We're overdue for a shift toward a more just, cooperative and ecologically sustainable culture.
If not now, when?
- All around the world, we find ourselves in a tangle of problems - economic, cultural, ecological and political. When we look clearly & fearlessly at these serious global issues, it helps ease the way. Helps us understand what changes are needed, so that we can live in better harmony with each other, and with nature as well.
as you move through this site, see what grabs your attention. We hope you'll be inspired to
take action. Feel free to share and adapt "naturallypeaceful " following the terms of its creative commons license.
- Let's learn to live more lightly on Earth, our beautiful home.
Thank you. Together we magnify and enhance the growing wave of peace.
"We live in a kind of dark age, craftily lit with synthetic light, so that no one can tell how dark it has really gotten. But our exiled spirits can tell. Deep in our bones resides an ancient singing couple who just won't give up making their beautiful, wild noise. The world won't end if we can find them." Martin Prechtel ( contemporary Pan American shaman)
This quote is tacked up on our fridge door, alongside postcards, family photos, and grand kids' artwork.
I love it because it captures post modern life so well.
Here we are - immersed in a dazzling, super-sized world. So very sculpted and fast and furious!
Sometimes, it's sheer complexity overwhelms our sense of what we know to be real, natural and precious.
Hello! Life is way out of whack! http://robertcarson.webs.com/
If you don't know it intellectually, you probably feel it in your gut, or your heart. Just look at the evidence:
* Habitat destruction is rampant. We've got rapidly growing deserts, melting glaciers, logged off rain forests, and dead zones in our oceans.
* Species of plants and animals are dying off at ever increasing rates. Wildlife populations are down to about a half of what they were in 1970!
* Income inequality is growing rapidly. "The richest 1% of the population control nearly half of the world's total wealth." The 80 wealthiest people own $1.9 trillion altogether, while over 50% of the world's population lives in crushing poverty on about $2.50 US per day. NYTimes 1/19/2015
* Teens who should be in the height of their natural vitality suffer with record rates of suicide, anxiety, depression and obesity.
* We're flooded with entertainment and advertising that glorifies violence, decadent materialism, crime and porn, and makes it seem all too commonplace in society.
* The world is bristling with weapons, from millions of small armaments to vast stores of nuclear bombs.
* My country, the good ole USA, imprisons 1 out of every 100 citizens -
more per capita than any other nation in the world. We have more prisoners than farmers!
I could go on and on.
No doubt there are issues you'd add to this list yourself.
We don't need to look far to see that things aren't as they should be.
Rich or poor, believer or skeptic, regardless of your race, creed or political affiliation,
you know this isn't the way things are supposed to be.
We stand at a crossroad.
We've got ourselves into a convergence of problems
- ecological, political, economic and cultural -
in an increasingly complex, polarized, and energy dependent world.
"The ecological and social crises we face are inflamed by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits -- in other words by how fast materials can be extracted from Earth and turned into consumer products, weapons, and waste."
Continuing on, with business as usual, won't resolve our dilemma.
"A revolution is underway, because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs." ... "We are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia long sleep, to a new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other."
Joana Macy - a contemporary Buddhist teacher and scholar - has labeled this time as The Great Turning.
She says ...."this is a most extraordinary and beautiful moment. Because in this moment we can make a choice for loving life and taking care of each other."
"Whether or not it is recognized by corporate-controlled media, the Great Turning is a reality. Although we cannot know yet if it will take hold in time for humans and other complex life forms to survive, we can know that it is under way. And it is gaining momentum, through the actions of countless individuals and groups around the world. To see this as the larger context of our lives clears our vision and summons our courage." The Great Turning
We are making the shift from a competitive, profit-based, industrial society to a cooperative, life sustaining civilization in harmony with nature. Here and now, in our highly connected, post modern world, we have the capacity to look at our history, learn from our mistakes and set a new course.
* CHANGE IS HAPPENING * REST ASSURED * CHANGE IS CONSTANT *
* REST ASSURED * CHANGE IS CONSTANT * CHANGE IS HAPPENING *
Like it or not, a major shift is right at hand. We'll want to
stay level headed, so that we can adapt and make the much needed adjustments, big and little.
We can't give in to fear.
When we're fearful, we tend to regress & fall prey to muddled thinking. Fear makes us more susceptible to manipulation by the powers that be.
