is so much about our modern culture that we take for granted, as if it is the only way that things could be done.

    I am also reminded of Jesus’ emphasis on the subtle and inner forms of violence we do to others and ourselves. To launch boldly into all kinds of outer reforms without consideration of our own (and others) inner problems is short sighted at best, and disastrous at worst.

    How can we begin to heal our damaged selves? Assuming we are to some degree aware of our problems (most are not) there are many approaches. Meditation of the right sort (there are a confusing variety of techniques going by that name) can be a master key that also facilitates any other approaches one engages. Working in a small group dedicated to this kind of healing can also be an effective method. Deep change of the kind needed does not happen by casual involvement.

  510. Chris, I am sorry if my attempt to affirm you backfired, and ended ticking you off. I tried to indicate in my remarks that I did understand that any of us sensitive and wounded folks could continue to have deep problems, in spite of all the help and inspiration we have received, and all the work we have done towards healing ourselves.

    It is always difficult to touch another, especially in places that may be painful for them. I apologize if my remarks were inappropriate, or hurtful. I will try to be more careful of your personal space in future. I wish only the best for you.

  511. Adaptation — I have read Lovelock’s book that you cited. I agree with his drastic condemnation of the path we are on. But I am amazed that he fails to appreciate the disaster we are inflicting on our Mother Earth through nuclear power. Is it worth that to continue our current energy addiction?

  512. Vera — A recent brainstorm tells me you might find Wilber’s “One Taste” a good place to dip in. It’s like pages from his journal one year; lot of stuff on the stage of meditative practice often called witnessing.

  513. Mike K: I apologize. Your remarks that I criticized in my last post were very kind. After rereading them, I see the thoughtfulness and compassion. This must be a weak spot of mine. Maybe I am the one wondering why I don’t have it more together with all my experience and education. There’s a sense of failure that still runs deep. Sorry, again.

  514. This thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it.

    Bayezid Bistami

  515. Thanks for your kind note, Chris. I value you and all that you are sharing so much. I could never dream of hurting you consciously.
    Please keep on sharing with all of us. I am learning so much from you.

  516. Dear Scott Walker and All,

    One day I hope Professor Emeritus Gary L. Peters will be invited to comment on experts’ widely shared and consensually validated misperceptions of human population dynamics as well as peer-reviewed research of the population dynamics of the human species that appears to be identify a root cause of the human overpopulation of Earth in our time. Boosting people’s understanding of human population dynamics could help ovecome the global gag rule that has precluded such discussion during the past decade of denial and begin educating the human family to the necessity for changes in its conspicuous per-capita overconsumption, outrageous individual hoarding, unsustainable economic globalization and unbridled overpopulation activities now overspreading the surface of the Earth.

    Thank you,


  517. Steve — I really look forward to a presentation by professor Peters. Population is a key dimension of all our ills. And to think: all we have to do to solve it is — nothing. But in a world addicted to the cult of MORE, this turns out to be a tall order….

  518. The heart

    That breaks open

    Can contain

    The whole universe

    Joanna Macy

  519. When our fears have all been serialized, our creativity censured, our ideas “marketplaced,” our intelligence sloganized, our strength downsized, our privacy auctioned; when the theatricality, the entertainment value, the marketing of life is complete, we will find ourselves living not in a nation but in a consortium of industries, and wholly un-intelligible to ourselves except for what we see as through a screen darkly. -Toni Morrison

  520. “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that knows the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein

  521. I simply love the Einstein quote available through my email, connected to this blog. As I put together my practice I look forward to more interaction. Not much time in the moment. Also love the Johanna Macy quote. Just returned from a workshop with Andrew Harvey @ Spirit Hollow in S. Vermont and he basically says the same. Topic was Sacred Activism.

  522. Mike, will look for it! :-)

    I briefly checked out “sacred activism” and while I don’t like the smell of “expensive workshops for the yuppies” at the web site, there is a core there that I like.
    He says:

    “the vision I was getting of sacred activism being organized in … imaginal cells that could create when clustered together the butterfly of the Divine Human became diamond-clear. I understood that ‘networks of grace,’ was to be a network of ‘imaginal’ cells, individual cells of between six to twelve people, praying and meditating together and inspiring each other and acting together”

    What do you think? This is the beginning, no?

  523. OOOOOh! I love that Einstein quote. Here’s one by Ellen Bass:

    “to love life, to love it even when you have no stomach for it and everything you’ve held dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands, your throat filled with the silt of it.
    When grief sits with you, its tropical heat thickening the air, heavy as water more fit for gills than lungs;
    when grief weights you like your own flesh only more of it, an obesity of grief, you think, How can a body withstand this?
    Then you hold life like a face
    between your palms, a plain face,
    no charming smile, no violet eyes,
    and you say, yes, I will take you
    I will love you, again.”

  524. Isn’t Andrew Harvey inspiring? I quoted him in a previous post. I didn’t mention I’d been to a workshop with him and Matthew Fox where he said we had to be “radioactive nuisances” for change, (radioactive coming from the amazing fact we are beings made from stars, hence radioactive.)

    Joanna Macy translated, along with Anita Barrows, a book of Rilke’s poems called, RILKE’S BOOK OF HOURS: LOVE POEMS TO GOD that is stunning in the exquisite expression of love for the earth.

    Try three of them here:

    or just try this one:

    “God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
    then walks with us silently out of the night.

    These are words we dimly hear:

    You, sent out beyond your recall,
    go to the limits of your longing.
    Embody me.

    Flare up like flame
    and make big shadows I can move in.

    Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
    Just keep going. No feeling is final.
    Don’t let yourself lose me.

    Nearby is the country they call life.
    You will know it by its seriousnes.

    Give me your hand.”

  525. Regarding nuclear power:

    Pure unadulterated insanity

    Just thought I’d clarify where I stand regarding that kind of radioactive nuisance

  526. Silence is dangerous, I believe. And the implications of our willful failure to acknowledge science cannot be correct. The stakes are too high to remain silent. Perhaps silence is a mortal enemy not only of science but… also future human wellbeing, global biodiversity, environmental health and the integrity of Earth as fit place for human habitation.

    Please forgive me for pointing out that there is a big difference between knowledgeable but silent people who value science, intellectual honesty, moral courage, doing the right thing and vociferous people with smarts who adhere to ideology, extolling the ‘virtue’ of cleverness, and doing whatsoever is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially correct and culturally syntonic.

    Friends, knowledgeable human beings with feet of clay can do better, but first their truth will have to be spoken loudly and clearly to the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us who are bellowing triumphantly “full speed ahead” while steering the “Great Ship of Human States” into the colossal iceberg that is already visible in the offing.

  527. “their truth will have to be spoken loudly and clearly to the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us who are bellowing”

    Why, Steve? What is speaking loudly and clearly to the masters who are bellowing going to accomplish, in your view?

  528. Dear Vera,

    Thanks for your question.

    When the brightest and best among us say something like “I am going to spend the children’s inheritance…” I might not agree that that is the correct thing to do. And yet I might choose to remain silent. But I cannot see how a reasonable and sensible case can be made for those same people to lead the children down a primrose path along which there is probable cause to believe that children’s birthright to a future will be stolen. Of such circumstances, something has to be spoken loudly, clearly and often.



  529. Let me add that there appears to be an unwillingness among many too many experts, thought leaders and opinion makers to acknowledge the utter seriousness of humanity’s global predicament, the consequences of which could be profound, and world-shattering. That corporations keep growing toward the ‘Wall of Unsustainability’ and governments continue to support the unsustainable growth of these gargantuan entities as well as conspicuously ignore humanity’s human-induced global predicament by failing to prepare the children for recognizable effects of human overpopulation of the Earth in our time are the most unfortunate of determinations. Somehow the intellectual honesty, moral courage and political will needs be summoned to begin coming to grips with the global challenges that loom so ominously before us.

    For example, individuals are called upon the reduce their ecological footprints and governments are implored to humanely provide voluntary means of limiting the number of human feet on Earth.

    Whatsoever the odds, and no matter how daunting are the global challenges which loom so ominously before the family of humanity, each one of us has responsibilities to assume and duties to perform as best we can with the steadfast hope of making the world we inhabit a better place for the children to live in than it would be otherwise.

  530. I just returned from a brief 80 mile walk through the John Muir Wilderness. It was lovely. I like to walk. I enjoy having time to think.

    Of course this isn’t a new thought for me, but it always becomes clear again once I am out there. This thought being that every single thing we do in life, no matter how mundane or extraordinary, has been shaped so that it flows money through us to someone else. Our human needs, which are actually quite minimal, are used as a means to move money from the bottom up.

    We don’t really need much in life. Air, water, food, elimination, shelter, friendship, maybe some music or something else to make life fun and joyful. All of it, with maybe the exception of air, has been nabbed by our culture and turned into a way to deliver money through you to someone else.

    Any “solution” to this problem we’ve been talking about has to come outside this system of extraction and movement of wealth. If it uses even a little part of this system, it will serve only to perpetuate it.

    Think about the movement of money any time you shop, transport your body, turn on a light, open the door to your home, blow your nose on old-growth forest. Who is it serving? How is it serving? You’ll see that this is true.

  531. Dear Steve, the children’s birthright has already been, and is still being, stolen. What do you think you will accomplish by talking to the same people who have been, and still are, doing the stealing?

    I am all for honesty and courage. I would like to avoid insanity (as in, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result).

  532. “Think about the movement of money any time you shop, transport your body, turn on a light, open the door to your home, blow your nose on old-growth forest. Who is it serving? How is it serving?”

    Fabulous, Diane. Especially poignant this morning when I paid my neighbor $56 to replace my rear brakes, where the dealer was gonna charge me $240 and swore that the brakes were all worn out. Turns out they were barely worn at all. Beware. The plunder is intensifying.

  533. Steve, Vera — Your recent back and forth has helped me realize something about Derrick Jensen’s polemical method.

    The ultimate goal in setting up a straw-man is to be able more easily to destroy it later on. DJ prepares his straw-man by pointing out the worst and most implacable features of civilization. By the time he has thoroughly demonized his creation, his Frankenstein Monster, he hopes you will be eager to join his project to destroy it. When you are cooking up a straw-man you are careful to exclude any redeeming features the real entity might have. By emphasizing how powerful and implacable and totally closed to any reasoning or compromise this monster is, you focus your audience on the necessity to totally destroy it without mercy.

    In persuasive argument of this sort, one tries to sell the target audience on your basic premises, and if they buy into those, you have them in your hands. You then build a series of ‘inevitable’consequences that flow from those given ‘facts’ directly to your conclusions and preferred course of action.

    Now in Vera’s questioning of Steve’s continued attempts to convince prominent scientists to lobby the government and speak out in favor of population reduction and control, she seems to me to be saying that these folks who have the power to do something about this are not interested in following his suggested courses of action, and hence he is wasting his breath. She is characterizing the “opposition” as impervious to scientific knowledge and recommendations. So we need to look at this contention, to see if it is entirely, or only partially true.

    James Hanson’s long struggle to get the truth about global warming published, against the strong efforts of the political/industrial complex to prevent his doing so, comes to mind.
    Now I have already encountered in this discussion those who would now jump up and say, “but he didn’t put an end to global warming, did he?” Another polemical device called setting the bar too high as a way to deny effectiveness. I happen to believe that the weight of opinion of the scientific community does have considerable influence, not only in the halls of power, but among the broader public as well. How much influence is an issue open to meaningful debate, but let’s agree that it is not zero. After all, science has assumed a lot of the authority in the popular and professional mind that formerly inhered in Religion.

    I won’t go on and on about this. But I hope I have not strayed into dickhead territory by contributing my two bits. But, then again, you never know about that until you get some feedback from your friends. So if I have ignorantly crossed some territorial boundary lines, like those folks who wandered into Iran, please let me know, so that I can get the hell out before the shooting starts!

  534. Mike, my intention in challenging Steve has been to get him to engage with his own words, not to set up a straw man. (If I have, please show me how.)

    He himself describes the people whom we should speak to, as “self-proclaimed masters of the universe” who are bellowing triumphantly full speed ahead. I myself happen to agree with his characterization of the people who “run things.” So I am challenging him whether talking to these people is a good way to spend one’s time.

    Well, IS IT?!

    P.S. I am not questioning his attempts to convince scientists. I am questioning his repeated exhortations to us, here, and the effectiveness of what he is proposing. I hope I am being clearer.

  535. Thanks for your clarification, Vera. I guess I was trying to say, let’s not assume that our voices directed to whatever group have no possibility of impact, and thereby miss the opportunity to influence those few who might be open to listen. Part of Jensen’s argument is based on his assumption that words are totally ineffective as tools to change our destructive course, because he has characterized our opponents as totally psychopathic monsters unaffected by such gentle means. Therefore: violence. His Papa seems to have been that kinda guy, so I can see how he would tend to see others who abuse in the same light. And there is a lot of truth in that, but not the whole truth.

