What Would it Take?

by Alton C. Thompson

It is no secret that our species is in deep trouble.  However, because our major news and opinion media, along with our political (and other) “leaders” have maintained their silence about this fact, few in our society seem to be aware of the trouble that we’re in.

Why this silence?  Is it a lack of knowledge as to the dangers that face us humans—i.e., is it a matter of ignorance, pure and simple?  Are those associated with the media and (other) leadership positions so “possessed” by an ideology (e.g., neoliberalism) and its fictional version of Reality that they are simply unable to recognize the dire situation that we humans are in?  Or is there some other explanation?  I suspect that it is the “possession” factor that is operative here, but my interest in this essay is other than elaborating on that possibility.

As the title of my essay suggests, my primary interest in this essay is the characteristics that would need to prevail in our and other societies for there to be an absence of the threats currently facing us humans.  This implies that my primary focus is not, then, on the questions:

  • What can be done to address the problems that face us?
  • What should be done?

Given the primary focus of this essay, a useful starting point is to note the major problems facing us humans at present.  These have been succinctly stated by Guy McPherson.  In the Introduction to his Going Dark (2013) he lists the following:

  • “global climate change”
  • “environmental collapse”
  • “nuclear meltdown”

As his last point especially needs clarification, let me quote here what McPherson says about this matter:

Safely shuttering a nuclear power plant requires a decade or two of careful planning.  Far sooner, we’ll complete the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy.  This is a source of my nuclear nightmares.

When the world’s 440 or so nuclear power plants melt down catastrophically, we’ve entered an extinction event.  Think clusterfukushima [see this], raised to the power of a hundred or so.  Ionizing radiation could, and probably will, destroy most terrestrial organisms and, therefore, most marine and freshwater organisms.  That, by the way includes the most unique, special, intelligent animal on Earth [i.e., us!]

I assume that McPherson, in referring to humans as the “most intelligent animal,” did so “tongue in cheek,” for he later says:

Again, I invoke the wisdom of George Carlin:  “When you’re born into this world, you’re given a ticket to the freak show.  If you’re born in America you get a front row seat.”  [!]

Paul Craig Roberts would add to McPherson’s list that we are faced with the threat of nuclear annihilation via the use of nuclear warheads:

Washington believes that it can win a nuclear war with little or no damage to the US.  This belief makes nuclear war likely.

As Steven Starr [author of ““The Lethality of Nuclear Weapons”] makes clear, this belief is based in ignorance.  Nuclear war has no winner.  Even if US cities were saved from retaliation by ABMs, the radiation and nuclear winter effects of the weapons that hit Russia and China would destroy the US as well.

The above-mentioned threats are not the only problems facing us humans at present, of course, but they are the ones that should take “center stage,” given that they threaten our continued existence as a species.

This brings me, then, to the question contained in the title of this essay—“what would it take” not to be faced with these threats to our continued existence?  That is, what characteristics would our society, and other societies, need to have for all of us to feel relatively “safe” from the possibility of premature deaths?

For me, the sorts of necessary characteristics were possessed by the Plains Indians (using that term rather than “indigenous people” or “native Americans”—because many Indians refer to themselves as “Indians”!).  My interest in Indians goes back to my primary school days, when one of my favorite books in our “normal school” library was an illustrated book about Indian chiefs and other leaders.  Although, in having a Norwegian-Swedish heritage, I suppose that my heroes should have been, and be, the Vikings (but not a Minnesota Vikings, of course, being a Wisconsin native! [1]), as one raised in Christianity, and who used to sing “Jesus loves the little children” as a child (with its “red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight”), I have felt much more comfortable with Indian values than with Viking ones.

At any rate, I associate the following characteristics with the Plains Indians (before they were displaced by whites—“displaced” being a euphemism for “killed”!)—characteristics which, I believe, virtually prevented them from being in the situation that now faces all of us humans:

  1. They had a way of life that involved continuous contact with Earth.
  1. Their way of life involved dependence on Earth—a fact of which the members of these societies were acutely aware.
  1. Given their dependence on Earth for their livelihood, in conjunction with their continuous contact with Earth, it is unsurprising that they came to perceive the various components of their environment as sacred.

In not being able to explain the existence of those components, but in desiring to have one, it is unsurprising that they invented an Unseen Force (i.e., Great Spirit, Creator, etc.) as the explanatory factor.  An effect in so doing, of course, was to reinforce their perception of the various components of Earth as sacred.[2]

  1. Given their awareness of their dependence on Earth for their very lives, and the reverence that they developed for Earth, it is understandable that their actions relative to the components of Earth reflected their perception of Earth.  That is, despoiling Earth, taking more than they needed, etc., were unthinkable to them—because such actions would insult the Great Spirit.
  1. Their way of life fostered a feeling of being a part of Earth, rather than being apart from it.  They therefore never developed a mentality favorable to the development of technology—which, tends not only to “feed upon itself,” but, in doing so, tends to result in changes in way of life that further result in feeling apart from Earth, thereby, in turn, resulting in unecological behavior relative to Earth that eventually poses a threat to many species, including our own.
  1. The social unit of importance to them was one “higher” than what we today know as the “nuclear family,” being the particular group to which they belonged.  Given this, it is understandable why they tended to regard the other members of their group as their equals.  “Out-group” individuals might be regarded with suspicion and as inferior, so that contact with such individuals might result in their mistreatment.  “In-group” individuals, however, would be regarded as “family,” and treated as such.  (For additional negative comments regarding family relative to a larger societal unit, see this essay.)
  1. In any family the individuals comprising the family vary in their characteristics—although this is more true for some families than for other ones.  If the members of a larger group—e.g., a Plains Indian tribe—think of themselves as belonging to a “family” of sorts, this is advantageous to the group; for the individual members can use their various abilities to serve the needs of the group, while engaged in cooperative, coordinated activities.  With all members of the group identifying with the group, there is little basis for psychological problems and deviant behavior—whether with reference to others in the group or Earth.
  1. They developed rituals which increased their feeling of connectedness, both with reference to one another and with Earth.

Granted that I may have idealized Plains Indian life somewhat in the above discussion, but I believe that the points made above are essentially correct.  It seems clear to me that their having these characteristics is what made them “safe” from the threat that we now face from global warming (among other threats); and it follows, logically, from the above discussion that it is fact that our society (and most other societies as well) lacks these characteristics at present—all of them—that puts us in danger.

“Eagle Man” Ed McGaa, in his Mother Earth Spirituality:  Native American Paths to Healing Ourselves and our World (1990—a time when our problems were not so acute!); also see this—seemingly suggests to the reader that if we (USans in particular [3] would adopt Indian ceremonies, we could get “out of the woods.”  He therefore devotes the nine chapters of Part II (“Earth:  The Seven Mother Earth Ceremonies”) to discussing Indian ceremonies, and the four chapters of Part III (“Air:  Bringing Forth Your Own Mother Earth Wisdom”) to topics such as “building a sweat lodge.”

One would like to believe that McGaa’s suggestions had merit, but I am convinced that:

  • It would take far more than the adoption of the ceremonies that he suggests for us to get “out of the woods.”
  • The likelihood that his advice will be heeded by many is close to 0 (i.e., zero).
  • Insofar far as it would be a good idea to adopt ceremonies, I see no point in adopting ceremonies from the Indians.  What would make sense, rather, is developing our own ceremonies, ones that would be meaningful to us.

Frankly, I can’t imagine that McGaa would have written this book in 2014—assuming, that is, that he is aware of what some scientists are saying about our probable future.  For example, Guy McPherson, in the Introduction to his Going Dark (2013) states:

Shortly after the arrival of the 21st century I realized we were putting the finishing touches on our own extinction party, with the shindig probably over within a few decades.  [Elsewhere he wrote that he expected our species to be extinct by 2030.]

Now if it’s extinction that lies in our future, there would seem to be little point in trying prevent it, or act to adapt to the changes that will be inevitably occurring.  What, then, should we do?  McPherson’s answer is that “only love remains”—and that may be not only the best answer, but the only one!

Endnotes

  1. As a Wisconsin native, I am “naturally” a Green Bay Packers fan.  Besides, the fact that the helmets of the Minnesota Vikings depict a Viking helmet with horns—despite the fact that there is no evidence that the Vikings ever had horned helmets—proves that Minnesotans are ignorant people!  (A case of inter-state rivalry—but just in jest, of course!)
  1. I find it of interest that they perceived this Unseen Force in unitary terms—i.e., in monotheistic rather than polytheistic terms.  What may have accounted for their monotheism is the fact that their environment was dominated by just one element, the sun.

The “US” in “USan” refers to the United States.  To use the term “American” to refer only to those of us who live in the United States, is arrogantly to ignore the fact that there is a North, Central, and South America, whose residents would like to be considered “real.”

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McPherson’s 13 July 2014 radio interview with Carolyn Baker on the Lifeboat Hour is described and embedded here.

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McPherson’s 12 July 2014 radio interview on SFPI with Rick Staggenborg is embedded below. Another version, sans commercial interruption, is here.

Listen To Politics Internet Radio Stations with SFPI Radio on BlogTalkRadio

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The fourth and final part of McPherson’s 12 April 2014 presentation at the University of Rhode Island is described and embedded here. Earlier portions are included at the link.

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The latest trailer for Mark Thoma’s film, 22 After, is embedded below

TRAILER 2 from mark thoma on Vimeo.

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McPherson’s next book is co-authored by Carolyn Baker. Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind has been submitted to the publisher and is scheduled for release by 1 October 2014.

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Find and join the Near-Term Human Extinction Support Group on Facebook here

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If you have registered, or you intend to register, please send an email message to guy.r.mcpherson@gmail.com. Include the online moniker you’d like to use in this space. I’ll approve your registration as quickly as possible. Thanks for your patience.

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Going Dark is available from the publisher here, from Amazon here, from Amazon on Kindle here, from Barnes & Noble on Nook here, and as a Google e-book here. Going Dark was reviewed by Carolyn Baker at Speaking Truth to Power, Anne Pyterek at Blue Bus Books, and by more than three dozen readers at Amazon.

Comments 85

  • Climate chaos is the big one, but there may be a more immediate
    economic crisis on the horizon and Strauss and Howe’s The
    Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy (Pub date 1997) theory
    of culture as a cyclic ~80 year process and offer another point
    of view though which coming events can be viewed.

    Simplified, the theory is that people forget lessons of the past
    and succumb to base instincts which lead to societal crisis. (It
    also appears that, 80-100 years of Capital formation creates such
    a degree of wealth disparity that people at the bottom reset the
    economic system and start again with a more-fair playing field.

    Strauss and Howe’s generational theory has four basic eras roughly 20
    years in length that begin with war (crisis), followed by a
    rebuilding (high), followed by a rebellion (awakening), followed by
    unrest (unraveling) which leads to war and the cycle repeats.

    Another dimension to the generational theory is that children’s
    perspective depend upon the era in which they were raised. During war
    (crisis) children are protected and emerge as sensitive, questioning,
    and artistic adults. During rebuilding (high), children are left more
    on their own, see life in rebuilding terms, value institutions over
    indiviuaism, and tend to be moralistic in adulthood. During the
    rebellion (awakening) era, children confront a fixed establishment,
    see flaws, tend to be independent, and question authority. During
    the unrest (unraveling) era children are raised in an over-
    protected environment, become strong individuals, form strong social
    relationships, value teamwork, and as adults see themselves as the
    only ones who can fix societal problems.

    As the ~20-year war (crisis) era unfolds, the four generations line
    up with synergistic skills to accomplish societal change. The
    moralistic elder generation (profits) raised in the rebuilding (high)
    era calling for change followed by can-do, practical mid-life adults
    raised in the rebellion (awakening) era followed by team oriented
    young adults raised during the unrest (unraveling) era and followed
    by children who will be protected and tend to the artistic.

    Currently, we are in the war (crisis) era of the cycle. Generations
    line up with Baby-Boomers as elders, X-Gen as mid-life, Millennial
    as young adults, and Homeland as the children.