Courage helps us look realistically at our shared reality on this beautiful planet.
"Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier." Elanor Roosevelt
* We can choose to work cooperatively & re-embrace nature's way.
... slowing down to nature's pace.
... living much more lightly on the Earth.
... protecting and preserving our natural resources. ... consuming less and sharing more, so we all can live with a modicum of comfort and dignity.
"Living with less is crucial, not only to ecological survival, but to long-term human fulfillment." ( "All My Bones Shake" by Robert Jensen)
* We can decolonize our minds, and distance ourselves from the false values foisted on us by this greedy, power hungry, and imperialistic form of capitalism that is all around us ... embedded and intertwined in so many aspects of our lives.
* We can rapidly re-localize our lives, our economies, and our food sources, and quit relying on vast amounts of non-renewable energy to move products and people around the globe.
"Across the world millions of people are actively resisting the process of corporate globalization while simultaneously creating viable local alternatives in the here and now. This powerful emerging movement represents a radical departure from 'business as usual'... Proponents of this approach call for 'small scale on a large scale' rather than one-size-fits-all, 'too big to fail' blueprints. (localfutures.org)
"In countless localities, like green shoots pushing up through the rubble, new social and economic arrangements are sprouting." (Joanna Macy)
An example is the Incredible Edible movement, which encourages urban gardening and radical community building. They have no paid staff, no buildings and no public funding. In the UK, these groups' collective success has begun to directly influence decision-makers on both a local and national level. http://www.incredibleediblenetwork.org.uk/
* We can heal & transform ourselves, our families and communities. Let's face it - most of us could use some mending. It's hard not to feel damaged, living in a fundamentally broken culture. Fortunately, the collective wisdom of the ages is available in this amazing technological age. There's a whole world of knowledge out there to help us heal our bodies, psyches and spirits.
- Green Up - Power Down -
When we see the big picture clearly, we can embrace the lifestyle and cultural changes needed to live in better harmony with the planet and each other.
As we heal ourselves, we naturally begin to reweave the supportive bonds of family and community. We become one with the welcoming wave of peace and justice that encircles the globe. We join with the millions who long to move beyond a world of continuous warring, cut-throat corporate profiteering and rapacious resource extraction.
Yes, it's time to wake up and face the facts. KARMA IS REAL.
We reap what we sew. And just look at the results: All our fabulous technology & industry has created quite a toxic stew in our air, soil and water!
" More than 30 years of environmental health studies have led to a growing consensus that chemicals are playing a role in the incidence and prevalence of many diseases and disorders in our country, including:
* Leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers, which have increased by more than 20% since 1975.
* Breast cancer, the incidence of which went up by 40% between 1973 and 1998. A woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer is now one in eight.
* Asthma, which approximately doubled in prevalence from 1980 and 1995, and has continued to rise. In 2009, nearly 1 in 12 Americans had asthma. * Difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy affected 40% more women in 2002 than in 1982. The incidence of reported difficulty has almost doubled in younger women, ages 18-25.
* Learning and developmental disabilities, including autism and ADHD affect nearly 1 in 6 in U.S. children. Between 1997 and 2008, the prevalence of autism increased nearly 300% nationally.
"A growing number of everyday products - including some bug sprays, cleaning fluids and flame-retardant furniture - could lead to an increased risk of brain and behavioral disorders in children." TIME 3/3/2014
The EPA has been able to require testing on just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals produced and used in the U.S., and just five chemicals have been regulated under this law. saferchemicals.org
Look at the 72,000 tons of radioactive nuclear waste lying in storage in the U.S.
Vast amounts of nuclear waste - much of it in aging, over-crowded facilities - with the potential to poison life for generations to come. ( The waste remains dangerous for tens of thousands of years into the future !) The amount of waste keeps growing at the nation's 104 operating reactors at a rate of 2,200 tons every year.
As of April 2015, the nuclear reactors that were damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan are still leaking radiation. "Radioactive water is leaking out of this plant as fast as it's leaking in. So, you've got ... as much as a 1000 tons of water a day leaking off of the mountains around Fukushima into the basement of this plant. Well, the basement is highly radioactive because the containment has failed and radioactive material is leaking out from the nuclear core into the other buildings. That's being exposed to this clean groundwater and making it extraordinarily radioactive. And the problem is going to get worse." (nuclear-energy consultant Arnie Gundersen) The radiation is spilling out of Fukushima into an ever-growing radioactive plume in the Pacific Ocean.