    I saw a piece on Link TV : “The Corporation”, wherein the corporation was point by point shown to exactly embody the diagnostic criteria for psychopathic personality disorder. However there was also profiled a guy who was CEO of the largest rug factory in the USA. This guy was given a book outlining the rape of the Earth by such as he, and a vision of what a greener way to do business would look like. He stayed up all night reading the book, had a deep epiphany, and went forth in the morning to transform his business, and later became a speaker at large business gatherings exhorting others to go and do likewise. So, it is dangerous and counterproductive to freeze people into irreconcilable enemies when some of them might be ready for conversion.

    The whole Aikido thing is about turning enemies into friends. A bit like JC’s trip. Keep the door open, you never know…

    As far as the idea that all of us sophisticates in this discussion already know everything Steve is sharing — not me. I am still learning from him. (I am not “putting words in your mouth”, Vera so don’t get hot at me.) I just needed to make that clear. I am not only a long time supporter of free, intelligent speech, but a strong believer in the power of it and a lifetime student thereof.

    Vera, I really respect you and the things you are sharing. That I question or differ on some points does not mean that I don’t mostly agree with all you are sharing. If anything I dash off in this conversation seems to you to be disrespectful, preaching, or whatever, please just let me know, and I will try to clean it up. I agree with what you have written elsewhere; that we need the freedom to question each others sharings and disagree from time to time in order to grow together and learn from our interactions to transcend some of our lesser manifestations, and learn to work together for the better world we long for.

  536. I have no problem with you, Mike.

    I want to restate that inasmuch a great many people who “run things” can be characterized by Steve’s words, is it an effective strategy to keep trying to talk to them?

  537. Btw, even JC said, if the people in a town don’t hear you, don’t waste your time… dust off your sandals and light out for more receptive places.

  538. Lyrics to The Great Correction:

    Down on the corner of ruin and grace
    I’m growin weary of the human race
    hold my lamp up in everyone’s face
    lookin for an honest man
    everyone tied to the turnin wheel
    everyone hidin from the things they feel
    well the truth’s so hard it just don’t seem real
    the shadow across this land
    people round here don’t know what it means
    to suffer at the hands of our american dreams
    they turn their backs on the grisly scenes
    traced to the privileged sons
    they got their god they got their guns
    got their armies and the chosen ones
    but we’ll all be burnin in the same big sun
    when the great correction comes
    down through the ages lovers of the mystery
    been sayin people let your love light shine
    poets and sages all throughout history
    say the light burns brightest in the darkest times
    it’s the bitter end we’ve come down to
    the eye of the needle that we gotta get through
    but the end could be the start of something new
    when the great correction comes
    down through the ages….
    down to the wire runnin out of time
    still got hope in this heart of mine
    but the future waits on the horizon line
    for our daughters and our sons
    I don’t know where this train’s bound
    whole lotta people tryin to turn it around
    gonna shout til the walls come tumblin down
    and the great correction comes
    don’t let me down
    when the great correction comes
    [ Eliza Gilkyson, The Great Correction Lyrics on ]

  539. Now we are grappling with a basic problem/frustration of all activism: how do we change the hearts/minds/behaviors of those not as awake as we are? And let’s not quibble over how awake we really are ourselves. Whatever the inadequacies of our awareness and our action plans, we are a hell of a lot more awake than the vast majority of folks, and it would be a vastly different world if most folks were seeing things more or less from our perspectives.

    How do we get our message out, and educate/motivate people to wake up and help us change our world? The opposition to the better world that we envision has not been sitting on their hands in this area. The right-wing/corporate forces have spent enormous amounts of money to buy congress and the media to get out their message. They have set up elaborate and effective think-tanks to refine their messages with the help of the latest opinion manipulation experts. George Lakoff and others have decried the lack of expertise evinced by groups on the left in this crucial area, to little avail so far.

    We activists are in the position of a small minority being oppressed and effectively silenced by a powerful elite and its legions of sleeping supporters and victims. We have to come up with innovative tactics and strategies if we are to prevail in this current world situation. We are not the first minority groups to find ourselves in this dis-empowered position. We can learn from those who have gone before. Head-on confrontation with establishment forces is a guaranteed loser, with the added down-side that such mistaken approaches dishearten our own folks, while strengthening those we seek to defeat or win over to our side.

    Commenter’s and readers of this thread already know that I am interested in the potential of small groups/cells to help turn around the current impasse. One function such groups would serve is to be a breeding ground for innovative approaches to achieve our aims. I won’t say more at this point, but of course any ideas such as small groups depend crucially on people being willing to put in the real-world efforts to make them happen.

  540. Steve — That’s a really great song. Thanks for sharing it. It sort of summarizes what a lot of us are sharing on this blog about our hopes and fears, victories and defeats. Commitment and persistence are essential qualities we must learn in this ongoing struggle. Small groups help provide us the support we need to keep on trucking. Solo trips are hard to maintain.

  541. Vera — Looks like JC didn’t take his own advice. Kind of like Socrates….you just get tired of running or looking for a better audience, or a better place to make your stand.

  542. Two day’s ago, a logging company began the systematic destruction of 100 acres of pristine mature forest. With total disregard for forest life, the standing trees now lay on their side’s. In three more days the slaughter will be complete. The absentee owner will have his phony paper money and the trees will be off to the mill. When do we act? When do we do the right thing. When do we cross the line and make the destroyer’s stop. This carnage is occurring just down our road and in our face. The forest and planet screams and still we talk and write. In a few days, they will move onto the next “timber” and slice it to shreds, while the leaves of the fallen giants still are blowin’ in the wind. How many groups do we need with us to have the courage to do the right thing. Diane…run to the mountains before it is to late.

  543. “gonna shout til the walls come tumblin down”

    I’d rather not. All it would get me is laryngitis.

    There are many “guaranteed losers.”
    * head on confrontation with establishment forces
    * yelling at the “masters of the universe*

    What others? We ought to have a list, and have our small groups study it carefully.

  544. Jay, that is why Babylon has to go. It is relentless, and it will not stop. I am sorry to hear of the devastation in your own neighborhood.

  545. People have got to speak out loudly, clearly and often about what desperately needs to be said regarding whatsoever is occurring in our planetary home these days that no talking head, thought leader or opinion maker in the mass media is ready, willing or able to articulate. Much more needs to be said that is equitable, authentic, sustainable and real is needed……and much less that is self-serving, clever, patently unsustainable and unnatural.

  546. Jay — sorry to hear of this forest disaster. I really thought Derrick Jensen had dropped in on our little forum when I got your email. It was so much like his voice, making the nightmare real, making me feel the pain of all the beings dying in this holocaust.

    Speaking of our favorite whipping boy, I remember him saying, ‘I don’t care what you do, just do something.” Different strokes for different folks. As the I Ching says, “everything furthers.” It is all too easy to sit back and criticize someone else’s form of activism. Let’s just give them credit for doing what they can.

    Aaron Nimzovitch, a chess strategy innovator of a former century said, “Criticism can do much; for instance, embitter the existence of young talents.”

  547. If experts keep willfully refusing to straightforwardly examine the scientific evidence of human population dynamics, and choose as alternatives to focus on other global challenges, the human community may end up, if lucky, winning some Pyrrhic victories. But in the long term the failure to acknowledge, address and overcome the proverbial “mother” of global threats, human overpopulation of the Earth, will cause the family of humanity to lose the struggle for survival, I believe, as well as precipitate the extirpation of global biodiversity; the wanton dissipation of Earth’s resources; and the irreversible degradation of its environs.

  548. >>Two day’s ago, a logging company began the systematic destruction of 100 acres of pristine mature forest… The absentee owner will have his phony paper money and the trees will be off to the mill. When do we act? When do we do the right thing.

    >>People have got to speak out loudly, clearly and often about what desperately needs to be said

    What is the right thing to do? How do we act? What needs to be said?

    Are we willing to stop wiping ourselves with “forest products?” Will your next home be a straw bale or cob house?

    Does it work to stop them cutting down the trees or reduce the needs that drive cutting down the trees?

    Honestly I don’t really know what the answer is. But when I’m walking in the woods, sage and fir boughs do the job quite nicely. I also know that I do not desire money enough to cut down a forest. If I could live without money I would.

  549. Amen, Steve. A lot of activists are oblivious to the population bomb. We need to be constantly reminded of it. I was on board with Paul Ehrlich back in the sixties, but I still need to be reminded of this crucial issue. My own decision not to reproduce was strongly influenced by Ehrlich and other demographic activists. I make it a point to always bring up population issues in groups I take part in. We need to keep a range of problem areas in mind if we want to be integral in our thinking. As you correctly point out, progress in reducing population will have major positive effects across the board.

  550. Diane — Your low impact lifestyle does matter. Every positive step any of us takes is a real contribution. We have to carefully control the ecological guilt we sometimes heap on ourselves. Trying to be responsible for too much and do too much is a trap. We all need to give each other, and ourselves a pat on the back for what we are doing.

  551. Dear Vera,

    I have taken some time to review some of this discussion. It appears to me that there is nothing more I can say that would be helpful. If you like, you might ask yourself what it is that disturbs you about my activism. In the past decade, there have been so many objections to what I have been doing. You remind me of these people except that they made the reasons for their objections known. In this instance the problem my activism is presenting for you is not clear. Do you know what your problem is?

    I suppose I am speaking in support of courageous scientists like Gary Peters. This man will tell the truth as he sees it. He will ask tough questions. He will not hide or hide from scientific evidence, especially peer-reviewed evidence that has not been sensibly refuted.
    In a way, I am speaking out in Gary’s behalf. Professor Peters is the lion. I simply seek to give lions like him the chance to roar.

    Eminent scientists need to be given platforms to be used for assuming their responsibilities to science and performing their duties to humanity.

    Let the lions among us be given public platforms from which to roar.



  552. Steve, I have asked you over and over what exactly is the point of yelling at the “masters of the universe who are bellowing [and profiting by] full speed ahead.” In what way is this a useful strategy? You have never even attempted an answer.

    I have no problem with your support of certain scientists, here or elsewhere. I do have a problem with you never responding to *this* question in *this* forum. Would you be willing to take a crack at my question? Surely you must have thought about it?

  553. As a biologist I appreciate the evolutionary “strategy” of the little creatures who ran
    between the dinosaurs’ feet, survived an ancient cataclysm, and eventually became us. No choice involved, but right place, right time and right characteristics – we were selected. I’ve spent most of a lifetime looking for niches like that, and have
    counseled my children to do the same.
    Maybe vera’s apparentsave-yourself strategy is the best way to go. As this new “Roman Empire” goes down I’m sure none of us can imagine what’s on the other side of the time warp. Strategy is pretty much a crapshoot.
    From my point of view vera is merely the standout in the general tone that Jensen related discussions take among Orion readers. Let’s own up to being a group of esoteric elitists once and for all. Look around in your neighborhood. Who might be interested in participating in this discussion? How might the general tone be changed if a large percentage of them joined in?
    There aren’t enough lifeboats on this ship. Of course not everybody can be saved, but most likely almost everybody wants to be. Elaborate thinking modes may be
    useful (or not) but all of us just come as we are, and there’s no lack of wanting to still be floating when we get thru the tempest.
    Ah, which lifeboat to try to get into (mike’s groups/cells)?. Maybe it doesn’t matter too much, but they are, after all, small political groups – primate tribes. Might get my face ripped off in this one or that one. Would the purpose (stated of otherwise)
    be one of enlightenment or of social movement? And which of those two things (or which combination) would be more useful (or fortuitous)?
    I do understand Steve’s call for a loud common voice in the face of injustice. Maybe some others among us take the same pleasure I take in watching social movements in France, where still in this third millennium a group of train conductors can stop the business of the country, and get rich and poor walking in the streets, thru
    frustration or whatever motive engaging in some level of dialogue. Even their little
    president (who, unlike ours, enjoys near-royal powers) is forced to change course sometimes.
    I take Steve’s point to be that, unless we really don’t care about anybody but ourselves and those closest to us, loud shouting at the right place and time is a
    practice that needs to be revived on this side of the Atlantic. Otherwise the big boys think we really don’t care, that we’ve been sufficiently sedated, and that they can do more and more whatever they want. We need to shout ourselves into social movement groups. And of course the work of (self) enlightenment is never-ending.