    In applying this theory, try not to test it with yourself, friends,
    or specifics. Rather, try to generalize what people are saying to a
    larger picture. In other words, try to view the spirit of the times
    (Zeitgeist). For example, here is a typical crisis-type post to a
    Zerohedge article that reflects a crisis-era Zeitgeist:

    “Unfortunately, as the American Colonists learned around
    in 1775 and after, the tyrants only have violence at their
    disposal and are experts at employing it. As the too
    numerous to count killings by the federalized gun and
    badge thugs illustrates, they are already engaged in
    violence against us, the American people–and the rest of
    the world for that matter. One must prepare, as they are.
    If they walk, great. If they don’t, then they need to be
    made to fear ‘every blade of grass’. The Four Rs:

    1) Rejection: Quit paying, quit obeying, quit playing
    2) Revolution: It is inevitable, so prepare, as they are
    3) Retribution: The guilty must answer for their crimes
    against the American people and the Constitution
    4) Restoration: Restore the American people, country and
    Constitutional republic

    We know now of six clear weaknesses about the Constitution:
    1) Not as clear as needed on no paper/fiat currency and
    no central bank
    2) Not as clear on states rights as needed to be
    3) Should have made the commerce clause clearer
    4) A clause saying that corporations, businesses, are not
    people should have been inserted
    5) Term-limits
    6) No guillotine clause”

    ===========================================================================

    The Four Turnings or One Saeculum
    (Saeculum – generational renewal of a human population or ~80 years)

    Four General Phases in the circle of Human Life:
    1. Youth – Dependent on adults, learning, and inculcating society
    values
    2. Young Adults – Working and serving established institutions in society
    3. Mid-life – Climbing ladders to positions of leadership and directing
    established institutions
    4. Elders – Stewardship of institutions and passing on values
    through tradition.

    The Four Eras:
    Crisis – Approximate 20 years of strong individualism, secular upheaval,
    replacing institutions, disruptive civic order and creation of
    new social norms. Usually includes bloody, devastating war.
    High – Upbeat ~20-year era of new civic order rising from the ashes of
    previous crisis, strengthening institutions and weakening
    individualism.
    Awakening – Approximate 20-year attack on civic order with passionate
    spiritual upheaval.
    Unraveling – About 20 years of civic decay, new social values, strengthening
    individualism, and weakening institutions.

    The Four Personality Archetypes (shaped by their respective environments):
    1. Prophet – Born into an under-protected environment and takes the values
    of the High zeitgeist. Mid-life in the Awakening era.
    (Current cycle – Baby Boomers)
    2. Nomad – Born into an increasing, more-protected environment and
    inculcated by the Awakening zeitgeist. Mid-life in the
    Unraveling. (Current cycle – X Generation)
    3. Hero – Born into an over-protective environment and takes the values
    of the Unraveling zeitgeist. Mid-life is in the Crisis era.
    (Current cycle – Millennial Generation – Y Generation)
    4. Artist – Born into a decreasing, less-protective environment and
    inculcated by the Crisis zeitgeist. Mid-life in the High era.
    (Current cycle – Homeland – Z Generation)

    Interaction among eras, personality archetypes, and life-cycle:
    Saeculum High Awakening Unraveling Crisis
    ———– ———– ———– ———– ———–
    Prophet Childhood Young-Adult Midlife Elderhood
    Artist Young-Adult Midlife Elderhood Childhood
    Hero Midlife Elderhood Childhood Young-Adult
    Nomad Elderhood Childhood Young-Adult Midlife

    Generation Life Path
    Hero => Protected childhood in Unraveling ->
    Youthful civic-minded team player in Crisis ->
    Energetic know-it-all in High era ->
    Elders attacked by Awakening Prophets
    Artist => Over-protected childhood in Crisis ->
    Sensitive & thoughtful youth in the High era ->
    Indecisive leader in midlife during Awakening ->
    Empathic elder to Prophets in Unraveling
    Prophets => Born during High era with indulged childhood ->
    Narcissistic crusader youth in Awakening ->
    Moralistic midlifer in Unraveling ->
    Wise elder guiding Heros in the Crisis
    Nomad => Unprotected childhood in Awakening ->
    Alienated in youth in Unraveling ->
    Pragmatic midlifer in Crisis ->
    Tough-minded elder in High era

    Skipping 1-5 Saecula… (See the book for lots of detail)

    Sixth Saeculum The Great Power – 82 years
    High Awakening Unraveling Crisis
    1860-1882 (22 years) 1883-1900 (17 years) 1901-1924 (23 years) 1925-1942 (17 years)
    Civil War Reconstruction Religious Ferment World War I Market Crash of 29
    Missionary Generation Second Coming of Christ Prohibition Great Depression
    Gilded Age Missionary Movement Scopes Trial World War II
    ———————— ———————– ——————- ————————
    Childhood – Prophet (Idealist) Nomad (Reactive) Hero (Civic) Artist (Adaptive)
    Missionary Gen 1860-1882 Silent Gen 1883-1900 G.I. Gen 1901-1924 Lost Gen 1925-1942
    Young-Adult – Artist (Adaptive) Prophet (Idealist) Nomad (Reactive) Hero (Civic)
    Progressive Gen 1843-1859 Missionary Gen 1860-1882 Silent Gen 1883-1900 G.I. Gen 1901-1924
    Midlife – Hero (Civic) Artist (Adaptive) Prophet (Idealist) Nomad (Reactive)
    Lost to Civil War Progressive Gen 1843-1859 Missionary Gen 60-82 Silent Gen 1883-1900
    Elderhood – Nomad (Reactive) Hero (Civic) Artist (Adaptive) Prophet (Idealist)
    Gilded Gen 1822-1842 Lost to Civil War Progressive Gen 43-59 Missionary Gen 1860-1882

    Seventh Saeculum Millennial – 71 years – so far
    High Awakening Unraveling Crisis
    1943-1960 (17 years) 1961-1981 (20 years) 1982-2004 (22 years) 2004-2026 (10 years so far)
    Superpower America Consciousness Revolution Culture Wars War on Terror
    McCarthyism Kent State OJ Simpson Trial Great Recession
    Affluent Society Watergate Post-modernism Climate Change
    Suburban Sprawl Woodstock Information Technol Financial and Political Corruption
    ———————— ———————– ——————- ————————
    Childhood – Prophet (Idealist) Nomad (Reactive) Hero (Civic) Artist (Adaptive) Age Millions
    Baby Boom Gen 1943-1960 Generation X 1961-1981 Millennial GenY 82-04 Homeland Gen Z 2005-2012 2-8 29
    Young-Adult – Artist (Adaptive) Prophet (Idealist) Nomad (Reactive) Hero (Civic Hubris)
    Lost Gen 1925-1942 Baby Boom Gen 43-60 Generation X 61-81 Millennial GenY 1982-2004 9-31 79
    Midlife – Hero (Civic) Artist (Adaptive) Prophet (Idealist) Nomad (Reactive)
    G.I. Gen 1901-1924 Lost Gen 1925-1942 Baby Boom Gen 43-60 Generation X 1961-1981 32-52 83
    Elderhood – Nomad (Reactive) Hero (Civic) Artist (Adaptive) Prophet (Idealist)
    Silent Gen 1883-1900 G.I. Gen 1901-1924 Lost Gen 1925-1942 Baby Boom Gen 1943-1960 53-70 73
    Lost Generation 1925-1942 71-87 22
    G.I. Generation 1901-1924 88-110 6

    The Millennial Hero Generation
    1. Protected childhood – Baby-on-board cars
    window stickers; Hands-on child rearing;
    Emergence of child abuse and child
    protection; Political debates framed with
    respect to effects on children.
    2. Assertive coming-of-age with strong ethos,
    constructive civic activity, peer-enforced
    code of duty and proper conduct. Strong
    generational bond with ‘doers’ and team
    players. Desire clearly defined
    relationships and strive to achieve social
    (civic) goals. Expect and receive
    challenges from the Boomer (prophet)
    generation.
    3. During the Crisis, Millennials will form
    even tighter bonds and see themselves as
    the only ones that can be a hero. They
    feel they will determine a bright and
    successful, or a dark outcome, for all of
    posterity. Young men will enter battle
    because they perceive no other choice.
    4. Fourth Turning American Revolution Ballad
    All gaming, tricking, swearing, lying
    Is grown quite out of fashion
    For modern youth’s so self-denying
    It flies all lawless passion

    Ages on July 4, 1776:
    Marquis de Lafayette, 18
    James Monroe, 18
    Gilbert Stuart, 20
    Aaron Burr, 20
    Alexander Hamilton, 21
    Betsy Ross, 24
    James Madison, 25

    Thomas Jefferson, 33
    John Adams, 40
    Paul Revere, 41
    George Washington, 44
    Samuel Adams, 53
    Benjamin Franklin, 70
    http://allthingsliberty.com/2013/08/ages-of-revolution-how-old-1776/

    Example millennial and the hero generation:




    http://toughmudder.com
    The Secret Language of Millennials
    http://time.com/2974185/millennials-poll-politics/

  • What should we do? Maybe if it really is too late we can start doing more research into the possibility of an afterlife. I read a lot of interesting stuff about it, especially lately (biocentrism, quantum soul, extra-dimensional consciousness, and many other forms of afterlife) but nothing really definitive. Since we’re about to pass, it seems like a logical thing to do.
    Also how about a capsule for a future species to eventually discover, that contains all of our recorded information, arts and entertainment…

  • Perhaps the Plains Indians you mention didn’t “invent” an “unseen force” but instead discovered its existence.

    Our bias toward the anthropomorphic projection theory (ie, that humans use stories as substitutes for knowledge) may be a problem going forward.

    I seem to have settled into the realization that I/we don’t actually know anything. Our rational explorations into our limited view of reality gives us a taste of truth but certainly noone knows what is really going on here, do they?

    NTE appears irrevocable. When the arctic goes ice free I will know it is time for the Requiem. Meanwhile, we can live with big and open hearts and perhaps see for ourselves what the Plains Indians were talking about with their unseen forces.

  • For all the talk about getting in touch with our ancestral heritage, noticeably lacking in the conversation is an acknowledgement the widespread tradition in indigenous societies to SEND OUT THE OLD FOLKS to do the really dirty work when ultimate crisis approaches, whether that’s the first wave of an attack against a warring tribe, or maybe just that grandma goes without food so that the kids get some. The “me first/right now” paradigm that dominates our culture disallows even remembering that the exiting generation used their impending “exit” as a strategy to make the chances for the upcoming generation better. . .today the “elders” hang on as long as possible, hang on to their resources as long as possible. . .

  • Well, you’re on the right track, but I don’t know that Anglos remember how to do this… Euro-Western Christianity, then ‘the age of reason’, separated humans from the sacred (and scientifically validated) interconnectedness of all things and rationalized an anthropocentric world-view that is currently causing the death of all living things.

    http://nwindian.evergreen.edu/curriculum/ValuesBehaviors.pdf

    http://literacynet.org/lp/namericans/values.html

  • Do a search for a Natural Law Resource Based Economy. If something like this was implemented it would be the only chance of saving something, but the current batch of monkeys in power are going to make sure we all burn up.

  • Thanks for the essay, Alton and good comments everyone.

    One of the things mentioned was “cooperative, coordinated activities. That’s where we run into trouble (well, actually it happens before this with “in-group” and “out-groups” being established and agreed upon, with the attendant sanctioned mistreatment regarded as “normal” behavior). Cooperation has been all but eliminated from our society, replaced with the glorification and continuous practice of competition in all aspects of our lives – beginning with sibling rivalry and working its way up to “let the markets decide” (where the markets are a snake-pit of vying corporations hell-bent on taking more than their share of the pie).

    So at this point anything reasonable and fair – like Dennis’s Natural Law Resource Based Economy – has no chance of becoming the new dominant paradigm (and with little left, especially with regard to potable water, we’re seeing the gloves come off and the competition becoming a life-or-death issue).

    jwfitz: you have a point there.

    So with too many of us on the planet now, how are we going to respond when “suddenly” there isn’t enough to go around? The haves will try to gather it all for themselves with fictitious fiat money, but that only holds up as long as there are “laws” and an enforcement system to back it up. As soon as the police figure out that they’re doing the dirty work for a corrupt system that is going to leave them out of it too, law enforcement may actually work in reverse and go after the wealthy to confiscate whatever it is that’s being hoarded.

