Sunday, February 12, 2006

Back in the game...

Hi, all,
(If anyone's still visiting this blog...)

I know it's been months since I last posted here. Some you have seen comments on your blogs, so you know I'm still alive; and I've seen a few blogs I used to visit vanish. (Tara? Tonya? Where'd you go? Hope you're still OK.) My day job has pretty much coopted much of my writing inspiration, but I'll try to get back to posting here at least weekly or so...
Anyway, that said, on with the show...


Today, I got a post from a list I'm on that included the following line:

"Reduction to a mere physical survival will reduce our
existence to pure boredom. And what do we do with our souls then? We
have to live and, if necessary, to die for what we believe in."


I basically agree, but think the issue we need to isn't so much personal survival as collective survival. If we as a species don't correct the problems that are now fueling ecological destruction, religious apocalypticism, and the ever-present risk of nuclear war, the whole concept of revolution will be meaningless. Of course, making those changes is itself revolution.

The key as I see it is showing how such changes will increase the well-being of future generations. People need to learn that surviving this year, while important, is less so than ensuring our grandchildren & beyond have a world they can live in, be a part of, and, more crucially, have a role in, rather than separate from & superior to, as our culture not-so-subtly teaches. We need to be able to frame the changes, which will be very culture-shaking and to many people demoralizing, as positive and growth-allowing (not in the overpopulation, economic or material senses, but in the long-term, intellectual, spiritual, health, and other senses).

For that to work, people need to see a wider goal, have an outlet for pent-up frustrations that Taker society breeds. I believe that outlet is space: We need to change our attitude regarding Earth to one of nurturance AND to tap the adventurous elements of human ability.

Some people may say such expansion just exports Taker attitudes, but I disagree -- LIFE itself expands whenever it has the chance, and there are VAST spaces out there with little or no life that may be perfectly suited for colonization without any need to invade and impose a rapacious culture on them. In Earth's history, life has done this without our help, but for Earthlife to survive long-term, our help is necessary, because eventually Earth will become uninhabitable by any lifeform. Homo sapiens will certainly be long gone by then, but whatever species are our intellectual descendents deserve an opportunity to live. Maybe they'll thank us, maybe not.

Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee #, and others, suggest that Earth's overall capacity for harboring life has already peaked and is in its long, slow slide toward death, just as an individual person eventually gets old and dies as body systems shut down. I believe that's one reason intelligence, language, and tool-using capabilities evolved when they did, as the only long-term hope for life to continue, and human adoption of that kind of responsibility would certainly be a far more uplifting philosophy than the object-centered, self-centered, or imaginary-being-centered philosophies/religions/political systems that have dominated human civilization.

Some see a Leaver philosophy as being diametrically opposed to civilization (see, for example, most of the writing here), but I don't. It's just opposed to a certain KIND of civilization, and for change to be successful, people need to see that they aren't losing the benefits of civilization, but gaining benefits of another kind that will make up for some of the challenges the transition period will inevitably bring. The change ahead needs to be a conscious effort to change, to select what we keep and what we discard of Taker society.

We CANNOT let that transition be a "collapse" on a global scale in which most of humanity that survives returns to medieval, neolithic or hunter-gatherer lifestyle; doing so would be a denial of the gift of intelligence evolution has bestowed upon us and our responsibility toward other lifeforms long-term. Given how much of Earth's fossil fuels we've used, it might also make it impossible for a future species to do what we haven't yet done, since fossil fuels are reasonably a crucial stepping stone to space travel. (It might not; Ward and Brownlee suggest Earth has maybe 500 million years in which animal life can continue to flourish. That might enable the fossil fuel supply to replenish itself, but wouldn't our doing it right when there's room for error be better than forcing a future species to do it out of desperation, or, worse, to evolve the intelligence to realize Earth's dying and can do nothing about it?)

BTW: Taker and Leaver are references to Daniel Quinn's Ishmael & related books. In brief, "Taker" refers to a society that believes its way is the only way to live and that humanity has the right (even the duty) to dominate other lifeforms for our own benefit. In other words, our mainstream society. "Leaver" by contrast is an attitude of "live and let live" in which the fact of their existence gives other cultures and species their own value and right to survive independent of whatever usefulness they might have to us. For more info, visit Quinn's main site or one of many forums, such as IshCon.

#-- I'm almost done with this book and will be reviewing it here soon.

ALSO: Having glanced over the old posts, I see a LOT of spam, so I think it's time to enable that word-verification-thingy (of course, they aren't real words, but *shrug*)... Hope it's not too much of a hassle.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Clyo said...

Hi Jay,

I'm so glad to see you back.

BTW, if you knew my ideas about Bush et al you might be surprised. Maybe one day I'll give you a summary of what I think is going on, and I agree it has absolutely nothing to do with freedom or democracy or "values."

Regarding the exploration of space, I fear that too many people who have read - and watched - science fiction are more interested in escaping Earth than in cleaning her up and saving her.

We have about 5 Billion years until the Sun begins to die. Until then, if we would stop killing her, the earth would support life bountifully.

I fear if we give up, if we focus on a future based in escape, we will turn our backs on the greatest jewel in our known Universe.

