To Live or Not to Live

HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED how many excuses we all find to not act in defense of the planet? Sure, we all have errands to run and e-mails to answer and we all need down time and the problems are so big and [INSERT YOUR BEST EXCUSE HERE]. But lately I’ve been encountering a particularly frustrating excuse that a lot of people seem to be giving for not acting: they say it’s too late, that various tipping points have been reached in terms of runaway global warming, and that especially because of the lag time between carbon emissions and increased temperature, we’re already doomed, so what’s the point of fighting back?

This faux-tragedian posturing infuriates me. What infuriates me even more is that this reasoning has become so familiar. I encounter it all the time. Literally the moment I finished typing the above — and I’m not making this up — I received an e-mail that said, “Solutions are inadequate, futile, and too late. I wish people would admit this, rather than scramble for last ditch efforts. . . . Just as people speak of peak oil and peak civilization, we’re peak life. Three billion years of cyanobacteria, 500 million years of increasingly complex life forms, and a cherry topping of too-intelligent human beings. Humans are demonstrating that intelligent life is unsustainable, perhaps triggering the downward slope of life complexity and returning the planet to its microbial past.” And as I finished pasting that quote into this column I received yet another such e-mail.

The notion that humans are the peak form of life (and everyone else is just background) leads to a sense of entitlement, which leads to atrocities against those who (or, in this formulation, that) are seen as less-than-peak forms of life. And anyway, what kind of peak life form would knowingly degrade its landbase and then throw up its hands when action is most needed to counteract the destruction?

I’m not convinced that humans are particularly more intelligent than parrots, octopi, salmon, trees, rivers, stones, and so on, but even if you did believe that humans were more intelligent, it wouldn’t alter the fact that the Tolowa Indians lived where I live for 12,500 years and did so without destroying the place. I’d hate to try to make the argument that the Tolowa didn’t destroy the land because they weren’t intelligent enough to do so.

But there’s another point I want to make here, which has to do with the tragic posturing. In his book The Comedy of Survival, Joseph Meeker points out that human cultures through the ages have created comedies, but only civilization has created the genre of the tragedy. In fact, you could easily say that tragedy is this culture’s tragic flaw. A tragic flaw, you probably recall, is a flaw in the protagonist’s character that brings him or her to ruin. The flaw could be indecision, hubris, jealousy, etc. The point is that the character is unable or unwilling to examine and overcome this flaw, and, in my perspective at least, it is this, and not the flaw itself, that leads to the downfall. Tragedies presume inevitability, which presumes an inability to choose. As one definition puts it, “Tragic behavior assumes change is not possible and will defend this assumption to the death.”

I’ve always found classic tragedies such as Hamlet or Othello to be more frustrating than cathartic. I mean, if your behavior is leading you and those around you to ruin, why not just change your behavior? Why hold tight to a character flaw that’s killing you and those you love? The tragic “hero” only becomes aware of his or her fatal flaw once it is too late. I’m far more interested in stopping the tragedy before it’s too late than I am in feeling sorrow or empathy for those who cannot or will not change their destructive behavior. What’s worse is that in this human-culture-as-tragic-hero narrative, the flaw is nothing so ignoble as greed, lust, jealousy, or even indecision. Rather, the tragic flaw this culture ascribes to itself is intelligence. We’re simply too smart to allow life on the planet to continue. And of course we are unable to change, so there is nothing to be done. Cue the tears, drop the curtain.

I’m not interested.

First, the premise that intelligence is behind the murder of the planet is both inaccurate and absurd. Second, the murder of the planet is the result of behaviors — which can be changed — and infrastructures — which can be destroyed. There’s nothing inevitable about it. Nor do I believe that global warming has reached a final tipping point. There are plenty of options to try first, like deindustrializing. People like James Lovelock (who predicts that by the end of the twenty-first century, “billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that [who] survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable”) are already acknowledging that this culture, if left unchecked, will essentially kill the planet. Well, if this culture will kill the planet, then it looks like it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do what’s necessary — not stick our heads in the sand. The best way to guarantee that it is too late is by saying it is too late and not acting to help the world as we know it survive, a world with goblin sharks and pencil fish, where bats flutter by at night and butterflies and bumblebees light up the days.

My friend the great Dakota activist Waziyatawin once said, “That defeatist attitude makes me want to scream. The battles we’re fighting are overwhelming, but we know things won’t get better if we do nothing. Our only hope is enough people intervening and taking action, people willing to risk something now so we all don’t lose everything later. The only sense of empowerment I feel is by taking some kind of action, whether it’s writing, working to undermine the existing structures, or sitting on the open prairie in December with a Dakota man trying to save our landbase.” She went on: “If our actions will do nothing, why would anyone even want to live anymore? That kind of hopelessness, in the defeatist sense, means an embracing of victimage and complete powerlessness. Here the salmon have much to teach: either they make it upriver to spawn, or they die trying.”

If our actions make it so there is even a one-thousandth of 1 percent chance that things will work out better for ourselves and the planet, then it is our moral duty to act and act and act. Before it’s too late.

Am I optimistic? Not in the slightest. Am I going to quit? Not on your fucking life.

Derrick Jensen’s newest book is Dreams.


  1. The Empire cannot fall, and you cannot win. Give up.

  2. Thank you Derrick, for your books and blogs. I’ve been getting a lot of the same “the writings on the wall” BS too lately and find it really frustrating. There’s still so much we can do and so many important ideas and organizations out there that we need to support. The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, Transition Towns, Common Security Groups, Living Future Institute, and so many more.

  3. Great voice you have, but I have a bone to pick – or a different perspective to offer.

    Brian Swimme is my main man, and he suggests something opposite to your conclusion when you say, “The notion that humans are the peak form of life (and everyone else is just background) leads to a sense of entitlement, which leads to atrocities against those who (or, in this formulation, that) are seen as less-than-peak forms of life.”

    What he talks about is that, as the top of the intelligence chain on Earth, the ongoing movement of the fireball that has us as the leading edge of billions of years of evolution and the first species that can both appreciate and destroy the creation, we have a responsibility to do well by our planet. He inspires us to feel ennobled, where we get how we have to take responsibility for preserving and enhancing the world. If you don’t know Brian’s voice, I suggest you tune in. Being inspired is better energy for action that feeling guilty, and he is a master at calling us to higher ground.

  4. I want to know more about undermining or destroying the existing infrastructures. What can we as individuals do to stem the tide??

  5. I totally agree. My experience is that by acting you have two birds. One is, like you say, you increase chances of survival, and two, you just plain feel MUCH better physically, emotionally, mentally than if you just do the same ol’ stupid routines feeling worse and more guilty with each bad act.

  6. I also agree with Suzanne and Swimme and Native Americans in regards to the idea of our need to realize our RESPONSIBILITY to the planet- even putting responsibility above the idea of human rights. And you know that I especially mean that our so called leaders need take on MUCH more of the responsibility than they now take, which is minimal to next to nothing as far as I can see, so far.

  7. Check out this great blog from David Korten for a while back: The Big Picture: 5 Ways to Know if You’re Making a Difference

  8. I go around looking at every bird and think we are killing these creatures .I apologize to the bird,but they are like the thing called hope in Emily Dickenson’s poem and they ask nothing of me.I would like to accept that we may end much of life,and the Universe will still go on..but it is still ok for me to do all I can every minute of the day to try to stop it..I cannot do much,but every little bit adds up..

  9. I respectfully request that Mr. J. provide some concrete examples of what he actually does – not writing, or preaching, but doing – to improve the future. I expect all his words make him feel better himself, but are there any real, demonstrable impacts of all his (too often holier-than-thou) pontificating? To put it another way, what actions does he take to practice what he preaches?

    Thank you.

  10. DJ. I will point young minds to these words. I’m not optimistic either, but I’d like to spend my life living next to people who will go down with callous hands.
    To all those that commented, your POV’s have helped further engage m thoughts, and so I thank you as well.

  11. I’m one of those people who would like to see change but does not fully believe that the degree of change that is needed to rescue the planet is possible.
    Your lack of interest or empathy with the very real problem of the fatal flaw will not help further the mission. My life experience tells me that change is not possible without empathy. And ther is far too little of that in the world.
    The greed that that has gotten us to these planetary conditions are not the fault of just our modern society. Aquisition has been the driving for for eons.
    It seems to me that most environmentalists write/speak in a way that suggests that this is all our (modern culture’s) fault.

  12. Thank you Derrick for always taking the time.
    I can’t quite agree on intelligence being the flaw and the argument from there.
    It may be too simple but it seems the tragic flaw is ignorant self interest with a strong dose of denial; not typically wrapped up in intelligence. It’s really about my favorite quote from Chief Seattle:
    We are all children of the Great Spirit.
    We all belong to Mother Earth.
    Our planet is in great trouble.
    If we keep carrying old grudges and
    Do not work together
    We will all die.
    Of course we will all die but I think the Chief meant us, for good. Very similar to Vonnegut, the earth will be fine as soon as it gets rid of the people.
    Sorry to turn it all back around with the last part.
    Thanks again for the inspiration.

  13. I don’t want to give in. What should I do?

  14. I dunno Derrick….I’m tending to agree that humans are no different than every other life form on the planet. I mean, why should we be different just for the fact that we’ve (apparently alone) developed consciousness? I’m really not trying to be ironic either. What we share in common with all those other life forms is that we will, without fail, exploit a resource until the point of population overshoot and collapse. We are doing it now. What skews our perception of this has been that the duration of the fossil fuel bonanza has allowed that overshoot to blow a bubble of absolutely unprecedented dimensions. The deflation of that will be like nothing humanity has had to comprehend before. That is o.k. though, because our comprehension won’t be necessary. One other consequence of the perception-skewing effect is that we now lack the ability to imagine a world where human labor and sunlight are the prime resources for converting energy into work. We’re going to pay dearly for this lack of imagination.

    I’d also be willing to bet you that if the noble savages you hold up as the nature-cooperative paradigm had tapped into something that would have kept them from incessantly hunting for cooking fuel, they’d be right here with us. Or, to quote a quote of Rudy Gulliano’s I read last Sunday, “People are human.” (Rudy, apparently, has been reading Yogi Berra’s biography lately.)

    So, I wouldn’t include myself in the category of those who see no point in resisting the ecological damage to the planet, but I would describe myself as stoic about the outcome, just for different reasons. It is a race to see if we can finish off the planet, before the limitations of the planet finishe off extraordinarily large numbers of us. My bet? Well….


  15. Mike….and to further Rudy’s point…we can’t resist a great story either, even if the actual facts are inconvenient. That “speech” of Chief Seattle was a piece from a 1970’s television script. Not to say that there is not anything there to emulate, but they are not words the words of Chief Seattle.

  16. “Heroic” action a term that strikes me uncomfortably, but I do regularly consider what action is significant. First, change the way you (I) live, becoming increasingly low-impact over the months and years. Second, help others change the way they live, not least of which by pointing out alternatives that are simple, joyous and life-giving. (Another commenter mentions the Transition Towns movement, for example).

    I often go back to Rifkin and his identifying “cars and meat” as levers. If significant numbers of people gave up cars and meat (or drove a lot less and ate a lot less meat) the strain on the earth would be eased considerably.

  17. To Live or Not to Live. Is that the question? Many days I struggle to believe we have a chance. Natural disasters human made disasters BAM BAM BAM to fast to keep track of.
    You say you are not an optimist but I disagree. As long as we can get out of bed in the morning make it through another day and try however greatly or feebly to make a difference we are optimistic. If I am to live in this world I have to live as if I believe I can change it. Am I fooling myself? Perhaps, but that doesn’t matter it’s what gives me hope, “the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all”

    Thanks Derrick and Emily

  18. Thank you Derrick. Yes, it is hard to act without any assurance that the outcome you wish for is guaranteed. We in America have lived through an unparalled period of prosperity, and with it, a sense that we are in control. Most of the rest of the human posulation gets up without knowing or feeling they control what will happen in the big picture. This discussion of carrying on without knowing the outcome (or assuming it is a bad outcome) makes me think of an interview I once heard with the author of a book interpreting the Bagavad Gita. The interviewer asked, ‘Could you sum up the message of the great book?” The author replied: “You are entitled to your labor, but not the fruits of your labor.” There is rarely a week that goes by that I do not think of that wisdom. For both large and small actions, including what each of us does to try to prevent this coming disaster, we have only our intentions. The result? We do not control that. For us, taking this attitude requires a cultural shift, but I know we can do it. For any thing or person that we really love, we don’t give up because we aren’t guaranteed the result we want . Loving the earth and the people of the future is no different. So I say, lets do what we can, let’s do what our hearts tell us to do, and lets not use our precious energy trying to get a promise that our actions are powerful. Some won’t be, some will.

  19. Good words/thoughts from Joan K. Not only are we not entitled to the fruits, we are not even entitled to know if the fruit will be sweet. Not every good intention is necessarily free from negative consequences.

  20. My concern is that this intelligence also created capitalism and the corporation deity will not be tampered with. I haven’t given up hope but have no clue how to proceed…

  21. Hi Derrick, Thank you for calling out the crazy, lazy, slacker mentality of “it’s too late!” Your thoughts and energy are always an inspiration to me. You were on my local radio show last year and I was fortunate to spend the day at Earth at Risk in San Francisco with you, Waz, Lierre and other non-tragic, visionary warriors. After that Saturday I’ve doubled down on my efforts to fight back hard and fight back now. My focus has been on stopping the proliferation of GMOs and while Monsanto is a nasty Goliath – they’ve been ousted from the UK and much of Europe in a movement that started in part with the little old English ladies filling their shopping carts and forcing clerks to go through every item and identify what may or may not have gmo ingredients. It all adds up to doing what you can, wherever you can and never giving up.
    Thanks Derrick for all of your great work.

  22. Flaneuse, meat is not a lever. Grain is. Meat can be grown on pastures that do not harm the earth. Grain needs bare fields that wash and blow away. Read the Vegetarian Myth? Much good could be done by converting fields into grasslands… and eating less grain.

    Down with “typhoid Marys” who spread hopelessness around. “Too late” indeed… can you imagine our ancestors sitting around fires 21,000 years ago, noting that the planet was getting colder and colder, people and animals were dying while the rivers of ice were taking over… yet they did not give up! And we are here because they did not give up.

    We live on an amazing planet. Let’s each and together do everything we can to keep it amazing. Don’t let the “hopelessness peddlers” get you down!

  23. I think it’s time for an evolution and revolution based on awareness of humans as part of an entirely conscious and “intelligent” web of life. What does this entail? Waking up and changing our current ways of living from exploitation and utilization values to living in balance with ALL the other living things on the planet. Yes, it’s ALL alive, it’s ALL sentient and we’re ALL connected. Imagine what it would be like to live as other animals do. Pick your favorite “creature” and put yourself in its skin/feathers/scales and consider how it lives every day. It’s not intelligence that’s killing us–it’s our CHOICES, our values, our creations. We could make different choices. We can make choices to change as fast as possible or just lay down and die. Our extinction could be a huge benefit to all the other speices affected by OUR choices to live like mechanical robot zombies conducting a love affair with the industrial revolution like it’s the greatest thing ever. It’s more like an addiction that the addicts complain about while continuing to wallow in because they really enjoy being addicts. The first step to changing the status quo game is to say NO to it. To confront the stark reality for what it is. Then–decide on effective behavior for bringing about change.
    Oh and I don’t want to hear a word about “numbers”. If just three women could start a movement to save the San Francisco Bay then what the hell are the rest of us waiting for to save the Earth? An engraved invitation from the Universe? It’s arrived in the form of scientific knowledge and everything we can see for ourselves in our everyday polluting. We start by saying “NO!” together to the status quo of development in the wrong directions. No more oil drilling. No more fracking. No more plastic packaging. No more destruction of “wilderness” and habitat. We must imagine and create lifestyles that nuture our environment. WE have to do this. No government or corporation will do it because they’re still in the status quo game. So WE will have to turn away from the status quo game and create the new. What else have we got to do? Play grand theft auto a million times? Three well off women started a movement to save a body of water–and oh my, found a lot of other like minded people. Do you know two other people who share your love of all living things?
    What am I doing? “This” at the moment.

  24. >The only sense of empowerment I feel is by taking some kind of action, whether it’s writing, working to undermine the existing structures, or sitting on the open prairie in December with a Dakota man trying to save our landbase.<

    How does one undermine the existing structures? I would like to know.

    Right now the best way that I can see is to live life without money. I think it is money that removes us from a direct connection to the nature that sustains us. Not using money would disrupt the existing structures quite thoroughly.