    There’s no saving mankind when the psychopaths rise to the top, when it’s about control and access to power; society will fracture and crumble along fault lines of economics and resources and violence will result, lessening our numbers precipitously; the medical field will evaporate as supply lines dry up and disease will also take a major chunk out of our numbers; once the electric goes out, we’ll be at the mercy of the elements (that we’ve been neglecting for the past 10,000 years or so) and they too will cause considerable death; in addition, the radiation will become unbearable and everything cellular-based will be unable to “adapt.”

    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/07/heartland-water-crisis-why-planet.html

    Heartland water crisis: Why the planet depends on these Kansas farmers – ‘We need to make sure our grandkids and our great grandkids have the capacity to feed themselves’

    In America’s Breadbasket, a battle of ideas is underway on the most fundamental topics of all: food, water, and the future of the planet.

    Last August, in a still-echoing blockbuster study, Dave Steward, Ph.D., and his colleagues at Kansas State University, informed the $15 billion Kansas agricultural economy that it was on a fast track to oblivion. The reason: The precipitous, calamitous withdrawal rates of the Ogallala Aquifer.

    The Ogallala is little known outside this part of the world, but it’s the primary source of irrigation not just for all of western Kansas, but the entire Great Plains. This gigantic, soaked subterranean sponge – fossil water created 10 million years ago – touches eight states, stretching from Texas all the way up to South Dakota, across 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles.

    The Ogallala supports a highly-sophisticated and amazingly-productive agricultural region critical to the world’s food supply. With the global population increasing, and as other vital aquifers suffer equally dramatic declines, scientists acknowledge that if the farmers here cannot meet ever-growing food demands, billions could starve.

    Steward’s study predicted that nearly 70 percent of the portion of the Ogallala beneath western Kansas will be gone in 50 years. He’s not the kind of person to shout these results; he speaks slowly and carefully. Yet, he has the evident intensity of one who’s serving a greater purpose. “We need to make sure our grandkids and our great grandkids have the capacity to feed themselves,” he says.

    Now the chief executive of the state, himself from a farming family, is using Steward’s report as a call to action.

    “One of the things we [have] to get over … is this tragedy of the commons problem with the Ogallala,” says Governor Sam Brownback, a Republican who at age 29 was the youngest agriculture secretary in state history. “It’s a big common body of water. It’s why the oceans get overfished … You have a common good and then nobody is responsible for it.” [read the rest]

  • A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.
    David Gerrold

  • @JohnD

    Thank you. Yes, they perceived a reality, and conformed to it, rather than creating it from dependence, as is the view here and generally held. For example, Native Americans didn’t have true egalitarian societies because they had understandings regarding “group” hierarchies.

    North American Native Americans were the most sophisticated naturists in the entire history of the world, and they were so for thousands of years. They observed the biological and elemental world and emulated its ways. They saw the world in terms of relationships, and they saw all parts of it as being “equal” and inviolate. The tree is not more important than the soil or the water or the birds. Every thing that existed was necessary, or it wouldn’t be there. I have heard many traditional Native people speak on the sacredness of the earth, and of their tremendous love for it. They saw the equal importance of all parts of the Creator’s world, and this observation did not stop with other humans, hence their deep respect for the Earth and their peoples.

    They saw that the Creator provided for all the Earth’s children, and provided well. In an odd way, they both lived more like the animals in their simplicity, and at the same time, they displayed the best of human beings. They had tremendously sophisticated cultures that few non-Native people can see, much less understand. They were not “primitive,” even if they were organic and non-technological. They saw the reality that the living world is fine just as it is, and human beings cannot improve upon it, nor do they need to, or have any moral right to.

    They were right. What sense does it make to plunder the earth to build rocket ships in order to study Mars? That’s insane. It’s also banal evil. It’s arrogance. The assumption that even holy “science” is not adequate justification for destroying the natural environment goes against Western Uncivilization. More of science that is meaningful to humans can be learned by living with nature, rather than plundering it to build submarines, laboratories, blah, blah, blah.

    A lot of westerners would be amazed at the intuitive insights that can come from complete peace and love with nature, from observation.

    I appreciate this essay and the author’s perspective a great deal. It is difficult to put into words the foundational world view difference between how Indian and other Native people saw the world, but it is really very simple. It’s a lot like jumping off a building ~ or not.

    “Their way of life involved dependence on Earth—a fact of which the members of these societies were acutely aware.”

    Everyone’s way of life involves dependence on the Earth! No exceptions. This is true of all life on the planet, every single bit of it. They just recognized the Truth of this reality, and conducted themselves accordingly, a lot like we might recognize the Truth of what jumping off the top of a very high building would do to our bodies, and therefor most of us refrain from jumping off buildings.

    It is human hubris and human banal evil that believes human beings have a right to do the things they do to the Earth, to satisfy human greed, desires, curiosity, grandiosity. We have no more right to do the things we have done than bears or apes would.

    “Given their dependence on Earth for their livelihood, in conjunction with their continuous contact with Earth, it is unsurprising that they came to perceive the various components of their environment as sacred.”

    They !saw! the Earth and its Life (important to link those two(?) things that westerners think of as separate ~ Earth-Life) as sacred, and they !saw! their dependence on the Earth for all things, therefore they chose to live in close contact with the earth and in harmony with its cycles. That is the order of the logic.

    They simply see it as “respect,” and it is as obvious to them as not jumping off very tall buildings is to mainstream Western thought.

    I’m on the Indians’ side and always have been. This way of life in the US is psychotic and psychopathic, and in truth, it always has been, beginning with murdering millions and millions of Indian people and stealing ALL of their land.

  • I think you are on to something, not that it matters much any more, as the “bad guys” have won. The difference in the two kinds of societies that you describe has been elaborated in great detail by Leslie Dewart in his 1989 book, “Evolution and Consciousness”. (The full text is available here: http://tinyurl.com/evolution-and-consciousness.) The dominant global culture has, in effect, a defect of consciousness that hampers our capacity to understand reality, causality, and finality. In particular, when we speak, we tend to think that we are merely repeating what reality has first “spoken”. Dewart called this “absent-mindedness”. In contrast, people raised to think and speak in societies like the Plains Indians tend(ed) to take much greater responsibility for themselves and their actions, which limited what it occurred to them to do. Now that they (and just about every other “indigenous” society) have learned from us how to misconceive and abuse power, of course, the genie is out of the bottle and we have wasted our wishes.

  • I long ago realized my wishes were wasted, so I changed, and now I wishes to be wasted.

  • The sacred is that where there is more of something – the Divine is one descriptor for that something. The implication is that the Divine is lumpy: more of it here, less of it there. More of it in my tribe: less of it in your tribe.

    Hence, in the stricter interpretations of non-dualism, sacredness is dispensed with.

    The interconnectedness of all things has been noted and commented upon in the non-dual traditions for millennia, more recently a couple of millennia ago as interdependent co-origination.

  • Inconsequential point of interest, I first heard the term USans in a radio play by humorists Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding sometime in the mid 1950s. That was probably the original coinage of the term.

  • What Would It Take?” – Alton

    In other words, a society does not ever die ‘from natural causes’, but always dies from suicide or murder — and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown.” – A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee (emphasis added)

    The phrase “always dies from suicide” means it is a self inflicted wound … iby society itself.

    Asking if an economic philosophy, good social education,  good food, etc. of one type or the other is the reason for a dementia is as off the mark as anything.

    It would take avoiding what no other suicidal society has done so far.

    We are especially vulnerable because dementia via deceit has been mass produced in our society and we have all suffered to one degree or another (The Deceit Business – 3).

    Professor Lakoff pointed out in a couple of books that our minds cannot even think of certain things because of the way we have thought … ruts … up to now: “Probably 98 percent of your reasoning is unconscious – what your brain is doing behind the scenes. Reason is inherently emotional. You can’t even choose a goal, much less form a plan and carry it out, without a sense that it will satisfy you, not dis­gust you. Fear and anxiety will affect your plans and your ac­tions. You act differently, and plan differently, out of hope and joy than out of fear and anxiety.

    Thought is physical. Learning requires a physical brain change: Receptors for neurotransmitters change at the synapses, which changes neural circuitry. Since thinking is the activation of such circuitry, somewhat different thinking re­quires a somewhat different brain. Brains change as you use them-even unconsciously. It’s as if your car changed as you drove it, say from a stick shift gradually to an automatic.” (The Toxic Bridge To Everywhere)

    Together everyone works to help each other heal, which is in this context, building additional circuits and removing defective ones.

    Hey SOCIETY … if you are thinking of committing suicide, call the number Guy posted at the top of this blog.

  • I increasingly see the Bible and various forms Christianity as the heart of the problem.

    Genesis: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on earth.”

    Exodus: “And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.”

    There are numerous other weird or completely preposterous notions, such as collection of representatives of all animal species and putting them in a large wooden boat. Yet there are millions of people who believe all this nonsense, and what is worse, believe that we do not need to do anything to maintain life on this planet because it is ‘God’s plan’ to allow complete destruction of it so that he can provide a new one for the chosen few. Indeed, many believe it is necessary to destroy this planet for the new one to be created.

  • Hi I’m pretty new to this human extinction by 2030 stuff…I’d like to know, how are people in cold places like Iceland and high places like Switzerland going to be affected. Iceland and also Greenland are set to benefit from global warming and Switzerland and other mountainous areas seem like a good place for survival. But I guess nuclear fallout and ocean acidification will get to us here in Iceland pretty soon as well?

  • It is so hard to see us going out this way, when many,many aware individuals can see that we had alternatives, and we refused to take them when it was still possible.

    But it never would have been easy. Life, for Western man, has been a struggle for food and shelter for a long time. Perhaps in some Native tribes, and also for some of our own distant hunter-gatherer ancestors, it was once quite different. But as someone already said, the bad guys won.

    As individuals, we were quite literally born into this mess. It is not of our making. It’s so screwed up it took centuries to get to a point of killing the planet, and even now most people don’t even know or at least acknowledge how close the end really is.

    I don’t feel inclined to bear the entire guilt burden for the death of this beautiful planet,though, even though I fully admit I played my part. It was already well underway before I ever bought my first car. Before I was born, in fact. If I knew when I was young what I know now, maybe I might have been more of an activist. No…that’s not true. In truth, I always thought we were going to go out this way. I just never dreamed it’d be so soon.

    I have a spiritual practice. I grieve for my planet and all the dead and soon to die innocents. I meditate. I pray. I ask whatever Gods, Goddesses, spirit guides and guardian angels that might be…not to save my miserable ass, but to make my heart vibrate in tune with what really is. To carry on the work of the creation of the universe and whatever that means.

    I believe we choose to be born into a particular incarnation. I’ve often thought this lifetime had to be some kind of bonus, because it’s been almost too good. I never went to war, never went hungry, never suffered great loss. Now I wonder if the karmic trade-off is that I have to be present at the very end…

    If we do chooses to incarnate, and it is to learn some lesson…well, I can say that the lesson of this lifetime is not hard to see. If you rape a planet and burn millions of years of stored sunlight energy in a few generations, bad things happen. Okay, God. I get that one.

  • It makes me sick that people I love think I am a nut because I am aware of my surroundings. All they say is stuff like ..”well, I wont live to see all that stuff happen…” as if its all OK if our kids and grandkids get to inherit an unlivable planet. As long as I get to keep my cushy lifestyle , I will vote for anybody who will NOT confront me with my irresponsible way of living.
    Sickening, just sickening.

    John

  • Dredd,

    Thanks for that. A case for thinking different thoughts, thoughts never conceived of before.

  • “Perhaps in some Native tribes, and also for some of our own distant hunter-gatherer ancestors, it was once quite different. But as someone already said, the bad guys won.”

    Throughout the history of all species, more young were and are produced than can be supported by the carrying capacity of the environment. The excess were part of the “musical chairs” of natural selection. Every one of us has had innumerable great*umpteenth uncles and aunts perish before they could pass on their genes, going back to before the days of our lungfish ancestors.

    It was not until into the twentieth century that public health measures including vaccination and sanitation brought down the infant and child mortality rates. Industrial Agriculture (thanks to fossil fuels) put food on the table. So in spite of decreased birth rates we have enough survivors to make for an exponential increase in population with a fossil-fuel forced increase in carrying capacity through disruption of the biosphere.

    All those generations that got extra fossil-fuel chairs in the ongoing musical chairs, to mix metaphors, are coming due to pay the piper. With interest. A helluva lot of it.