After all, we know earth supports life, but we have no idea how far away it is to the next planet like her.

We assume, statistically, that there must be one, but where is it? And what if it is inhabited?

Are we going to do to a planet what we did to the Western Hemisphere? Introduce our diseases and kill everyone who does not either succumb or knuckle under?

Would that be an improvement for the Universe?

I doubt it.

To me the answer for our survival is a combination: control population, clean up the earth, create policies for sustainability and learn to live in peace.

If we can do that, perhaps we deserve to populate other planets. If we can't, then let the bad seed die here.

I also doubt we can beat the reaper by finding another planet faster than we can clean up this fouled nest.

For me, in regard to the purpose of living, I believe we are here not to cut and run, not just to breed and "be", but to learn to appreciate what we have, who we are and those with whom we share the planet.

We live here as an assignment to elevate our awareness, expand consciousness and learn love for one another (and the earth), not in lip service, but in actuality.

Perhaps that sounds like a joke or that we've been set up to fail, because the prospects for our cleaning up our act before we destroy ourselves and/or Earth,are looking bleaker all the time.

Yet I believe the likeliest scenario for humankind is that we are going to come close to destroying the earth and human life in the next 10-50 years, but not quite do the job. The species will survive in small packets and the earth, no longer under siege, will rebound.

Those humans who survive the cull may learn some lessons from the whole debacle about cooperation, sustainability, living in peace and honoring the divine spirit (or life, if you will) in each individual.

If they do learn those important lessons, they will then have the opportunity to build a more enlightened civilization that begins to achieve its potential which - and I'm just guessing here - will not be to put an i-pod in every ear or a Hummer in every driveway.

It's difficult to walk that line wherein you see the truth, see corruption, tyranny and injustice, speak about it, think about it and work to correct with without anger or negativity.

I admit I have not come close to perfecting that walk.

People are sometimes amazing, beautiful and inspiring. Other times we are villains. To work to disempower specific villains while still cultivating a profound and sincere love for humanity and belief in our potential for good, as a whole, is our greatest challenge.

In any event, Jay, welcome back.

Clyo

P.S. Watched All The President's Men (again) last night. I think what's going on now - and the people in charge - are both far more sinister and destructive than anything perpetrated by Nixon's administration.

Republicans have learned a lot since Watergate and they are using it in spades. Unfortunately, the American people, as a whole, don't seem to have a clue about what's really going on.

P.P.S. To all spammers I say: "gqbnd," "kprbiuo" and "iiqvs."

2/13/2006 2:22 AM  
Blogger MichaelBains said...

... what's going on now - and the people in charge - are both far more sinister and destructive than anything perpetrated by Nixon's administration.

Unequivocally Clyo! Powerplays and spyin' on the "enemy" are nothing new to politics. The neo-con fascists are taking a page out of Stalin's Book by saying whatever they do IS the Law. That isn't quite unprecedented in American Presidential politics, but in the past, they didn't create the wars they needed to "justify" it, as has been done with Iraq.

Talk about waggin' the dog!

For that to work, people need to see a wider goal, have an outlet for pent-up frustrations that Taker society breeds. I believe that outlet is space: We need to change our attitude regarding Earth to one of nurturance AND to tap the adventurous elements of human ability.

I totally agree amigo! The Industrial Revolution is one giant and deadly necessity that we need not ever reproduce. That's why I disagree with my boys over at SciAm when they call the manned missions "lesser science". (I'm meaning to blog on that. Hopefully this evening.)

If we don't get our filthy stinky wonderful destructive selves off of this rock soon, there won't be anyone left to do the more fundamental science.

Welcome Back Jay!!! No worries on the Word Veri. Everybody's doin' it. Heheheh..

2/13/2006 4:35 PM  
Blogger Jay Denari said...

Hi, Clyo & Michael,

To me the answer for our survival is a combination: control population, clean up the earth, create policies for sustainability and learn to live in peace.

Absolutely. I DO believe we need to do whatever we can to fix problems here at home; I just think there are enough resources and creativity to do that AND space travel. Both will require a sustained effort and a willingness to put aside the outmoded concept of sovereignty to make room for global community.

I don't think it's a matter of "needing" to reproduce the Indus. Revol.; I'm not sure we'd be ABLE to do so again on a global scale. Not enough easily-accessible fuel; what's left requires advanced technology to get to (or create, in case of nuclear or solar). People would certainly TRY at some point after a collapse, but I suspect we'd only see regional success up to, maybe, the 19th Century level.

If we don't get a foothold in space within the next couple of decades, we probably never will barring alien assistance (and that's not likely).

Back to the sovereignty thing, I think what we're seeing in the MidEast is the old system struggling to assert its relevance in an era that is coming to recognize it has none, at least in the form we now know the nation-state (as an independent, self-sustaining entity). Like a deranged parent holding his child hostage, though, it could easily kill itself and the child if the police negotiator isn't extremely careful (and, given the fundy ideology of some of the players, that might be their INTENT anyway).

I agree there would be survivors if that happens (and I intend to be one of them), but the loss would be completely incalculable.

2/15/2006 1:25 PM  

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