  25. The folks that Derrick is deriding here constitute a tiny fraction of the American (or world) population. At least they are awake enough to the impending disaster to feel the need to articulate a response to it, even if it is only an alibi and a cop-out.

    The vast majority do no have a clue to the enormity of what we are facing. Most are simply ignorant and unaware of the realities of our global situation. Many are to busy scrambling to secure their own “piece of the pie” to give any attention to larger and future concerns. Others are in a state of constant denial that refuses to look at anything unpleasant or threatening. Still others have been persuaded that global warming and even evolution are hoaxes.

    Also, the psychological mechanism that allows a “tragic hero” (more accurately a protagonist) to walk blindly into his fate is the unconsciousness that Freud was so concerned to elucidate. It was not that Oedipus was stupid, he was simply totally unaware of his tragic flaw, and how it was set to destroy him. To not see this as an audience member experiencing the play, is to be one of those movie goers who are impelled to cry out at a crucial moment “Watch out, he’s got a gun!”

    The real tragedy (that which Aristotle said evokes pity and fear) is that humankind is prone to the same forces of deep unconsciousness highlighted in the dramatic stories of ancient Greece. If we are not to sleepwalk over a final precipice, it will be essential to find means to awaken. Those means have been developed over the centuries; they are often referred to as spiritual paths. Their relevance to our present crisis is undeniable. Unfortunately real spirituality has been misunderstood and co-opted by myriad forms of pseudo religion and fantastical imaginings to the extent that its resurrection represents a major problem. Unless we find a way(s) to do this, we will fail the present test we are facing, and remove ourselves from the company of those orders of living beings who have successfully met the challenge, and are entitled to continue existing and evolving to higher levels of being.

  26. Aside from early on here throwing Brian Swimme’s perspective into the mix, where through his lens humanity is an ennobled species at the edge of creation, still glowing with the fireball and here to serve the creation, I have an ace up my sleeve for how things could turn positive. I am working with the crop circle phenomenon. (My documentary just got a good review in the New York Times. My two cents is about needing something shocking enough to make us rethink reality, and being aware that we are being visited by other intelligence would be a shake-up of enough magnitude. Those who think it’s all done with boards and string don’t know the data – my movie surprises a lot of people. The circles could create the biggest shift ever in how humanity perceives itself. If we knew we were being visited we would be one humanity in relation to ‘the other,’ and, as someone in the film says, “That could be what saves this civilization.” The evidence is being ignored, and I am doing what I can to get attention paid.

    Suzanne Taylor
    “What On Earth? Inside the Crop Circle Mystery”

  27. That beings from beyond our planet will intervene to pull our chestnuts from the fires that we have created is an illusion that substitutes for the real work on ourselves that is the only real way out of the mess we have created. This is a form of bad faith and delusion that denies our own capacity to heal our global illnesses, encouraging us to wait instead for some mysterious others to do our work for us. It is only to be expected that the unwillingness to face our real situation will spawn numerous bizarre substitutes for the difficult work that constitutes the only basis for realistic hope. We can only wish that people come to their senses and begin to change what is responsible for our problems — ourselves.

  28. Thanks Derrick. No I don’t believe anyone will give up, but many choose ignorance and it seems a devalued living experience as a way of life. I think we stand for or against industrial fed consumerist lifestyle with every thought word and action, can any of us control that? It is such a weird thing to live from a concept of personal truth? Can anyone imagine what it would be like to take freedom away from what we despise?? I believe many people would see choosing other than whats being fed to us as a burden, but really it strikes me as freedom. The greatest freedom possible to come back here, right now. The only reason this global state of affairs continues because the people comply and seem to lazy to do anything personally. I wonder if all that current modern burdens; finances, future worries, responsibilities could be chosen to be different. I see the simplicity movement in part, a process to grant freedom, to find wriggle room. I see people indulging in primitive skills gatherings and I see great community, flourishing love and connection. I see people growing and becoming whole again in their own way. Not tied to a poisonous system that will surely change but by then the choices may be far diminished. I am reminded of this quote from the author David R. Hawkins, ‘Every thought, action, decision or feeling creates an eddy in the interlocking, inter-balancing, ever-moving energy fields of life, leaving a permanent record for all time. The realization can be intimidating when it first dawns on us, but it becomes a springboard for rapid evolution’.

  29. “It is difficult to fight for a civilization that would murder their mother”

    So? Don’t!

  30. If it was easy more people would be trying. This is not about easy.

  31. I may have come across the opposite of what I intended. It is not easy to fight for this civilization. And, happily for those of us who note that, this civilization ought not to be fought for. It’s a vicious Leviathan destroying the planet.

  32. We are stressed, frightened, angry, greedy, violent, ignorant, uncaring. To imagine that simply de-industrializing our world would result in some kind of utopia is very shallow thinking. After all, what was our history like before industrialization? War and mutual oppression were how we lived in past ages as well. Something deeper than a simpler lifestyle needs to happen to pacify our world, and open the possibility of a way of being together that is truly healthy and happy for all. We ourselves are what needs to change. Until we do the work to effect that transformation of our minds, and hence our behaviors, we will continue to repeat the tragic cycles of our history. Belief in the efficacy of external fixes is delusional and counterproductive.

  33. I keep reading your columns and all the comments they inspire exactly because I am one of the people that you are currently frustrated by. I was a Green Peace, Save-the-Whales child turned lifetime social/environmental activist. My dreams, fantasies and aspirations have always been the same – to save the planet. A ludicrous notion taken literally, but I believe most of us, at least in this current discussion, share the root quality underlying this fantasy – to help preserve the life, beauty, and artistry that is our planet in any way we can offer.

    So it is a deeply sad, spiritually eviscerating experience to have come to a point where I no longer have this hope. It has stripped me of purpose and passion, and created an overall lethargy that does in fact make it very difficult to get out of bed in the morning (as someone earlier posted). I have spent a lifetime reusing, recycling, bicycling, carpooling and on and on only to have to come to terms with what now seems like a fact – that it wasn’t enough. That’s a tough nut to swallow and shouldn’t be dismissed as a cop-out or some form of justification-lite that an aging babyboomer uses to purchase a Harley. It comes only after nearly twenty years of intensive personal research on all fronts of this climate change issue and has created something like a personal mid-life crisis of monumental proportions that I most certainly will be dealing with till the very end (my end, that is. I don’t think the end of it all will be so sudden or even so final, just likely slow, painful, spastic, and with intermitten joy and beauty amidst the chaos).

    All that being said, it does not stop me from now pasting onto my own post an earlier comment I found to be inspiring:

    “Down with “typhoid Marys” who spread hopelessness around. “Too late” indeed… can you imagine our ancestors sitting around fires 21,000 years ago, noting that the planet was getting colder and colder, people and animals were dying while the rivers of ice were taking over… yet they did not give up! And we are here because they did not give up.
    We live on an amazing planet. Let’s each and together do everything we can to keep it amazing. Don’t let the “hopelessness peddlers” get you down”

    The paradox of hopelessness is that those afflicted by it are those most desperately in search of it. I am intimately aware of the slippery, dark nature of this cunundrum and thus unsure if I hope to one day be at peace with my hopelessness, or hope to forever be burdened by it. In the meantime, I do know this: I love the morning sun, my dog when he sleeps with his chin on his paws, the sparkle that my wife has when she is presented with a plate artfully considered. I want all children to have hope that is real even if ours is delusional. I want islands of nature preserved. If only that, then that is enough, and so I will continue to do what I can, whatever end may come. That is my commitment.

  34. Dave Reagan — It is an irony of this work that those most open and caring are also most vulnerable to the great sadness and periodic bouts of depression that afflict those most concerned with the good, the true, and the beautiful. I congratulate you that you have chosen to work on for your ideals, in spite of the seeming hopelessness of your individual efforts to save the world. I too have been periodically afflicted with the Ajax Syndrome — trying to put the world on my back. When I wake up and realize what I am doing, then I usually take some time off, and do stuff that is totally unproductive, but relaxing and satisfying. I know by now that I, like you, will never be able to quit doing what I can to help, in spite of all contrary inner voices or disheartening circumstances. We will never have an absolute guarantee of the ultimate value of our efforts. But we will have the inner satisfaction that we have been true to our ideals, regardless of outcomes.

  35. Mike k; “We are stressed, frightened, angry, greedy, violent, ignorant, uncaring. To imagine that simply de-industrializing our world would result in some kind of utopia is very shallow thinking.” Yes Mike k that’s true. But what supports it? I remember reading a self improvement article. The analogy presented was of a fish (self) in a fish tank (current environment)and needing to be a more efficient or productive or caring fish to adapt. The point stated was it’s the tank that needs changing, not the fish. Change the circumstances, of what milieu we are in, what do each of us what, or better, need to perform with better qualities brought to the fore? I don’t condemn us so easily. From this position it’s the circumstances that make the person. Your thoughts?

  36. I think humans have gotten so far off the grid with Ma Nature that “survival of the fittest” no longer makes sense for us.
    That’s about to change… like it or not.
    “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is. You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate”

    “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000”

    -Rob Watson

  37. Wanted to ensure that everyone knows that we will discuss this essay live with the author on Tuesday, May 17th – Derrick Jensen will join a web event hosted by Orion magazine that day exploring this issue, and those contained in other recent columns in Orion. Go here for details and to register, the event is free and open to all:

    Time is 7 pm Eastern, 4 PM Pacific.

    Erik Hoffner
    Orion magazine

  38. AT — The extent to which our inner conditioning determines us is the measure of our inner freedom. The basic script of our culture is a many-faceted lie. This is of course the one thing it insists we must never uncover. As long as we agree to live within it’s twisted narrative, culture feels secure. But those who step too far outside its delusive reality threaten it’s very existence, and will be met with the most determined resistance and persecution. The movie “The Matrix” explores some of these issues in its own way.

    One of cultures most effective moves is to convince it’s victims that they are themselves the cause of whatever dissonances and discomforts they are assailed by. Derrick Jensen makes us aware of the abuser’s cry, “You made me hit you, its your fault, you are a bad person!” Usually the endless repetition of this false accusation eventually becomes accepted and internalized by the victim — as in the movie Good Will Hunting. It worked in my case too.

    I was made aware early on that my father considered me a bad boy, and as I rebelled against his abuse, he further concluded that I was mentally ill. Ultimately he wanted to have me lobotomized, but my mother would not allow it.

    A major feature of my growth and awakening beyond the traumas of my early life, has been realizing the great extent to which I was not primarily responsible for the distortions to my personality which I manifested throughout young adulthood. Finally I have come to realize the extent to which our culture’s deeply abusive and insane narratives and practices have rendered everyone within it deluded, and insane. At one point in the play Hamlet says, “The time is out of joint; oh cursed spite that I was born to set it right!”

    We are all Hamlets (or Ophelias), born to struggle with the enormous negative karmas of humankind within ourselves and in the world that we are “thrown into” (Heidegger). As I have said, culture is at great pains to reward those who obey and believe in it’s mask of benevolence or inevitability, and even greater vigilance to punish and silence those who awake to challenge it. This is the great drama of human evolution on planet Earth. How it is resolved will determine our fate.

  39. Rob — You make an important point. We live within a context of many limitations. In our hubris we tend to forget that. This was one message of the old Greek tragedies. Our task on Earth is to work within an awareness of our basic limitations to gradually expand our possibilities in harmony with our higher ideals. Patience, care, and humility are necessary for this evolutionary process: otherwise we face disaster due to our overweening arrogance and egotistical heedlessness.

  40. Mike K: There are so many parallels between what you say WRT culture and what Buddhism teaches WRT ego that I had to comment, even though I know this is not technically a religious discussion–especially: Replace “the basic script of our culture is a many-faceted lie” with “the basic script of our ego is a many-faceted lie.”

    I think it’s because we (and I’m using the collective “we” here, for humankind as a whole) don’t understand who we really are, and feel extremely threatened even when this question is raised, that “we” are refusing to deal with so many of the issues that could save what is precious here on our planet.

    Once we start awakening to these kinds of core questions–Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? (to paraphrase Paul Gauguin), we DO become threatening to others who don’t want to deal with these questions at all.

    So how do we reach those people who don’t care, and don’t even want to make the effort to know?

    One of my teachers once said, “You are more like Chenrezig and Tara than you are like what you think you are.” Chenrezig is the bodhisattva of compassion; Tara represents swift and compassionate action. Our times certainly call for the manifestation of all of these qualities.

    My teacher’s words ring like a bell in my head whenever I feel like giving up.

  41. Not giving up either!

    Thanks for the inspiration Derrick!


  42. Lucinda — Thank you for your insightful comments. You said:
    “Replace “the basic script of our culture is a many-faceted lie” with “the basic script of our ego is a many-faceted lie.”

    For most of us, our cultural script is our ego. When we consider that language (which is loaded with questionable ideas) is a major element of our ego’s construction, we begin to realize how culturally determined our “self” really is. Our cultural belief system tells us that the world revealed by our senses is the ultimate and bottom line reality. So, our ordinary ego (that we take to be our self) is chock full of delusive ideas and interpretations that can only be deeply deconstructed by lengthy conscious inner work.

    As Plato said, the individual is the culture writ small. To exit the cave of our conditionings is the essential beginning of awakening to Reality. On realizing this, your next question becomes relevant.
    “So how do we reach those people who don’t care, and don’t even want to make the effort to know?”

    In one of the stories of Buddha’s spiritual awakening it is told that after his definitive realization under the Bodhi tree, he went his way, and refused to teach others about the Truth he had experienced. The Gods became uneasy about this, since they felt he was destined to become a World Teacher, so they sent a delegation to urge him to share his enlightenment. However, in response to their entreaties he said, “There are two classes of people — those who already know what I would have to share, and thus have no need of it, and the second class — those who do not have a clue or any desire to consider what I might say, who would also derive no benefit from my teaching. Thus it is clear that there is no useful purpose in my becoming a teacher.”

    The emissaries were confounded by Buddha’s response, and repaired to the higher realm to consider it. After long deliberation, they framed a response, and sent one of their number to relay it to the Enlightened One. He said, “ What you have said is undoubtedly true regarding the two classes of beings you have spoken of. However, we find there is yet a third class of the people, who have not realized enlightenment, but are at the beginning of the awakening process and only need someone to guide and inspire them in order to progress. These are the people you should teach. Hearing this Buddha agreed to take up his teaching mission.

    One of the problems encountered by those in AA is how to reach those who refuse to be reached? The answer is: you don’t. And you do not waste your energy trying to do the impossible. Hence AA does not advertise or proselytize. They are there for those who have some degree of awareness and openness to being helped. These are the people who may end up being deeply changed by work on themselves in the context of a fellowship of people committed to a program of fundamental change. Some of these same principles of free association could be useful in designing small groups dedicated to overcoming our numerous unhealthy conditionings and addictions, and awakening to our higher possibilities, and responsibilities to each other and our planet.

  43. We are not the people we were waiting for. But we might grow to be those people if we are willing to join together in small groups to work on ourselves, so that we might become those truly worthy and capable of changing our world fundamentally.

  44. Thich Nhat Hanh: Impermanenece makes all things possible. Will Shakespeare cease to captivate us if we realize that tragic flaws are curable? What if we started to pay attention to the real story of Scrooge, not the miser he is in the beginning of the story, but as he is in the end, transformed and expanded in his humanity against all odds. There are so many stories we should be framing our environmental dialogues with that celebrate triumph over insurmontable obstacles. Acid rain and the ozone hole got better with human effort. There is no reason to quit on global warming, Its always the best of times and the worst of times. We are always as Bucky Fuller says on the brink of utopia and oblivion. Being alive has to be about diving into the ocean of overwhelming conflict.
    Optimisistic? I call it being alive.

  45. Buckminster Fuller: “Pollution is only a resource that we have not yet figured out how to harvest.” When I read this several years ago, I put it on the back burner of my mind and then yesterday I read in Nat’l Geographic that Terra Preta region of the Amazon Basin has up to seven feet of extremely fertile soil due to carbon deposits. The possible tie-in to carbon emissions boggles the mind. Solutions can be had. The questions we ask may have to come from be outside the box.

  46. Patricia — Thich Nhat Hanh: Look deeply.
    If we look deeply, we will find that our own minds are the source of our problems in the world. As long as we are in the box that looks for solutions outside ourselves, we will fail to understand that the one looking is the problem. Without engaging a Path, such as the mindfulness espoused by TNH, we will forever be trying to correct this or that in the outer world, and never look within where the real answers are waiting. The inner determines the outer, the subtle is the origin of the gross dimensions. The materialist mind is trapped in the hall of mirrors created by its own limitations. Pogo was right — we are the problematic entities that we mistakenly project outside ourselves.