What about the hundreds of millions of gallons of oil that spilled as a result of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in 2010? How long will the oil, along with the millions of gallons of toxic dispersants that were applied, continue to damage marine and seashore wildlife habitats?
When problems such as these are not fully addressed, they don't just magically go away. No, in fact, the problems we ignore just get bigger & bigger and demand our attention!
The World Meteorological Organization has stated that the recent heat waves, droughts and flooding events fit with predictions based on global warming for the 21st century.
It is predicted that future climate changes will include:
Twelve of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000.
* Sea level rise ... perhaps three feet in the coming century. With about half the world's population of seven billion people living near coastlines, a 3 foot sea level rise would endanger cities around the globe, including New York, London, Shanghai, Venice, Sydney, Miami and New Orleans.
* An increase in the frequency of extreme weather events. The past few years - 2010 to 2017 - have overflowed with extreme weather events:
The monsoon rains that flooded Pakistan in 2010 were the worst in 80 years. More than 21 million people were injured or made homeless as a result of the flooding. In addition, 2010 saw record breaking heat worldwide. Severe temperatures & drought resulted in hundreds of wildfires across Russian. Officials ascribed 11,000 deaths to the heat wave and the peat fires that raged on the capital's outskirts.
In 2011 the U.S. experienced a record of 12 weather disasters, each costing over $1 billion. Fires burned through 34,000 acres in Texas, and 538,000 acres in Arizona, as a result of prolonged drought in the region. In May, one of the deadliest tornadoes in US history killed 161 people in Joplin, MO. The Ohio Valley had triple the normal rainfall, causing major flooding along the Mississippi River.
In 2012 - 2,245 US counties were declared disaster areas because of drought - that amounts to 71% of the country's landmass.
"In 2013, 41 weather disasters totaling at least $1 billion each was a new record for our planet. The most expensive global disaster of 2013 was the June flood in Central Europe, which cost $22 billion."
2014 saw serious flooding world-wide: In April, parts of Florida & Alabama were deluged with 22-26 inches of rain in 24 hours. In May, 3 months' worth of rain fell on Bosnia in three days, creating the worst floods since records began 120 years ago. August saw over 11" of rain fall on Long Island in only 2 hours!
2015 - An Arctic heat wave at the end of December caused temperatures in the North Pole to spike 60 degrees Fahrenheit above the norm for the season. The winter's El Nino event touched off severe floods across South America, displacing more than 150,000 people. South Africa faced its worst drought in a generation, amid soaring temperatures and paltry rainfalls. At least 29 million people in southern African nations face food insecurity, according to UN estimates. (Eco Watch)
2016 - NOAA and NASA analyses show that 2016 was the hottest year on record globally. The extreme heat - both in the air and oceans - put significantly extra moisture in the air, which then came down as more extreme downpours. Flooding killed hundreds of people and caused $50 billion in losses, from Louisiana and West Virginia to China, India, Europe and the Sudan.
Areas of drought worsened as the warmer air robbed more water from the ground. Droughts parched croplands and wildfires burned from California to Canada to China and India. (CBS SFBay & Climate Central)
Throughout 2017, extreme weather events reached epic proportions: In January, the Arctic and Australia suffered serious heat waves that melted ice caps and cut power to 40,000 homes. By February, droughts dried out Somalia and lasted the full year. And from August through December, the United States faced hurricane after hurricane after hurricane as well as forest fires and mudslides out West.
There were 16 natural disasters in the U.S. alone, which spawned a new record of more than $306 billion in damages. www.pbs.org/newshour/science/2017-a-year-of-extreme-disaster
Observations show that warming of the climate is unequivocal.
The global warming observed over the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. These emissions come mainly from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), with important contributions from the clearing of forests, agricultural practices, and other activities. While we cannot reverse climate change, we can actively work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down the impacts.
In 2011, Richard Muller - perhaps the leading scientist who expressed doubts about global warming - told the House Science and Technology Committee that, contrary to what he expected, his comprehensive study shows unequivocally that the Earth is warming at an alarming rate. As the team's two-page summary flatly concludes,
"Global warming is real."