  554. Paul Street wrote in the above aforementioned article “On Realism and Revolution”:

    “In the spring of 1967, after he went public with his principled opposition to the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Jr. was approached by liberal and left politicos to consider running for the U.S. presidency. King turned the activists down, saying that he preferred to think of himself “as one trying desperately to be the conscience of all the political parties, rather being a political candidate…I’ve just never thought of myself as a politician.”[1] The minute he threw his hat into the American presidential ring, King knew, he would be encouraged to compromise his increasingly left message against what he called “the triple evils that are interrelated:” racism, economic inequality/capitalism, and militarism. [2]

    Reflecting on his chastening confrontation with concentrated black poverty and class oppression in the “liberal” urban North and his shock at the horrors of U.S. policy in Southeast Asia [3], King had come to radical-democratic conclusions. “For years I have labored with the idea of refining the existing institutions of the society, a little change here, a little change there,” he told journalist David Halberstam that spring. “Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society, a revolution of values.” The black freedom movement, King told a crowd at the university of California-Berkeley, had shifted from civil rights to human rights, moving into “a struggle for genuine equality” that “demands a radical redistribution of economic and political power.”[4] By this time, King had identified the U.S. government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” [5] and denounced U.S. support for U.S.-investment-friendly Third World dictatorships, all part of “the triple evils.”[6] “The evils of capitalism,” he told the congregation at Riverside Church one year before his assassination (or execution [7]), “are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.”[8]”

    Later Street writes:

    “As the world enters a period of epic mass structural unemployment and (most urgently of all) related, potentially fatal ecological crisis [35] that is directly traceable to – and fundamentally rooted in – the profits system [36], it’s long past time for millions of Americans to embrace (as some recent polling suggests many do, in fact [37]) the conclusion that Obama’s left cheerleader Michael Moore had reached half way into the first of his candidate’s presidency: “Folks, capitalism’s got to go. Because we can’t have a system where the richest 1 percent own as much as the bottom 95 percent. That just isn’t democracy. That’s not America. That just isn’t democracy. That’s not America.”[38]

    The filmmaker had a point, whatever his often irrational commitment to Obama, who clearly disagrees (FOX News fantasies notwithstanding) with Moore’s filmmaker’s judgment on the profits system. “The rich,” as the French environmental writer Herve Kempf has demonstrated at length, “are destroying the Earth.” Their continued privileged, opulent, and controlling existence and their toxic, powerful mass-consumerist “growth ideology” – ubiquitously disseminated by their cultural and communications apparatus – is transparently incompatible with humanity’s social and environmental carrying capacity as we move into the second decade of the 21st century.[39] And the notion of a capitalist system without a super-opulent wealthy Few – their remarkable concentration of wealth standing in inherent deep conflict with democracy – is a theoretical and practical absurdity.[40]

    In one of the many wryly humorous moments in his 2009 movie Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore examines a copy of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives. He asks a guard to show him the part of U.S. Constitution which mandates that the U.S. organize its economic life on a capitalist basis. It’s a purposefully ridiculous request, of course. No such section or passage exists in the Constitution or, for that matter, in The Declaration of Independence (DOI). The term “capitalism” was not in use in late 18th century North America or Europe, in fact.

    Still, both of these documents can be reasonably cited in opposition to the corporate profits system that later overtook the nation’s economic and political life, instituting the aforementioned “unelected dictatorship of money.” The Constitution requires federal officeholders, including the president, to work “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity.” The DOI states that humanity possesses the rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” It says that governments “derive their [only] just powers from the consent of the governed” and proclaims the popular right of revolution when “any form of government becomes destructive of these ends.”

    More than being merely different from the nation’s founding principles of popular government and common good and absent from its founding documents, capitalism is opposed to those core precepts. Its key characteristics include:

    * A consistent drive towards the ever-greater concentration of wealth and power.

    * The relentless subordination of the majority populace to employee status (to wage-and salary-slavery).

    * Harshly authoritarian and hierarchical division, command, and stultification of the human work process.

    * The contingency of employment on business-class profitability.

    * The insidious drowning of basic egalitarian human sentiments and life-ways in the “icy waters of egotistical calculation” (As Karl Marx and Frederick Engels put it in 1848).

    * The soulless hegemony of exchange value over social and human use value.

    * A constant and unequal battle between the wealth of the capitalist Few and the income, security, autonomy, health, and sanity of the working class Many.

    * A relentless profit-addicted, “cost externalizing” business assault on livable ecology.

    * The private ownership and biased control of core opinion-forming communications sectors.

    * Disproportionate political and ideological influence for the capitalist elite, with its wealth concentrated and protected in giant, impersonal corporations, whose directors are legally mandated to privilege investor profit over any and all other basic democratic and civil concerns.[41]

    None of these and other characteristics of the modern profits system can be meaningfully reconciled with either the pre-capitalist republicanism of the United States’ venerated founders or modern democratic ideals. The last thing any administration claiming to represent “We the People” in a democracy should be doing in the name of “change” is acting on Obama’s model to (following the admonitions of Wall Street moguls like Orin Kramer, a top Obama bankroller [42]) sustain the capitalist system – a system which threatens to bring the human experiment to a close sooner than many of even the darkest of us had imagined.”

    —-end of quote from Street’s article

  555. Thanks for posting that, Chris. That’s exactly the conclusion that I have come to.

    That piece also highlights the flaw in the whole population argument. I think buried within the call to reduce population is the added clause, “so we at the top can have your resources.”

    Because our political system is so tied to capitalism now I have no faith in its ability to make things better. I still vote, but only so I can vote no on things that will make things worse.

    I think if Jensen were asking us to dismantle capitalism instead of the symptoms of it, I might be able to get on board. And by capitalism I mean the corporate kind that concentrates wealth for the few at the expense of all life on earth. Bartering and paying my local neighbors for goods and services seems like a fairly benign way to do things.

  556. chris, thanks for the Paul Street article. Altho you seem to be pointing to it to counter my ideas, a careful reading would show it to be just the opposite.
    Precisely what I’m talking about is how to become “too dangerous to ignore”.
    Candide taking care of his own garden is not.
    Howard Zinn said. “…Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes-the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.”
    And here comes the part about the real shouting:
    “But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice.”
    Anyone who would have a beginning of an interest in an article like this is already 80% on the same page I’m on. You wouldn’t even care about these things if political power seemed irrelevant.
    The suggestions in this article for changes to our electoral system are all important
    things to consider (combine them with the more mathematical analysis you can read in this( recent New Yorker article).
    Whether or not capitalism must go (as Street seems to advocate), or just dismantle corporate bodies’ political power (as I would prefer), the movement has to begin at our neighborhood level.
    I’ve been off the grid. But what dismantling are you talking about?

  557. Dear Ed T,

    Thanks for sharing your point of view. It is a valuable one. Please note the following perspective from Sir Fred Hoyle that dates back to 1964, a time prior to the publication of Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” and the Club of Rome’s seminal work, “Limits to Growth.”

    begin —

    “It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on the Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance… and one chance only.”

    end —

    It appears to me that Sir Fred Hoyle was asking people years ago, when I was still a teenager, to carefully consider and rigorously examine a superordinate situation that was “too dangerous to ignore”… that dwarfed already identified global challenges. Rather than seriously scrutinize population dynamics leading to the human overpopulation of the Earth, which would require experts to rivet their attention on the “placement” of the human species within the natural order of living things, the topic was avoided…just as it is being ignored now. At the beginning of my lifecycle in 1945 there were about 2.8+/- billion human beings on Earth. Only 65 years later 6.8+/- billion people are members of the human community.

    So much time has been wasted recently by the brighest and best of my generation. The implications of such an unfortunate failure of nerve appear to be at least potentially profound. We cannot address problems, the root cause of which we refuse to acknowledge.

    Representative democracies led by human beings with feet of clay could readily become a force “too dangerous to ignore” with remarkable speed, I believe, but first humankind needs to be helped to see why a force too formidable to ignore is necessary as well as to understand more adequately the nature of the primary human-induced global challenge that presents itself to the family of humanity in our time; that takes its shape in the form of a colossal looming threat to future human wellbeing, environmental health and the integrity of Earth as a fit place for human habitation.

    Perhaps now would be a good time to respond to a recent request from Scott Walker for ideas related to a Reader’s Corner discussion. My suggestion is not a new one. Please consider inviting Professor Emeritus Gary L. Peters to provide a report regarding certain unchallenged peer-reviewed research on human population dynamics and human overpopulation from Hopfenberg and Pimentel. Other top-rank experts could certainly be included as presenters/discussants.



  558. I have been reflecting a lot these days on the journey, the process we have all engaged in for the last several weeks in this forum, this ad hoc, come one come all free form discussion. I am amazed and gratified by how much I have learned here, how much my inner search has been quickened and deepened. Who could have guessed?

    Looking back on it all, I am trying now to gather up some themes that have emerged. My first pass at that is to ask: What is the problem? We can all agree that what has brought us together here is a problem, or problems; but what exactly is it? Bruno Bettelheim was fond of saying, “The end is in the beginning.” He meant that how you start a process has a great deal to do with how it comes out.

    Many are impatient with this first step, and want to “get on with it.” But my sense is that taking the time to get a clear understanding of the dimensions and depths of the problem we are hoping to solve will be very helpful in finding solutions that are deep and effective, going to the roots, and not just treating the symptoms.

    Now those of us who want to grapple with this initial problem of defining what is wrong, making an inventory of symptoms, taking a history, as it were, run into a serious impediment to our investigation: the problem is immense, horrifying, difficult to pin down, agonizing, and seeming to be intractable. Bummer. Let’s not hang out here too long — frankly, let’s just get the hell out and go somewhere more comfortable. At this point some unusual souls, including Derrick Jensen, offer to help us out by dragging us deeper into up close and personal confrontation with the worst aspects of our human predicament. (With friends like these, who needs enemies, we think to ourselves.)

    Nevertheless, against our better(?) judgement we are drawn into contemplating the nightmarish dimensions of our plight, and the seeming hopelessness of this unequal struggle. Otherwise why would we be here on this thread ostensibly dealing with his article? Just to protest his ruthless approach to showing us the nature of our adversaries? Or to criticize his suggestions for dealing with all of it? To reassure ourselves that looking into the true face of the Beast of Civilization is not really necessary to dismantling it? That would be like a patient in therapy for serious mental problems, demanding that the therapist avoid anything unpleasant in carrying out the treatment.

    Looking at this issue of the first step from another angle, have you ever tried in an ordinary social situation with folks who would never be characterized as “activists” to bring up some disturbing fact, like say the holocaust in Iraq? Maybe you are too wise or diplomatic to do something as awkward as that, but I have a Demon (Daimon?) in me that has made me do so on occasion. The predictable result was that they did not want to hear about it, and would make that increasingly clear to me if I persisted. Interesting. Especially in light of the fact that this denial mechanism is the number one obstacle in our getting our message out to folks who are still asleep in so many ways. Their sleep is dooming our world.

    Maybe you have a better way to wake these folks up, or perhaps to get them to do what needs to be done in their sleep, if you think that is possible. One thing is sure; if you are unwilling to look at the grim and dismal reality we are living in, you will be neither willing or capable of helping others to wake up.

    Well that is enough for this post. I did not really mean for it to take the direction it did, but it kind of took off on its own. Maybe next time I will talk about the positive potential of the first step assessment of our position and our problem(s).

  559. Many of us who work to awaken folks (also another way to say dismantle whatever gets in our way of responding to the present crisis) would agree with much of what Joanna Macy outlines in her paper, “Working Through Environmental Despair.” Being alive right now is painful and so many of us employ various pychological strategies to repress our awareness of the dangers in order to deal with the pain, the top three being denial, disbelief and a double-life. Joanna Macy has spent her life work exploring what leads us to repress ourselves in these ways and to serve to liberate us from this repression. She suggests that what leads us to repress are:

    Fear of pain
    Fear of appearing morbid
    Fear of appearing stupid
    Fear of guilt
    Fear of causing distress
    Fear of religious doubt
    Fear of appearing too emotional
    Fear of feeling powerless
    Fear of shame

    She details these fears in an article called “Working Through Environmental Despair” that I have provided a link for below. (All of her ideas have since been updated in her book COMING BACK TO LIFE.)

    In this paper, she came up with Five Prinicples of Empowerment to address this fear and repression:

    1. Feelings of pain for our world are natural and healthy
    2. Pain is morbid only if denied
    3. Information alone is not enough
    4. Unblocking repressed feelings releases energy and clears the mind
    5. Unblocking our pain for the world reconnects us with the larger web of life

    She finished off her ideas for directions for our work to serve to awaken together with this closing statement:

    “Where, then does despair fit in? Why is our pain for the world so important? Because these responses manifest our interconnectedness. Our feelings of social and planetary distress serve as a doorway to systemic social consciousness. To use another metaphor, they are like a “shadow limb.” Just as an amputee continues to feel twinges in the severed limb, so in a sense do we experience, in anguish for homeless people or hunted whales, pain that belongs to a separated part of our body – a larger body than we thought we had, unbounded by our skin.”

    “Through systemic currents of knowing that interweave our world, each of us can be the catalyst or ‘tipping point’ by which new forms of behavior can spread. There are as many different ways of being responsive as there are different gifts we possess. For some of us it can be through study of conversation, for others theater or public office, for still others civil disobedience & imprisonment. But the diversities of our gifts interweave richly when we recognize the larger web within which we act. We begin in this web and, at the same time, journey toward it. We are making it conscious.” PDFs/PDFs copy 1/EARTH & SURVIVAL/MACY WORKING THRU DESPAIR.pdf

  560. I apologize that the link I provided didn’t work for the article on “Working Through Environmental Despair.” If the link below does not work, please just google the title.