    Thanks for your thoughtful insights.

  47. You are free to do whatever you want to try, but if you seem to be succeeding the corporate fascists will stamp you a terrorist. Economic terrorist or wearer of the Casio F91-W El Qaeda watch there is no difference.

  48. Derrick, For someone who is demanding so much from others in regards to waking up essentially, you might consider re-examing your own fantasies which serve to support your sustainable living hypothesis. Namely, you continue to say (and use as example) that the Tolowa have lived where you live for 12,500 years and not destroyed it. Bullhonky. No Native American group has had a contineous occupation for even near that long, and especially the Tolowa who are Athabaskan speakers who are relatively late arrivals in the lower 48. Support your ideas not with idealized, romantic notions of the noble savage. We humans are all humans with the same genes expressing varying traits at varying times, in various places around the globe. Being human is problematic, not being white westerners as opposed to “natives”.

  49. When the Tolowa people first settled on the northwest coast of North America is open to debate, and will forever remain somewhat uncertain. But one thing historians agree on: they were largely decimated by white westerners. This massacre exemplifies the global disaster that mainly white western culture has wreaked upon our planet and its peoples. This damage far exceeds anything negative that “pre-civilization” cultures did in the long period of their existence. This remains true regardless of Derrick’s or anyone else’s tendency to romanticize these earlier human groups.
    I agree that the existence of all humans who have ever existed is problematic. However some individuals and groups are more dangerously problematic than others. The garden of Eden myth made it clear that our task and destiny on Earth was not to return to a condition of almost animal simplicity. The Angel with the flaming sword was created to convey that point. Nevertheless, we “civilized” folks have a lot to learn from those who lived simpler lives in better harmony with the other beings we share the planet with. There is no need to invoke ultra-Spartan images to understand that our present western lifestyles are unsustainable and ultimately destructive of all higher values. We do not have to quibble over exactly how much simpler we need to live, or argue about how long an obscure Indian Tribe lived in a certain locale.

  50. Another comment on DJ’s essay. Getting pissed at those who just don’t get it, and make lame excuses to cover themselves, is in some ways a cheap shot. It makes us feel righteous and superior to those we criticize. Shouldn’t we instead be making an effort to understand these folks, and find diplomatic and effective ways to wake them up?

  51. To Mike, I would never argue that what euro and euro-American culture has done and does to this continent is brutal and devastating. I do think though that it does not help our current situation, or our attempts to find better ways of being, to romanticize the past or other cultures past and present. Derrick repeatedly uses the Tolowa in this way, and the falseness of that claim only hinders reaching a better understanding. Making up the past and then saying – see we should be like that – is silly and useless. Western civilization is not alone or the first to have devastating effects on the planet. China was essencially deforrested before there was a western civilization. The fertile cresent is now largely unfertile desert. Ditto the Saharra, partially or largely due to human activity. It is also likely that North America was cleared of it’s mega fauna of the pliesticene at least partially at the hands of those early (invasive) native people.
    I don’t know anything about angels and flaming swords.

  52. Rod– You wrote: “To Mike, I would never argue that what euro and euro-American culture has done and does to this continent is brutal and devastating.” Did you perhaps misspeak here? As written, this sentence implies that the impact of euro-American culture was not brutal and devastating.

    “Western civilization is not alone or the first to have devastating effects on the planet.” But we may be the last, due to the tremendous powers our science has put in our ignorant and incompetent hands. We are the first culture on Earth to have the power to destroy all or most life on the planet, and we are busy now carrying out our macabre mission.

    As to the Cherubim and the flaming sword: consult the Christian Bible, Genesis chapter 3, verse 22. It is interesting that this “God” banished the first citizens because they threatened to challenge His monopoly of higher knowledge. It looks like we may do ourselves in with our advanced scientific know-how, coupled with our abysmally underdeveloped moral sense.

  53. So much smart talk here. It’s an everyone is right sort of thing. And here we are. Stuck. What we “need” to do re inner awareness is unarguable, and that we are headed for disaster where it could be hopeless and too late also is a cogent point of view.

    I put visitation from elsewhere into the mix not wanting to argue about whether it’s bad for us to look to some external fix, but to say that if indeed such info came to light it could be a game changer. We need a new worldview. It’s fingers in the dike to try to fix the problems we face when our basic perspective on who we are and what we are doing here remains the same. The establishment of other intelligence could make us rethink everything

    Having found crop circles many years ago, and gotten deeply into the data, my Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude brain became convinced that the evidence was overwhelming that there was an inexplicable phenomenon. And it became a mission of mine to tell that to a resistant world.

    When you look at the evidence the idea that the formations all are human made is harder to believe that than they aren’t. Maybe we could chat about that on the call tomorrow.

  54. Rod, past civilizations of the sort we have wreaked damage where ever they were, in Mesopotamia, or China, or Easter Island. But, not Sahara. I looked into it, and Sahara is not man-made… though humans added to the expanse by mining the soil in the vicinity, already in Roman times and later.

    Suzanne, I always thought that the explanation given for the circles was too quick, to facile… On the other hand, even smart people can get overenthusiastic. I will look for your film.

    As for external fixes… what then are they waiting for? It’s like the legend of the knights of old slumbering in a hill, who will come out when the times are direst. Well?! 🙂

  55. Maybe they are waiting for us to get it that they are signaling. No good to land on the White House lawn, so to speak, if we shoot them. Interesting to see what they would do if we were open to hear.

  56. Thanks Mike k for the reply. It was saddening to read about your relationship with your father. With these later posts I am reminded that humans and their attendant societies have been disregarding and climbing over each other since day dot. It seems the way to live has been written by victors and so our story is more ruthless and destructive. So I would say it’s important to pull inside and find our hearts and what connects us to each other, the joy and happiness of good relationships. We live in community, why not include the planet? I don’t know of other beings and UFO’s, like God, they exist for others and during their quest the world is still being poisoned and ruined. Generally living requires some way to ensure longevity. It seems the current goal is be more competitive and destructive and more segregating the longer humanity has existed. I think it is difficult for one person who wants to live in respect and connection, in communion, not competition. Kind of seems the ‘losers’ are the real ‘winners’ if they can harmonize and create ways for others to bring equality and respect into our lives. For me most of these posts remind me of a three cups and a pea game and it’s about, Earth, the board underneath that goes unnoticed. I’d say everyone is right! Everyone lives their truth. Can we change everyone? Can we let go of defensiveness and need to win? I’d say the least we can do is to live from our truth and build from there. We can live with respect for ourselves and let others live their lives with self respect. We can build and respect our family, friends, our world? We will always have choice. If we see our values as primary to our best behavior and functioning in the world, why not spurn all that threatens that? I see that holding to values no matter what would be like standing in a strong stream. It must be acknowledged and accepted. I think if one can live such a life, in their own way. I’d say thats worth living for.

  57. Mike, yes my sentence incorrectly said the opposite of what I meant. Vera, Yes right you are about the Sahara not being human made but as you also say it has been and is expanding with the help of us. I don’t know much about the Tasili (sp) who were apparently there, but it makes me wonder how different it was back in the day and how much of a hand humans have had in it’s change.
    While I am in full agreement on the fact the we humans are living destructive, blinded lives, there is something uncomfortable with the deep negativity of the discussion. We are still so self important, even in the discussion of how not to be. Perhaps we really have less power and control than we think. Perhaps everything is as it should be, despite our particular feelings about it. The idea that we humans could end life or destroy the world is, I think hubris. We are not so powerful. We did not begin life and cannot end it. We may make things very uncomfortable and undesirable for ourselves, and we may make species go extinct, but life will go on, no beginning and no end. We get attached, I am attached, To the beauty and majesty of this world as we have become accustomed to knowing it. That is not however (sound as it may) a call to do nothing.

  58. Well, Suzanne, quite a few people believe they are signaling. So? Are these supposed entities making contact with them?

    You seem to be open to hear. So I am back to the question, what are they waiting for?

  59. Rod, I agree, we are not powerful to destroy life, and if we keep on going diminishing it, we will be the casualties.

    Personally, I would like to see us get it together so that we enhance the chances of life, rather than the other way… sigh…

  60. We may not (yet) have the capacity to destroy all life? Wow! What a wonderful consolation. Aside from the billions of human lives we have destroyed, and the innumerable marvelous species we have permanently exterminated, I guess this kind of thought is really heart warming. But I do have some doubts about what some assert so confidently; after all DARPA and other mad scientists are working overtime to create more totally lethal inventions. Just gives us time and we may be able to accomplish what seems only a distant vision now.

    Does this sound a little negative? Hey, maybe I need to change my medications, maybe switch to those blue pills, because reality keeps bleeding through the inner fog.

  61. AT — I agree with all you have shared, including:
    “I see that holding to values no matter what would be like standing in
    a strong stream. It must be acknowledged and accepted. I think if one can
    live such a life, in their own way. I’d say thats worth living for.”

    I would only add that we need not stand against that stream by ourselves. Find some like minded spirits to gather in a small group, and share your mutual concerns. Enough such groups could eventually create some major diversions in the stream of unconscious madness that is our culture.

  62. Darn! I missed the conference call with DJ. Just slipped my mind. And I had signed up for it. I hope their will be a transcript or something?

  63. Me too. I got pulled away.

    In answer to Vera, see comment 59. They signal; we ignore. Logical to have to say hello before we could expect a download.

  64. Yes, if you missed the conversation with Derrick Jensen today, no fear, audio of the event will be available here later in the day on May 18:

    If you like what you hear, please share it with a friend. Here you will also find more opportunities for dialogue and information about other upcoming events. Sign up for our email alerts to be notified whenever new ones are announced.


  65. Suzanne, they signal, *you* don’t ignore. So when it comes to you and others like you, my question again is… what are they waiting for? 🙂

  66. Interspecies communication is usually nearly impossible, with one or both sides making lots of false assumptions about what it all means. So you seem to think they have things to teach us about math, Suzanne?

    I think we’ll have to have a meeting of the minds in some other realm if it’s going to be meaningful. If they’re flying around up there they must know what a violent bunch we are. Seriously, why would they bother contacting us? And with pretty pictures on the ground? Not likely to make much difference to the mindset of humanity.

    We’ll have to solve these problems ourselves or just deal with the consequences.

  67. Vera — Have answered twice now.

    All points are addressed in my movie — can ramble on here but easy to watch cheap on iTunes: “What On Earth?” (Trailer and DVD at

    Not that they have things to teach us about math, but they are demonstrating that there is other intelligence besides us.

    Current worldview could have us on on a collison course with disaster. With a new take on reality we’d stand a better chance to solve our problems ourselves.

    Why wouldn’t this or that isn’t the right question. What they do is what they do, and we can’t do that. Need to speculate about the whys. Affect it would have is easier to foresee. We couldn’t maintain indifference. Our minds would be open to new ideas. Look to Galileo for how we had to rethink reality.

  68. Having lost faith in the ancient tales of Gods and mysterious forces from beyond (largely due to the success of the modern scientific paradigm) many today have shifted their hopes of salvation from the perplexities of our times to belief in ufos, ets, space brothers, or other imaginary entities. Our current techno-science proving as much a source of problems as solutions, they turn to some alien science supposed to have what it takes to solve our dilemmas and reward us with all we desire.

    Bad faith can take many curious and bizarre forms, all of which are escapes from reality, and a refusal to meet our responsibilities honestly and directly.

  69. Mike K., you dont get what I’m saying. No faith or belief or looking to anything. Just observing inexplicable phenomenon with observable and verifiable data. It should be paid attention to. And then, if it proved out, our worldview would change.

  70. I am aware of the futility of reasoning with those who are fully committed to beliefs that are lacking any substantial evidence. I have a friend who is otherwise very intelligent and rational who persists in believing in the Bible Code. In spite of directing him to sites where reputable scientists and statisticians have exposed this hoax, including using Moby Dick, Joyce’s Ulysses, and other books to give the same results supposedly to be found only in the Bible, he continues to hold onto his beliefs. Some of the wags among the scientists used the same methodology being pushed by the hoaxers to find some very naughty and unscriptural messages in the Bible. No matter. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

    I hope no one will take my remarks to be intended as a personal attack on them. Such is not my purpose. However I am committed to speak up for those approaches to our massive problems that seem to me to best justify our time and energy. I do not consider false paths and dead ends to be without serious negative consequences, including but not limited to diverting people from truly meaningful actions in the face of our all too real crises.

  71. Hey Mike,look to http://bltresearch,com for peer reviewed papers in science journals attesting to the existence of an inexplicable phenomenon. Don’t go down the false path of listening to hoaxers’ unsubstantiated claims that there is no real phenomenon.

  72. Suzanne — I clicked on your reference, and nothing came up.
    BLTresearch? Sounds like a fast food joint! 🙂

  73. First of all, thanks to Orion for giving Derrick Jensen an opportunity to speak his mind in a public forum. Any publication that enters the diverse field of environmentalism and its many controversies, must be ready to take risks and expect criticism for who or what it chooses to publish. DJ is a lightning rod for strongly emotional reactions. So thanks Orion for being willing to take the heat. To me, the greater danger is to water everything down to a lukewarm mush and bore everyone to death, at a time when we need to be awakened and galvanized.

    One dimension Derrick touched on was capitalism. The national trance with regard to this dubious ism is a perfect example of how people can be conned into having their pockets picked, and even being impoverished, all the while believing that the so-called system of capitalism is just, fair, and the inevitable working out of some unquestionable cosmic law. After all, the alternative would be some form of “socialism”. And the rich and powerful literally spent billions of dollars to demonize the idea that all the members of society deserve a fair and equitable share in the wealth of the Earth and the fruits of their own labors. At the peak of the propaganda against such an outcome, people were actually imprisoned for suggesting another way to divvy up the goods of our life together.

    How can we help people break out of their ignorance with regard to the parameters of their existence? I suggest that those who are awakening to the realities of how the greed of the powerful few is devastating the Earth and the majority of the human population, gather in small groups of their friends, neighbors, and any other interested persons, and look together into the realities of our societal situation minus all the smoke screens and lies we are constantly being fed by those in power. The writings of Derrick Jensen would be an excellent starting point for such discussions and relearning forums. Unless we have a venue to rethink or basic understandings about our world and or place in it, we will be condemned like the prisoners in Plato’s cave to endlessly enduring and repeating our misfortunes. What better place to wake up than in our own homes, talking with each other about the things that are truly important?

  74. Suzanne, you have *not* answered my question. You have said: “Maybe they are waiting for us to get it that they are signaling. Interesting to see what they would do if we were open to hear.”

    So I pointed out that you and many others are getting it (that they are signaling), and *are* open to hear. So? Where is some indication that it makes any difference? If they are waiting until some humans get it, that has clearly already happened with you and those like you. So then? Haven’t you wondered about that?

  75. Ah would that some large proportion of humanity was receptive, which is what I envision it would take for any possibility of real engagement. It’s a jungle out there, with not only indifference but hostility. I’d like to see “CONTACT” in headlines, and then see what happens. All help to get attention paid is welcome. Look at this petition that my scientist friends won’t sign because it would threaten their funding:

  76. In the end, delusional belief systems are a colossal waste of time and energy that might have been spent in constructive and realistic enterprises. It is an unfortunate aspect of the tragedy of these times that so many prefer to amuse themselves with baseless fantasies in a time of such great need for reality based thought and action. The artistic skill and dedicated work of the hoaxers who get out in the fields at night are commendable — if only they would put their energies to more practical uses….

    If one considers the vast plethora of unreal belief systems current in the world today, it is truly disheartening for those hoping for real solutions to our all too real life and death problems. Such mad dancing on the brink of the abyss reminds me of Robinson Jeffers’ poem Dark Mountain. Check it out on the web, it is sad but all too true.

  77. In case you missed it, Derrick’s Q and A audio for Orion is here:

    One thing he emphasized is the value of truth telling in as many situations, with as many different people as you can. Of course the formation of a small group of concerned persons is an ideal setting for learning and learning to share the truth. This process of open group sharing was at the heart of many tribal groups in the more remote past, and served to illuminate and strengthen the ties and understandings of the diverse tribal members. We have largely lost this source of inner and group strength in modern times. It is not too late to revive this precious resource in our own neighborhoods.

    Knowing and sharing the truth about ourselves and our world is the fundamental basis for right action. It is amazing the extent to which people have gone in forgetting this. The atomization and alienation of modern folks explains some of this trend. Lets get together and figure out the real roots of our current problems and come up with the effective means to solve them. Is that so hard to grasp? Is your immediate reaction to turn away, or inwardly think, “that won’t work?” Think about it. Let me know why you are interested or not.