    “I don’t feel inclined to bear the entire guilt burden for the death of this beautiful planet”

    The sun is not contaminated when it shines on a sewage ditch nor graced by shining on a flower garden. It does not become many when reflected from buckets (=bodies) containing water (=minds). The light of the reflection originates neither in the bucket nor in the water, but only seems to do so. Neither the body nor the mind is sentient: try looking at a nearly-full or full moon at night and contemplating the fact that it has no light of its own. Nor does any sentient being.

  • For me the theoretical question of ‘what would it take?’ posed by Alton is only of academic interest. We know the global economic system cannot be reconfigured so that interest is not charged on loans, so that internal combustion engines are not operated, so that water is not pumped, so that war is not waged etc. The money-lenders and corporate leaders will clearly continue to loot and pollute and exploit until they can’t.

    For me, the interesting question is: what it will take for large numbers of people to finally wake up to the fact they are lied to on a more or less continuous basis by so-called leaders and the mainstream media? At what point does faith in the corrupt institutions that dominate the world break down?

  • “The dominant global culture has, in effect, a defect of consciousness that hampers our capacity to understand reality, causality, and finality.”

    The dominant cultural perspective that is different is that the western mind literally sees Life as a machine, as an engineering project. Life always knows more than we do, more than humans ever will. It is not a machine. The native perspective was that we live with Life in all its forms, just because it is Life. No one can make Life. Who doesn’t know the difference between alive and dead? What is so hard about it? How can anyone of any intelligence or awareness want to kill everything in order to build further death-serving shit, like chemicals, and toxins, and fossil fuels and Fukushima?

    Some of us in this culture can see the destruction occurring now, can understand the horror and the insanity, and we might have more respect for the wisdom of these people that were driven nearly to extinction. But they were still more knowledgeable than anyone who didn’t know them can ever understand. They were absolutely amazing in their respect for the innate complexity of Life-Nature, and in their willingness to trust Nature, to trust its cycles, to trust its bounty, and to trust it to reveal its secrets for the way to live and die. They did not fear death as much, not any of the older Indians I’ve ever known, and they are a profoundly spiritual people who do not believe that this is the only world there is. They are deeply sad at this time, at least the traditional people I know are, and there are many traditional Native Americans around, from Florida to Barrow. But they still aren’t impressed with the dominant dead way of being, and they don’t believe the bad guys will win in the end.

    What have those bad guys won for a people who do not believe that life ends when the body dies, and that the same Creator who made this world and gave us all our gifts,is more than capable of handling anything we humans can unleash, however profane, obscene, and evil it all may be.

    The world was always “living.” It’s not a machine. It deserved respect and gratitude for its abundance and its beauty, and Indian peoples saw that. It wasn’t a belief, any more than believing that water is wet. It was a recognition of the relationships that were occurring everywhere they looked.

  • http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/07/the-clathrate-gun_15.html
    Tuesday, 15 July 2014

    The clathrate gun

    Focus on Methane

    by Malcolm Light

    [ends with]

    We are now facing a devastating final show down with Mother Nature, which is being massively accelerated by the filthy extraction of fossil fuels by US and Canada by gas fracking, coal and tar sand mining and continent wide bitumen transport. The United States and other developed nations made a fatal mistake by refusing to sign the original Kyoto protocols. The United States and Canada must now cease all their fossil fuel extraction and go entirely onto renewable energy in the next 10 to 15 years otherwise they will be guilty of planetary ecocide – genocide by the 2050’s. There must also be a world-wide effort to capture methane in the oceans and eradicate the quantities accumulating in the atmosphere. [yeah, right]

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/07/australia-drought-that-never-ends.html

    Tuesday, 15 July 2014
    Australia: the drought that never ends

    New Climate Models Predict an Australian Forever-Drought

    [a quote or two]

    A new NOAA study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, applies a recently developed global climate model to the Australian situation, evaluating both the likely causes of the chronic dryness and the likely future of the region’s climate. By simulating climate change scenarios involving both manmade and natural causes, the research team was able to mostly eliminate non-anthropogenic causes, like volcano eruptions and changes in the Sun’s radiation. With these gone, the precipitation changes fell squarely on human-caused increases in greenhouse gases and continued ozone thinning.

    [and]

    As for the future, it doesn’t get better. “Simulations of future climate with this model suggest amplified winter drying over most parts of southern Australia in the coming decades in response to a high-end scenario of changes in radiative forcing,” the NOAA team says. “The drying is most pronounced over southwest Australia, with total reductions in austral autumn and winter precipitation of approximately 40 percent by the late twenty-first century.”

    and, lastly on the weather:

    http://robinwestenra.blogspot.co.nz/2014/07/the-return-of-polar-vortex.html
    Tuesday, 15 July 2014

    The return of the ‘polar vortex’

    The Point Everyone Is Missing About The Return Of The ‘Polar Vortex’

    [quote]

    Now, the “polar vortex” is making for fairly mild weather. But at the same time, that same wavy jet stream is swinging northward in the western United States, bringing increased heat to an already-dry and wildfire-stricken region. Extreme weather-wise, Francis says, this is a bigger deal.

    “They’re going to be suffering out there,” she said. “That part of the story is more important in a way because they’re already dealing with such a drought that this is just going make the drought and the fires and everything much worse, while in the east it’s just going to be a nice couple of cool days to break up the hot summer.”

  • Not to wax all teleological on anyone– but when one understands the basic physical principle at work in the cosmos of a create wave event followed all too soon after by a slightly faster moving but collapsing entropic wave– that life is a phenomenon that “surfs” that latter wave– that’s its necessary for life to build towards ever greater complexity to persist. It makes complete biological deterministic sense in this context that there would be some pressure to evolve a species that possessed some cognitive abilities, the potential to abstractly understand the future, and to act with disproportionate influence with tools and technology. It’s not that humans are interfering with nature that’s the problem. It’s that we’re doing it wrong.

    And that’s why the nostalgia about romanticized visions of the wisdom of ancient peoples is very inappropriate. Moving forward can only be forward, and faster is better. Eventually it becomes the only possible option.

  • @ John: spread the message: thou shalt not procreate!

    @ Eddie: Thank you for sharing – very helpful. I copied it and printed it for my daily meditation.

    @ Kevin: That’s basically what we are all waiting for – the eventual and inevitable breakdown – there are right-wing anti-government militias in Montana just waiting – there are left-wing hippie communes in California just waiting – there are super-wealthy elitists buying land in South America just waiting.

    @ A Different Old Hippie: The notion that HG civilizations are comprised of essentially “better” humans than IC civilizations has been discussed here over the years at great length. Taken to the extreme, every thing (that’s EVERY thing) simply is as it is – sapience doesn’t change anything. Our Sun will someday explode and “kill” everything in this solar system – is that “bad?” Or, is it just the way it is? Is anything really “killed?” We are just renting these sub-atomic particles for a short period of time – they were here a long time before us and they will be here a long time after us… If you are searching for meaning, look into a cold, dark, expanse of empty space and there you will find it.

    Just sittin’ on this runaway train, staring out the window, with a cat on my lap.

    The Voluntary Extinction Movement
    Thou shalt not procreate.

    The Church of Euthanasia
    Save the planet, kill yourself.

  • I keep reading and hearing, “If we start now….
    We are not starting, we are stepping on the gas. vrooom vroom

  • @ pat,

    yours is the seeing error of the western mind. You conflate human achievement with moral superiority. Because Native people were just human beings, they could not have held such intelligent, profound insights into life. Put that on your own culture and test it. Does the lack of human moral superiority in the present day and culture mean that modern technology and science are not advanced compared to other times and places? Not at all. Because of these advancements, are modern people better human beings? Not at all.

    Truth hurts when you’re from the most profane, death-serving culture in the entire existence of human beings. Too bad.

    Search for meaning however you wish, and don’t tell anyone else how to do the same.

    Yes, there is a difference between dying and being murdered. Once more that brilliant western thinking is so, so clever, equating the present murder of all life with a theory about the sun dying in a few billion years and using one to evaluate the other. And people who espouse such unbelievable nonsense think it is intelligent.

    No wonder everything is dying.

    Isn’t it amazing how just anything is possible in our thoughts? We can make it all equal just by thinking it. That’s so special.

  • Jenny Laura Marx (26 September 1845 – 26 November 1911) was the second daughter of Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen. In 1868 she married Paul Lafargue. The two committed suicide together in 1911.[1]:

    Paul Lafargue left a suicide note saying: “Healthy in body and mind, I end my life before pitiless old age which has taken from me my pleasures and joys one after another; and which has been stripping me of my physical and mental powers, can paralyse my energy and break my will, making me a burden to myself and to others. For some years I had promised myself not to live beyond 70; and I fixed the exact year for my departure from life. I prepared the method for the execution of our resolution, it was a hypodermic of cyanide acid. I die with the supreme joy of knowing that at some future time, the cause triumph to which I have been devoted for forty-five years will triumph. Long live Communism! Long Live the Second International.”

    LITTLE DID HE KNOW! But, it the “particulars” of life are not worth continuing in any form..

  • Good for Jenny and Paul LaFargue! Like “Carrousel” in “Logan’s Run.” Makes perfect sense. Still, the deluded masses may seek “Sanctuary” in their various trance-like states culminating in the shocking realization that all is nothing.

    @ A Different Old Hippie: The notion that HG civilizations are comprised of essentially “better” humans than IC civilizations has been discussed here over the years at great length. – I guess I really have nothing more to add. Not interested in any lengthy arguments either way. Sorry I jumped in! I’m just too busy being insignificant to worry about such things!

    I don’t have a garden, I don’t recycle, I don’t have 1,000 five gallon jugs full of water in my basement, I don’t own guns or ammo, I don’t have a stash of gold and silver, and I don’t know with certainty much of anything.

  • Methane burp anyone!?!

    My guess is that things like this indicate that climate chaos is upon us and it is going to roll out faster than NBL folks predict…

    Global warming may have caused an ‘alarming’ melt in the under-soil ice, released gas and the explosive force caused the 80 meter diameter hole by popping like a Champagne bottle cork, Ms Kurchatova suggests.

    Yamal, a large peninsula jutting into Arctic waters, is Russia’s main production area for gas supplied to Europe.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2693105/Giant-hole-appears-Siberia-Huge-crater-emerges-end-world.html

  • The North American Indians may well have reached an equilibrium with the nature they were born into but this was only after the first people had destroyed an ecology richer than that of Africa at its best. There is also evidence (Feral by George Monbiot) that the environment seen by the secondary waves of immigrants was a) the sign of a totally out of balance ecology – witness the passeger pigeons and the huge herds of buffalo that in a balanced ecology would not have existed and b) was in this state because the first European explorers brought diseases that ran wild through the population. The first explorers to the east coast of America and the first up the Amazon reported on a high level of occupation and agriculture. When the next wave arrived this had all gone and the forests had taken over. We shouldn’t get too sentimental about the first people on any land. In every case, when they arrived they did what humans always do and wiped out whatever their technology was capable of. Europeans then arrived and continued the destruction with more effective technology. George Monbiot in his book Feral and in his TED talk, Rewilding suggests creating large preserves where we bring back as much flora and fauna as possible and then let nature sort herself out without us constantly interfering. He wants this for aesthetic reasons. It may be more important than this that we do so. It may be the only way we have to create a nucleus for recovery following the almost inevitable collapse of our present way of life.
    http://mtkass.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/self-destruction.html

  • The following may be indicative that abrupt climate change is underway. Four weeks after the shortest day clear night skies have not resulted in frosts.

    Of course, nobody in mainstream is concerned about abrupt climate change; their concern is managing bugs that might interfere with the appearance of flowers, and the suitability of grounds for corporatized sports. And the effect on dairy industry production. Got to keep chasing the money. And for those living in the Matrix, the living environment is something to be managed:

    ‘A warmer-than-average winter that has extended kids’ playground season and prompted some daffodils to an early bloom could also portend a bug and disease-ridden spring.

    Just three months ago New Plymouth District Council was struggling to deal with a dry spell that nearly killed all sports field grass and pointed toward a winter of puddled and muddy playing grounds.

    ‘But unseasonally warm temperatures so far have spurred grass growth and ensured playing surfaces will finish the season in good condition. Now council parks boss Mark Bruhn has another concern.