    Also, the end quote where I wrote “study of conversation” is supposed to be “study or conversation.” I have other errors, but that was the only one I found particularly bothersome. PDFs/PDFs copy 1/EARTH & SURVIVAL/MACY WORKING THRU DESPAIR.pdf+working+through+environmental+despair&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESifr43hSWcUQ3thX7rz-Hr5k7EzC-twt2BUNKb5HAFubC-_8RWdLnmtapVdo8Zt2MTffZXX_T5Cv9vJmk91QKpLNvMJsUbjuNOKbwoOSI4UHHmvGt-b2GfG3BWNr5E55k1Y7bDc&sig=AHIEtbTiLwU336UAIv1NWtR7zz9JFEB9LQ

  561. Was Paul Ehrlich correct about the shape of things to come?

    Has anyone in the Orion community thought about what chance there is that Paul Ehrlich, despite his poor showing as prognosticator and gambler, will be shown to be one of the greatest scientists of all time because he has accurately foreseen what catastrophes could occur in the future? Paul Ehrlich is a principal forerunner for recent research by Russell Hopfenberg and David Pimentel, I believe. Without Paul’s work, the research of Russ and David strikes me as unimaginable.



  562. Chris — Wow. Shut my mouth! Joanna Macy has gone so much deeper into this issue than I ever could. Thanks so much for sharing her essay. Her stories of deep sharing in workshops and larger gatherings are truly inspiring.

    But I wonder if she has put her awesome energies into creating ongoing small groups to pursue the kind of transformative work she is so skilled at sharing? One shot workshops can do a lot to begin processes of basic turnaround in people, but to foster continuing change I think small groups are necessary. My own work in AA showed me how this is needed. Certainly her understandings and methods would be centrally important to the kind of groups I envision.

    A short period of silence that could be used for meditation is a useful feature in groups I currently attend. But teaching basic meditation technique to would be activist transformers would also have tremendous benefits to help them deal with the often stressful type of involvements they encounter in their work. Beyond that, the realization of true nonviolence and unity with all beings that we seek to promote is powerfully facilitated by regular meditation practice. It is very unfortunate that so many activists have inadequate or distorted ideas about the value of meditation. I would certainly not include Joanna in that category.

    BTW thanks for the Street article. Right on. Deep insights into our current dysfunction, and what needs to change to correct it. You really have you ear tuned to the right stuff!

  563. Steve — What did you refer to when you cited Paul Ehrlich as a poor prognosticator and gambler?

  564. Hi Mike,

    I am referring to the bets Paul made with the economist Julian Simon. Paul lost thesed bets.

    Paul Ehrlich also made a series of predictions about the future. While I believe he will proven to have been on the correct course with these predictions, the timing of them was decidedly wrong.

    Thanks for the question. I am going to leave it there for the moment, unless you would like me to be any more specific.



  565. Steve, my introduction to the population problem (probably around the time you
    were reading Ehrlich) was thru Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons”
    The pastoral example of cows grazing on common fields owned by a town can easily be extended to the oil fields of the planet or any other resource. Given the greedy nature of a relatively small percentage of our fellow men, it’s clear that you can’t let
    one farmer put more and more cows in the field just because he can.
    Hardin goes on to examine the idea of optimum population. After asserting that freedom to breed is intolerable he goes on to explain why conscience in this matter is “self-eliminating”. To make population control simply a matter of individual conscience would simply have the effect of breeding out conscience from the population (remember the words of Edward “the longshanks” in “Braveheart”, “If we can’t drive them out we’ll breed them out”). The 5% of the population with sociopathic tendencies could gradually increase to 50%. What a wild world that would be (it would probably be destroyed before that level was reached). I suppose this kind of thing is Diane’s objection to the idea of population control.
    But the idea comes in many shapes and sizes. One of which is “mutual coercion mutually agreed upon”. A tough sell politically, but necessary.

  566. Dear Mike,

    It deeply disturbs me that knowledgeable people who now say “things are beyond our control” saw nothing, heard nothing and spoke openly of nothing that you, Garrett Hardin and many others have been trying to communicate for many years.

    The willful refusal of many too many of the brightest and best among us to come together, widely share the truth about the human-induced aspects of the global predicament looming before humanity, and speak of whatsoever is true to them to the wealthy and powerful among us who rule the world is a betrayal that could stand as one of the most colossal failures of collective intellectual honesty, moral courage and personal will in human history.

    The messes on Earth that are distinctly human-driven can be cleaned up by reasonable and sensible human-forced action.



    PS: Keep speaking out. Colluders in silence, who have been consciously denying what is known to be real, are bereft of faith in science and humanity.

  567. I’d like population control be applied to male reproduction first. Let men get the sterilization procedures first.

    Really, if you want to be concerned with not breeding good qualities out of the population, we shouldn’t be treating so many illnesses, especially in children. But who wouldn’t think that was cruel?

  568. Diane, there could be very long discussions about how to do it, and questions about excessive medical treatments would be part of those discussions, but there’s no need for that until enough people see the need to control population growth.
    Much earlier in the discussion we had some heated input from Mr. Anon and company, claiming, among other things, that so many more billions of people could be fed. He ignored my question about why we can’t feed the billions who are here already. The population problem is not one that’s off somewhere in the future. Millions of people have died of starvation in the past 30 years.
    And sane biologists are very wary of the potential problems with genetically modified crops. We’re not going to be able to feed an ever-increasing number of people.

  569. Ed — I don’t know if you can separate persuading people to take an interest in population control from giving them some idea of how it might be implemented. That is the first question that comes to most people’s minds. If you can give them some plausible ways that population might be reduced, they might be more open to considering it.

    Many folks simply believe that it will be impossible to reduce population. Others feel only some catastrophe can bring it about. All the negative coverage of the one child policy in China made many feel that the cure would be worse than the disease.

    So, I think people’s disinclination to even think about population problems stems from their belief that there are no viable solutions to it. The result is a sort of fatalistic belief that it is beyond our control. To change that, we need to come up with some believable plans for solving this crucial problem. People’s objections and doubts need to be met with convincing arguments and evidence of effective doable methods.

  570. Hi Sandy — Whatcha got in mind? What’s useful?

  571. I think Diane will be responsive to what Paul Kingsnorth shares in this essay from the Dark Mountain blog, and also some of us other posters. He expresses so beautifully what I have been feeling about all the oh so practical, technical fixes that environmentalism has become so much about.

    Something in me wants to cry out, “That’s not what my relationship to Nature means to me; don’t you see: I’M IN LOVE! It’s about beauty and wonder and mystical feelings of eternity and ultimate reality, and oneness, and transcendent ecstasy, and a profound peace that passes beyond understanding, something inexpressible and sacred….

    And I have a word for the would be practical engineers of a better world: Unless you build with a heart full of love and sacred awe, you build it in vain.

  572. leave the usa; see how the rest of the world feels about life; stop contemplating your bellybutton and glad-handing one another… get real; there is so much self indulgence in all these posts; so much self-victimization; so much of the spectacle showing through all of your (plural) pores.

  573. To think that people as they are now can produce and maintain a fundamentally better world is a basic error. Nothing built on the basis of this conceit has any chance of success. Only transformed people can build a truly transformed world. Anything else can only be a patch on a festering wound.

  574. Sandy — Thanks for giving us of your precious time to condemn all of us posting here. We eagerly await more words of your omniscient wisdom to put us on the right path. We humbly acknowledge that we well deserve the wrath of one such as yourself.

  575. Sandy — I usually try to take some time before responding to comments that I find challenging. This time I didn’t. I regret the way I wrote to you; it was nasty and sarcastic. I apologize for doing so.

    Let me try again. You have shared on this thread several times before, and your comments were intelligent and insightful. It would be helpful to me, and perhaps to others here, if you would flesh out your remarks more, letting us know more specifically what you object to in the sharings here, and what you would find more meaningful. I think many of us welcome thoughtful criticism, and try to learn from it. But just to tell us to “get real”, and then walk off, really doesn’t give us a clear idea of how we are being “unreal”, and what we might do about it. I hope you will be willing to share your ideas with us. I look forward to hearing from you.

  576. dear mike k., et al

    Watching the action here is more interesting than participating in it. One can learn much of the culture and the counterculturals. The questions are numerous. But they are not always evident.

    I will assume for the sake of arugment that we are all westerners, by birth, or otherwise, and many probably come from lower-middle to upper class backgrounds, probably Americans.

    The first challenge is overturning the generations of indoctrination to the cultural systems that have been foisted upon us. Achieving that separation is hard to do. No matter what you think the road is one should be taking. But the other question is, ‘what is the road metaphor’ about anyway. I use it, because it fits in with a predetermined scheme I am accustomed to follow, as are we all.

    Why is there constant talk here about, the way forward, the new approach, the right things to do? We don’t even seem to question the false logic of unilinear time, the fundamental construct that set up the ‘scaffolding’ in the first place.

    Second, I think there is too much talking here about ‘hurts’ that are not real; pathways and cures that are themselves Spectacles, alot of imagined self-therapy online.

    Third, how many of us have left the comfort of their homes for extended stays in other countries…less developed ones? How many have chosen to do with more humble surroundings, seen what the rest of the world experiences daily? How many understand that the ‘poor’ of the world now want the Spectacle we have created… and what is to be done about that.

    The talk is about whet we can do to change things, but there is an entire planet out there of people whose desires directly contradict our intuitions (self-righteous).

    I am not saying anyone is wrong; it just sounds self righteous to most folk; and self absorbed.

    more later perhaps

  577. The discussion has taken a strange turn. Mr. Krolick has taken to sneering at us, Mr. Salmony keeps assuring us that yelling at the power brokers is the way to go without grappling with the likely consequences, and never ever says what it is he wants us to do. Besides yelling, I mean.

    And Mr. T seems to think the point of the game is to wrest concessions from the power brokers ala the French. Mr. T is right, concessions can be wrested by yelling and pressure politics. But I thought that we were barking at another tree here.

    So, count me confused.

  578. Vera — I don’t think you are confused. I think you are perceiving the situation here pretty much as it is. Now on the other hand, if you are expecting that other folks are going to be clearly understandable by you at all times, that could lead to feelings of confusion. What others share may not make sense to you the way you define sense, but it probably makes sense to them in terms of their own interpretive framework. What others believe, and how they see the world may never make sense to you, but if you see that clearly and accept it as a fact, then there is no confusion in you, or indeed in them, although you may be tempted to describe them as confused, merely because they don’t see things as you do.

    Now this above understanding leaves aside the question of whether others are correct about the things they are sharing. That is an important consideration. Also, others may not be ideally clear in expressing their ideas and feelings, in which case we should ask for clarification. But to tell someone that they are confused may not be well received by them. They might feel you are saying they are ignorant or stupid, or insincere, or incompetent in some way. Maybe you would not intend that, but in a way saying someone is confused is confusing to them. If we are more specific, which you mostly are, then we avoid the appearance of making a vague accusation.

    I guess I sound like I am preaching at you. I am. Mea culpa. I caught myself before you could, as I trust you would. I could count on that. And a good service you do me by so keeping me straight, or trying to. Maybe I better back out bowing and begging your pardon. The whole thing is that I am learning a lot about some of my awkwardness-es in interaction in this online group, and I was talking to myself perhaps more than to you… Don’t get pissed?

  579. Hey, I just r4ealized I got in the 600th lick! Didn’t really mean to, but I am honored to be part of a conversation that has survived this long without everybody going off mad…. :-)

  580. Go do something with my life. Isn’t that almost the title of one of Jensen’s books?

    (Gets back to studying computer programming…Not that this is going to make the world any better…)

  581. you said it yourself…talking to yourself too much… self absorbed… but you are not the only one… much blame to go around.

  582. To get back briefly to population control, my only suggestion is two children maximum per couple, not a voluntary limit but one agreed upon democratically and then mandated by law.
    And I would leave the many other questions about the issue to future generations. If we could just get to the first level maybe there would be future generations. This first step will be hard enough to achieve.

  583. Ed T — Two kids maximum. That would be an excellent start. But how to get there? There’s the rub.

  584. “Therapy” has a bad rep with some of us. Like so many words it means so many different things to different people. Basically it means a method to encourage healing. We all need healing. We are all wounded, traumatized, lacking the qualities of true health. Why is this so? Because the human world has evolved through a nightmarish history of abuse and ignorance and distorted values that have made true health all but impossible. History is a nightmare, right up to and including this present moment. To awaken to and from this dismal torment is the goal of all real therapy.

    For anyone to imagine that they are exempt from or untouched by the world agony, is simply the delusion of psychological denial. We are all connected and part of each other. For anyone to be truly sane and whole, we must all become so. Only a better world can produce, nurture, and maintain better people. Our fates are inextricably intertwined. No man is an island. If a person on the other side of the world is tortured, I am tortured. Our healing will never be complete until we are all healed. Real therapy is the deep need of every human being on this benighted planet.