  78. Thank you for answering me, Suzanne. Still though, it’s food for thought… if the circles are communication, then why not communicate further with those who get it? Why must a large portion of humanity get it first?

    If I were one of them, I certainly would want to work with small pockets of people first, rather than blare it through the media.

    I find it curious how people from activists to folks like yourself with a particular cause have this touching faith that if only the media blared it and the masses got it, something wonderful would happen. That’s what Marx thought too, and Luther way back, et al… Isn’t that a mirage?

  79. Susanne, I don’t want to gang up on you but this is really a dead end. Your peer reviewed articles turn out to be three articles by the same guy – the lettuce in the blt – in two journals. One journal is totally dedicated to paranormal phenomena; peers of a certain level. The other is a Danish journal (of plant physiology?). The articles themselves are full of obfuscating terminology of the sort I’ve heard from schizoid personalities I once knew when I was publishing articles of this sort in an agricultural journal (I was once the expert on ley lines and geomancer’s miles in Catalonia – plenty of room for new age speculation, but at least a relatively clear historical basis of human activity as their origin).

    If these supposed beings flying around up there need the majority of mankind to give them a sign, well, good luck. It’ll be much easier for us to get enough people on the same page and get control of the corporate and governmental mischief and solve the planetary problems ourselves. Obviously that’s a long shot, too, but with better odds.

  80. What I find very compelling about the other-worldly explanation for intricately trampled grass is how the human mind continues to underestimate itself. The para-normal, or extraterrestrial explanation for crop circles has to exclude the very idea that a human is capable of anything so miraculous. To deflate that idea, all you really need to do is take a good look around you. We are some clever monkeys and we’ve all got lots of time on our hands, not to mentions cheap fossil fuels to help us get ‘er done. No need to back the longshot Suzanne. Bet the favorite to win. And believe me too, I’d wish it otherwise.

  81. I believe there exists intelligence and wisdom in this universe (and indeed beyond this universe) that is deeper than anything currently being manifested by humans on planet Earth. There are indeed realities transcendent of our present logical, materialist perspectives. The problem arises when humans who have not prepared and qualified themselves to receive these deeper understandings begin messing around with paranormal “research” that is little more than an attempt to wed their primitive “scientific” knowledge with their fertile imaginations and desire nature. The results are predictably, self-serving nonsense taken to be real, which only deepens the deluded mind state that characterizes most of their activities. The search for deeper clarity and wisdom is a serious one that is not well served by these antics. The ability to analyze and deconstruct these false artifacts of the grasping mind is an important requirement on the road to true knowledge.

    Now in a more charitable and caring tone, I recognize that those involved in some pretty unusual pursuits are engaged in a sincere search for truth and real spirituality. I have been in the same position many times myself. Truth grows through the accumulation of errors, and their eventual deconstruction. So enjoy your adventures in search of the elusive paranormal, I did mine. And eventually I was able to distill out some grains of pure gold, which made all the dead ends finally worthwhile.

  82. Well, I made my move to address the opinions that are being offered here. It was six years of work and all my spare change. Can’t counter arguments that speak from conjecture. Costs $3.99 to tune into some data: See the trailer free: CropCircleMovie(dot)com. And I have smart posts on my blog: TheConversation(dot)org.
    Love to continue any dialogue after you know some of what I know. I’m serious about the need to address our worldview, which was of interest to me long before I discovered the circles. They just became the likeliest way I could imagine to shake us out of our narrow perspective on reality in which we are so dangerous to ourselves.

  83. Vera, Robert is definitely a verb. If he could lighten up on his love affair with epigenetics and with his bullying ways he’d be a useful ally.

  84. Suzanne, I went to the site you linked, some guy was driving around Holland looking for circles, and claiming he was taking photos of St. Francis and his animals. How is this behavior of any help to the Earth or humans? Oh, never mind…

  85. Vera — All my links go to my things and none of them match what you got. I presume you know you have to substitute periods for (dot)s.

  86. Suzanne, I clicked on your blt page; at the very top, a *new* story is announced as “First 2011 Crop Circle in Holland Associated with St. Francis of Assisi?” — so I clicked on that.

  87. Real spirituality is an inner stance of consciousness based on an unwavering realization of our oneness with and love of all that is. The false and inadequate spirituality most of us manifest is a façade for the petty desires of the selfish and separate ego. The way to a higher level of consciousness and its transformative gifts is by means of valid spiritual paths. A sign of one’s being immersed in the lower materialist, conditioned consciousness is that one holds spiritual paths and the work they enjoin to be irrelevant or worthy of polite contempt. In our age, it is not that many are called but few are chosen. Very few feel called at all. The belief (mostly tacit unconscious assumption) that we can solve our problems without recourse to spiritual work on ourselves, operates perfectly to constrain us within the karmic destiny of those devoid of a deeper understanding of the true meaning of their sojourn here on Earth.

    Loving one another has turned out to be the ultimate challenge of our brief existence on Earth. Failure to truly solve this problem will lead to our extinction, or worse. Is it not clear by now that our success depends on achieving a level of consciousness transcendent to our fractured and frightened egos? Only profoundly changed people can create a profoundly better world. I append a quote by Sri Aurobindo — one of the greatest sages of the twentieth century:

    “ ..humanity cannot grow out of its limitations by the ordinary means adopted by the human mind, politics, social reform, philanthropy, etc. — these can only be temporary or local palliatives. The only true escape is a change of consciousness, a change into a greater, wider and purer way of being, and a life and action based upon that change.”

  88. In case you have not yet cognized how bad it truly is, check out this Morris Berman eulogy for Joe Bageant:

    And in case you do not understand why knowing how bad it is, is the essential first step to awakening, think about it. Still don’t know? Tell me what you don’t get about it, maybe I can help. Or maybe not…

  89. Oh yes, Vera, I see what you are talking about. Bltresearch(dot)com is not my site, but the site where the science papers are to be found. That’s all I pointed it out for.

    Mike, I have for many years been host to Advaita teachers. In support of their teachings, some of them have lived at my house. If you are posting that perspective as the alternative to what I’m dealing with, it is not. I am talking about the collective worldview that would change if it were established that there is other intelligence. Personal growth is a lifetime’s work, if not longer, but shifting the worldview that holds all our societal problems in place could happen overnight. And in terms of how bad it is, isn’t that what this whole thread is about? That’s why I spent all my money to produce a film that possibly could change the fundamentals before it’s too late.

    If you go back and read things on my blog, theconversation(dot)org, you will see what interesting posts I’ve made that have nothing to do with the circles and everything to do with spirituality and consciousness.

    This is the statement that heads the page of my html site that precedes my involvement with the circles and is just archival now:

    “These times are dangerously out of balance. Exploitation has supplanted interest in the common good. What can be done to bring about a more life-sustaining perception, grounded in an awareness that we are one?

    “The good news is that seeking God is giving way to expressing God. After lifetimes of spiritual practice, self-aware people can sit around the campfire, glowing together. This is an everyday God sort of thing, hearkening to earlier connections to the land and the tribe that have been acculturated out of us. It is timely now for those with a developed capacity for seeing through the illusion to grow a field of awareness.

    “What is coming clear to you? Let this site be a focal point to pulse the vibe of an awakened humanity.”

  90. After reading Derrick Jensen for several years I’m left wondering who he dislikes more – the people who are trashing the planet for the sake of greed, or the people who are basically on his side against those same people but who don’t react and act exactly as Jensen wishes they did.

    Starting with his November/December 2010 article, Mutual Aid, Derrick seemed to have turned a corner, and instead of acting the role of the common scold, he began demonstrating how people could take action to defend the planet. And in succeeding articles, he did a brilliant job of describing the problems and the perpetrators.

    But I’m afraid with this article he’s back at it, being mad at people with whom he shares much in common.

  91. Right on Todd. I Listened Derrick’s online interview and I am again frustrated and disturbed because ultimately I think we are or should be on the same side (if indeed there are sides). Yet again Derrick makes the comment about the Tolowa having lived in situ for 12,500 years and implies this is what science claims. I would like to see the scientific reference. Mike K refers rightly to future thinking and the need for “truth telling” and that “baseless fantasies” are of no help or use in our current situation. I would like to suggest that the same holds true for the past and for Derrick. His use of the Tolowa is , to quote Mike “self-serving nonsense taken to be real”, and it “deepens the deluded mind”. In our “search for deeper clarity and wisdom” we need to give up on the false notions about the noble savage, and the erroneous notions of the history and prehistory.

  92. Also Derrick refers to science disparagingly and confuses science with technology. Science is (like Zen) a way of trying to look at the world as it is. How discoveries and observations are used for technology is not a scientific problem but a social one. Science after all is what is informing us about climate change and species extinction and habitat and hammerhead sharks and population overshoot etc, etc

  93. I have been following this conversation with interest since I raised the religion/spirituality issue (mainly because I was afraid I was going to get scolded for doing so), and it has been fascinating–thanks to everyone for offering their viewpoints.

    Mike K: I had never heard of Morris Berman or Joe Bageant; how did I miss these men? Thank you for pointing them out.

    Rod, thanks for pointing out that “Science is (like Zen) a way of trying to look at the world as it is. How discoveries and observations are used for technology is not a scientific problem but a social one.” So many people overlook this crucial fact, or else they think that “science” is some kind of ultimate truth that holds all answers to all questions; it doesn’t.

    Suzanne, I don’t know what to think of crop circles other than they’re beautiful. I’m a firm believer that there is more to this world than what has already been explained, however, so if there’s another consciousness at work there, it would probably be good if we could connect with it somehow. I do try to keep an open mind.

    Here in Florida, though, I keep coming back to what’s happening with our springs. We have more freshwater springs than any other place in the world, and they have no protection! So they’re gradually dying. It breaks my heart. I have vowed to do everything I can do to help reverse this trend, even though right now it looks like a losing battle. Why? First, because I love these places. Second, because I think the health of our environment is directly connected to our own health, the health of human beings.

    We’re not separate from the water, air, fire, and earth that surrounds us; we’re made of the same stuff, so I think how we treat the environment reflects how we treat each other, and vice versa. We need to learn to treat both with love, not contempt or greed or ignorance.

    And after yesterday’s no-show rapture, I’m glad we’re all still here to have this conversation!

  94. Rod, it seems a bit picayune, what you keep objecting to. While not exactly correct, *some* tribes lived there around 12,000 years, I take it. And isn’t it amazing to contemplate that some humans can live in a place for thousands of years and leave barely a trace, and us, well, we trash it in decades?

    Todd, what’s wrong with expressing frustration with people who run around yelling “it’s too late”? Down with doomer porn! 🙂

  95. Rod, in other Orion forums I’ve often found myself to be the lone proponent of what boils down to your very clear statement – “Science is (like Zen) a way of trying to look at the world as it is.” – separate from technology and especially the corporate uses of technology. And also about the “noble savage”, who, on closer inspection is human like the rest of us. Some human-caused extinctions of mega fauna occurred long before civilization.

    Todd, I often agree with a lot of what Jensen says, but finally I think it’s just not clear that he HAS a plan (tho some of what he says seems to trigger ideas of violence in various readers). Many people who come to these articles and these forums are clearly looking for suggestions for action. Nothing is delivered. In the audio q&a session Jensen basically said, “Do something. If you’re not satisfied with that, do something else.” I’ve suggested political solutions, others have suggested inner spiritual work, or separation from the money and consumption system. As I see it we’re all still going our own ways, trying to save ourselves and ours, but still open to suggestions about how to have a greater impact on these serious problems (nobody but the anon-bots seem to doubt that there are serious problems). There’s no paint by numbers solution. Nobody’s going to hold our hands and lead the way.

  96. Vera – Verily I say, there is nothing wrong with the person running around saying “it’s too late,” because this person, too, is grappling with the problem. I’ve been through the “it’s too late” syndrome myself and am here to tell you that it’s a phase one necessarily goes through when dealing with this problem. It’s called utter despair, and it’s usually followed by “it may be hopeless but I must tilt against that windmill anyway, so I can look my children and myself in the eye” syndrome. Expressing frustration with such people (who are on your own side) may make one feel better (and I seriously would dispute even that) but it does nothing to help those people get past the “it’s too late” syndrome nor does it help the planet. IMO, only.

    Ed T, I also agree with much of what Jensen says. I just think he spends too much time savaging his own. IMO, your political solutions, another’s inner spiritual work, Jensen’s writing, and yes, even expressions of despair, are all part of the work of getting whole again. IMO, there is no -one- right way of fighting the Beast…there are many right ways. It’s well and good that no one holds our hand. The better for each of us to find our own way.

  97. Doh….I meant to say “‘…look my children in the eye and myself in the mirror’ syndrome.”

    Also, I just want to say, the column “Mutual Aid” was a tour de force, IMO. Absolutely brilliant. If Jensen had said nothing else after that, it would have been enough.

  98. Todd, perhaps we need to distinguish from “it’s too late” as coming from despair, and “it’s too late” as doomer porn, a way to yank other people emotionally… there is a lot of that going on, and I speak against it when I can, because… well, it’s neither helpful nor fair nor a way of doing right by others or the planet. It’s fear-mongering.

    And, ultimately, “it’s too late” is a lie. It’s coming from the same hubris this civ is built on… a pretense that we *know.*

    Does Derrick savage his own? Maybe so. My pet peeve with him is that he keeps ranting at others while having no real suggestions for what to do.

  99. Vera, I realize it seems a bit picayune to keep focusing on the Tolowa but really that is a stand in for much else that bothers me about Derricks writing, much of which I have previously written about both online and in print, but which I felt I didn’t want to get too lengthy about here. I want to say I mostly agree with him. I admire his dedication and commitment, his obvious love of the “natural” world. But I don’t like Derrick’s too broad-brush strokes, his simplifications, hyperbole, inaccurate reading of history and prehistory, self-righteousness, and high horse reprimanding. It was interesting hearing him speak, such a soft, sweet voice behind which is such rage. Anger and panic I think will get us nowhere.
    I remember my mother telling me that as a child when her house roof (and many others in south England) was collapsing from fragments of German bombs, they were sure the world was ending. And so it did for many, and much. And yet!
    The shit is hitting the fan and our chances of survival are much greater if we are able to hold our own shit. Reason is good. It is not all, but very useful. Acting or reacting on emotion is usually detrimental.
    Once again, Native America was from the beginning when this invasive species called Homo sapiens first entered the scene, a roiling mix of cultures, rising and falling, shifting and changing, pushing, killing, absorbing adopting and adapting. There is no evidence for, and plenty against the notion that any one culture was around that long. They were human, and they had all the same foibles we have, and they had a huge effect on the continent. They probably helped unwittingly to create species (from others, like bison) as well as destroy them. They would have and did latch onto new dazzling, glittery technologies in a flash. And wreaked havoc with them too.
    We may not change our material economic paradigm without first spiritual awakening. We all are doing all we can, and we can’t do more than we are able.
    There is no too late, and no not soon enough

  100. Ah, Science! The marvel of the Ages, the crown of humankind’s quest for knowledge. Through Science we will be enlightened and pass on into a New World enriched beyond measure by the blessings of its discoveries and inventions. And as for the Scientists themselves, these selfless servants of humankind live in a realm of pure disinterested reason, far from the lower level concerns of the common folk. Let us honor and reward them for their efforts to advance our estate, and usher in a Heaven on Earth.

    Or perhaps not. Some old stories give one pause: Pandora’s Box, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Icarus, the Midas Touch, and others. Alexander Pope counsels: “A little learning is a dangerous thing,/ drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring…” The message seems to be that knowledge is inseperable from power, and that without ethical and spiritual wisdom, it can be dangerous and harmful to its possessors.

    We are those spiritual infants playing with dynamite and worse. To exonerate scientists from any responsibilities for our present world crisis appears to me to be very short sighted. Some of those unlocking the power safely held in the heart of matter came to regret what they had unleashed, and accepted their guilty complicity in loosing a curse upon all of us. They did not take refuge in saying that the use of their revelations was none of their responsibility. The psychologists who carried out research to enhance the torture of their fellow men and women must at least blush to hide their crimes behind such shallow alibis.

    The point is that the power unleashed by scientific knowledge is not immune from criticism, and indeed is the main driver of the global crises we are immersed in now. Whether early humans were noble or otherwise, they lacked the power to wreak the wholesale damage we moderns have been handed by science.

    More hopefully, we have scientists of the Soul who have devised inner technologies by means of which we can quicken the development of those qualities that would enable us to use the powers we have uncovered in a sane and mutually beneficial way. Whether we will take up these ancient tools and work to improve them and accelerate the time frame in which they become effective remains to be seen. There is no alternative to achieving this inner transformation. The cosmic reality for intelligent beings is: Love or perish.