    “What I am worried about now is some of our plantings and the diseases which may come because we haven’t had a cold winter. We need a couple of frosts to kill off all the bugs. That is not just for the playing fields, but all our plantings. There are always different challenges dealing with a living environment,” he said.’

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/10270760/Warm-winter-has-sting-in-tail-for-plants

  • Aren’t we all just a bunch of sniveling cowards compared to the young woman facing the Oboma grand jury!!

  • Based upon what I read here, I would guess:

    We all seem to be Baby Boomer moralist!

    Guy is one of the can-do X-gens.

    And yes, I am in awe of the hero Millennials.

  • The “better people” comment/argument is an overly simplistic argument that I don’t understand at all. If believing that they were smarter about the world around them equates to them being “better people,” then I guess my view is that they were better people.

    If their sophistication in biology and seeing balance and connections in nature and having respect for that balance did not make them “better people,” then they were not “better people.” I always saw it as a cultural strength, very much like the French being great cooks and the Germans being great mechanics, and rock and roll being great music.

    Either way, they were smarter about the environment by light years. I’ve been studying all things Native American for over 61 years. I’m not the least bit impressed with the “mega-fauna” extinction theories, or George Monibot on anything Native American.

  • In the previous thread, SSquirrel says: When I was young, I hung out with a few guys….I’d like nothing better than to face the end with some of those guys….

    Heraclitus Says

    The old days again might be nice,
    But according to ancient advice,
    For that you can’t prep,
    Because no one can step
    Into the same river twice.

  • What does it matter who were the “better” humans? Everything was/is just as it should be, whether one accepts it or not. Even the acceptance or non-acceptance is just as it should be. Just as it should be from quarks to meat-robots to galactic clusters. All existing within conscious awareness without affecting it. It remains without descriptors, the “Void”, the “Boundless Void”. All illuminated by it, some by reflecting it simulating apparent sentience.

    There is no one that is better or worse, except within the constraints of time-space-causality.

  • Read Karl Marx’s Capital on the nature of capitalist tendencies and it’s social relations and human systems in general.

  • Shifting the Psychology of Climate Change Denial – although, of course, it is now moot with the looming prospect of NTE.

  • Your ancestors….

    How incredibly unlikely it is that you exist. Going back to the first particle of life, there are over a trillion fathers and father’s fathers that eventually ended with your parents conceiving you. And if any one of those fathers (or mothers) had died before reproducing—if any of the millions of fish in your line had been prematurely eaten, if any of the millions of rodents in your line had been crushed by a falling tree as a baby—you would not exist. Maybe someone similar to you—but not you.

    http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/12/your-ancestor-is-jellyfish.html

  • Like ecosystems the world over, the human microbiome is losing its diversity, to the potential detriment of the health of those it inhabits.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/14/we-are-our-bacteria/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

  • The level of Orwellian surreality is becoming too obvious:

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/realestate/human-props-stay-in-luxury-homes-but-live-like-ghosts/2187417

    ‘Human props’ stay in luxury homes but live like ghosts

    When the Mueller family sits for dinner, the leftover broccoli and crepes are already wrapped in plastic, the kitchen is beyond spotless, and the rest of the home is so tucked-away tidy it looks like they just moved in. In a way, they have: Every inch of furnishing, every little trinket and votive candle, sits precisely as designers placed it five months ago. That would make them the most perfect suburban ideal, except for one catch: This isn’t actually their home. Bob and Dareda Mueller and their three grown sons are, instead, part of an “elite group” of middle-class nomads who have agreed to an outlandish deal. They can live cheaply in this for-sale luxury home if it looks as if they never lived here at all.

    The home must remain meticulously cleaned and preserved: the temperature precisely pleasant, the mirrors crystalline clear. If a prospective buyer wants to see the home, they must quickly disappear. And when the home sells, they must be gone for good, off to the next perfect place.

    That they do everything an owner would do — sleeping, making memories, learning the home’s quirks and secrets — imbues an otherwise-empty home with an unmistakable energy, say executives with Showhomes Tampa, the home-staging firm that moves them in. It also helps the homes sell faster, and for more money.

    “They have to live a very different, very difficult life,” said Kim Magnuson, a sales director. Added franchise owner Linda Saavedra, “The home managers act like human props … and (with buyers) it’s like magic. It works phenomenally well.”

    The Muellers once lived in an opulent lake house bigger even than this $750,000 estate, which graces the 10th hole of an exclusive golf course in one of Tampa’s wealthiest suburbs. But after a financially shattering fall from grace, this home, their fifth in two years, has become a surprising lifeline: Bob, 60, and Dareda, 56, now both work at McDonald’s and scrape to pay the bills.

    It has allowed them to start over with the painstaking gloss of perfection, but it has also brought up tough questions about what it means to have a home. Is it worth sleeping in a mansion if it means living as a ghost?

    ulvfugl: I recall you commented about this about a year ago (?)

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/485529/Special-Branch-funded-Paedophile-Information-Exchange-says-Home-Office-whistleblower

    EXCLUSIVE: Secret service infiltrated paedophile group to ‘blackmail establishment’

    BRITISH security services infiltrated and funded the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange in a covert operation to identify and possibly blackmail establishment figures, a Home Office whistleblower alleges. [read it all]

  • http://finance.yahoo.com/news/californias-2014-drought-greatest-water-174446516.html

    California’s Drought Is ‘The Greatest Water Loss Ever Seen,’ And The Effects Will Be Severe

    California’s current drought will cost the state $2.2 billion and 17,000 jobs, researchers announced at a press conference July 15 in Washington, D.C. The findings are from a new report from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Science.

    California is one of the U.S.’s biggest food producers — responsible for almost half the country’s produce and nuts and 25% of our milk and cream. Eighty percent of the world’s almonds come from the state, and they take an extraordinary amount of water to produce — 1.1 gallons per almond.

    But this food-rich state is in its third year of drought. In May, 100% of the state was in drought and the food-producing Central Valley was in an “exceptional drought.”

    [further down]

    The Full Effects
    The latest report details the future effects of this lasting drought on our food security are intense. Here are the findings, from the UC Davis press release:

    Direct costs to agriculture total $1.5 billion (revenue losses of $1 billion and $0.5 billion in additional pumping costs). This net revenue loss is about 3% of the state’s total agricultural value.
    The total statewide economic cost of the 2014 drought is $2.2 billion.

    The loss of 17,100 seasonal and part-time jobs related to agriculture represents 3.8% of farm unemployment.

    428,000 acres, or 5%, of irrigated cropland is going out of production in the Central Valley, Central Coast, and Southern California because of the drought.

    The Central Valley is hardest hit, particularly the Tulare Basin, with projected losses of $810 million, or 2.3%, in crop revenue; $203 million in dairy and livestock value; and $453 million in additional well-pumping costs.

    Agriculture on the Central Coast and in Southern California will be less affected by this year’s drought, with about 19,150 acres fallowed, $10 million in lost crop revenue and $6.3 million in additional pumping costs.

    Overdraft of groundwater is expected to cause additional wells in the Tulare Basin to run dry if the drought continues.

    The drought is likely to continue through 2015, regardless of El Niño conditions.

    Consumer food prices will be largely unaffected. Higher prices at the grocery store of high-value California crops like nuts, wine grapes, and dairy foods are driven more by market demand than by the drought.

    [there’s more]

    http://blogdredd.blogspot.com/2014/07/civilization-is-now-on-suicide-watch.html#comment-form

    Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch

    [quote]

    Historically, self-destruction is the common denominator for past human civilization, culture, and society:

    “In other words, a society does not ever die ‘from natural causes’, but always dies from suicide or murder — and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown.”
    (A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee).

    [read the article, his extensive, Russian-doll like, nested links]

  • It is sensible(and I think informative) to consider “better” behavior as that which returns value to the central system over what costs/resources/energy extracted. This is the “ethic” of the natural world, and if applied to human behavior can clear up a lot of the confusion.

    Key takeaway– a individual or a society isn’t “good” simply by being a low extractor of resource, as it’s the “contribution” made with use of the resource of over and above value that makes for the good. This was hard for me to learn being drawn to minimalism as a strategy against climate change– in fact minimalism can only be a “smaller step” in the wrong direction. . .and too much of it can actually impede one’s ability to “return value.”

    My two bits– it can be found to both an interesting observation and a practical personal strategy.

  • Tiny droplets of truth
    Drip into and mix
    With a violent ocean of ignorance
    Absorbed then evaporated
    Only to fall again
    Diluted

    Only the amphibian that jumps
    Out of that ignorance
    And happens to be splashed by an original wet truth
    Can know a truth

    S\he then dives back into that ocean
    Tortured by that drop

  • If anyone has any interest, I posted this comment at Fractal Planet:

    @ Landbeyond:

    As I mentioned in my response to mikeroberts2013 regarding the collapse prediction paradox that he asked about, my response already qualifies as way too short and too simple. Your asking for a response even shorter and simpler than I have already written amounts to asking for a short, simple, 20 word explanation of relativity theory or quantum mechanics. While it would prove much more feasible to explain the calculus concept of the limit in twenty or fewer words, even with that far simpler idea, few readers, if any, would begin to formulate any meaningful approximation of the limit. I feel sorry. As Einstein observed, such super-simplistic answers or explanations simply do not contribute to the conversation in a helpful way. Indeed, such over-simplification often produces many misunderstandings and much confusion: Einstein’s point exactly. Most likely, neither will my much longer, 4,500 word essay titled “What ‘purpose’ do I have?” that will appear at NBL on about 23 July prove adequate even though it will describe some of these ideas in much greater depth. Even though I think I have done a pretty good job with few words in that essay, it also will surely prove too short and too simple for many people adequately to construct the conceptual models. One simply has to go to the trouble of constructing a little background knowledge of complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics in order to develop an understanding of how they resolve the interesting prediction paradox that mikeroberts2013 noticed. Unfortunately, no 20-second sound bite solution to this reality exists.

    @ Scott:

    mikeroberts2013 asked me some reasonable, thought provoking questions and I provided a well-reasoned, science-based resolution to the paradox that he noticed. Especially since it relates directly to my comments above to Landbeyond, will you please help me and your other readers understand what you had hoped to accomplish with your comment that “That’s an awfully long-winded way to say ‘I pull it out of my ass.'”? How does that comment help promote good scientific reasoning, whether Cartesian-Newtonian, Einsteinian, Schrodinger’s, or Prigogine’s reasoning? I plead ignorance regarding your motives regarding this apparently dismissive statement, its meaning, or how such a response presumably contributes in some positive way to the discussion.

    Related to this, it seems to me that people’s responses at FP often confirm the extent to which the argumentation has more to do with emotional defensiveness than with evidence-based reasoning. How so? Why do I make this claim, and based on what evidence? Because genuine, reasoned, natural science occurs in an open way, not in a closed, excluding, character-attacking way, or in ways designed to insult others. To the extent that the scientific process involves evidence-based reasoning, people would proactively learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about issues such as complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics (even if not done enthusiastically), and then discuss the implications of these for our global warming, ecological, and nuclear collapse self-annihilation predicament. Instead, I have seen no evidence of this. Instead, I have noticed that the opposite often happens at FP: significant “verbal violence” often occurs in the form of emotional name calling, personal attacks, and attempts to insult and exclude those who disagree or point to weaknesses in the reasoning. Indeed, the discussion title clearly points to the expected closed, biased (yet presumably “scientific”) nature of the discussion. The title reads “How Guy McPherson gets it wrong”, not “How Guy McPherson MAY get it wrong”. From the title he definitely, presumably, DOES get it wrong as a forgone, closed, unquestionable, obviously biased, pre-discussion assumption. (And this assumption based on rigid, biased, presumably infallible Cartesian-Newtonian scientific methods and reasoning, despite the many, well known weaknesses of physics based on Cartesian-Newtonian reasoning.) I fail to understand how the kind of discussion bias indicated by the title qualifies as allegedly good scientific discourse, whether based on the much older, Cartesian-Newtonian perspective, or the modern physics of Einstein, Schrodenger, and Prigogine (among many others).