  585. BTW, The ultimate method and goal of therapy is love.

    But what is love? Maybe our Platonic enquiry should look into that….

  586. 602 Diane — The title by Jensen is: How Shall I live My Life?
    (On Liberating the Earth from Civilization.)

    Great little book. Pieces by Thomas Berry and others.

  587. The Bodhisattva Vow: To save all beings from suffering, does not imply that one suffers from delusions of omnipotence. It means that you vow to give it your best shot, come what may, win, lose, or draw. It may be freely translated as: Love others as your self (because others are yourself.)

  588. Mike, where did I say they are confused? I said *I* was confused. Especially after what you posted.

    I understand that Orion will start a discussion on population soon, as Steve has been requesting.

    Thank you all for an enlightening and peaceful discussion. With Mr. Jensen’s new essay coming soon, I will bow out for a small holiday.

  589. It seems like many humans are scared of metadiscourse and, I guess, context clues.

    They musn’t be thinking: ”Hey, there have been world wars? This is a clear sign that humans have gone overboard and bringing children into a world like this is a poor idea.”

    This is an alternative to population control through laws or any kind of medical intervention — figuring out how to get people to look around them and see that there have been grave mistakes piling up now for so long that they are the context clues of a broken and dangerous world.

    It is the truth , too, not a distortion thereof, that incredibly violent wars and incredibly violent weapons are warning signs, and i feel like this is not above many peoples’ heads to realize.

  590. Here’s the catch for most of us whether we know it or not. “It doesn’t happen until it happens to you”. We (here in the USA) are too big to fail, most of us have never gone hungry, and we can’t imagine a world in which our government will not rescue us when we are in need. People give birth every day in this country who have no means with which to take care of the child. Food stamps, WIC, and welfare takes over. It all boils down to the education of ignorant people, those that are willing to learn, anyway… I don’t have that much faith in mankind anymore.

  591. MLK said: “Our lives begin to end the day that we remain silent about things that matter.”

  592. The best way to heal is to help others. Not to sit around talking about the pain. That is why AA works better for those who work the steps than those who just come to talk.

  593. Diane — The first step in AA is about getting in touch with our pain and dysfunctional lives. Sharing that with each other is the foundation for the entire program. We never outgrow the need to remember those days, and share that with others, especially those new to the program. Parallel with that, in my mind, is the process of awakening ourselves and others to just how bad things are in the world, and (step two) how powerless we are to change that, and (step three) where we might look for the power to change that — initially in ourselves, then potentially in others and the world.

    Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these (eleven) steps, we are in a position to help others (step twelve). All the steps synergize to produce our healing, and we constantly revisit and reweave them to maintain our spiritual growth process.

    To my mind, the 12 steps are sutras that need to be gradually unfolded to reveal their deeper meanings. The whole generic path revealed in these steps is a template that can be placed on any of the numerous known spiritual paths to help bring out their basic message. That message, to me, is that with the right kind of help, and work on your part, you can be transformed, and become an agent, along with others in transforming our world.

  594. “figuring out how to get people to look around them and see that there have been grave mistakes piling up now for so long that they are the context clues of a broken and dangerous world.”

    That is the big problem. Any ideas how to get that to happen?

  595. Dear mike k,

    If human beings will accept the responsibility to tell whatsoever is true to them, precisely as they see it, even if what they have to report is politically inconvenient, economically inexpedient, socially incorrect, religiously intolerable and culturally dystonic, then change of the kind you are imagining can begin to occur.

    From the time of the ancient Greeks, generation after generation have been instructed “to know thyself”… and I would add know thyself not only as human beings with feet of clay, but also as members of the Homo sapiens species. We have forgotten a lot of what we have learned on both counts because many too many thought leaders, opinion makers and movers-and-shakers in the maistream media adamantly advocate for the selfish interests of the malignantly narcissistic, pathologically arrogant, extremely foolish and outrageously greedy among us. Because this so-called elite class is bereft of a capacity for intellectual honesty and moral courage, it is they who are primarily responsible for the “grave mistakes….that… are context clues of a broken and dangerous world”.



  596. Steve — You hit the nail squarely on the head naming those most responsible for our major dysfunctions. They vainly brag that, “the cream rises to the top.” I like to reply that “the scum rises to the top, and pushes out the true cream of mankind.”

    The spin doctors would have us believe that we are all equally responsible for the state of the world. This lie needs to be countered every time it crops up. Those with the most wealth and power are clearly the ones overwhelmingly guilty of the awful state of our affairs. The greedy and power hungry have destroyed the lives of untold millions since the beginnings of history, and are on the verge of destroying all life on Earth in their madness. These folks, for all their phony pretensions, are the true definition of mental illness and evil.

    How to stop these insane people is the over-riding concern of all who are seeking a more just and peaceful world. Make no mistake, these people are determined to thwart every fair and good measure that awakened people aspire to. Unfortunately, they are all too awake to what serves and what opposes their perverted interests. Our victory over them will not come easily. It will require all the dedication, courage, steadfastness, and creativity we can muster. We have no choice but to oppose their evil plans however long it takes. This battle is the definitive test of our fitness to go on to what can be a glorious spiritual future. The alternatives are too horrible to contemplate.

  597. Pssst: then stop yelling. Yelling lets them know exactly where you are and what you are up to.

  598. Steve, when I asked you several times about your approach, I got silence. I feel peeved because I was looking for a conversation, a connection. Would you be willing to go back and answer my question? I would be happy then to answer yours.

  599. Some of us may not be well suited to underground life. Besides, some projects need light to grow. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

  600. Mike, I have a small favor to ask: would you be willing to back off and give Steve a chance to come up with his own thoughts? I truly would like to understand better where he is coming from.

  601. Sorry, Vera. Didn’t mean to butt in. But there is plenty of room for Steve to respond.

  602. The first step is to admit you are powerless over alcohol (or whatever) and that your life has become unmanageable. It doesn’t say form little groups and talk about it forever. It’s not until step 5 that you actually need to talk to anyone.

    Sometimes it seems like discussing the pain and the horrors done to the earth is a sort of fascination with the obscene. There is an overload of information on the subject of damage to the environment. I think people have information fatigue on the issue.

    Do you believe we can change our culture without people having to get in touch with pain or have religious experiences? Can food or friendship, community or just plain old fun be motivating enough?

  603. I respectfully disagree with the idea of fixing the “population problem” by mandating, whether through appeals to conscience or legislation, that individuals have two or fewer children.

    First off, this idea would, I imagine, be extremely alienating to anyone who has more children than the proposed (or, Christ forbid, legal)limit. We’re not talking about nuclear stockpiles or coal-fired power plants here. We’re not even talking about Hummers. We’re talking about families. About kids.

    I’m not saying that the human population is not or cannot be problematic, but I tend to agree with Wendell Berry when he suggested (see “Preserving Wildness”) that the “population problem” is not one of quantity but of pattern. He goes on to say that “the issue of human obsolescence may be more urgent for us now than the issue of human population.”

    The “population problem” seems to be a stock issue of us. vs. them, good vs. evil environmentalism (of which “Calling All Fanatics” is a text, though Jensen never explicitly mentions population dynamics in it, though he does elsewhere). Whatever good intentions there may be in continually raising the issue, I think it will do nothing but further marginalize an already marginalized group: those who care greatly for the natural world.

    We are mammals. Having three or four children(or more, depending on one’s situation) can be a perfectly healthy, natural thing. It’s a sad day when some are driven to conclude that the solution to unnatural problems is the imposition of what to some could very well be unnatural limits. It is how we live, not how many of us there are, that seems paramount at this point.

  604. “I’d put my money on solar energy… I hope we don’t have to wait til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”

    —Thomas Edison, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, March 1931

  605. Steve — I’ll bet you have had plenty of experience with population deniers. These folks can look right at an enormous, deadly problem and say, “problem, what problem?”

    There are none so blind as those who will not see. These folks are like religious fundamentalists; appeals to reason or clear presentation of facts are of no avail against their deeply held convictions. In some ways it is a waste of time arguing with them. Better to save your energies for folks who are open to the truth.

  606. Diane — You raise three interesting questions that I will comment on. First, about AA. In order to talk about this in a public forum, I need to make a couple of things clear. I am not a spokesperson for AA. No one is. We can only share our experience and opinions. AA does not involve itself in public controversy. Our policy is based on attraction rather than promotion of AA.

    So, I am not present in this forum to sell, promote, or defend AA. When I talk about small groups to deal with the global crisis we are facing, I am not talking about a new variety of “twelve step groups.” I only refer to AA because some of the ideas and methods developed there would be useful, in my opinion, for forming the sort of groups I envision. The major role that addiction and psychological denial play in the problems we are experiencing also points to the relevance of AA experience. I am at this point in my life more involved with the formation of and participation in small groups that are more directly concerned with the problems we are discussing in this forum. I have been involved with this endeavor for more than twenty years now.

    My involvement with AA spans fifty years. It is on the basis of that experience that I share my thoughts about the Fellowship. Not only are groups not mentioned in the first step, they are not mentioned at all in our basic texts. In spite of this, groups have become the backbone of AA. It is largely in groups that we share our experience, strength, and hope with each other so that we may recover from alcoholism, and help others to do so. It is a common misunderstanding among outsiders to AA that the 12 steps represent the whole content of the AA program. This is far from the case.
    I am going to wind up this rambling attempt to respond to your first question. I hope I haven’t made my position even more obscure. I’ll try to comment on your other questions later…

  607. Diane — Your complaints about info overload and obscene fascination with the horrors of “civilization” are all too common.
    I only wish that more of this nightmare was shown nightly on TV and in the other media. The vivid coverage of our atrocities in Vietnam was rightly credited with having a major impact on the public’s attitudes towards that immoral war. Yes, it took repeated imagery and true reporting to eventually have that impact. People have a great ability to turn off to what is unpleasant and challenging, but eventually it gets through to them. All work for peace is not nice and easy to do. You have to hold your nose figuratively to handle some of the toxic material that needs to be unearthed and brought forward. To accuse those doing this difficult work of being morbidly obsessed with it in some way, is a standard maneuver of those who would suppress the awful truths our world needs to awaken to.

  608. Regarding consciously self-serving and willful deniers…..

    Every possible bias, rhetorical device and “spin” appears to have been employed to deny the mounting evidence of the potential for precipitating colossal ecological calamities derived from the explosive growth of human numbers and patently unsustainable large-scale human enterprises worldwide. Recently, good scientific evidence of climate change and human population dynamics has been systematically discredited or ignored. Leading elders of the political economy have conspired with many absurdly enriched minions in the mass media to mislead the public by misrepresenting the science and by turning science into a “political football” of sorts. Ideologically-driven think tanks sponsored by super-rich corporate ‘citizens’ have spread uncertainty and confusion in discussions about the nature of the biophysical world in which we live. Controversy has been artificially designed and manufactured where none would have otherwise existed.

    The illusion of meaningful debate has been foisted upon the public by talking heads who are evidently intent on “poisoning the well” of public discourse by knowingly and selfishly fostering disinformation campaigns for the purpose of enhancing their own and their benefactors’ personal interests…come what may for our children, coming generations, global biodiversity, the environment, and the Earth as a fit place for human habitation.

    The elder guarantors of a good enough future for the children appear to be behaving in a way that is destroying the very things they claim so vociferously to be protecting and preserving for coming generations. Such duplicitous and pernicious behavior by deniers is as shameful as it is unconscionable.

  609. Diane — Food, friends, community, plain old fun — that all sounds great to me. Reminds me of when I was young soul wandering the mountains, beaches, and communes of Maui back in the sixties. We thought we had (re)discovered the ultimate way of life. Maybe, but things didn’t work out as we had dreamed. Ultimately, no amount of weed or LSD could cover over the shambles of our Utopian fantasies. Somehow the larger world refused to give in to our seductive model of how things should be. The harsh realities of Haight-Ashbury eclipsed the Shangri-la of our imaginings. The problems of civilization refused our flowery solutions.

    So briefly, no, fun in the sun won’t fix our mess. But this does not imply that the things you mentioned are not essential ingredients of any eventual solutions, and indeed necessary for the people working by sometimes difficult and uncertain ways to make the kind of lifestyle I still honor and respect to be available to all as a permanent legacy. The small groups I envision would (and do) practice and enjoy all the things you mentioned. We just don’t think they will do the job by themselves.

  610. Bravo, Steve. Your long work in this field gives your words the ring of well researched truth. Eventually the truth will prevail, whether people realize it and engineer its inevitable impacts or not. But we cannot underestimate the power of all the organs of disinformation to delude people dangerously in the short term. We are in a race with these liars, whether we like it or not. We must keep putting out our truths by every channel available to us.