  101. Rod, yes, Derrick does paint in broad strokes, and well, he has a schtick that sells his writings. Still, his voice is needed. Others pitch in with more balanced views and together it works, like a piece of music. (IMO)

    Would the Indians have picked up glittery tech? Well, the Australians chose to stay level, when it comes to tech. The Tasmanians chose to simplify… they even abandoned tech they formerly brought with them from the Australian continent. To assume that because *we” go bozonkers over shiny tech any human will, seems to me an overgeneralization. I agree humans do have an impact. Every species has an impact, and humans especially so. Still…

    Reason, in my view, is not good. Reason is one of the tools we have been given, and it has its own risks. Reason is good or bad depending on use. So is emotion.

  102. This side topic…the discussion of Anglo/Europeans (like me) wanting to deify Native Cultures… is one that has always bemused me. (BTW, If you really want to see an hilarious send-up of the subject, told through the eyes of Native characters, see the film: “Smoke Signals.”) Inevitably, when the subject rolls around, somebody will trot out the old “Chief Seattle’s Address to President Pierce” trope. Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhhh! Here, Derrick is no better. I just chalk it up to people who aren’t really interested in getting to the true story that is available from many contemporary accounts, and historical investigations. And really, the truth is much more fascinating.

    Was there technology they wanted/adopted ? As far as I can tell, the N. American Natives’ response to that offer was always, “What have you got?” You think that the Sioux, et. al., rubbed out Custer at the Greasy Grass with flint tipped arrows? These people came strapped… s.o.t.a. In most cases, they were better armed with more reliable arms and ammunition than Custer’s troopers. Now there’s some glittering technology for you. And reason that is the case is…big surprise…they were just people who were quick to adopt any technology that they perceived made their lives easier. Some of it, like at the present, only looked like a good bargain until the reality hit…usually too late to reverse course… that it wasn’t such a great idea after all. Alcohol is certainly in that category.

    Evidence is that there were territorial conflicts, forced migrations and resource wars in pre-Columbian N.A. (The Lakota people are a case in point). There were arms races. We don’t know the full extent of it largely because the European communicable diseases decimated the populations, and with them the history. When the later observation of the remnant populations were made by explorers and settlers, the pressures on resources had been lessened, and with it a lot of the inter-tribal conflicts. This probably did more to engender the Noble Man In Harmony With The Earth Mother than any other reason. Too, I think far too many of the chroniclers read too much Rousseau. It is not for me to say if this attitude does modern Native people a disservice, but I’m betting it does.

  103. What needs to be changed to save our world? Human minds, people’s consciousness. It seems we will come up with any wild hope for sudden interventions that miraculously make everything better, rather than face the real work we need to do on ourselves. This human inertia is the real reason one sometimes despairs of our situation changing in meaningful ways. We have met the enemy, and it is us. The problem, as Walt Kelly well understood, is that we have not really consciously acknowledged that it is we who are the problem. Anything but that! And surely there must be some substitute for my own work on myself…..?

  104. Smoke Signals is an excellent movie, Wade. I would follow it up with Powwow Highway. That one examines the ambiguous but real nature of Native American spirituality, with a lot of hilarious action to boot.

  105. Mike, freedom of thought is a royal pain; always has been, always will be. The next step of your line of reasoning would be to shackle the minds of people who think scientifically. Others might want to shackle the minds of people who follow certain social, religious, philosophical thoughtlines.

    We think what we think. We follow our personal obsessions. Once we express these things they’re open to criticism, modification, approval, condemnation, interdiction…. Marx, Hitler, Jesus, the Buddha each put out his ideas, all of them dangerous in different ways. These ideas then went into the social milieu, there to be judged and acted on.

    A real bother but probably still the best way to go.

  106. Lucinda, I was touched by all that you said (101). Re “We’re not separate from the water, air, fire, and earth that surrounds us,” a characteristic of the crop circle phenomenon is that the formations land near what we might think of as sacred sites, Stonehenge being the most famous one in England. In the US, they typically arrive next to Indian burial grounds or human made mounds. Our surmise is that they are calling us back to a time when we did not feel ourselves to be separate from nature.

  107. Suzanne…just a little food for thought: On January 7, 1918, Harry Houdini made an elephant “disappear” off the stage of New York’s Hippodrome Theater. Not really. 😉

  108. Todd — You wrote: “Ed T, I also agree with much of what Jensen says. I just think he spends too much time savaging his own. IMO, your political solutions, another’s inner spiritual work, Jensen’s writing, and yes, even expressions of despair, are all part of the work of getting whole again. IMO, there is no -one- right way of fighting the Beast…there are many right ways. It’s well and good that no one holds our hand. The better for each of us to find our own way.”

    I too choose not to swallow Jenson whole. On the other hand, I get a lot of good energy from him. He has an axe to grind, and it is not always pleasant to absorb his messages. It was the same with MLK or Gandhi, for example. They did not let their message suffer from a deficiency of fiery energy. Sometimes they scorched the ears of their followers with reminders of their shortcomings. A movement where mutual criticism is absent or discouraged does not prosper from that omission. Of course a balanced and measured dosing of this strong medicine is called for. But when a teacher feels it is really needful, he will not spare the lash of righteous criticism. These guides are fanatics in a way: they are obsessed with their mission, and sometimes get carried away in their expression of it.

    The last part of the quote from you is right on. Let a thousand flowers bloom. We need every conceivable idea and proposal. Crop circles from beyond? Bring it on. We are not at a point in our quest to say what will ultimately turn the tide in this cosmic struggle, as it plays out in our little corner of our little galaxy among the zillions of others.

  109. Hope you don’t think I’m just trolling for reactions here, and I’m sure that at some point I will see your film and enjoy it very much, but I’ve got to ask you:

    Assuming that the crop designs are meant to convey a message from some other culture beyond our present ken, what would be the point in never duplicating the same message twice? Wouldn’t a consistency of message, to stay, as we say, “on point” be the surest indicator of an attempt to make contact? Right, it might not be a message that we would understand, but we certainly would give more thought to deciphering it if it were presented repeatedly, wouldn’t you agree?

    This point alone makes me suspect that these are done by increasingly sophisticated human artists, each wanting to do a “one off” masterpiece, or to top the last one. If these are aliens doing this, they certainly have a human sized ego.

    I want to be opened minded about this, but until relatively recently, nobody thought that a human could do something similar by any means…and then we find out that the earliest ones were done with the simplest of devices. My thought is that somebody, or many, saw that and thought….”Hmmmm. I can do better than that.”

  110. Ed — I don’t know what your surmise about my “next thought” arose from, but it was not what I had in mind. Your reaction to my critique of the unthinking worship of scientists and the scientific worldview did not contain any hint of censorship. I am a staunch upholder of the salutary value of free speech. John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty is a favorite of mine.

    If on consideration you can detect any pro censorship content in anything I have written, please let me know so that I can apologize and publically recant it.

    Let me say that some scientists are great heros and exemplars to me. The true spirit of science is manifested through these men and women, in contrast to the degrading example of those who sell their expertise to enhance torture, spying on their fellow citizens, and devising fiendish weapons like drones to kill their brothers and sisters. Its too bad Dante didn’t live long enough to reserve a special section of the Inferno for those folks.

  111. Have I neglected to give science credit for its role in displacing real spirituality in millions of people? Such is unfortunately the case. From the pivotal encounter between Galileo and the Inquisition to the modern era, Science has preened itself as the unique and sole arbiter of “truth”. The sorry materialism that infects the minds of so many today owes a lot to the illusory pretensions of the scientific community. This is not to deny the crucial role that bankrupt and phony “mainstream religions” have played in the erosion of any higher sense of values in the populace. Those who choose to only contemplate the bright side of science may need to consider some other perspectives if they wish to better understand the malaise of the modern world. If you think the inner wasteland of the average person is of little consequence to the fate of the world, you might consider giving it a deeper consideration. The disenchantment of the world that science has abetted has played no small part in this disastrous development.

  112. “What needs to be changed to save our world? Human minds, people’s consciousness.”

    Nah, Mike, there you got that wrong. It’s changed behavior that will make a difference. Nothing else. You may argue that changed behavior proceeds from changed minds. Perhaps. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. 🙂

    Wade, I am pretty much inclined to think the same about the circles; but I have a bit of unease about the early efforts at debunking. The answers provided seemed too… facile, too eager, too shallow.

  113. Mike, so your sarcasm in post 108 is a “critique of the unthinking worship of scientists and the scientific worldview”? I don’t think so. The wording shows that it’s more about laying blame at scientists’ feet. If only they hadn’t tried to find out about certain things..

    When one’s passion is to know how the universe works this is what comes of it. We (scientists), as well as the rest of humanity, have consequences to deal with. There are equally difficult consequences to philosophical, social and religious ideas.

    To Todd you say, “We need every conceivable idea and proposal.” The messy world of scientific investigation has it’s place here. Pandora? She’s the far-ranging human mind. And us monkeys is the craziest animals. Gotta deal with it now that it’s out of the jar (box). And it’s just a bunch of crazy monkeys making the decisions (scientific, social, religious…)

    The “inner wasteland of the average person” is not caused by scientific investigation.
    It’s the same social manipulation that’s been going on since prehistory.

    You say, “Have I neglected to give science credit for its role in displacing real spirituality in millions of people?” My REAL spirituality, based in great measure on a detailed scientific view of life in the cosmos, is something I share with millions of fellow scientists. THIS is “the bright side of science”.

  114. Changes in behavior result from changes in thought, feeling, motivation, understanding. Without these inner changes, there is no reason for a person to change and no support for maintaining changed behavior. This is noticeable in AA, for example. Those whose thinking remains the same continue to behave the same.

    The Eastern term Manas refers to a more inclusive definition of mind. It includes sensation, perception, instinct, memories conscious or unconscious, feelings, intuitions, etc. All of this characterizes the basis for our sentient behavior. The materialist tends to resist any idea that the inner determines the outer, but simple self observation reveals the truth of it. It is undeniable that when people’s ideas and feelings change, then they behave in accordance with those inner changes.

    Our free will, what of it we use, depends on our ability to think new thoughts, experience new feelings, make new decisions. That there is no such thing as free will is a fallacy of determinism, materialism, and behaviorism. All of these lead away from a spiritual understanding of ourselves and our possibilities.

  115. Ed — I am genuinely sorry if I have upset you with my remarks about science. Of course I had no idea how important the good image of science was to you. One never knows when one will inadvertently step on someone’s sensitive toe. My apologies. I think it might be futile to continue to discuss this topic in light of the energy I feel in your response. Maybe we can just agree to disagree on this one?

    In my own search for truth, I have been unsparing in criticizing institutions and individuals for what I find wanting in them. I do not pretend to any monopoly on right judgment, and I often revise opinions that seemed clear to me at the time I held them. I guess in my own way I am a kind of scientist, if you define that as an open quest for truth.

    My own research, experimentation, and evaluation has convinced me that our deeply troubled situation in the world today involves deep dysfunctions in every institution of society, which are reflected in the flaws in each and every individual on this planet without exception. I understand that this viewpoint is not common, and that many people find it quite disturbing to contemplate. In my mind, the refusal of most to consider the deep flaws in our society and in themselves is one of the most resistant to change of all our grave deficits. Yet in my thinking this facing of the depth and breadth of our failure is the essential first step to healing our situation. I am quite aware that trying to convince anyone who is not open to such a consideration against their will is a complete waste of time and ultimately counterproductive. So please simply consider that my words are not meant for you. Go in peace. I am not attacking you. I respect you and feel that you are a good person, on the basis of what you have shared during the weeks that I have participated in this blog.

  116. Mike, I wasn’t focused on where the changes come from. (I imagine there are various possibilities, not all necessarily conscious. As in the Travolta film Phonomenon.) I was pointing out that unless the behavior changes, it’s of no use to the planet.

  117. Plowboy — I’ve only been involved with the phenomenon for 20 years, so thanks for giving me Houdini to chew on. Re “Why didn’t they…?,” why didn’t the creative force in the universe make a combination of elephant and camel, instead of a humpy beast that was so hard to sit on? If we were around the campfire, trying to see into the mystery, all questions would be good to wonder about. But if one legitimately challenges the idea of the circles coming from elsewhere, you have to stick to working with the evidence of whether or not we can make what we get. Also, check your data — not accurate about just discovering how the early ones were made.

  118. Mike, you haven’t upset me. This ship’s on an even keel. Don’t mistake passion for anger.

    Here I am talking in my own strange ways about the joy, peace and wonder that can come from a scientific view of reality (which does not blind itself to the flaws in ourselves and in society), and you remind me in your way that those who haven’t had the opportunity to see the world in this way may not be ready to accept it as a valid spiritual path.

    I usually read all of your posts, and if I rarely protest it’s because I’m usually not at all disturbed by what you say.

  119. Vera — My point is that unless the mind changes the behavior will not change. If the mind changes the behavior will change if there is the will to do so. I am just thinking that the mind change opens the possibility for behavior change. However if there are other factors that make behavior change difficult or scary, then some change in the balance of those factors in one’s mind will be needed to actuate change in behavior. I’m thinking of Paul’s dilemma when he said, “I know the right thing to do, but I do the wrong thing instead.” One could argue that he needs a deeper more thorough-going change to free himself from one part of his mind set that is blocking his spiritual mind from translating itself into action. This kind of inner struggle between “different minds” within us was an observation of Gurdjieff that led to his idea of “different I’s” that was later taken up by psychosynthesis among others. I would not deny that action is possible without higher brain centers and logical thought intervening. Obviously reacting to touching a hot stove can be pretty rapid and seemingly automatic. Although one could say that this is a more primitive mind that has the “wisdom” to identify the problem quickly and make the right response. But of course where I started from was the proposition that higher forms of behavior involve higher (thinking) functions of the mind/brain.

    I think now I am lost in the vagaries of my own thought, and had best go back to the (to me) simple fact that often people need to change their thinking to initiate changes in their behavior. If there are exceptions, so be it. I see people who have changed their lives by changing their thinking. I see people stuck in the rut of their lives because they fail to come up with new motivational viewpoints. Whatever the philosophical or psychological complexities, in everyday life I have evidence that this works, and is a way to effect desirable outcomes.

  120. Ed — Its really good to hear you are not pissed at me. I value the viewpoints you are sharing here. I did get a little carried away in castigating the “bad scientists”. Maybe it would help if I told you that science is a big part of my spirituality too. No joke. My collection of video tapes of science shows from black holes to nature films to the geological evolution of our home planet, are a precious spiritual resource to me. Why do I get so stirred up against those who are in my view perverting this precious spiritual resource? Same reason I am fed up with the mealy mouthed religionist who are making a farce and a racket of sacred things. When you love something it burns you up to see it trashed and misused. Thanks for putting up with my rant, I did get carried away with my passion. Even JC had it with the money changers. Don’t get me started about or modern day equivalents of those blood suckers! J

  121. “I see people who have changed their lives by changing their thinking.”

    Yes, but the trouble with that model is… I see a lot of people who have changed their thinking but not their behavior. Or so it sure seems.

    I guess I am poking at the same elephant from a different angle. [No elephants have been harmed in composing this post.]

  122. I think Mike is still getting science and technology confused (especially in 108).Scientists are not “good” or “bad”, they are human Ed has a great balance of science and spirituality. Really they are not in conflict with each other.
    Smoke Signals is an excellent movie.

  123. Suzanne….fair enough. See you on the other side some day, when all might be revealed. All the best to you.

  124. Rod, you said: “I think Mike is still getting science and technology confused (especially in 108).Scientists are not “good” or “bad”, they are human Ed has a great balance of science and spirituality. Really they are not in conflict with each other.
    Smoke Signals is an excellent movie.”

    The distinction between science and technology is entirely artificial. They constitute two aspects or departments of one project. You might also ask yourself what defines a person as a “scientist”? The search for an answer to that would take one deep into the history and philosophy of science, an area of considerable controversy and undecidable complexities.

    Scientists are humans who do good as well as bad things.

    It is true that true science and true spirituality are not in conflict, and indeed are one and the same. However people’s imperfect ideas about science and religion have been and still are locked in seemingly irreconcilable conflict. The current tussle over evolution is just one symptom of their mutual antagonism. It depresses me to hear of a poll that reported the majority of Americans believe that the theory of evolution is untrue.

    I am glad you liked Smoke Signals. My favorite scene was the monologue delivered on a bridge near the end of the movie. Many of us have had problems with our fathers. After reading a transcript of that passage to a group that I attend, there were some deep and sometimes emotional remembrances and reflections among us.