    I find it fascinating how people continue seriously to comment here based on the false premise that they can meaningfully reason and argue about the complex—NOT merely complicated—climate change, ecological, and nuclear collapse issues using only Cartesian-Newtonian science with its many, known weaknesses while ignoring as presumably irrelevant complexity theory and nonequilibrium thermodynamics. All the while, you wish to believe that this argumentation supposedly amounts to “good science” even though it amounts to the same thing as reasoning and arguing about nuclear physics or quantum mechanics while using only Cartesian-Newtonian physics. Fascinating.

  • If the Universe is infinite and the matter and energy within it are finite, then I guess all there is to look forward to is a very dark, very cold, very large expanse of space that, to us, will seem empty, void, and meaningless. And, somewhere in that vastness will be the widely scattered subatomic particles that, just for today, make up our “selves.” Not much happening – no love, no forgiveness, no hate, no envy, no nothing. Sort of like when we die and become one with the nothingness, I guess.

    However, I don’t KNOW any of this. But, I also don’t NOT KNOW any of this.

    I sit and ponder and reach for another Oxycontin.

  • @ pat

    That’s so sweet 🙂

    I sit and ponder and reach for another Oxycontin.

    Wrong medicine. 🙂

    However, I don’t KNOW any of this. But, I also don’t NOT KNOW any of this.

    That’s an example of what are known, generically, in zen, as ‘the opposites’ and the next move is to go beyond them, neither one nor the other. Not this, not that. You’re never a buddha, you’re never not a buddha… kinda like walking a tight rope, you’re always about to fall to your death, but you keep your balance and poise…each moment.. just… until you don’t..

    http://beyondtheopposites.com/2012/12/26/simply-do-it/#sthash.T1HjXTlY.dpbs

  • @ Jay W. Fitz:

    Yes, the insanity of monument building and paving the landscape with asphalt seems so obvious it makes one sick. The automobile, what a horrible idea!

    Designated “nature reserves” are just our way of saying – keep out of our way while we bulldoze everything around you.

    We live in one big refugee camp – each of us has varying degrees of comfort within it, but we are all in it.

  • “Reaching for another OxyContin”: most delayed-release formulations of drugs also have a delayed onset of action. Mistaking the absence of prompt effect after taking the medication for inadequate effect can result in overdosage.

    The bounds to the universe and to matter and energy are not proven; they are matters for speculation.

    Knowing and not knowing both require awareness, like all other opposites. The Sanskrit term for opposites is “dandva”. Realisation is beyond opposites, transcending them, the term for which is “dandva-titham”. In the Vedic and subsequent traditions it is one of the characteristics of realisation.

  • @ Tom

    ulvfugl: I recall you commented about this about a year ago (?)

    Indeed I did, and I have been proved to be correct. It was kinda interesting, at the time, I was being subjected to torrents of abuse here claiming I was a sociopath, mentally ill, should be in a cell next door to Ted Kaczynsci, etc, etc. I wish I had the resources to discover who was backing those trolls.

    It’s one thing to kill other men, or even women, in battle, when it’s a fight over some disputed claim. It’s not nice, but everybody understands this, and it’s been going on since the beginning of time, that we are sometimes fierce warriors who will not be appeased and have to settle our differences in mortal combat.

    The Trojan War sums up the eternal truths, and we never seem to learn, which is a shame, but I can understand and accept that.

    What is absolutely beyond understanding, and I don’t think any decent human has ever accepted, is for adults to sexually abuse, torture and murder little children for PLEASURE. And that is what has been going on, not just recently, but going back and back and back.

    The Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Jews, the Freemasons, and the highest elites in the land have been involved in sexually abusing and torturing and murdering the most vulnerable kids, orphans with no family or relatives to protect them or notice when they disappear.

    And the fucking secret services have encouraged this, because it’s given them leverage to blackmail the people who liked that ‘hobby’.

    I don’t know if this extends to EVERY country, but it seems to extend to most, the NSA and GCHQ have been spying on everybody with an internet connection ever since the internet began, so they know exactly who has been doing what, so if they wanted to stop it, they could have, but that’s not been the purpose, the purpose has been to use the info to get a global network of people established in key positions who have to do what they are told, or else be outed for their disgusting and depraved behaviour.

    And now comes the backlash… because for Jews, this stuff is fine, it says so in the Talmud, and for Catholics, all they have to do, is to beg forgiveness, and then they can go and do it all over again… etc.
    But, you know, the ordinary mothers and fathers who love kids don’t think it is okay, and there will be retribution… sooner or later…

    @ pat, robin datta

    Or in the taoist version, wu wei, transcending the opposites of yin and yang.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_wei

  • Part II of the Conversation with Guy McPherson is now UP on the Diner Blog!

    This portion of the Podcast features just Guy and Monsta discussing Religion, Morality and the Progress Meme, as well as NTHE possibilities.  I had to get to work so I wasn’t able to join in this part of the Podcast.

    Sorry for the delay in getting it produced, Monsta has been very busy and he does the Collapse Cafe editing, I do the Rant editing.

    Part I of the Podcast, the Thrilla in Doomervilla has had over 1000 Listens in the last month.

    We should have another one upcoming with Ron Patterson, aka Darwinian of the Oil Drum soon.

    RE

  • The cult of reverence for the Plains Indians always ignores that they didn’t get along terribly well with each other, that the reason the great plans existed in the first place instead of an unending forest is because the great plains were created by people in order to hunt game more effectively and that romanticizing a primitive people without a written record is far easier than romanticizing a primitive people who wrote in length about their conquests, rapes, murders, and general glory to the One True God, be that Odin, Zeus or the God of Abraham.

    The whole “living in harmony with nature” is just as farcical as the Garden of Eden. People are people wherever you go. Just because so many tribes were effectively wiped out that doesn’t mean they were gentle stewards of the land. Humans are both herd animals and apex predators. Being unbalanced is our very nature.

  • Good morning everyone. It’s wonderfully cool and lush here in the middle of summer and i’m enjoying it while it lasts.

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/07/3-congressmen-call-release-secret-911-documents-reading.html

    3 Congressmen Call for Release of Secret 9/11 Documents After Reading Them

    All of the Chairs of the 9/11 Commission and the Congressional Investigation Into 9/11 Say It’s “Implausible” that the 9/11 Hijackers Acted Without Government Backing

    Congressman Thomas Massie read the 28 classified pages of the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry into 9/11 (the joint Senate and House investigation into 9/11) and immediately called for them to be released to the public:

    [2.5 min. video of speech, followed by this]

    By way of background, the former Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, outside adviser to the CIA, and Co-Chair of the congressional investigation into 9/11 – Bob Graham – says:

    I have personally talked to the other cochair of the Congressional Joint Inquiry, a man who was a very distinguished congressman and, later, director of the CIA [Porter Goss], I have talked to the two chairs of the … 9/11 Commission, asking them, what do you think were the prospects of these 19 people being able to plan, practice, and execute the complicated plot that was 9/11 without any external support?

    All three of them used almost the same word: “Implausible”. That it is implausible that that could have been the case.

    [read the rest]

    I’ve been saying this for about 10 years now:

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-16/stop-feeding-high-school-students-the-myth-that-college-is-right-for-everyone#r=read

    Let’s Start Telling Young People the Whole Truth About College

    The idea that college is appropriate—essential, even—for all Americans is a myth. We’ve been told there are no decent jobs without a college education. While unemployment among recent college grads is 8.5 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute, if you dig into the numbers you’ll find that 46 percent of them consider themselves “mal-employed.” Translation: They’re working largely in retail and entry-level hospitality, jobs that do not require their college degree.

    [further down]

    Steering every high school graduate toward college without conversations about viable alternatives constricts their future, condemns many to failure, and puts many more into unnecessary debt.

    [read the rest, if interested]

    ___________

    Once NTHE was established, the entire enterprise of civilization became moot.

  • The latest post in this space is a series of video clips based on several hours of interviewing. Catch it here.

  • In the context of why there’s so much abuse church, etc.,

    Seriously, does any expect that adopting a fetish towards some capricious deity that demands obligatory subjugatory homage labeled as “love” under the threat of violence– that this fantasy WOULDN’T encourage abuse? The religion itself is abuse.

    In the contex of Guy’s interview:

    Listened to a bit of that last night. The most disturbing element that stood out to me was(and is) largely the complete lack of comprehension of why Guy might feel that his efforts to demonstrate a more “sustainable” style of living was a grave mistake, and why he might regret the decision. Having done much the same thing in 2007– I REALLY empathize with that–but it’s very discouraging to see demonstrated in such a fundamental way how people who may share, at some level, similar concerns, are so rarely able to take the next step from concerns to conscious action. . .in fact it’s so rare that such behavior isn’t even understood. There’s this romanticism towards the minimalist rural lifestyle that’s very prevalent among privileged urbanites enjoying all the immediately accessible pleasures of empire– pining over lattes for the wholesome nature of the simple life– not understanding that such lifestyles are nine tenths drudgery, physical hard work for very little return, intellectually stultifying, alienating, and prospect-less. Which is why, of course, most all our ancestors fled the land for the city as they were able. . .It’s reasonable to take on such a project against one’s own interests for a cause perhaps–even courageous and noble–but it’s hard to wake to the realization that such personal sacrifices were made to basically no good end. I’ve got to say I feel much the same way.

  • @ Grant:
    Yes, people are people. “Beware the beast man…”

    It seems the early tribes of humans worshiped the sun and the moon and the earth and nature and the four winds, etc., etc., etc. And, as Jay W. Fitz says, their beliefs eventually became more complex – with The Sun becoming Zeus and The Moon becoming Artemis… Blah, Blah, Blah.

    My first Scuba Instructor taught us about wearing wetsuits – even though we were diving in warm tropical waters, our bodies would lose a lot of heat and we would be chilled, especially when we were doing 3 and 4 dives a day for a week. Essentially, our bodies were trying to heat the ocean.

    Life – the way it really is – is a battle not between Bad and Good but between Bad and Worse.
    Joseph Brodsky

  • @ Jay W. Fitz:
    Yes, futility is ever-present. No wonder so many of us suffer from Depression! Better to be living a futile life in egregious comfort than struggling in a mud hut, I guess.

    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
    It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
    Bob Dylan

  • Well, personally I never allow myself to entertain the notion of futility, as it’s a deadly trap. . .No one has access to a level of knowledge complete enough to declare any given strategy as “futile” with certainty– but the second one allows the indulgence of “futility” to become operative– well, now you have a self-fulfilling prophecy and “futility” becomes one’s reality. So I disallow those thoughts, personally. Deliberately, in fact, and would encourage others to do the same. No moralizing here, it’s much the same reason I wouldn’t have anything to do with opiates– I’d get hooked immediately as I’d really enjoy the effect, and the substance would become my reality, and it’s not a reality I want.

    I think it’s definitely important to guard one’s emotional state(and viability) by engaging in activities that force a ownership of the future, even if it’s irrational(maybe like taking vitamin supplements, eh?) For me that’s been planting trees, or working ever to develop my musicianship, or making wines that I won’t get to enjoy for a couple of years. Maybe another sailboat, a real doomstead ship– we’ll see. Trying to figure out what to do, the new wife and I talk about it a lot but we’re about to act on these choices in some real way. . .Not sure if my Hawaii acreage is part of it or not– if someone would be interested in 9 acres on the Big Island decked out in bananas and coffee with a couple cabins and a shop. . .temperate cloud forest environment with good rainfall at 2200 feet. . .I imagine my newer truck and tools could be part of the deal. . .if the right deal came along I’d consider it. It’s off-grid and completely turn-key.

  • J.W.: Guy explained in more one of his videos that his mistake was in moving to the interior of a large N. Am. continent where temps will rise higher more quickly than on the coasts. This translates to: “My new home will probably become uninhabitable sooner than if I had moved to the coast, or S. Am.” I believe that was what he was conveying.

    Why would you be wanting to vacate Hawaii? That would be a great place to end ones’ days imho.

  • Hi Tom,

    Actually, not so interested in vacating Hawaii, it’s just that my current project isn’t large enough to fulfill my ultimate vision, and we’re looking to potentially pick up a larger parcel in the same area. I’ve high confidence that the area is as viable as anywhere in the world for a long as possible– and for a lot of reasons. It would be near impossible to improve upon. Having spent most of the last decade there, I’ve got the major mistakes behind me and have the courage to take on something a bit larger. . .so we’re considering it if the opportunity presents itself.

    Sorry if I’m bending the rules on posting here– done for the day!

