Saturday, September 21, 2019
Are We Doomed?
written 9 September 2019
published 15 September 2019
My normal routine is to have a new article ready to submit on the day the previous one is published. I had one ready, but was moved by a letter to the editor "We are all doomed", from Angus Young, in today's (8 Sep 19) Journal.
Many people deny that climate change is real, or manmade, or relevant, even now. There are numerous reasons for these perspectives, all of which fall short for me. Others believes there is some action that can be taken, a shift in technology, economy, or lifestyle, that can turn this ship of state away from the disaster that looms. A part of me is in this camp.
A smaller group has taken a very close look at the science and data, considered the social, political, and economic inertia, and concluded that we have crossed too many irreversible non-linear tipping points. We are already dead, but too ignorant or distracted to notice. Some of the most educated of the climate science community are in this camp. They have looked closely at the facts on the ground, and have abandoned wishful thinking. A few have published their conclusions, and their work is available for those who look, but the fossil fuel funded news machine, and rabid social media, makes life miserable for investigators who dare present worst-case scenarios, rather than more comforting consensus opinions. I know this landscape as well.
Angus Young's letter speaks to those folks who suspect we have run out of time and are trying to come to peace with this difficult perspective. This can be compared to a personal end of life situation, where the diagnosis has been made, there are no reasonable procedures left, and the focus of life shifts to the quality of time remaining.
Young's list, excerpted from Lolly Daskal, supports an enhanced experience of the vitality of life. Spend more time with the people you love. Worry less. Forgive more. Stand up for yourself. Live your own life. Be more honest with yourself and others. Work less, unless your work is your passion. Care less about what other people think. Live up to your full potential. Face your fears head-on. Stop chasing the wrong things. Live in the moment.
To this I would add, practice gratitude. Prayer is for what we desire that have not yet arrived. Gratitude is awareness of what we already have. If we focus on what we have right now and intensely investigate all that is good in our lives, when we get around to problems and deficiencies, we have some balance in our awareness, a fuller context within which to evaluate our situation.
The elements on the list above appear in other teachings on improving the quality of life experience, rather than the quantity of stuff. This is a radical life change, shaking the foundation of our consumptive, extractive, planet killing economy. But what is the risk in making these personal changes? That economy is already teetering, serving fewer people every year, funded by unsustainable debt, fueled by the last puddles of affordable fossil fuel, in an increasingly erratic climate.
But are we "doomed", even if the worst is true? Despair is an arrogant ego trip, rooted in the belief that I see everything that is happening, and it is all terrible. While it might be true that everything I see is terrible, it is arrogant to think that I see everything relevant. We are finite beings, contemplating an infinite universe, so everything I "know" is wrong, or incomplete at best. For thousands of years human culture has been seduced by four-dimensional materiality, with ossified religious structures subordinate to that materiality. But the best of humanity in all cultures has demonstrated a human potential that transcends materiality, with unity consciousness and the connected fate of the Golden Rule.
Gratitude and living in the moment are gateways to a whole new experience of reality. This evolution of consciousness is the alternative to the doom resulting from continued "business as usual". We each have the power and responsibility to make this personal transformation. Imagine the whole world reaching a resonant critical mass. The pressure is on, the time is now. What else have we got to do at the end of civilization?