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC urges countries to make disaster management plans to adapt to the growing risk of extreme weather linked to human-induced climate change. Some serious concerns include:
* Loss of water resources for millions of people due to melting glaciers. (The loss of north polar ice has accelerated at such a rate that climate modelers expect the Arctic Ocean to be routinely ice-free in September after 2040.)
* Global food supplies put at risk by more frequent extreme weather. (The ongoing drought in East Africa puts 13.3 million lives at risk.)
* Massive changes in plant and animal life, probably including a wave of extinctions. It's estimated that one-fourth of Earth's species could be extinct by 2050.
"The threat of global warming has been recognized at the highest levels of government for more than 25 years." Is it any wonder that the Pentagon considers climate change - not terrorism- to be the greatest threat to our national security?
"Climate change is already beginning to transform life on Earth. Around the globe, seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing and sea levels are rising. And meanwhile, our planet must still supply us and all living things with air, water, food and safe places to live. If we don't act now, climate change will rapidly alter the lands and waters we all depend upon for survival, leaving our children and grandchildren with a very different world." The Nature Conservancy - climate change impacts & threats The Nation Aug 2013 ... The Guardian Aug 20, 22 & Sept 1 2013 ... New York Times Aug 2013 ... Time magazine Dec 26, 2011
"The choice is ours: form a global partnership to care for Earth and one another or risk the destruction of ourselves and the diversity of life. Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living." The Earth Charter
We already know how to move beyond this bloated, unsustainable system.
Fortunately, lots of people have been studying, creating and living alternatives to our energy-intensive, fast-paced consumer culture for quite some time now.
Thank God there are still people all around the globe who've stubbornly maintained their nature-honoring cultures. People who feed and clothe and shelter themselves, using the resources right around them. Folks who still grow food for themselves and their communities, not for profit-driven, multinational organizations.There are even some remaining hunter/gatherers here and there. And thank God for the outsiders and the hippies, the traditionalists, free-thinkers, artists, and risk takers ... everyone who's refused to become cogs in the wheel.
Hopefully folks will want to share their knowledge and experience with us ....
"Bhutan" by John Berthold
Consider the hippies:
Back in the 1960's and 70's, lots of good folks said "no thanks" to the status quo, with its war profiteering, corruption and polluting industry. We saw the potential for things to go haywire, with the power structure left unchecked ... we saw "peak oil" looming in the future, and the dark endgame of the military-industrial complex.
It was a time of cultural ferment and revolution - an exciting, idealistic time to be a young adult. A whole subculture arose around the principles of peace, love, cooperation and justice for all.
We said goodbye to rigid, authoritarian standards for race and gender roles. And explored a wide range of spiritual beliefs. Reconsidered our relationship with the natural world, giving impetus to the growing environmental movement.
Lots of people were experimenting on a grass roots level - rethinking health care ... focusing on workers' rights. Many lived in urban and rural communes. There were a lot of us in those years relearning basic skills, like carpentry and midwifery. All around, folks were building little one or two room cabins & huts with readily available, recycled materials. Some of us worked toward self-sufficiency, tilling the soil and preserving the bounty. We grew a lot of our own food, or gleaned, or bartered for it. Made home-grown music & home-birthed babies.
* We lived well on little *
There was a camaraderie that develops when folks live a shared vision of peace.
But then again, maybe we were right all along, and life really is about peace, love and justice.
In the long run, so much good came out of that wildly experimental time.
Look at the modern organic food movement.
There were lots of us in the baby boom generation who caught the gardening bug, and started growing wholesome, chemical-free fruits and veggies for our families, communes & neighborhood food co-ops. Some folks got really good at it, and started small organic farms. After working independently to grow, package, and distribute their produce, competition among farmers gave way to collaboration.
- Small scale growers got together & worked cooperatively.
- They shared resources and enjoyed the economies of scale.
- Those fledgling farmers set the stage for the vast and successful multi-million dollar networks of organic food distribution that now exist. Here it is, 30 plus years down the road, and we can purchase safe, delicious organics in just about every corner of the country. What can happen in another 30 or 40 years?
- "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
Deepak Chopra is another example of the success that can come when we blend old and new ways of thinking. Born and educated in India, Dr. Chopra blends awareness of mind, body and spirit to optimize healing and human potential. These are innovative times we live in - when ancient systems like ayurvedic healing blend with modern quantum physics.