  • JW,

    As a non-participating bystander, I like hearing about sailboat building. So if you feel like sharing your plans and activities around it, I for one would be fascinated.

  • Grant writes: The whole “living in harmony with nature” is just as farcical as the Garden of Eden. People are people wherever you go. Just because so many tribes were effectively wiped out that doesn’t mean they were gentle stewards of the land. Humans are both herd animals and apex predators. Being unbalanced is our very nature.

    >>>

    One of the most haunting of Neil Young’s songs, “Cortez the Killer” is a good example of the meme of primitivism, aka “the noble savage”.

    Here are the lyrics, all chock-a-block full of the primitivist meme:

    >>>

    “Cortez The Killer”

    He came dancing across the water
    With his galleons and guns
    Looking for the new world
    In that palace in the sun.

    On the shore lay Montezuma
    With his coca leaves and pearls
    In his halls he often wondered
    With the secrets of the worlds.

    And his subjects
    gathered ’round him
    Like the leaves around a tree
    In their clothes of many colors
    For the angry gods to see.

    And the women all were beautiful
    And the men stood
    straight and strong
    They offered life in sacrifice
    So that others could go on.

    Hate was just a legend
    And war was never known
    The people worked together
    And they lifted many stones.

    They carried them
    to the flatlands
    And they died along the way
    But they built up
    with their bare hands
    What we still can’t do today.

    And I know she’s living there
    And she loves me to this day
    I still can’t remember when
    Or how I lost my way.

    He came dancing across the water
    Cortez, Cortez
    What a killer.

    >>>

    “Hate was just a legend
    And war was never known
    The people worked together
    And they lifted many stones.”

    And…here’s the REAL story:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_conquest_of_the_Aztec_Empire

  • Not about to argue Neil Young’s failures at history, it’s still a cool song. But yes, the “let’s be just like the Indians and everything will be okay” is a horribly simplistic approach and most likely disastrous. And it’s frequently disingenuous.

    I’m off to survive in the wilderness. Just me and my wits. And the camera crew. And their food truck. And the helicopter for those sweeping shots of the vistas. The director and the sound engineer as well. The video editing team and the voice overs will be done in studio nightly. But other than that, it’s man and nature in a battle of survival. So there’s the naturalist there as well to make sure that mushroom won’t kill me. But that’s it. Though my wife and kids are tagging along too. But the camera is only on me. So you can really feel what it’s like to be out in the wilderness, all alone.

  • “The cult of reverence for the Plains Indians always ignores that they didn’t get along terribly well with each other, that the reason the great plans existed in the first place instead of an unending forest is because the great plains were created by people in order to hunt game more effectively and that romanticizing a primitive people without a written record is far easier than romanticizing a primitive people who wrote in length about their conquests, rapes, murders, and general glory to the One True God, be that Odin, Zeus or the God of Abraham.

    “The whole “living in harmony with nature” is just as farcical as the Garden of Eden.”

    Nonsense and racist. Grant, people with your perspective have no clue whatsoever as to what constitutes “just people” and what “living in harmony” constitutes, either.

    They did live in greater harmony. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t manage parts of it. They still lived in greater harmony, especially compared to this culture which is primarily white, northern European. In fact, the degree of greater harmony was beyond significant. It was literally the difference between life and death of the whole world. They did have a far greater respect within their cultures for nature. I know for a fact they did. I am 61 years old. I am a bit more than one-eighth American Indian. As a child I was the youngest of five generations until about my 8th birthday. My great-great-grandmother and my great-grandmother were both full-blood people from Indian territory, born in the early 1860s and the late 1880s, respectively, and speaking their own language. I had a large, extended Indian family, and two of my great-grandmother’s brothers lived to their late 80s, as did she, and I had them in my life until I was in my mid-20s. She was my primary caregiver when I was very small, and most of the rest of the time I lived with my grandmother, not as much a traditional woman but very Indian in her identity and appearance.

    I know exactly how they looked at nature, because I heard it all the time. Meanwhile, I was not dark, did not look obviously Indian, and I grew up in California in the San Joaquin Valley and in all respects most of the time, but not always, to the outside world I was Caucasian unless I spoke up and said something. I have lived in both worlds forever.

    Yes they respected nature a lot more. They were teaching me about nature and gardening and other traditional ways of living in the world from the age of three. No, their perspective was not in the least sentimental. It was not a fantasy they were living. On the contrary, they could be very, very hard people. My great-grandmother would kill anything she saw that was suffering, or sick and a danger to other animals. She was not a rescuer of wild animals, taking in injured ravens or anything like that. On the contrary, they were indifferent to the suffering they saw in much of the animal kingdom.

    I was not. Maybe it came with the all the greater white man in me, but I remember as a child I routinely burst into tears at the sight of a cat catching a bird, or an animal dead beside the road. They would get these looks on their faces like they thought I might be from some other planet, or possibly missing something critical, and they would say to me, “But, Honey, that’s Nature!” That said everything to them.

    “That’s Nature” means, “it’s reality, it rules,” and “You’re going to have a hard time in life if you continue this way, because that is what goes on.” I like to think of the scene in Last of the Mohicans where Wes Studi’s “Magua” has killed Uncas and is walking along the ledge, Alice behind. She stops, clearly considering following Uncas into the abyss below. “Magua” encourages her to stay with him with an eloquent motion of his had and with his expression. She falls. He looks down for a moment like, Hmmm, and turns around and goes on. That is what the old ones in my family were like. Wes Studi understood how to do that from his own experience with elders.

    See, I don’t sentimentalize Indians, because I really know what they’re like. In addition to my personal experiences living with the real thing, Indians who didn’t speak English until they were older, and who lived in Indian Territory before it was Oklahoma, I think I actually have a pretty good understanding of exactly how they are “just people,” and how they did, indeed, live in greater harmony with Nature. No, it was not some orgasmic fantasy of Eden that they lived in. People use that truth to dismiss their many, many achievements. Furthermore, what they did with nature was “Science,” caps intended. They didn’t do “science” the way this culture does. They were very, very sophisticated agriculturalists, among many other things.

    You call them “primitive.” Really? You’re so confident of that, because of course, it’s so obvious? They were a people without writing, but I’ve written before that they understood sexual reproduction of plants and were purposely hybridizing plants when Europeans had no clue how pollination worked or how to develop new species on purpose. That’s “Science,” and they were more advanced on that score. The Mayans were better astronomers. Who was more “primitive” there? They were practicing birth and population control, with more than 200 different herbs throughout the western hemisphere. I have a lot of person experience with their perspective on that, because of course, I had my great-grandmother until I was 24, and by my late teens they had made certain I understood my options for controlling having children, including abortion. No, they were not sentimental about it either. In fact, their pragmatism cannot be overstated.

    Mexico City at the time of Cortez as large as any European city and it was cleaner with more sophisticated methods for waste removal of all kinds. But they were “primitive”?

    They had sophisticated philosophies of morality and justice, and government, which we all know had significant influence on American government. But they were “primitive.”

    I do not see it. I don’t see that they were so “primitive” even if they didn’t have writing and guns. To me they were not more “primitive” that white Europeans, but a lot of white Europeans and people of European ancestry can’t seem to see it any other way. Nothing makes a difference to them, because of their delusion of superiority. They really have no idea how much this culture has stolen, including the science that they think they “discovered,” but in fact was acquired by them through contact with Native Americans.

    I was with a friend once and it was really, really cold outside. I was wearing the office dress of the day, and trying to keep warm in temps in the teens while wearing a wool coat and a skirt. My friend decided to tease me about being Indian and he asked me what “we” did to keep warm before white people got here. I thought about it for a moment, and I replied, “We all wore fur coats.” The response of this Harvard, Yale attorney? He actually snorted, and said, “Yeah! Right!” Because everyone knows the stupid Indians were too primitive to even be able to keep warm in the winter, was the idea he held.

    No, we wore furs. Beautiful furs, in fact. I said “fur coats” because it was the function that fur coats serve, but fur is how they did it. Still do in cold climates. I see it every day that I go out in the winter.

    I’ve continued to live with Native Americans, working in Indian Health Service in Alaska, traveling to villages and interacting with Native people daily, people who still speak their own languages, who still subsistence hunt and fish, and gather berries in the summer and fall.

    Yes, they are just people. Some of them are tall, some are short, and most in between. Some are stupid, some brilliant, and most are average, just like everyone else. Some are kind and genuine saints, and some are vile and psychopathic, and most are like everyone else, taking up the majority of the bell curve, and capable of being both kind and selfish, aware and dense, and subject to their immediate pressures and circumstances.

    But to look at all that and say that their greater harmony with nature was (1) a myth, or (2) only existed because they were so “primitive,” is simply not true. They were not primitive. They were and remain very sophisticated in a number of ways, and they did have a beautiful relationship with the world around them. And it was not sentimental. In fact, it was quite hard, and at times cold.

    For me, as a young child I always wondered why my own family was always so standoffish and clannish with each other. We did not socialize like our neighbors did. I remember going to my little friends’ houses in the late 50s and early 60s and their smiling, mothers were always so nice! I wanted a nice, smiling family like that. My family was far more critical, far more demanding. They had the tradition of not letting people get “puffed up” so to speak. They tended to discourage too much self-esteem in children and young people. I needed years of therapy because of it. Not all Indians are that way, and my great-grandmother was not, but even here in Alaska it is a very, very crucial cultural standard that people not be braggarts, think they are too smart, or too special.

    And of course, they all had PTSD from generational trauma.

    No, I am not sentimental about Native people. But I will tell you this, it is disturbing sometimes to encounter the racism in the attitudes of white Americans, a racism that people blithely believe is just “reality,” and especially people who are so confident in their understanding because of academic qualifications or because they read someone with academic qualifications. I am not impressed with academics and never have been. It took me forever to get through school because so much of it really is nonsensical. They are unable to see. They are overly abstract and intellectual, thinking their thoughts and understandings really are the God’s Truth but it’s an atheist God. They lack the vocabulary to describe what Indian people are and were like.

    I don’t see that Native Americans were primitive. I see tremendous wisdom, and love of life and love of the earth and all nature in them. I have heard it from traditional people my entire life that nature is to be respected. As a teenager in the late 60s my great-great-uncle was lamenting the destruction of the land, of the animals, and of the Indian people, and assured me that I had to watch out for the “white man,” which is different from “white men.” The book “Touch the Earth” is a collection of statements by American Indians dating back to the earliest contacts that were recorded, and their words were always about their love of earth, and I still hear such statements of love from Athabascan, Yupik, Aleut, Tlingit et al people here. Respect for nature was paramount to their way of life.

    I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I have worked as a legal secretary, as a technician in engineering, and I worked in Indian Health Service for more than a dozen years in positions that required my education.

    I do see the European cultures as being primitive in their own rights, every bit as primitive as the Indians were in their ways. And I think the Indians were far more advanced than the Europeans were in a number of life-satisfaction levels, including more egalitarian societies, less environmental destruction (which is still true, and I just don’t get why it remains so invisible to so many white people), more peace with the world around them. Yes, they fought amongst themselves.

    But at least they were smart enough not to kill the planet, too. They were that smart, and they weren’t anywhere near as impressed with technology as Europeans, it is not their great standard for “intelligence” or happiness, and no one who has not lived with them can ever understand them. It’s not possible. It is an entirely different world view, and yes it is less exploitive, and it is still going on in Indian country all over North America.

    But this is what is the worst of all: Europeans in one way or another were responsible for the deaths of probably 98% or even more of all Native American in North America, and the numbers were in the millions. And regardless of whether Natives lived some idyllic standard in the minds of non-natives that would finally qualify Indian people as something other than “primitive,” white people in this country killed them faster than anyone could find out about them. And when descendants of those invaders who slaughtered all the Indians, or the people who came later and benefited from their genocide, theorize and intellectualize how bad the Indians would have been if “they’d had the technology,” and how destructive they would have been “if they hadn’t been so ‘primitive'” is morally repulsive in the extreme. The only reason we cannot know the truth is because they and their world were destroyed so quickly and so thoroughly.

    It’s not enough that the level of destruction toward them was so extreme, we must malign their social decency and their cultural strengths as well, things that would not even be debatable if they hadn’t been treated as they were. Why would anyone even want to theorize about how destructive they would have been if only . . . and especially considering the unholy truth that we can know, and it is what was done to them. We can know that. And it’s ugly. Maybe that’s why so many European Americans like to contemplate every other abstract possibility concerning the Indians, and what they were really doing and desperate to label all truths about them as “myth” and “romanticizing,” and especially emphasizing that they were “just people,” because the truth really is so heinous and horrific.