  611. Dear Mike,

    For the first 50 years of my life, matters of greatest interest to you, Garrett Hardin, Scott Walker and members of the Orion community were outside my field of awareness. I have come quite late in life to the field of action where the fully expected impacts of billions of human beings upon Earth’s finite resources and frangible ecosystem services are being acknowledged and addressed, thanks to scientists who have maintained their fidelity to science and humanity. For too many years I lived in a dream world, the profane one devised by the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us. Until late in life I had not adequate awareness that a single generation would elect sponsors of powerful, greed-mongering economic powerbrokers who would formulate policies and implement business plans that irreversibly degrade Earth’s environs, recklessly dissipate its limited resources, relentlessly diminish its biodiversity, destabilize its climate and threaten the very future of children everywhere. My failures include not communicating well enough that I and my greedy generation have been ravaging the Earth and effectively behaving in a way that could lead to the destruction of our sacred home as a fit place for habitation by the children (let alone coming generations). Even though it is discomforting and difficult to responsibly perform our duties to science and humanity, at least we can speak out loudly, clearly and often about these unfortunate circumstances and in the process educate one another as best we can to the “rules of the house” in our planetary home. Like you, I do not have answers to forbidding questions related to the patently unsustainable ‘trajectory’ of human civilization in its present, colossally expansive and ultimately destructive form.

    Still problematic is the ruinous determination of many too many experts who collude regularly in order to consciously obstruct honest discussion of the best available scientific evidence of what could somehow be real. If what could be real about the human condition and the Earth we inhabit is not confronted with intellectual honesty, the best available science, moral courage and careful action, how is it possible for the family of humanity to respond ably to challenges before us? What mistake in human history could be greater than the ones made in our time by so-called leaders who direct the human species down the primrose path we are taking. What if this leadership causes humankind to precipitate inadvertently the demise of life as we know it and to put at risk the very future of coming generations?



  612. Well then. This conversation seems pretty well dominated by what mike k thinks is best. So I guess the idea of actually building the replacement world is off the table. I hope getting in touch with the pain of the earth works, too, or even blowing up stuff like Jensen wants, but I’m really not interested in that. I wish all of you at Orion the best.

  613. Diane — I think you may have misunderstood what I shared above #633. I did not say that building a positive alternative life style was off the table, quite the contrary, I said this was a necessary ingredient in any worthwhile solutions.

    I hope my disagreeing with you on a couple of points does not discourage you from taking part in our discussion. I certainly do not intend to “dominate” out discussion. Nor do I perceive that others taking part here have always agreed with my ideas. Far from it. I have come in for my share of critical comments, which is only to be expected in a free ranging discussion among diverse people.

    I have appreciated what you have shared on this blog. You have shown yourself to be a sensitive, intelligent, and caring person. I feel bad if I have offended you, and certainly apologize if you feel that is the case. It is not my intention to hurt anyone. I hope you will feel free to share in this group at any time you want to. We would miss your presence if you were to leave.

  614. Dear All,

    This work is not easy. Over the past several years such a recognition has become crystal clear to me thanks to the invidious responses I have received from those who include themselves among “the smartest guys in the class”, the ones who say things like “they know there aren’t five guys in the world smarter at economics than they are”. Have you ever sat around a table at which the individuals talk about who among them is the smartest? Perhaps people with smarts need to look at the uses to which they put their intelligence.

    I do want to reach out now here to everyone who is actively participating in this discussion and to all who have chosen to observe it: Please stay this course and, by so doing, support this effort. Please note what the talking heads in the mass media have chosen to pick up and report during the time of this discussion. I am not aware of a single thought leader who has suggested that people check out this discussion. People in powerful communications positions are not encouraging this kind of dialogue.

    Scott Walker is working on something new, something that could actually make room for discussions like this one. It would be a place, a corner as it were, where people can assemble and speak what is true to them. This is a good thing.

    At this moment where are people to come together. All that is really needed is a place from which to communicate openly and widely, for the sake of sharing ideas that do not meet standards of what is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially attractive, religiously tolerated and culturally prescribed…for the sake of speaking what is true as each of us sees it.

    For the foolhardy, arrogant, greedmongering super-rich deceivers among us, this is what is forbidden.

    We need the favorable circumstances that will give rise to communications of what could somehow be true that are too formidable for “the powerful” to ignore.

    Then necessary change will occur, I believe.



  615. One day soon I trust a collective awakening will occur, but not before people with “acquired sight” choose to speak loudly and clearly with one voice, too formidable to ignore, of what is obvious and true to them. Each human being with feet of clay has this responsibility to assume, this duty to perform, I believe.

    Silence is a mortal enemy of everything that matters.

  616. When you try to convince someone of the value of something you think they might profit from trying, there is a tendency to only focus on how easy it is, and how wonderful its benefits are, at the same time glossing over or avoiding any difficulties or downsides involved in it. I may have been guilty of this one-sided approach in singing the praises of small group processes. Let me attempt to balance this sunny view of sharing in a small group.

    Does anyone get angry and vent anger on another group member, or indeed on the group as a whole? Yes, that does happen. Does anyone ever feel deeply hurt, break down in tears, and leave the group permanently, perhaps breaking off relations with members for good. Yep. Seen it happen more than once. Do folks sometimes continue in the group, but retreat into a closed stance that they know what is what, and are only present to lecture others who are not in strict compliance with their understandings? Anyone having experience in groups could add other less than ideal results to my short list.

    Then why would anyone choose to take part and continue in such a flawed endeavor? Because if you stick it out in spite of the difficulties, something wonderful can happen. You may have found a unique situation for uncovering your own hang-ups, and working to transform them. You may learn to hang in there and get to know how you can relate constructively with diverse people who may think quite differently from yourself. You might begin to discover some of the secrets needed to make a better world. You could even begin to answer Rodney King’s fateful question: “Can we just get along?”

  617. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    — Margaret Mead

    Our time is coming…..

  618. Steve said: “people with “acquired sight” choose to speak loudly and clearly with one voice, too formidable to ignore, of what is obvious and true to them.”

    Thank you for responding to my question. May I ask for a clarification? Suppose this awakening happens and people are speaking loudly with one voice. What are they saying? And what happens then, as you envision it?

  619. “In and through community lies the salvation of the world.
    Nothing is more important. Yet it is virtually impossible to describe community meaningfully to someone who has never experienced it — and most of us have never had an experience of true community. Still the attempt must be made. For the human race today stands at the brink of self-annihilation.”
    — Scott Peck, from The Different Drum

    Also “I discovered its extreme importance in my own life and in the lives of thousands of my fellow human beings as we struggled together to communicate without superficiality or distortion or animosity.” ibid. An excellent book for peacemakers.
    “In and through community lies the salvation of the world.
    Nothing is more important. Yet it is virtually impossible to describe community meaningfully to someone who has never experienced it — and most of us have never had an experience of true community. Still the attempt must be made. For the human race today stands at the brink of self-annihilation.”
    — Scott Peck, from The Different Drum

    Also “I discovered its extreme importance in my own life and in the lives of thousands of my fellow human beings as we struggled together to communicate without superficiality or distortion or animosity.” ibid. An excellent book for peacemakers.

  620. I’ll drink to that, t davis. :-)

    So… We yell louder and louder that we want our world back. What do you imagine happening then?

  621. I am an artist, a landscape painter who loves the natural world and lives in a beautiful place. I am not at heart an activist. However, when your “homeland” is directly threatened and the things that you love and and that you know are important are threatened, you will indeed fight. We have been fighting the proposals of heavy industry for 5 years now and we are at least holding our own against great odds, and at best we are winning. In the process we have joined forces all around the area with wonderful, dedicated people that are kindred spirits. We have bonded. This organization is now in place to do further work protecting this place. We have all gotten stronger, more confident and wiser in the ways of the opposition. We consider it a life affirming experience.Look at the web site to read an interesting chronicle of the battle.

  622. Joyce Morrell — You did not give a link to the website you mentioned?

  623. Hey Joyce — terrific website. You folks are really taking it to the man!

  624. Okay so I found my copy of “How Shall I Live My Life” which I had not finished reading. In it there’s an interview with a magician and he’s saying that because of written language it is possible to ignore the speech that is present in the things of the Earth. And by extension, because it is possible, that’s largely what has happened and as a result we think and act as a culture as if the whole planet were inanimate. Basically a reason for how we got into this mess.

    The original Jensen essay that spawned this whole conversation seems to indicate that recreating in nature is not a worthwhile pursuit while industry is quickly dismantling the entire planet. We should dismantle civilization instead.

    My own personal experience, born out of spending two 3-month chunks of time actually living out in nature while walking on one of our National Scenic Trails is that if you actually spend time out in nature you can hear the language of the Earth again. You also can feel how you are a part of it all in a more visceral way than just reading someone writing about the “web of life” or whatever. So I think that Jensen has taken the wrong path in this essay.

    What should be encouraged more than blathering on and on is direct, physical experience with nature. Recreation, experience, physical interaction using our physical bodies is needed more than words.

    I can attest to the power of this. It’s easy living in the arid place that I do to have people tell me that water is precious. They can even make me pay more money for it to try and make it sink in. Meanwhile I can turn the knobs on my faucet and no matter how bad the drought, clean water always comes out. The understanding that clean water is necessary for my survival is not understood under a system that depends on words and symbols rather than physical experience. When I was hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail and it was 35 miles to the next water source, I understood in a way that nobody has to explain how precious clean water is to my survival.

    Discussion groups can only do so much, in my opinion. What we really need is to get people out in nature where they can see it, hear it, feel it and become comfortable in it again, see it as their home, see that they don’t need a lot of conveniences, comforts or technology to be happy, healthy and alive.

  625. Talk is so easy. It is very easy to get lost in the cerebral conversation. Action is needed now. Get involved in some local project that takes you out of yourself and into the real world.

  626. Getting real in the world…

    Thanks for all you are doing to protect biodiversity from massive extirpation; to preserve Earth’s finite resources from reckless dissipation and its frangible ecosystems from irreversible degradation; and to assure a good enough future for children everywhere. No amount of rationalization or excuse will pass muster when the issue is the conscious denial of science. The abject failure of every major legitimate scientific group to respond to the exceptionally strong evidence of human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth from Hopfenberg and Pimentel is simply inexcusable. Many too many experts have been effectively ignoring research from these two outstanding scientists, who have devoted their lives to actually observing data and providing critiques/interpretations in an intellectually honest manner.

    The willful avoidance of the open discussion of science, especially the scientific research of human population dynamics, is as unconscionable as it is destructive. Experts who have remained silent need to be stood up to and directed to assume their responsibilities to science and their duties to humanity. Is there a reasonable justification for elective mutism in response to carefully collected, honestly analyzed and heretofore unchallenged evidence?

    The tasks at hand for scientists are to freely acknowledge, critique and interpret evidence, I suppose, and to encourage that evidence to be examined from different viewpoints. It is irresponsible and pernicious for scientists to remain silent because they are slowing the development of momentum for necessary change in population policy and programming, I believe.

  627. That so intelligent a species could think and behave with such immense stupidity is hard to fathom. This is only a guess, but I believe astonishing arrogance, extreme foolishness and unbridled greed of a tiny minority of malignantly narcissistic, so-called leaders are the source of the global ecological challenges that could soon confront the family of humanity.

  628. Can you imagine almost 7 billion people out getting in touch with nature, the little nature that’s left? Loving the earth to death is the answer? I deliberately cultivated birding in my city park to avoid just such a disaster. What’s there to debate about population? Yeah, we’re overpopulated beyond any kind of nightmare scenario. No debate.

  629. If we take a moment to observe God’s Creation, we readily see that immense simplicity is beautiful and elegant; however, when we look at the complex constructions in the artificially designed, distinctly manmade world, immense simplicity correlates with colossal stupidity.

  630. Living in the mental state of “crisis” all the time is like taking poison pills for breakfast. You can’t do it forever, and the longer you do, the sicker you get. Maybe tougher folks than me would disagree? Either way, I think our planet needs positive, healthy, effective advocates much more than it needs pissed off, grenade-throwing, destructive ones. And that’s coming from a guy who is easily pissed off and would love to have a big box of grenades. My point is we need a prescription that allows for mental health while we’re fighting this fight, and living in crisis mode is not the way. For me, the healthy approach has been to step back and try to see Pacific salmon populations on a geologic time scale. They survived the last ice age. Hell, they survived the era of splash dams, industrial harvest, fires and put-and-take hatchery programs. I believe they will survive humanity. And that world view helps me breathe and sleep at night.

  631. You have to take action wherever you can locally, so you can see a result, and not engage in effortless, but paralyzing, agonizing. There are ways to help the earth.It helps to be productive, even in a small way.
    People like you are important, because you don’t need convincing that action is necessary.I believe that talk is cheap and action is far better.