  125. Plowboy — Either all will be revealed to us here in our time on Earth, or we will be told when we reach the other side, “Get back down there and keep working on it!” 🙂

  126. Andrew Stagg — Beautiful response! You inspire me.

  127. Vera — You make a good point. Gurdjieff used to say, Knowledge only becomes understanding when we act on it. In AA it is constantly emphasized that the program is not one of ideas and theories, but one of action. In the TM program, Maharishi taught that the knowledge part was solely to motivate and support the action part: meditation. So, you are right, ideas not acted on are sterile. I back away from my futile attempt to justify the extreme position I initially put forth. Thanks for your corrective input.

  128. It’s been a pleasure to be part of this conversation, and I’d be happy to have you all on my mailing list. It’s mostly compilations I send out every 2 or 3 weeks of the posts I put on my blog — all open for the kind of comments we are making. I was interested in consciousness and our worldview long before I discovered crop circles, and the blog posts, albeit heavily focussed now on the circle phenomenon, are fundamentally about the great shift of consciousness sweeping through humanity. What I do post about the circles is mostly concerned with how they could serve in that regard. See what you think and sign up here: theconversation(dot)org.

  129. Suzanne — Glad you joined us on this comment blog. Anyone who hosts advaita practitioners can’t be all bad! 🙂

  130. Suzanne — Let me add that I really admire the way you received some pretty sharp criticism, and responded with grace and good humor. I have something to learn from that.

  131. Mike, I like that… “knowledge only becomes understanding when we act on it.” Well put. Glad we are in synch on this one after all. 🙂

  132. Vera — We are far more often in sync than not. For instance, I thought your remarks about JMG’s position, that you wrote on your blog were right on. I had thought to write him something along those lines, but doubted he would publish it. Its amazing how open folks are, until something seriously challenges their assumptions.

  133. Didja? I am pleased! Jevons Paradox is counterintuitive and I worked hard to make it clear and accessible… Not that it would make a difference to JMG.

    JMG does not really want to be challenged. I thought he was, earlier, since he gives a lot of his energy to answering commenters. Instead, he looks for affirmations. He usually makes solid arguments, but when he falls into a weak one, there is no way to engage him to work through it. He will simply silence the offending party! 🙂 Oh well.

    For folks who haven’t heard of JMG yet, check out his Archdruid Report.

  134. I’ve seen spiders start building webs in a bush and soon the whole bush was covered with spider webs. Eventually the bush died and the spiders either died too or migrated to another bush. It appears the scale of humanity’s existence is bigger than the spider’s but no more intelligent.

    Derrick’s right about all this…”To be or not to be?” At what point do we cease to want “to be”? Do we wait for the last glacier to melt, do we watch our wall street capitalist system play out its profit motive to the last penny, do we suffer geoengineers who want to sprinkle reflectants into our atmosphere or other obscure remedies, do we watch another election with global warming on the back burner, do we accept the rise in insurance rates with subdued grace as more damage is forthcoming? You see I can go on and on and every week add new concerns to this list.

    The fact that we’ve read this article gives one hope. We know we’re not giving up and will continue to look for sustainability in our own lives and share that with others. We’re also the people who let our politicians know what we expect and stay in tune with what they do.

  135. Lawrence — I agree with a lot of your comment, but when you say: “We’re also the people who let our politicians know what we expect and stay in tune with what they do.” The problem with this is that the corporate financial military political machine is so totally rigged and controlled that is impossible to change it by acting within the rules and laws that the machine has created to make such change impossible. This is the source of the frustration of Derrick Jensen and others who desperately seek real change, but are aware of the futility of trying to achieve it through “the usual channels.” The failure to understand this futility results in the energies which are needed for real change being dissipated and wasted playing blind mans buff on a merry go round in a hall of mirrors enveloped in a fog of misleading possibilities — or worse.

    I am still haunted by the picture of senator Kucinich, candidate for the presidency, standing in the Iowa snow outside the hall where the debate for presidential candidates was being held. He was not even allowed to enter the hall as a member of the audience, much less to take part in the actual debate. Democracy in action? You decide.

  136. The last para of my comment did not print. It was:
    Or how about the doctor’s who wanted to present the case for universal health care before the committee “debating” it? They were arrested and led off in handcuffs. This is a free country, right? Yes, as long as you do what you are told.

  137. Lawrence, um, why would spider webs harm a bush? Are you maybe thinking tent caterpillars?

    Yeah, a species can be destructive, but it can also find a balance. Smart parasites and pathogens learn not to kill the host but to coexist. Maybe we can too.

    Yeah, Mike’s right, forget about any “usual channels.” They are not meant to serve riff-raff the likes of us…

  138. Mike, yeah I am continually amazed to hear people who think we live in a Democracy. And then you listen to the news, including NPR, and just the way the journalists report is so Amero-centric.They never really question underlying assumtions, or they have the same underlying assumtions as the Politicans. The hypocracy of Clinton trotting around the world scolding and demanding.

  139. Right on, Rod. Speak your truth every chance you get. That was part of DJ’s message in his recent Orion audio Q and A. We need to shake up our friends and dare to share our understandings of the present crisis in every situation we encounter. There is so much BS out there, somebody has to challenge it.

  140. Being born into this realm is like being thrown into a puzzle-room where the way out depends on an inner journey of creative discovery. The keys to our release are all around us, but require our awakened intuition to reveal their real significance. May your sleep be troubled by remembrances of the worlds beyond your dreams. When you find the transforming Keys of Light, please come back and share them with your sleeping sisters and brothers lying under the moon of forgetfulness.

  141. Lawrence, You’re not alone, but there are very few of us here (on the Orion forums) who believe it’s still worth the (minimal) trouble to go and vote.

    Mike and Vera, I may be too sexy for my shirt but I’m still not too cool to vote, or to write to my politicians or call them at their office, stand in the street and “protest” etc.

    The effect is minimal, but not non existent. How many of us cool people are there who refuse to be counted? In my opinion COOL is a big part of the problem. Couldn’t be bothered. It’s not going to bring about the revolution. Yada yada…

    The system is co-opted, bought out – OK ! There’s still just a relatively small amount of actual data manipulation (there’s a very low probability that your vote, phone call, etc. will just be discarded), and if the cool people could just descend into the fray it would help some other people to see their way. Mike, you’re always talking about how small groups are an important step in the process. I’m talking about how large groups alter the process.

    Of course we have to work on our own psyches, families, friends, local environments… But it’s a big world that’s in trouble here. The butterfly effect is real enough. Like Derrick said, try something, then try something else. Great thing about this cosmos – sooner or later every action has an effect.

  142. Ed — I think if you and I had a chance to sit down and share our ideas about what kind of world we would like to see develop, there would be quite a lot of agreement. Where we seem to differ is on how we might get there. I have no intention of refuting or disparaging your positions on this, much less trying to persuade you over to my viewpoints. That would not work for either of us. But I do want to respond to your comments in order to try to clarify my reasons for thinking and acting as I do. After all, this is an open conversation, and by more or less fully sharing our thoughts we can maybe further other’s thinking on these important topics that Derrick and others bring up on the Orion blog.

    You write: “The system is co-opted, bought out – OK ! There’s still just a relatively small amount of actual data manipulation…”
    After the two recent stolen elections, that is a hard one for me to swallow. I am not sure what your information sources are, but I watch LinkTV and democracy now. I also regularly monitor Truthout, Truthdig, Tom Dispatch, Common Dreams, and other investigative sources with excellent credentials for accuracy and veracity. The overall picture that emerges for me is of a Government and Oligarchy (better: Oligarchic Government) that has taken this country deeper into Fascism than ever before.

    This Government that you expect to listen to your pleas for fairness has a list of crimes that it would really be tiring to list. Do you feel safer now that over three and a half million people are working full time to develop spying techniques that are being use against its own citizens? Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be scooped off the street and taken somewhere to be tortured by the agents of this Fascist Regime? Do you console yourself that this will never happen to you?

    Ed, I am going to end this here, because it truly burns me up to think about it. Just one more thought. Cooperating with this Evil System of exploitation and cruelty constitutes for me enabling abuse of the worst kind. Voting is a pathetic endorsement of the crooked system they have erected to con us. I am just not going to play their game anymore. You do what you feel is right. I respect you for the things you have shared here. But since you asked, the above is a tiny piece of the experiences and thoughts that have motivated me to think and act as I do.
    And BTW I don’t think of myself as cool for having these opinions. On the contrary, I know myself to be deeply disturbed by all of this, and often at my wits end to figure out what I can contribute to fix it. I don’t feel even a little bit detached about it all.

  143. “Couldn’t be bothered????!!!!!”

    Is that what you are imputing to me, Ed?! Yeah, couldn’t be bothered. First gen immigrant, so proud to get my citizenship, couldn’t wait to vote, distributed LWV and other election materials, served as an election judge twice.

    And then, I woke up, Ed. I will no longer validate and legitimate this system. That’s all that going to the polls does (apart perhaps some very local elections). This has been a difficult decision made over a long period of reflecting, and when you dismiss it as “couldn’t be bothered” I feel angry because I am looking for some consideration. Grr!

  144. Mike and Vera, sorry, maybe I pushed it a little too far. I know both of you usually give us poor voters a hard time. If you look again you’ll see my reasoning is about the (admittedly small) butterfly effect and what I see as the possibility of increments in numbers affecting people who may not have thought about or investigated these matters enough. Yes, there have been stolen elections, Mike, and I read the same sources you read (all of the ones you mention).

    We’re all looking for a way, and, with all the back and forth, I still don’t see anyone coming up with something that satisfies me. Participating in the so-called democratic process is something I think is better to do than to shun. It demands less of us than participating in a forum like this. Even if you go five steps beyond the usual voter’s participation you’ll still have plenty time for any other type of action that you deem valid. Until I’m ready with my truly revolutionary idea, I plan to do that. When I’m ready with the plan, voting etc. may seem like a waste of time. Meanwhile, let the butterflies’ wings flap.

    Validating a farce is less of a concern to me than weighing in (infinitessimally) on something that might affect the thinking of someone on the path.

  145. The disappointments of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party sure puts a quash on the desire to vote. But if I need hope I can look to Egypt. Also South America has much hope for a better political future. I think S. America is the future star of innovative thinking, culture, and politics. This country is a fruit gone beyond it’s ripeness and is well on it’s way to rotten. I think the corporations also are dinosaurs that will have a difficult time of finding enough food to keep themselves going. Not that a dying, thrashing monster can’t do some big harm on the way down.

  146. Ed — Thanks for your comments. To my mind, the only valid reason for dis-ing what one perceives as false hopes, is to discourage those whose energies should be more effectively employed from wasting same in futile charades. We need to find and enact strategies which have a real chance of getting us out of this morass.

    As to the butterflies beloved by Chaos Theorists, alas it is impossible to credit any one of them as the sole or effective cause of any major changes downstream of their minuscule flappings. As a rule, it takes major directed energy to reliably influence major outcomes. The single butterfly is like an individual player in a huge lottery. Not impossible to score a win, but extremely unlikely. Also, when you are trying to unseat a hierarchy which is conscious and intelligently doing everything to maintain itself in power, it takes a concerted, intelligent, persistent force adequate to the challenge to achieve success.

    As far as the power of a large number of butterflies flapping in concert, the record breaking millions who protested the launching of the Iraq invasion were simply ignored by the establishment intent on carrying out its program. There was a lesson in this that should not be ignored. These days, Chris Hedges and Daniel Ellsberg had trouble gathering a couple dozen protesters at the White House gates.

    None of this means that I have given up on working for a better world, or dreaming up ideas of how to get there. I don’t mind backing long shots, but I have given up betting on those methods that have IMHO too close to a zero chance of succeeding.

  147. Rod — Egypt and some South American nations are showing signs of life, but given the sorry record of political revolutions, we shouldn’t get carried away with rosy daydreams of a transformed world. Transfers of power from one regime to another have not resulted in the new world we hoped for. The change needed goes deeper, into the primary understandings and motivations of humankind. Surface rearrangements are at best temporary palliatives, at worst dangerous delusions and wastes of precious time. The same old greedy, fearful, gullible, violent people are incapable of creating anything other than a projection of their inner poverty.

  148. Mike, in regards Egypt you say “given the sorry record of political revolutions, we shouldn’t get carried away with rosy daydreams of a transformed world” But isn’t that exactly what you are pushing/advocating?, revolution(not armed), transformed world?
    There are some bright lights in the world of quiet revolutions. Don’t discount the futre for the past. Remember Egypt was a completely non-violent transformation, still underway, still exciting, and precarious.
    Mike I think you are subject to what most of us Americans are in terms of expectations of change; you think too big, meaning not that we shouldn’t have big thoughts and ideas, but we think we need to make huge changes and anything less is not good enough. It is really the same for the National psychic where the politicians use the military to run around the world telling people how they should be.
    You don’t need to “unseat the hierarchy”. They may unseat themselves. Butterflies do change the world. The millions who protested the war may not have stopped the war but that isn’t to say they didn’t have a huge effect in the world. Battle of Seattle had huge effect. Daniel Ellsberg, as a single butterfly had a huge effect. You do also right here on the Mike K blog. Mother Teresa said “In this world there are no great changes, just small changes done with great love” (or something to that effect).

  149. Rod, Ed, and others — I think the underlying basis for the opinions we differ on is a difference in our fundamental assessments of the world situation.

    I see the world headed for colossal disaster in the near future. We are already in a situation of great suffering, violence and widespread insanity. The causes of our failure run deep in our minds, hearts, and souls. The failure to adequately address these festering inner wounds goes back into prehistory. To capsulize our fatal flaw: we have not learned to love one another and share the Earth fairly among us. Our time is short now to address this root problem. The psychiatrist Smiley Blanton summarized our situation in the title of his book: Love or Perish.

    I have suggested a process in these pages to begin to heal our core dysfunction, involving small groups for awakening from our death-trance. The first step for these groups would be to fully understand the extreme gravity of our present situation, and the radical changes of thought and action necessary to reverse the present momentum. Not a pleasant message, eh? Maybe that was why Dante put the sign above the entrance into the imaginary realm where the present evils of Humankind could be named and observed: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!”

    Those who extol ineffective palliatives for our terminal sickness do no real good, but as in Huxley’s Brave New World, merely drug us into obliviousness on our way to the slaughter. People will do anything to avoid the ultimately inevitable encounter with the real source of our problems. Walt Kelly’s Pogo was not kidding when he identified our real enemy: ourselves.

  150. Mike, I don’t think we differ much in seeing the Colossal disaster, except I think we are already in it. However I am not going to get depressed by it. I am doing what I can, and I can’t fix the world. I won’t even presume that it needs fixing. We are limited, and perhaps much smaller than we think. That doesn’t sit well with us.
    There has never not been “great suffering, violence and insanity”. I can’t fix that either. All I can do is begin at home and, address suffering, cease violence, and try to remain calm and sane. And to love. Give and receive.
    We can’t bludgeon people into love. Nor into sanity, or into doing what we have decided is the right thing to do in order to save the plant. Lead by example. Be prepared to help when possible, needed and requested.

  151. Rod I am puzzled by your latest comments to me. You seem to have formed a rather negative picture of me from my sharing in this forum. I will not take time to respond to your post point by point, but just notice that you wrote, “We can’t bludgeon people into love. Nor into sanity, or into doing what we have decided is the right thing to do in order to save the plant.” I do not see myself as having any intention to promote or do any such things. Please consider if you have any real evidence that I hold such ideas or tendencies. Is it because I disagreed with some of your points of view that you characterize me in these unflattering terms? I respect and encourage you to differ with and question my positions, but please try to be accurate in stating them.

    My impatience with those who might suggest that more of the same failed avenues, such as voting, protesting, writing to congress persons, etc. is not intended as a personal affront to you, or to anyone sharing this forum. It just happens to be my opinion based on a lot of my own thought and involvements. Don’t take it personally. We can disagree and still be friends. OK?

  152. Change comes sooo slooowwllyyy. And I’m just talking about cultural change for the moment. Evolutionary change is a multi-millennial process. Literary (freedom of expression) change (Hardy, Lawrence, Miller..), social change (ending slavery here, women’s suffrage, gay rights..), these have been happening gradually over a few generations. You can see the process after the fact. Laurie Anderson, in a song, calculates when women “will make a buck” – gender pay equality for equal work. She puts that in the year three thousand something, as I recall. What is that, my fifty times great grandchildren? The push toward brotherly love is well over two thousand years in coming, and still just maybe, maybe coming.