  • Hippie: I used the word “primitive” to describe the Norse, Greeks and ancient Israelis as well, but that didn’t fit in with your long winded response so it was ignored. Talk about racist and ignorant.

    I didn’t mention the Aztecs in my first post, but the plains Indians. The Aztecs were mentioned in conjunction with the Neil Young song, Cortez the Killer. Cortez was aided by other native groups because no one liked the Aztecs and seeing them wiped out was considered a good thing. That Cortez looked like one of their gods and that the Aztecs fought to capture people for sacrifice while the Spanish fought people in order to kill them didn’t help matters any.

    As for you parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, all you have to go by is their anecdotes of how things were. The damn French fur trappers lived in greater harmony than this society did too, what does that have to do with the price of sugar?

    Because there is no written record of how the Plains Indians actually lived before smallpox was wiping them out, we have no idea how well they got along with anything. It’s all a goddamn guess. We can assume various things because the European settlers wrote about them, but your grandma’s tales of the Old Days are just as romanticized as my grandma’s tales of the Old Days when she was talking about her pappy fighting in the Civil War. An Ohio regiment for what that’s worth.

    Are people destroying the planet with reckless abandon now? You bet they are. But that doesn’t mean Indians weren’t stampeding buffalo over cliffs to kill them, setting fire to great stretches of land in order to hunt deer easily and delighting in torturing their enemies… just like any other people on the planet.

    That the Indians had the misfortune of meeting white people is an entirely different subject.

  • You know, if the Native people did NOT manipulate their environment, it just proves they were too primitive to do so. If they did manipulate their environment, it “proves” that Indian people were “destructive, just like all humans,” blah, blah, blah. Notice how either way they are inferior humans. The answer could NEVER POSSIBLY be that they really were intelligent, perceptive and lived in their environment very differently. By the way, that is the answer, it is not a myth, and I am fully qualified to know that.

    Furthermore, this culture would still be a lot closer to 1492, as unwashed and lacking in insight as it was then, without the tremendous wealth that was taken from the “new world.” It was plunder and murder that allowed Europeans, great cooperators that we are, to develop our new God, materialistic science, which is basically just measuring things and calling it understanding and education. I’ve been educated in both worlds. I was even an exceptional student in California in the 60s and 70s, with a high I.Q., and stellar SATs and other test scores. I’m not as impressed with Western uncivilization’s version of “education,” “progress,” or all the vacuous theories about things they don’t really know. This culture teaches worship of the human capacity for abstraction, and yet does not understand it. How many here in response to my posts have decided to tell me what constitutes reality and how to find meaning. I find your ideas to be continued fundamentalism, your new religion that you don’t think is a religion. You’re atheists now, but you still know more than everyone else about “reality.” About how “people are.” Because you read it in a book and people with influence in your culture have said so.

    But someone like me comes along, someone who actually knows, and you genuinely believe that I’m romanticizing, believing in a myth.

    No. The myth is that white guys are smart as they think they are. That is the myth. The myth is that you know these things, that you do not know. That’s the myth. Your reality is the myth. Not ours. Yours. Europeans have always been destructive people, at least since Rome. That continent was trashed and devoid of forests and native fauna by the middle ages. So they find a people who have a beautiful land, one they love, one full of life, and Indians are “primitive.” Because that land couldn’t have been the way it was because they wanted it that way, right? They weren’t that smart. Right?

    Someone isn’t smart, but I don’t think it’s them.

  • No Grant, it was not “anecdotes.” It was living, and learning their values. Native people still have their traditional values all over the continent. They aren’t things that died in 1890.

    So far as, “But that doesn’t mean Indians weren’t stampeding buffalo over cliffs to kill them, setting fire to great stretches of land in order to hunt deer easily and delighting in torturing their enemies… just like any other people on the planet. ”

    Of course it doesn’t mean that they were never destructive. Even so, even with the finds of animal remains, they were still smarter, and they still lived in greater harmony and had far greater respect for nature. It’s not a story they told me. It’s how they taught me to live in the world. It’s not history. It’s not abstract. I also said that I have worked with tribes throughout Alaska.

    You reduce it all down to a level of “they killed buffalo by running them off a cliff.” So what? So what? That doesn’t mean they didn’t live in greater harmony, because they did. It means they weren’t your culture’s fantasy of perfection, the lack of you seem to think means that they could not have achieved anything attributed to them. It’s not true.

  • Guy can kill me for this site’s purposes for too many posts. Not being able to post here will not be the worst thing to happen to me.

    You know, Grant, I did not describe a single anecdote in my long winded post. Not one. I described the values I grew up with, which were values of greater harmony with the earth, something that in this thread was called a “myth.” By you, in fact. It’s not a myth. It’s true, and it’s not a story I heard, it’s how I was raised. It’s how they really thought.

    Do you not know the difference between an anecdote and values, personal and social values? How can two people such as we talk when you dismiss me based on an anecdote I never gave? I don’t believe we can.

    This forum has always been this way. You are a hard group with your mainstream ways. Really hard. You think far more of your evaluations and judgments, your view of “reality” than I do.

    Sorry, Guy. Really. I felt the need to speak on this. I’ll go away now for a long time again.

  • @ Grant

    The order of magnitude of capitalism’s destructive capacity is leagues ahead of primitive socialist societies which is what much of early civil society was arranged around, including the indigenous Americans.

    Capitalism is a global juggernaut heading for a confrontation on a planetary scale, these earlier systems were localised and short lived in their impacts.

  • Ram states: “The order of magnitude of capitalism’s destructive capacity is leagues ahead of primitive socialist societies which is what much of early civil society was arranged around, including the indigenous Americans.”

    There is no debate about that. None. That isn’t the issue I was addressing.

    This issue here is Hippie’s remarks like this: “You know, if the Native people did NOT manipulate their environment, it just proves they were too primitive to do so. If they did manipulate their environment, it “proves” that Indian people were “destructive, just like all humans,” blah, blah, blah. Notice how either way they are inferior humans.”

    Not once do I indicate that Indians are inferior, that’s all in his head, not mine.

    It is impossible to fully know any of the Plain Indians thoughts because they were so effectively wiped out. It is impossible to speculate on what would have happened if the New World had never been discovered. To speculate that it would have remained a pristine wilderness with humans living in harmony with nature is only a speculation. Isolated tribes in the Amazon delta cannot be set as examples for the whole of the Western hemisphere.

    Like it or not, the Aztecs and Incas were not nice people. Neither were the Utes. Wars took place. Competition happened. Jealousy existed. There was fear and anger. My point is that people are people. I’m not even arguing against white people being the worst examples of humanity either. All I’m saying is that constant, endless praise of the Native American peoples is misguided, romanticized and pointless considering the situation we’re in now.

  • Grant,

    I think old hippie is female.

    OOH,

    You appear to be doing a fine job defending your points, something I can only look at with envy. 🙂

  • the Aztecs and Incas were not nice people.

    I can easily excuse them. The Americans and Israelis CANNOT be excused or forgiven. They are informed and educated and know fully what they are doing.

    Mangled trees were bent over, children’s shoes — a girl’s purple slipper, a boy’s blue flip-flop — mixed in with the rubble underfoot.

    An entire apartment building of several floors was still ablaze, the fire burning on the ground floor and covering the facade with black soot.

    And there were bodies lying in the streets.

    Some were burnt almost beyond recognition, whole appendages missing.

    One man in his houserobes was completely charred black except for his internal organs, which were starkly yellow against the coal colour of the rest of his body.

    http://news.yahoo.com/gazas-shejaiya-moonscape-strewn-bodies-145951100.html

  • [quote]the Aztecs and Incas were not nice people.

    I can easily excuse them. The Americans and Israelis CANNOT be excused or forgiven. They are informed and educated and know fully what they are doing.[/quote]

    The Aztecs cut out hearts to appease their gods. The US is backing Israeli actions in the hope this will bring about the Second Coming of Christ. The Israelis are murdering people wholesale because they figure it’s their divine right as the Chosen People.

    So despite the technological advancements and speed in which we can now kill, it’s still cutting out hearts to appease the gods.

  • @ Grant

    The US is backing Israeli actions in the hope this will bring about the Second Coming of Christ.

    I don’t think these people are all Biblical Literalists who believe in the 2nd Coming

    US Senate *Unanimously* Passes Resolution Supporting Israeli Assault on Gaza

    http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/us-senate-unanimously-passes-resolution.html

  • Cultural anthropologist Michael Harner taught a course on cultural ecology, which I attended. He not only spoke about the Aztec ceremonial killing; he believed they were done to produce more protein for the population. I have not since tried to follow up on what others thought. But a more straightforward point was that cultures evolve in stages. The Aztecs and Incas might have been at a later stage of cultural evolution. They had cities and empires. So I’m not sure they should be lumped together with Plains Indians.

  • @Grant

    Agreed, pre-Reason social relations weren’t exactly a picnic. Nonetheless, the runaway train of consumer excess (capitalism) is pretty terminal, species wise as far as we go so it’s hardly unsurprising that some would find early forms of social order preferable. What are the choices? Reason based communitarian arrangements (communism) are pretty unpalatable with the vast majority of heavily conditioned minds.

    Basically, the early legacy of revolutionary thought has been all but lost to us and we are reduced to nostalgia.

  • Ram: And looking backwards as a way to move forward can be instructive, but it has to be placed in reality. The planet is too far gone for anyone to find an island Eden — radiation, pollution and heat don’t obey borders, deeply held beliefs or education. Storm systems really don’t care if you’ve been a good person or not. Food crops won’t appear just because you believe in harmony, justice and peace.

    How one deals with NTE is their own affair. But every day, the NEAR TERM gets closer and in a shockingly short period of time, Extinction won’t need any qualifiers. By the time the human race figures out that we’re all connected and that caring for one another is really the only thing we ever had to do, it won’t matter on bit.

  • Yes, please do. Nobody HERE is interested in any feel-good HG stories.

    Kill Nothing. Live like a wild animal but only eat that which falls from the trees. Kill Nothing. Sleep on the ground. Bathe in the river. Die happy.

    Plant no crops. Build no cities.

  • @Grant

    Objectivity is sadly lacking in political awareness. An audit of our planetary civil system was long overdue 50 years back. We have lived beyond our means and have spent much of that time either navel gazing with nostalgia or living in denial. As a species, we weren’t up to the task of following our evolutionary advantage through and the cosmos is dispassionate in terms of the species it hosts.

  • @a different old hippie

    Thank you so much for speaking on this and for sharing your experiences and knowledge. What you have to say and contribute is very important and appreciated, and I very much hope to hear more from you.

    I believe learning from cultures that lived for thousands of years on their land bases is important considering the current culture is going to kill virtually the entire planet in less than two centuries.

    We need voices and experiences outside of this culture, even if we are beyond all hope, maybe even especially so in that case.

  • The continued debate on the “Noble Savage” is not worth our time. You may as well lament the passing of the dinosaurs.

    The cosmos is dispassionate – yes indeed.

    What was begun in the beginning will end in the end.

  • @ goavs

    Beware of what you wish for.

  • Be the change you want to see in the world, Mahatma Gandhi once said. But to be the change one has to be emotionally invested, one has to care and one has to care enough to want to sacrifice.

    The unpleasant reality is that the general public does not care about the distant future and people are unwilling to make sacrifices for issues of no immediate concern to them.
    This, of course, is as much the result of people’s general indifference and apathy as much as it is a consequence of the campaign of misinformation the public has been subjected to for half a century
    by a leadership bent on deceiving rather than informing us.

    Faced with such an enormous problem, people would rather find scapegoats than having to assume responsibility.
    This human weakness translates on the political arena of the
    developing world in its refusal to admit that it has
    an overpopulation problem so as to avoid having to overcome the painful moral struggle required by depopulation measures, while in the developed world it translates into a refusal to change consumption patterns and a way of life that is hard to alter.
    There are no heroes to be found when what is required is to throw oneself in front of a runaway train.
    There are no heroes to be found when the enemies that need to be faced are ignorance, prejudice and apathy.