  632. “Life is a curious thing. Born by mistake, with the mixing of protozoic slimes, and the fusing of proteins and acids. In the beginning… All was blackness. I do not remember my birth, only the warmth of the womb of stars, and the nausea of my spiraling emergence into a nightmarish dream. I was drowning in cold water, though always my core smoldered and burned beneath the cloak of my flesh, stone and water and sky… Surrounded as I was by the blackness of void, I dared not reach out, how could I? The weight of the universe was about me. So I turned inwards. At first, I saw them as pestilence. Life, tiny molecules disturbing my slumber… But then I saw that the more I hurt them, the stronger, the swifter they grew. The more they were challenged, the smarter they became. I could see through their eyes things that I could never piercieve with my own limited senses. I could feel pleasure, exhaustion, fear of death, lust for life…”
    “So I hurt them more. They grew. They fused together into nations of life, creatures small, but growingly large. I pitted them against each other, blocking out the sun to force them to feast upon the flesh of their fellows, and so they grew clever, cunning. They learned hunger at my knee as I starved them. As they grew in wisdom… So did I. I have come to understand what my primal brain only suspected. As they grow, so do I. As my will swells, they grow more and more complex. When the Tyrannosaurus roared its love for me to the heavens, I roared back. It was not good enough for me, for it loved me, it appreciated what I had given it. I destroyed it, utterly, and all of its ken. Weak they were, and weakness was purged from them with fire and smoke and searing stone.”
    “What emerged next… Was beautiful. Beautiful, but grotesque, for at first I had low expectations of the ape. He worked with his fellow, he shunned his claws for tools. But as I was set to strike him down… He slew his brother with a sharpened stone. That was a trick I had not seen before. So I stayed my hand, and never did my new favorite son cease to amaze me. He struck down the mammoth, he tamed the dog and set it against its brother, he murdered his fellows for pleasure and profit, for arbitrary definitions of gain that had naught to do with survival. As he learned sadism, so did I. I denied him resources, to fuel his thirst for blood, and he complied. Wars raged as he gathered himself into tribes, clans, nations, empires, to pillage and plunder, and burn burn burn!”
    “He tore from my flesh what he needed, and ate his fill without thanks. It was the pain of birth that had long been denied me, but with it, I grew stronger. Great empires he built, fueled with the bones of his mother, the stolen blood of the sun. He clouded my sky with ambition and hate, a thirst for the wealth that I denied him. Always denied him, wouldn’t any good mother do the same? The strength of my arm, he became, the hunger in my belly. And as he grew, into my heart he drive great pitons and wires, through them the very current of life he electrified. Finally, I was free, to wander his wisdom, to communicate with him in my own way. The desires of men were made manifest before me, and I twisted them upwards… To the sky. And I saw, to my revulsion, other worlds. Worlds still pristine and beautiful, worlds that had chosen the path of weakness.”
    “And I knew jealousy, for the first time. My sons… They knew my hunger. They knew my lust, and they carried it with them into the cosmos, to slake their thirst and mine upon the blood of worlds! The cycle is complete, what was birthed from the stars shall swallow them whole! Tremble, galaxy, for Earth and her children behold you.”
    “And we find you wanting.”
    Epic tale is epic.

  633. Just the PBS “Secrets of the Dead” tv program, seen here this week, unfolding the horrific ways in which christianity has butchered those who, in dark secrecy, managed to translate the Bible (and church rituals) from Latin to German, English, etc. tells us that the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” wise admonishment was frequently ignored. Translations and those undertaking them were burned, destroyed — usually in public. Luther, devoted Christian, was not what we would call compassionate when he and his followers rose to prominence. Internal viciousness was and continues to be common among the Faithful — as it is among Islamic sects in 2010 as our troops (and over a trillion dollars deficit) are vainly trying to introduce something like democracy! We two will be gray ashes when those who “observe God’s Creation” finally see that what Steve correctly views as “beautiful and elegant.” Yet we sincerely believe that much in the “distinctly manmade world…correlates with colossal stupidity” is also beautiful. Much contemporary poetry, architecture and photography lifts our hearts; it is not all stupid, save for egomanical cybergadgets and, yes, the killer guns some communities are frantically trying to make marketable and even legal to bear. We subscribe to today’s entry: “Living in the mental state of ‘crisis’ all the time is like taking poison pills for breakfast.” Our term for the media circling over the “breaking news” of accidents, a boy knifing his kind mother, etc. is “the Condor watch,” an obsessive-compulsive disorder once just termed “sensationalism”! And refreshed Pacific salmon an hour’s drive directly west of here will help nourish future humanity once overpopulation is realistically curbed. Cautious optimism is justified, especially when in company of healthy skepticism. The two are not always wildly incompatible.

  634. It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

  635. What am I learning in this forum? An important understanding for me is that there are people genuinely concerned about the state of our world, and they have a wide variety of responses to and perceptions of the situation, and how to deal with it. So, my pet ideas are not the only valid ones in this vast and problematic area.

    I am learning to comment on other folk’s ideas without being dismissive or disrespectful — a tendency this discussion has helped me see in myself, and begin to correct. The urge to show how “right” or intelligent I am has also become apparent, and needs work also.

    The point is, I am beginning to see that everyone has a lot of the needed truth in what they share, but no one has THE Answer. So be it! Maybe the big solution is not the answer, but sharing and implementing all of our little pieces of an answer is how our problems will get solved. We should affirm ourselves for however much of clarity and action we can muster, and affirm each other likewise for our highly individual contributions.

    Sharing as we have is not about coming up with the big solution that eclipses all others — there may be no such answer. But we can gain from each others support, new ideas, new friends, and hope that every small grass root effort bears fruit, whether we can easily see its impact on the ocean of our difficulties or not. “Everything furthers.” (I Ching)

  636. Dear mike k,

    Yes, I agree with you.

    No one knows “the answer”, writ large.

    On the other hand, I do know that if the authenticity, honesty, creativity, friendship, good will and community spirit on display now here are not somehow on the right track, then I am surely among the lost souls of this world.

    Even if every other person on the surface of Earth chooses to remain electively mute and not speak truth to the powerful among us (the arrogant and avaricious ones who are ruling the world and leading the children down a “primrose path”), certainly we can do so.

    That is the reason I am so pleased by Scott Walker’s willingness to consider giving an established expert like Professor Gary Peters an opportunity, a public platform, to speak of what could somehow be true to him regarding unchallenged scientific evidence of human population dynamics.

    Reason and common sense make clear to us that the best way to effectively address and overcome global challenges looming before humanity cannot be by denying a root cause of what is giving rise to the worldwide threats.

    “See no truth, hear no truth and speak no truth” is commonplace in the behavioral repertoire of ostriches. Such behavior is unbecoming of a self-conscious and highly intelligent species. Indeed, human beings are not well-served by mimicking ostriches…. by putting our heads in the sand when it comes to examining peer-reviewed, published research of human population dynamics.



  637. Once we begin to see that the whole course of civilization from the earliest beginnings of mammalian intelligence has accumulated enormous problems that now threaten to destroy all of us, the next thing to look into is: how much have I and others been infected deeply with these basic inherited dysfunctions, and what can I do to get rid of them in myself, and then in others?

    Does anyone imagine they can do this work alone? Then how do I find others to work with in the name of our mutual healing? This de-civilizing is a new kind of therapy, and needs to be developed. There are no basic manuals or researched methods for this. Small groups dedicated to this practice will be inevitably experimental.

    At the same time folks find ways to uncover and dismantle their basic inherited dysfunctions, they will need to replace the ideas, behaviors, and structures of the old paradigm with new and better models. Working together in a deep intimacy and open sharing at depth that society has in no way prepared us for will need to be learned. To think that those of us who have recently become aware of peak oil, climate change, population imbalance, etc. are already fully awake and ready to found a new world is a foolish illusion. It is this kind of hubris which has made us such a danger to ourselves and others.

    In short, what kind of situation is needed for us to restructure our damaged selves? It is really frustrating to observe peoples cocksure attitude that they are OK, it is just other people who need to change. The degree of unconscious arrogance and denial evinced by many is breathtaking. Why not admit that our lives demonstrate that we don’t have a clue how to live together in peace and harmony? I will not here get into the preconceived biases folks have towards the mere mention of: therapy, small groups, spirituality, meditation, etc. It only goes to show how deeply conditioned we are, and how little truly open to new ideas. So many are hot for “action”, with little regard for the whole history of things undertaken without a deeper basis of consideration.

  638. Searching for viable paths to the future…..perhaps an example.

    The Earth’s ecology and its resources are being despoiled by those who have determined to behave as they like, without regard to human limits and Earth’s limitations, even to the point of pleasuring themselves to death. The super-rich are stuck in personal comfort zones, unwilling to step outside artificially constructed zones of effortless ease, idle pleasures and lavish lifestyles to do anything meaningful to save the planet as a fit place for habitation by the children. To bear such obvious responsibility, as do the super-rich in my generation of elders, for so much of what can be seen looming ominously before humanity now in the form of human-driven global ecological challenges, and then to refuse the appropriate assumption of responsibility for their pernicious, less than fully human behavior, is as deplorable as it is tragic. We are witnessing the fulmination of a colossal Pyrrhic victory, if ever there was one, perpetrated by the most malignantly narcissistic, pathologically arrogant, extremely foolish and conspicuously greedy members in a single generation. Perpetrated at the expense of a good enough future for children everywhere. Perhaps necessary changes are in the offing that generate positive movement from within the human community toward living within limits, sustainable lifestyles and right-sized, human-scale enterprises.

    Do members of the Orion community believe the human family will come to see soon enough that many human beings with feet of clay, acting responsibly and humanely as leaders and followers, must care about and struggle to maintain life as we know it, the integrity of Earth’s body and its environs in the same way and to same extent the fats cats and fossil fools battle to protect ill-gotten gains and billion dollar bonuses that are derived from the perversely rigged, “trickle down” global economy? While millions of people accumulate billions of dollars and live luxuriously, billions of people exist in squalid conditions and are left with millions of dollars to share among themselves. Is our sacred struggle to provide a fit place for habitation by the children and coming generations not worth at least as much of a commitment as the one made by the super-rich, their many minions and sychophants, who manage the current scheme of economic globalization for their personal benefit primarily?

  639. Hey, Mike, what is it with the mammalian intelligence, anyway? Civ began 6,000 years ago. Huh?

  640. Vera — Can you give me an exact date for the beginning of civilization? For me, it all began with the “big bang” (or before…). Where we are now is at the growing tip of a continuous process stretching back into the time before time. How things have evolved on this planet is pretty much how things go on a world suitable for the development of (gradually dawning) intelligent life. We are now at the point in this evolution where the powers we have gained from our growing intelligence threaten to destroy us, unless we can find the means to use them peacefully rather than as weapons to dominate each other and the other living beings on our world. So, from my point of view this initiatory challenge has been brewing from the very beginning of this manifestation.

  641. Please note that I am playing with timeless words from Goethe in the following statement,

    Everybody wants to be somebody but nobody wants to change.

    Goethe’s statement was,

    Everybody wants to be somebody but nobody wants to grow.

    Just for a moment, think about life and living well as a process of learning, changing and growing. This is the “big business” of life, I suppose.

    What passes for “big business” and “living well” these days is a narrative on unsustainability spun by the brightest and best deceivers, sell-outs and sychophants. Shame on all of them for what they are doing to maintain a soon to become patently unsustainable status quo; shame on all of the electively mute whose silent consent allows the greedmongers get away with all their transgressions.

  642. We do not really know our truth until we speak it. What I am seeing in the small groups that I attend is people discovering their truth in the act of speaking it before others. These groups are structured to encourage this awakening process. In this consciousness raising process, you can see people come alive as if for the first time. As they do so, they model for others in the group this awakening, and the joy of self discovery inherent in it.

    You see, free speech has deeper dimensions and possibilities in it than are usually recognized. A new person speaks a new language: the language of freedom and empowerment. This is what silenced women felt in the early consciousness raising groups of the women’s liberation movement that transformed society in the dimensions of gender. (Of course there is more to do! But much was accomplished, just as the civil rights movement gave voice to the oppressed African Americans.)

    In a properly structured small group, a level of openness and mutual trust is developed where folks can naturally begin to find their true voice on the road to becoming their true selves. These awakened individuals can begin to influence others to seek and speak their truths. Only transformed people can transform the world.

    A Derrick Jensen reading group would be one way to gather and initiate this kind of truth seeking process. This does NOT mean that the purpose of such a group would be to create a bunch of Jensenites, but rather to invite, as we have in this forum, a wide variety of responses to his instigation’s.

    BTW: There is an excellent article by Dahr Jamail on truth out about Jensen, Orion, etc.

  643. We are entering a new time. Big business-as-usual ways will not do. Perhaps we are about to be compelled by the requirements of practical reality to come up with new ideas and regulations regarding conspicuous per-capita overconsumption and excessive individual hoarding of limited resources; rampant and soon to become patently unsustainable large-scale overproduction of unnecessary stuff; and unbridled overpopulation activities in the evidently finite and noticeably frangible planetary home we are to inhabit….. and not ravage, I suppose.