    Of course it’s a serious problem that we’re facing regarding the environment/species survival. We may be able to do what’s necessary, or maybe not. The human race, and many other species, will find this most regrettable. The earth will survive. Many many many species will survive. No matter what we overstuffed (physically, egotistically) humans do. The concern here is really about saving ourselves or our progeny. But it may be that the particular genetic formulation that expresses as such hubris just won’t make the grade as fit for this time and place. Bummer.

    When I participate in our style of democracy, I sometimes think of people far out in the boonies, or people maybe closer to urban centers but so occupied by hassles of survival that they really can’t spend more than a few minutes every week to try to figure out what’s going on in the world. Even isolated people are susceptible to herd mentality (part of our genetic makeup). Politics is something that gives many people their only opportunity to talk to their neighbors about important matters on a regular basis. If it turns out that most of their neighbors think differently from them they might well give up on trying to have any effect. But if they can see a national poll (or an election) going in the direction of their way of thinking it might give them heart. These people will in no way be reached by the small group process. And even if the big group process isn’t very fast acting it may be one of the only ways to reach some people. I think we need to reach everyone. My butterfly vote pushes the number that some people see (and it really doesn’t cost me much to do it). Intimations of a like-minded herd.

    Revolutions are messy, extremely dangerous things, and you look at them a hundred years later and say, “What came of it?”

    “The constant illusion of Revolution consists in believing that the victims of force, being innocent of the outrages that are committed, will use force justly if it is put into their hands. But except for souls which are fairly near to saintliness, the victims are defiled by force, just as their tormentors are. The evil which is in the handle of the sword is transmitted to its point. So the victims thus put in power and intoxicated by the change, do as much harm or more, and soon sink back again to where they were before.” – Simone Weil

    There are more than two sides to this coin, but I’m still waiting to hear about alternatives that are about something other than simply saving oneself (which is my Plan B, by the way).

  153. “In recent years we have gained a great deal of information about the impact of our actions on the environment. We human beings have tremendous intelligence. But it seems evident that there is a big gap between the brain and the heart. We seem to find it easy to process new information and generate new ideas, but much harder to produce new feelings. We readily recognize the import of a situation conceptually, but somehow this understanding doesn’t seem to move our hearts. Our intellectual intelligence doesn’t transfer into intelligent emotions, and our heart and brain seem to remain a world apart. What we now need to go along with all our new ideas about the environment are new and deep feelings.”

    – His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa
    Session Five: Environmental Protection, from

    I think Karmapa may be alluding to the fact that all the wisdom in the world won’t get us out of our mess; we need to *feel* what the results of our actions may be, and be guided by our hearts as well as our heads.

    Of course, the problem is that empathy and compassion for the fate of the earth (and all creatures on it) come naturally for some of us; for others, speaking of such things is like speaking a foreign language.

    So–How do we teach, or otherwise convey, the literacy of the heart?

    I was at a Rally for the Rivers recently here in FL, where a gentleman from Audubon suggested tapping into people’s natural love for specific places. To talk about “the environment” in general terms may not reach folks; to talk about Ichetucknee Springs, or Crescent Beach, or the Santa Fe River, may be more effective.

    I’ve always heard “the devil is in the details”; maybe our salvation is there, too.

  154. Mike,I have NOT formed a negative picture of you at all and I am very, very sorry that my comment sounded that way to you. Bludgeon was meant as hyperbole, I wasn’t suggesting violence on your part. I just mean that we can spend untold time, energy and resources trying to convince,educate, change people who want none of it, and can see no need for it. That is why I think we do better by leading by example.
    I share your opinion on the relative ineffectiveness of voting and writing to Congresspeoples.

  155. Lucinda — I could not agree more with you and the Karmapa. Only knowing that is rooted in, and saturated with compassion is worthy to be called wisdom.

    With regard to your ideas about love of place as a transformative force, I can hear Gary Snyder, Wendell Berry, Thomas Berry, and many other Wisdom Keepers nodding and saying Amen. Until we truly love some portion of our Great Mother the Earth, we will remain alienated and lost in our groundless seeking. Thanks for sharing your Soul with us.

  156. Rod — Thanks so much for your friendly clarification. I see now how I grossly over-reacted to your comments, imagining slights that were not really there. My sincere apologies. You are helping me realize the considerable personal work I need to do on myself in order to be a better sharer in dialog. Alienating those who are actually on my side is something I really need not to do. Thanks for the wake up call.

  157. Admittedly, this is off topic. But, I feel it is important and that it should be brought to the attention of the forum. According to an article published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal: “…the world’s millionairs represent 0.9% of the world’s population but control 39% of the world’s wealth, up from 37% in 2009. … Those higher up the wealth ladder also gained. Those with $5 million or more, who represent 0.1% of the population, controlled 22% of the world’s wealth, up from 20% in 2009.” Since the top 0.1% has increased it’s percentage of the world’s wealth pie by 5% each year since 2009, all of these discussions may soon be rendered moot, as the wealthy will own the majority of the world’s assets and it becomes their problem. Although my statement is meant to be cynical and sarcastic, it may also be the truth.

  158. MarkS — I don’t think your info and comments are at all off topic. They are dead center on topic in my opinion. Most of us now are either servants or enablers of the rich and powerful. Is it really a mystery that as their power increases, ours diminishes? The smoke screen they have put out to distort and confuse the issue is largely to blame for people’s ignorance re; who is screwing them. These bloated oligarchs treat the congress and the courts as their paid agents, and the rest of us as easily controlled children, to be chided for failing to comprehend their lofty schemes of world domination. Wake up folks, the enemy is not at the gates, they are among us behind the gates.

  159. Food for thought. There are a couple of articles that interested me in dealing with how mired we are in an unworkable world. They are from the Network Review, a publication of the Scientific and Medical Network (SMN), which is a journal I read cover to cover. SMN, out of England, is several hundred impressive members, including Nobel Prize winners, who think outside the box.

    “The Network seeks to provide a forum for pursuing truth, wherever it leads, to widen the intellectual horizons of science and of society as a whole, to stimulate research at the frontiers of human knowledge and experience, and to make the results of such research more widely known through its educational programmes. The Network is committed to no dogma or creed. It encourages intellectual discernment and is wary of the ill-founded and sensational claims of ‘pseudo-science’. In asking searching questions about the nature of life and the role of the human being, the Network abides by its guidelines of open-minded, rigorous thinking and care for others at all times.”

    The editorial in this issue speaks about paradigm shifts: Here is the concluding paragraph:

    “Alfred North Whitehead, who was born 150 years ago, recognised the stultifying effect of scientific conservatism only too clearly in a statement in 1948: “Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge. Advance in detail is admitted: fundamental novelty is barred. This dogmatic common sense is the death of philosophical adventure.” Some mainstream scientists may give the SMN a rough ride for supporting heretics but I believe that is a price we must be prepared to pay in the search for a new paradigm.”

    A piece that has been published elsewhere as well, called Worldshift 20 Declaration, comes from a council of 20 prominent people, with a mission “to give urgent attention to the new condition of the world emerging today and provide essential orientation so that an informed and determined movement toward a peaceful and sustainable planetary civilization could be brought into being.”

  160. I feel that the worlds problems lie so deep with the greed to make money. We put a lot of effort into caring for an economy but make excuses for detoxifying the earth. We are a throw away society. Buy now, replace it when a newer model arrives and who cares where it goes. We are so ignorant of the world around us because we are caught up in our own little world. We put our garbage at the end of the lane and poof! its gone. We go to the super market and make bad choices in food selection and buy meat not caring for what type of suffering that animal endured. I’m not against killing animals I’m against the methods of raising and killing. We keep making mistakes all the name of money…..Why?

  161. Derrick Jensen alternately challenges me and pisses me off. He dwells on the gravity of our situation and the need for action—the sooner and more draconian the better. And then he tells us to go ask the trees what to do. Well, I asked the trees (or one particular tree in my neighborhood) and was rebuffed. One suggestion my tree did make was to stop writing about the problem so much. He (or was it a she?) just said to stop using wood pencils and paper (and hydroelectric energy for my computer). So, as you can tell, since I am still writing, I didn’t listen to my tree. We all have our own myopias, even trees.

    Here’s a suggestion. Let’s all support terrorism. Derrick Jensen and I, and probably everybody reading this screed, are all too squeamish to personally put the kind of blood on their hands that will be necessary to thin the human herd down to a manageable billion or so by 2050. So let’s not stand in the way of the Islamists who are ready and willing to do it right now. Forget the piddling animal righters and the careful eco-terrorists with their lab break-ins and their burning SUVs. We need more fucking 9/11s.

    The only thing wrong with this scenario is that al-Qaeda is as big an over-inflated fantasy in the Obamaian mind as was the old myth of Soviet world domination in the tiny brain of Ronnie Raygun. The only value Islamist terrorism has and the only purpose it serves in the hands of our rulers is to scare the pants off the American voter who will be eager to surrender even more rights and freedoms. Still, there ARE a lot of pissed off Muslims out there. And we are doing nothing to reduce their numbers either by killing them all or by ceasing our bad behavior in the world.

    For me a real, significant increase of terrorism in the world is the only human force on earth today that gives me even the slightest hope for a life-sustaining planet at the end of the 21st Century. Until then I’m still praying to Gaia for a superbug and more Joplin, MO-style tornadoes.

  162. Bob — Maybe you didn’t talk with the right tree? In your case, I would suggest at least 20 minutes meditation on loving kindness, then ask your inner guide to direct you to a wise tree. When you find the Wisdom Tree, ask HimHerIt about the terrorism solution to our problems. Make sure no Darpa-designed SuperSpyBugs are buzzing around in the vicinity, and bring back your answer to us. We really need this kind of guidance from the Woody Ones among us.

  163. Bob
    Ditto on Mike K. Thing about listening to trees is you gotta really shut up. They don’t speak english

  164. Thanks Mike and Rod. I appreciate the advice about listening and meditating on lovingkindness.

    The other day I read something by Lierre Keith in the last chapter of her book “The Vegitarian Myth” that clarified a lot for me.

    “There are two cardinal differences between liberalism and radicalism. The first can be characterized as idealism versus materialism. Liberalism is idealist. The crucible of social reality is the realm of ideas, in concepts, language, attitudes. In contrast, radicalism is materialist. Radicals see society as composed of actual institutions—economic, political, cultural—which wield power, including the power to use violence.

    The second disagreement is on the primary social unit. Liberalism is individualist, locating the basic organization of society in the individual. Hence, liberal strategies for political change are almost exclusively individual actions. For radicals, the basic social unit is a class or group, whether that’s racial class, sex caste, economic class, or other grouping.”

    She points out a couple of interesting distinctions that are at the heart of the maxim implied in Mike’s exhortation to meditate for 20 minutes on the problem of terrorism with my inner guide—seeking loving-kindness. The implication, if I understand Mike correctly, is that an internal re-alignment of my own individual spiritual priorities and my state of mind are essential to any effective strategy to save us and the planet. I am not one to deny the importance of meditation or any other spiritual practice. Centered, balanced, spiritually oriented people have been some of the most powerful agitators for social and political change in human history. Yet it is not a matter of whether you derive your energy and direction from meditation or medication, chakra alignment or coffee & cigarettes, it is ultimately the action that counts—the struggle.

    Those of us who see where we’ve been and have a pretty good idea of where we must go do not have to argue much about what must ultimately happen. We all hear the voices of beached dolphins, dam-blocked salmon and the bloodied survivors of Joplin. We know that we must get behind whatever forces, benevolent or violent, can bring the current manifestations of civilization as we know it to a close. And the sooner the better. The only agenda on our plate should be how we can best bring the whole edifice down or at least get the hell out of the way of those forces (social/terrorist and natural) attempting to do it.

    We need to listen to the trees, not just for palliatives of loving-kindness but to see if they have some strategic advise to give. After all their fate is tied up in this struggle too.

  165. The end justifies the means?

    This seems to be what you are saying Bob.

    Better maybe to consider the means AS the end.

    The Bodisattva vow is to save all sentient beings before you enter Nirvana. Well of course you can’t save all sentient beings. Enlightenment is in the practice of doing so none the less.

  166. Gandhi and MLK, two of the most prominent advocates of practical strategies of non-violence, admitted that there were cases that provided for the use of violence—even killing. Would you accuse them of allowing the ends to justify the means? Like it or not, we are all to some extent under the influence of situational ethics. I’m not sure which of my responses you considered so morally relativistic. I suppose it is in reference to the need to reduce the human carrying capacity of the planet or perhaps my proposal to encourage more 9/11s. If we really want to take responsibility for saving the bodies and souls of all sentient beings on the planet there will be no morally pure position. We will have to take some repugnant actions and stances now to minimize fare worse, distant outcomes that will result from our inaction. Looking at humanity at this present last chapter of human history (no matter what your theology) we are all damned. IMHO. Do with that what thou wilt.

  167. The Deus ex machina takes many unusual forms in modern minds beset with seemingly insoluble problems: alien visitations, channeled entities, convenient geological upheavals, worldwide plagues (to reduce population pressures), global nuclear war (to bring down civilization) etc.
    All these ‘happy’ interventions have one thing in common — they require little effort to bring them about by the one envisioning them. In other words, they are little more than idle daydreams. Why do folks indulge in them and share their fantasies with others? As DJ points out in this essay, since they have given up any hope of real constructive action to address our dilemmas, these illusions allow them to walk away from the need for action on their part, leaving that to their favorite Deus ex machina to take care of it.

    In addition, those entertaining these ‘solutions’ never bother to carry their ideas forward to include the incredible suffering and chaos that would ensue if these dreams actually came true, or the tremendous further burdens on those seeking for real, humane solutions that would be the survivors, if any. Jeez, think about what you are saying folks. Or else, keep your necrophiliac fantasies to yourselves.

    Let me finish by saying that I have compassion for those who, in their desperation at the ordeal of living in this abusive world, simply pray that it all end ‘by any means.’ I have been there myself. I know what you are feeling. Work to grow beyond that nihilistic mindset. It is possible. There is a life beyond that black hole.

  168. Bob — I agree with what you say about the need to do away with the toxic version of civilization currently in place. For me, however, the crucial question is how do we accomplish this in a way that avoids sowing the seeds of subsequent failure. How we take it down is more important than just taking it down any which way. The end is in the beginning.

    I was watching a film on demolition yesterday. There were two 25plus stories high rises towering over a sizable church, and pretty close to it. With several weeks of careful, thoughtful preparation, the demolition team dropped the lofty structures pancake flat, without disturbing the church one bit.

    I saw a film once depicting how a 20 foot high river dam was removed. This time it took months to devise the plan and bring up the elaborate equipment to carry out a series of steps designed to protect the salmon and other wildlife, and ensure that the collateral damage of the deconstruction would not exceed the desired benefits.

    If these local relatively small operations required so much care and careful planning, how much more would bringing down an entire civilization call for? Does simply destroying something obsolete and harmful ‘by any means’ necessarily result in something better?
    Maybe taking the time for creative thinking is not without value. We need to develop our very best thinking to successfully tackle what lies ahead of us. Brainless action only ensures a greater mess to clean up. Large corporations have come to realize that small groups of creative people capable of thinking beyond current models can be worth more than tons or gigawatts of raw power and unskillful application. Should those dreaming of a better world not profit from this obviously useful approach? Take a look at Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker essay on the web “In the Air.”

  169. Bob — I forgot to lead my recent comments with a quote from your recent post: “The only agenda on our plate should be how we can best bring the whole edifice down or at least get the hell out of the way of those forces (social/terrorist and natural) attempting to do it.”

    Thanks for your contributions to our discussion. I sense that your intentions are really good, in spite of my questioning some of your proposed means of getting there.

  170. Scott Walker — On June 10th at 8:22 AM I received an email addressed to the current Jensen comments thread that began “Dearest all, my trees will not console you…”

    I went to the comments thread, but this one was not there. I am just wondering why it was not printed? I intended to respond to it, but thought that others in the conversation would have difficulty understanding my comments if they were unaware of the material I was responding to.

  171. Mike (Scott Walker?),
    I think the deleted post you noticed may have belonged to my friend, Matt Presti who complained to me his post was deleted. Sometimes the computer flags comments as spam. Matt is a cool guy. I will encourage him to continue to try to post to Orion.

    This site is one of the best I have encountered on the Internet and the comments are among the most thoughtful.

  172. Bob — I just sent an email to Scott Walker, who has been monitoring Orion’s comment threads,re: the recent comment that was perhaps deleted. Scott is not one prone to censor things, especially something as innocent as the remarks in question; so I am sure it was an accident. I wanted to respond to this interesting post, but will wait to see what Scott has to say.