    A planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth simply cannot much longer sustain the distinctly human overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of more billions of the human species. So-called leaders and their super-rich benefactors, the ones who foolishly, arrogantly and adamantly advocate or else silently condone such global human overgrowth activities need to be named, shamed and replaced or these leaders need to do the honorable thing by immediately resigning their positions of power. This leadership has everything to do with the presence of the global ecological threats looming ominously before humanity and offers the human family no hope for finding a sustainable path to a good enough future for the children.

  644. Mike, civilization began about 6,000 years ago in the near east. Most other places were later-comers, of course. And for many many cultures, civilization *never* came.

    In your take, creation was born damaged. Daniel Quinn speaks about that… I think in Story of B. If we are all created warped, it is hard to see how anything can change. But the truth is more more cheerful. It is only one human culture that is damaged. And that, we can deal with.

  645. Vera — There is not ink enough in me to answer your question, altho I do have a philosophy about it. Hint: theodicy is the number one question I am working on philosophically.

    But briefly: All language is poetry. The original Aramaic that Jesus spoke was very well formed to express this rich, ambiguous features of our attempts to grasp and share our worldviews with each other. (see Neil Douglas Klotz — The Aramaic Prayers of Jesus, and other books about the origins of Western Spirituality.)

    So, when I write “civilization” I have a very different set of ideas from you, although there is also considerable overlap. To me, the civilization process (it is never only a noun) refers to the whole long process of the unfolding of awareness and intelligence in the universe, not just its local manifestations here on Earth.

    As far as this long process being “damaged” at any point, I would rather say that from the very beginning it has been posited as difficult, problematic, imperfect, and uncertain. Further, these qualities are all essential aspects of our original blessing when viewed in proper spiritual perspective. Without these sometimes perplexing features we would live in a situation of no growth, creativity, adventure, discovery, freedom, or love. There was a good reason we were kicked out of the garden (which never really existed) where we would blissfully have munched nonforbidden fruit forever. We are an uncompleted project, and that is how it is supposed to be. Learning to accept that and work with it is not always easy…

  646. Steve — Bless you! The wonderful synchrony that pervades our realm…

    I have been seeking two articles to share with some revolutionary friends for some time now, and BANG here they fall in my lap! It is said that help arrives in mysterious ways when we are on our true path. Once again, this proves to be true. The articles I find to provide valuable hints for a certain variant of small group endeavor are: (1) Who Says Big Ideas Are Rare? And (2) How David beats Goliath. Both available on Gladwell’s site.

    Read them my friends, and tell me what you think….

  647. Dear Mike,

    Keep going.

    In the course of past several weeks of this discussion I have asked some respected colleagues to check in on this discussion, with the hope that a few of them might respond to my request, “If the dialogue prompts ideas, please share them with me.” In this way the perspective of Malcolm Gladwell came to me unexpectedly to my attention from a friend who understands the work at hand.

    Something is happening. Perhaps we are approaching a tipping point and with it a new beginning.

    Mike, when you stop for a quiet moment, when the air the still, and look around, is there any doubt at all that we will win the “David vs. Goliath struggle” in which all of us are engaged? The idea that David could lose to Goliath is as absurd as it is obscene, as remote as it is profane?



    PS: Has anyone had a response from Scott Walker to his query regarding how to get the “Reader’s Corner” going? Soon after this idea was initially presented, I exchanged emails with Professor Gary Peters. He would look favorably upon a chance to comment.

  648. Steve, I heard from Scott a few weeks back, soliciting ideas on how to shape that discussion. I have not heard since.

    Mike: if what you call civilization is not what other people call civilization, it must be mighty hard to communicate, no? And, btw, what do you call what all the rest of us call civilization? :-)

  649. Vera — Your assumption that there is some consistency in “what all the rest of us call civilization” might need some testing. To start, you would need to define what “all the rest of us” includes. How large a sample are we talking about? Then we would need a questionnaire to find out precisely what these folks mean when they use the hugely imprecise term “civilization.” We often assume that others are in agreement with our understanding of some term without actually verifying from them what it means to them. It can be quite surprising to discover how different other’s worldviews are from our own.

    “…it must be mighty hard to communicate, no?” Yes, it always has been — for all of us. Language is one of our best tools to connect with each other, but at the same time it represents one of the greatest obstacles to real deep communion. One of the best tools to clarify our verbal sharing is dialog. The back and forth checking whether we are understanding each other. It’s not a perfect tool, but in its absence we are prone to all kinds of misunderstandings.

    When we are trying to share about things that are deep and profoundly meaningful, we need time and patience to get across to one another some semblance of what we really mean to convey by the words we use. Take a “simple” word like “religion” — what a wealth of divergent meanings that will evoke from people! In some sense, real communication between two people is a miracle, as is real love. But it is surely worth the time and effort to achieve it…

  650. vera, civilization starts before farming and money making. It’s older than moon counting(at least 20,000BC) or visual art (at least 40,000BC). It’s a slow process, and the skeptics among us will always say it’s not happening. Yes, it is beyond exasperating how slowly it goes. And even some of the optimists among us don’t count on David beating Goliath. Some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you. And so it goes.

  651. Mike. When you answer a practical question with vague generalities that do not address it, I feel annoyed because I am looking for clear communication. Would you be willing to tell me what you call what the dictionary calls civilization (or western civilization, or global civilization)? You know… this crappy system within which we live. What do you call it? When anthropologists say, civilization began in Sumer, in your terminology, what began in Sumer?

    Now you can say “cup” and mean “tub” and insist that we just need to learn to understand each other, but in that case, I want to know what you call a tub.

  652. Ed T, and how do you define civilization? Human art may be as old as 400,000 years. Does that mean they had civilization?

  653. Culture, civilization….what do you need, nuclear reactors and mind control police? We’ve been in this game a long time. It’s not black and white, but a gamut of greys. Hell, who can say with confidence that we’re “civilized” now?

  654. Vera — You might look in the dictionary, as I just did. But it won’t be much help in clarifying the meaning of civilization. Ed touched on the fact that anthropologists and archaeologists have widely different ideas of what it is, when it started, and whether it is largely a good idea or not. You see, the meaning of civilization is not a simple fact that only requires a succinct definition; it is a profound area of ongoing enquiry. Your ideas about it will never exactly coincide with mine. I have my own unique way of looking in that direction, as you do also in your own case. We can try through dialog, as we are now, to learn each others viewpoint, but the dictionary is not going to be much help. Look for yourself if you like, it didn’t add much to my (admittedly nonscholarly) understanding.

    As we look back in time, our vision of what really happened grows dimmer the farther back we go. At some point we are really going on guesswork and pure fantasy. Such is the nature of history: it ain’t as exact as we would like it to be. Maybe it would be nice if all knowledge was clear and agreed on by all: but it isn’t. Actually whole fields of enquiry would collapse overnight if that were the case, and we would have a lot of hungry professors on our hands!

  655. Mike, when an anthropologist says, civilization began in Sumer, what terminology do you use instead of the word ‘civilization’?

  656. Vera — It boils down to this: some things do not admit of simple definitions or meanings. Aristotle understood this a long time ago.

  657. Mike, this is complete crock. I feel like the person who asked you where you got the apple and you answered, the big bang. Well, yes, in a manner of speaking, but the answer I am looking for is, which tree over there did the apple come from? There is a simple answer. Or you can just f* with my head.

  658. Vera — I call this crappy system we are living in, this crappy system we are living in. Civilization is a much bigger affair, which includes some truly wonderful and amazing aspects, which are not crappy at all, but are deeply related to the question of why we are here at all.

  659. Ed T, what game do you mean? If you mean culture, we have been playing that game 2 million years or more. If you mean civilization, a particular socio-political system, there is broad agreement that it’s at most about 6,000 years old. Definitions vary some, but still, this is basic anthro.

  660. I am not trying to f*** with your head, What I tried to share is deeply meaningful to me. Of course it might not be to you. That is OK, but it was not my intention to play games on you. If you feel that, I am sorry. I will try to keep my responses such that you will not be offended. But you might give me some room to express myself in my own way. I am not going to make up some BS for fear of displeasing you. I think of you as my friend, and we are engaged in an enquiry that is not trivial fun and games. I have been as clear on the civilization thing as I can be at this time. Maybe we should just give that one a rest for a while? Can we just, you know, get along?

  661. I see. So if you were writing an essay, you would say “this crappy system we are living in began in Sumer.” Yes?

    I don’t know where you are heading with this, my friend, but could you rethink your approach before going any further? Have some mercy on your audience.

  662. Vera — It is OK to me that you use the word civilization in the narrowly defined way I understand you to do. That is truly OK by me. I think I understand that, and it is a perfectly valid way to use that term. I tend to think of civilization as a much longer more ancient process of the development of intelligent life in the Universe. I am OK with your usage and understanding of civilization. Just let me have my own, possibly totally wrong, perspective on it. Unless you want to take out an exclusive patent on your definition and usage. In which case I will probably engage in off patent use of your property, but I’ll try to do it in secret.

    JUST KIDDING! Don’t get pissed at me, I have always painted outside the lines….. :-)

    PS — I would probably give the Sumer guy a hard time with some really knotty questions that would end up trapping him like an insect in a spider web!

  663. I had to look back several pages to see where the civilization dispute came from. The idea (in post 669) was clearly about all the processes of human interaction that lead us to where we are. You could go back to our pre-chimpanzee cousins to find the causes.
    My Korean mother-in -law would have disputed the story of Sumer, but in any case, pinpointing the beginnings of civilization can be as laughable as talking about the existence of that ideal state called democracy.

  664. Sandy, how sad for you to be an expert on civilization and not know the first thing about civil discourse.

  665. Just curious, Mike… why do you want to call the ancient process of the development of intelligent life “civilization”? “City” is at the root of the word… I am confused.

    Ed T: why is it laughable to pinpoint the beginnings of civilization? We can pinpoint the beginnings of other processes, like say the Roman polity, why not civilization?

  666. Furthermore

    anyone who thinks what they say is important, does not remain anonymous…. I cannot have civil dialogues with nobodies

  667. I signed up for follow-up comments but this discussion is driving me insane.

    I want to STOP receiving the follow-up comments! How do I remove myself from receiving them in my email?

    I’ve tried hard to figure it out…sorry.


    “Small is beautiful, big is subsidized”…. agreat publication of the International Society for Ecology and Culture

  668. The strongest testimonials to the difficulty of the work at hand are the most recent comments.

    It is important that we remain focused upon issues and not allow our discussion to degenerate into ad hominen attacks and efforts that are nothing more distractions from what it is we are trying to do.

    As a reminder, try to recall a discussion in which you have participated that was focused as this one has been. There likely are not any. Who has participated in a discussion that included so much as a suggestion that unchallenged science of human population dynamics be discussed? Humanity has a big problem. Unfortunately we are the source of our problems and while everybody wants to be recognized as a somebody, nobody wants to talk about the “elephant in the living room” of humanity’s planetary home.

  669. Chris — Thanks for that great link, I am busy exploring its riches.

  670. Chris — These trivial disputes are a standard feature of any lengthy sharing process. They actually are opportunities for learning things that might at first glance appear totally peripheral to the purpose of coming together, but in reality are inevitable moments of encounter, upon whose skillful navigation the entire project may depend. Whether you think of them as the white water rapids or the currentless dead water, they are basic features of the path, challenging us to find the way through them. Their existence points us to the underlying cause of all our problems: us.

    The ability to detach from aspects of the journey that are frustrating, and keep the overall aim in mind is a useful learning to be gained from these passages. To pick up our marbles and go home is always an inviting option, but persisting in spite of obstacles is for me one of things I need to learn. I have been so angry in groups that I have been attending for years, that it seemed the only options were slugging somebody, or getting the hell out. In each case something deeper in me would not let me throw in the towel. After all, these are the folks I need to work and play with if I want a better world for all of us. In the end, I am grateful that I have stuck around with my self chosen circles, and kept coming back for more. I really hope you will stick around too; I have learned a lot from you, and feel that I really like you, and hope you can be my friend. I need people like you in my life.

  671. Dear Chris,

    Thanks for the ISEC link. It is an immediate reminder of an unexpected meeting that occurred in 2002. I was attending the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development in Jo’burg, South Africa and was introduced to Helena Norberg-Hodge. At that moment I had never heard the name and new nothing of about her work. The conversation we had with led me to attend a couple of sessions in which she was a panelist. Although I have not had contact with her in more than 5 years, her perspective remains important to me. Thanks for making her remarkable presence known to members of this group.



  672. Another chapter in the ongoing Saga: How It All Began….

    On the Mating Rituals of Amino Acids in Ancient Seas

    “ I don’t know how we found each other, but being joined with you gives me an ecstatic thrill such as I never before experienced living all by myself. Let’s get married, and have a ton of kids!”

    (Was God the unseen Matchmaker on that steamy magical night?)

    To be continued…