  173. Hey, the link does not work — that website crashed. So I fished it out of the cache and am reposting here. Thanks nina.
    Mr. Hopeless

    While I don’t mind rumbling a bit in my writing, I am not a fan of personal attacks. What follows, I would insist, is not one, but rather an attack on a writer’s ideas, ideas that I have over the years found to be not just wrongheaded, but pernicious. The writer Derrick Jensen presents the world in primary colors, oversimplified, and seems to have had little contact with or knowledge of his fellow human beings, or at least human beings as I know them.

    A few years ago I was supposed to be on an academic panel with Jensen, and a couple of weeks before the panel I sent out a friendly e-mail to the other panelists, suggesting we bounce some ideas off each other. Here is part of the actual e-mail I got in response from him:

    “The world is being killed, and we need to stop it. No ifs, ands, or buts. Those who come after aren’t going to care about whether we wrote beautiful descriptions of nature, they’re not going to care about whatever epiphanies we had, they’re not going to care how well we crafted our words. They’re not going to care how hard we tried. They’re going to care about whether they can breathe the air and drink the water. They’re going to care about whether the land can support them.”

    “Nature writing is not an end in itself. It is but one means toward the only–and I mean only–end that matters at this point, which is that we stop this culture from killing the planet. The reason I feel comfortable saying that’s the only end that matters is that without a landbase you don’t have anything. Everything–including beautiful writing–emerges from and is secondary to the land.”

    The other writers and I felt a little cowed by the note, embarrassed that we had been up to then corresponding about such minor concerns as semicolons, tree frogs, and imagery. We worried that we were poseurs next to Derrick, that we should immediately do something, maybe burn our bras or draft cards. I read his e-mail to a friend, a writer I respect who is much more careful about

    keeping his politics out of his essays than I am. He told me a story about a Marxist poet who accosted Robert Frost and said: “No poetry is worth its name unless it moves people to action.” Frost replied: “I agree. The question is, how soon?” (It is worth noting that this writer, while not overtly political in his work, has, in his spare time, saved more of Cape Cod’slandbase than anyone I know.)

    Don’t get me wrong here. I admired Jensens’ passion, and realized that, face-to-face, we might have more in common than not. I don’t mind fighters, even extreme fighters. The sheer earnestness of environmentalism can make me uneasy, but force me to choose between a tad too much earnestness and melting ice caps and I’ll take earnestness every time. Still, something about his tone unsettled me.

    It was only after this encounter that I read Jensen’s most well-known essay, Beyond Hope, where he argues that too much is made of the idea of “hope” when people talk of environmentalism. By the time I read this, I had already been thinking quite a lot about environmental psychology, and some of the pressing questions I was asking myself were: What allows a person to go beyond paying lip service to nature and to actually live with it in this modern, muddled world? How can we fall in love with something so limited and wounded? And how can we go from loving to fighting?

    Which led me to think of young people, who were graduating from high school perhaps, and, yes, also led me to think of hope. Jensen, in part simply to provoke (which he has), argues for a politics of hopelessness. I couldn’t disagree more. Without hope and the energy it provides, we curl into the mental equivalent of the fetal position, hiding from the world. “Without hope there is no endeavor,” wrote Samuel Johnson, someone who was pretty familiar with human beings and human nature. He was not talking about the Disney variant of hope, but the real animal. The light that filters down into our dark brains, sparking our neurons. The brightening after darkness, which energizes like the quickening of the world after winter. A thawing and movement into activity, an activity that then gains momentum. This is hope as a physical thing: The hope that spring inspires, after the long winter.

    This is the sort of hope that helps you get things done, helps you write books (though Jensen, prolific as he is, tells us sentences are relatively irrelevant) and also helps you fight for causes you believe in. In fact it is just this sort of hope that energized me as I was writing my new book, My Green Manifesto, which in the end I almost saw as a kind of young adult book due to its (partly) inspirational mission. My agenda in writing it was simple: To describe the ways that my own life, and the lives of some people I admire, are connected to the natural world, and the benefits that come from that connection, benefits that are not always obvious. To provide a way for those of us who would blanch at calling ourselves environmentalists to begin to at least think of ourselves as fighters, in the way that citizens suddenly think of themselves as soldiers during times of war. Finally, by both argument and example, to provide a new language for those of us who care about nature

    Part of that language is, in direct opposition to Jensen, about embracing hope. Another part is about admitting our own hypocrisy but still fighting on. The best summary of this last sentiment was given by a very un-Jensen-like character who is at the center of my book, Dan Driscoll, the eco planner who for two decades has fought to clean up the Charles River, adding greenways and native plantings. One day, while we were paddling down that same river, Dan said this to me:

    “We nature lovers are hypocrites, of course. We are all hypocrites. None of us are consistent. The problem is that we let that fact stop us. We worry that if we fight for nature, people will say, ‘But you drive a car,’ or, ‘You fly a lot,’ or, ‘You’re a consumer, too.’ And that stops us in our tracks. It’s almost as if admitting that we are hypocrites lets people off the hook.”

    I pulled my paddle out of the water to listen.

    “What we need are more hypocrites,” he said. “We need hypocrites who aren’t afraid of admitting it but will still fight for the environment. We don’t need some sort of pure movement run by pure people. We need hypocrites!”

    I thought of Edward Abbey fighting for the West while throwing empty beer cans out the window of his truck. I thought of my own environmental Achilles heel, a dainty preference for hot baths over showers–not nearly as cool as Abbey’s boozing, but possibly as wasteful. And then I thought of everyone I knew and know of and couldn’t come up with anyone who had an entirely clean eco-slate. Which seems to mean that, logically, Dan was right: if only non-hypocrites are going to fight for the environment then it will be an army of none.

    Which leads me back to Mr. Jensen. It is fine to think and write in primary colors. It is fine to provoke (I do it, too, you know). It is fine to be a purist. But I’m just not sure his way of thinking has a lot to do with human beings, even environmental human beings, and how they actually get things done. He is right when he says that humans seem dead set on chewing up the whole planet. But you are not going to stop them by suggesting that they be something other than human. And you’re giving them no chance at all if you strip them of hope.

  174. “Here the salmon have much to teach: either they make it upriver to spawn, or they die trying.”

    100% agreed. I say a big “AMEN!” to this bit right here. Preach on, preach on! And if only the same amount of positive feel-good-shivers running through me reading those words would wake up the “fat cats” as effective as a plank to the face… 🙂

    I say: Fight regardless of the odds, and “damn the torpedoes!”. Like it’s said: “If you think you can’t, you won’t.”

  175. Oops! I didn’t mean to cancel receiving further notices to this thread.

  176. You know I’m trying decide what/how to stop feed the corporation/gov’t/miltary beast with money. I feel hopeless because it’s huge task to remove/stop them. i know there are alot of people which are not aware their behavior/action done this world because they feel necessary to support the economic and their “job” to live. That’s bother me the most and drive me crazy! I just want stop doing what everyone else doing which not easy to do. But, however i have been thinking about buy a flat tv panel for several months and wrestle decide to need it or not. So, finally i decided not to buy it because of resource and war. I felt right not to give to corporation because of their action/behavior done against everywhere the entire world. I also recycled glass,newspaper, etd pretty much everyweek and still supports economic wrong way but recycled is good way. Can we have both way? i don’t think so.

  177. Eric, check out the MOVE Organization, I think Ramona Africa states that indeed ‘you can’t have it both ways. They got burned incidentally, same old story, but that takes nothing away from stating your terms and values and how we can live in this world. Maybe it is too much to want it all to change now, it’s a reflection of the imperative, the priority to do something quick? I say it’s okay to go in a way that is ‘right’ for all life, even just cause it feels good, then as that starts things change along with it, finding new ways to do things we need to do, finding new friends and companions, so the circle grows. Even the most Liberal of my friends acknowledge it’s a if not when argument of increasing turmoil, where do you, me, any of us want to be when that happens? What values do WE choose? Let go of it all seems equivalent to just letting go of a whole lot of hurt and pain. Damn, it’s like an abusive relationship that needs to be ended.

  178. I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
    For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
    For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
    But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
    TS Eliot

    Do or do not. There is no try. Yoda

  179. Mike, thanks for the Eliot quote. I’ve always loved it. My Buddhist teachers talk a lot about living without hope and without fear; it’s an interesting concept, and an even more interesting exercise.

  180. I’m reminded of the mythology/archetype that is represented in the movie, “Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King” — and the quote on the eve of impossible battle: “we cannot win, yet we will ride out to meet them, nonetheless…” We are a culture of victims, and until we cultivate our own INNER KING take up our sword and claim our intrinsic value, we are all tragic heroes and heroines. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose, “live or not live” – it’s can you die with honor when it’s your time?

  181. Marsha — Thank you for your insightful comments. It matters hugely whether we serve the clear vision of our Soul, or the deluded desires of our lower selves. To act in service to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful is the Soul’s mission, regardless of temporary or superficial results. If our chief weapon is Love, then the best outcome is guaranteed. As Che Guevara said, “The heart of the true revolutionary is filled with love.”

    In 1942 Morihei Ueshiba – the founder of Aikido – had a spiritual experience that revealed:
    “The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter – it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.”

    Aikido means harmonizing with the loving energy of the universe. It is based on the power to transform oneself and others, not to employ force and violence to dominate or destroy others. I feel that something like this is what we are seeking to solve our personal and world problems. I am fully aware that many people regard such methods to be ineffective. Such is the fallen and deluded state of consciousness of many in our world today. Our hope is to awaken from this futile and deadly trance of ego and conflict, and give birth to a new world.

  182. There is a question eating at the soul of modern men and women. In the old stories, There is a pure and beautiful Maiden being held prisoner by an ugly and fearsome Dragon. You hear of this. What do you feel? What will you do?

    That Maiden represents all that is good, true, and beautiful. She is the hope of love and happiness for every person on Earth. What will you do to save Her? You know the power and viciousness of the Dragon. What will you do? What will you risk?

  183. The biosphere cannot survive much longer as the human population keeps on growing and dumping more garbage in the ocean, lakes, landfills and pumping tons of smoke up into the air. Ecocide and extinction will soon be upon us.
    We could safely recycle 100% of all our waste products, peacefully reduce the human population by family planning education, and plant several million trees, but then corporate CEOs could not become millionaires and billionaires and feeel immune to the symbols of death surrounding them.

  184. million trees, but then corporate CEOs could not become millionaires and
    billionaires and feeel immune to the symbols of death surrounding them.

    The thing that mystifies me most about all this is that Capitalism, even the horribly morphed destructive variant we are all being victimized by today, seems to be acting against its own long-term interest. Who do they think will buy their products when the middle class has been devoured and no one in the lower classes can even afford to have their shoes repaired? Henry Ford (not one of my personal heroes) did say that he wanted to turn out a product his employees could afford. Don’t any of these captains of industry have progeny? They must understand that they are creating a world that will certainly be uninhabitable by their grandchildren? How can we convince the Capitalists that it is against their own enlightened self-interest to behave in such a disgraceful manner? Questions are all I seem to have these days—no answers.


    Bob Boldt

  185. The corporate “big boys” are drunk on the power of their wealth and self-deluded with fantasies of Space exploration and conquest of other planets, assuming there are other living biospheres in the Cosmos. They presume the Earth is tough and resilient to go on supporting their growing agendas forever, and they dominate the World now more than ever before. So, I suggest we prepare ourselves for ecocide and extinction as best we can, because it appears to be inevitable since the people are almost completely unaware of their predicament. I’ve been trying to warn them for about 15 years, but I am a “nobody” in a World owned and operated by “somebodies”.

  186. We are all going down into death individually. But there is something unspeakably sad and depressing about the thought that we may all perish forever from this fair world due to our ignorance and failure to develop sufficient spirituality to save our selves. Even if that extinction should prove to be our ultimate fate, I want to die having done what I could to prevent it.

  187. Mike,

    “I want to die having done what I could to prevent it.”

    So exactly how far are you willing to go to prevent it? Assuming we are NOT in the throes of runaway global warming, in which case there is nothing to be done except smell the last natural roses with the last human noses….

    What if it was not Monsanto, Exxon, the Democrats and the Republicans who were destroying the earth but say Nazis or giant lizzard men from Alpha Centuri who were systematically despoiling our natural world, extincting species and making the air and water toxic. Would you change your ideas of non-violence and just going along to get along?

    Just asking.

  188. Mike K,

    Exactly so and I agree. What disturbs me most is that our human presence and everything we did and said would be forgotten forever as though we had never existed.

    Bob B,

    I apologize, I forgot to address you personally in my reply. These are my first posts here at Orion.

  189. Bob B. — “Would you change your ideas of non-violence and just going along to get along? “

    I am not a fundamentalist about non-violence. There are circumstances in which force is justified. Even then the question is can you use violence without anger or malice. However, those who consider violence to be the most effective way to deal with most situations, will often contrive extreme situations to justify their position, and then extend what might very rarely arise as a need for extreme measures to cover all kinds of situations, such as our present world crisis, as an appropriate instance for choosing a violent method of resolving it. I don’t think violence in present circumstances to be a good over all strategy. We have tried that for millenia, and are living now with the results. I feel we are only at the beginning of creating non-violent means to resolve our problems. One aim of intensive small groups is to imagine and implement new means to achieve our goals.

  190. Mike K, Bob B –

    Neither violence nor passive resistance is changing human society to the extent necessary to save the biosphere from ecocide and our species from extinction, because, although we call this the “Information Age”, vital facts are withheld from the public if it interferes with commerce, like the massive and growing tons of garbage dumped in the ocean every day that is literally poisoning the planet to death.

    Even so, as I’ve said before, if corporations and municipalities were required to recycle 100% of all their waste materials it would make the accumulation of vast fortunes impossible and the growing economy would grind to a halt (and the diseased biosphere might recover).

    So, instead of voluntarily recycling, planning family size and planting trees, humanity has been growing its population and its economy as fast as possible, with the result that the storms, floods and droughts are now getting so much worse as the biosphere struggles to process the growing mass of pollution, our human survival is now in very serious doubt — because we claimed the PRIVILEDGE of dumping on Nature at our convenience. But that is not a survivable strategy.

    So, what’s the answer? Tell the people everywhere exactly what has been happening and what must be done immediately if humans are to live into the next century. When people know the truth they will demand the necessary reforms.

  191. — I John T like your idea of informing people about our crisis. You must realize that most folks are deep asleep as to the crisis we are in. Waking them up will not be easy. Fact is, they resist such an awakening in numerous ways. I am proposing intensive small groups to facilitate this essential first step. Beyond that we need to confront the truth that we do not have at hand a real solution to our manifold severe problems. We must become the ones who discover/create such means, and implement them. This can and must come about through the synergistic activities of numerous small groups of people dedicated to making it happen. We need to generate a process that can cause a deep change in people’s thinking and behavior. Superficial external changes will never deliver the better world that we deserve to live in.

  192. Mike K,

    I would be interested to read and think about what Media venues you think would get the message out to millions of people in a fairly short time. I sent out a “Letter To Everyone” to about 30 people in various places, hoping it might become a chain letter, but so far I’ve gotten nothing back, but I hope it’s still moving.

  193. Mike and John,
    We seem to be on the same track. I am initiating a small documentary film festival at the local library. I hope to attract some curiosity and develop a group of a dozen or so people who feel as I do. Whether this will reach the status of 100th monkey or not, I don’t know. Like you all, I feel the urgent need to proclaim the message of the impending apocalypse. a small group of people acting locally to initiate change is the only answer I can come up with at present. Perhaps we will meet someday across the ever diminishing information gap. I was born an optimist. Nothing seems to ever change that—even the facts.

  194. Bob B –

    Only a television documentary like Frontline can reach enough people to create the public awareness of our ecocidal dilemma. That could be coordinated with demonstrations.

  195. From “A Lion in Winter” (quoted in West Wing):

    Geoffrey: “What does it matter how a man falls down?”

    Richard: “When the fall’s all that’s left, it matters a great deal.”

  196. And from Chris Hedges:

    “At what point do we stop being a doormat? At what point do we fight back? We may lose if we step outside the mainstream, but at least we will salvage our self-esteem and integrity.”

  197. Kit — “To venture is to risk defeat; but not to venture is to lose one’s soul.” Kierkegaard. Or: “What profits it a man to gain the whole world, and lose his soul.” This is where we stand now. This is where we have always stood, without noticing it. Now we must either become aware, or suffer the dire consequences of our sleep. Small groups are coming together to help each other wake up, so that we may take the desperately needed actions necessary to save ourselves. Join one or start one.

Commenting on this item is closed.