So now we can pick and choose from a wide array of helpful medical alternatives ... such as acupuncture and homeopathy, chiropractic and naturopathy ... because sensible people had the guts to say NO to a deeply entrenched, expensive, technologically focused system, with its hands in the pockets of the huge pharmaceutical industry.
(You know - for all its talk about preventative care - the bloated American health care system really doesn't want us to embrace simple straightforward solutions. It's difficult to reap obscene profits from people's healthy lifestyle choices. "The health care industry, being an industry, stands to profit more handsomely from new drugs and procedures to treat chronic diseases than it does from wholesale change in the way people eat.") - Michael Pollan -
Back in early 1970's, "a small group of European industrialists and scientists", the so called, Club of Rome, "proposed to examine interrelated global trends, and subsequently they commissioned a report from a team of young systems analysts at MIT."
In their resulting best selling book,"The Limits to Growth" the team reached three basic conclusions:1. "If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next 100 years."
2. "It is possible to alter these growth trends and to establish a condition of ecological and economic stability that is sustainable far into the future. The state of global equilibrium could be designed so that the basic material needs of each person on earth are satisfied and each person has an equal opportunity to realize his or her individual human potential."
3. "If the world's people decide to strive for this second outcome rather than the first, the sooner they begin working to attain it, the greater will be their chances of success."
"What's amazing, in retrospect, is how close we came to actually listening to their message. Around the world, people got to work figuring out how to slow population growth."
"These were the years when America adopted the 55 mph speed limit - when we actually slowed down our mobility in the name of conservation." President Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the White House roof. He asked us to turn down our thermostats and put on sweaters.
Carter hosted a reception for E.F. Schumacher - the publisher of "Small is Beautiful" - who urged us -
- to build a "lifestyle designed for permanence"
- to embrace "the evolution of small-scale technology, relatively nonviolent technology, technology with a human face."
"In the late 1970s more Americans were opposed to continued economic growth than in favor, something that seems almost impossible to us now ...."we actually had a brief opening to steer a different course, away from the rocks. "
Unfortunately we didn't.
"In the short run, President Ronald Reagan took the solar panels off the White House roof, and he froze the mileage standards that had helped cut oil demand by more than a sixth in a decade."
"In the slightly longer run, his worldview gave us not only the Bush administrations but also the Clinton years, with their single-minded focus on economic expansion." "The change was not just technological; it wasn't simply that we stopped investing in solar energy and let renewables languish. It's that we repudiated the idea of limits altogether - we laughed at the idea that there might be limits to growth."
And now, "every force in our society is trained to want more growth." "The way our economy works at present, any cessation of growth equals misery."
"We've spent two hundred years hooked on growth, and it's done us some good, and it's done us some bad, but mostly it's gotten deep inside us, kept us perpetually adolescent. "Eaarth" by Bill McKibben)
I can't help but wonder where we'd be today if the slow growth movement of the 1960s and 70s had flourished and taken root. Where would we be now, if we'd heeded the warnings, and steered our economy toward a relatively graceful descent?
What if instead of super-sizing every aspect of our society, we had chosen a different, more humane way of living on the planet?
These days I'm so glad I was introduced to ideas of voluntary simplicity during the back-to-the-land movement. It's been decades since I've lived on a commune, but ever since then, wherever we've lived, I've tried to base my lifestyle choices on the principles of Voluntary Simplicity.
And now more than ever, with our current rocky economic outlook,
I'm pleased to know how to Do more with less.
In good times and bad, my husband and I enjoy a pleasant standard of living, simply because we live a pretty basic lifestyle. Even though we teeter on the high end of America's so-called poverty rate, we're incredibly rich in comparison to the vast majority of folks on the planet.
We're blessed with such amazing abundance - foods and consumer goods from around the globe.
- heating and cooling at the flick of a switch. We've got a nice solid old home we can make our own, and a large circle of loving friends and family.
Because we try to be fairly self-sufficient
- growing fruits and veggies in our yard
- preparing our meals from scratch
- doing some of our own home maintenance
- fixing our 2nd hand cars when possible ....
- my husband and I can get by working part-time.
Working fewer hours gives us plenty of time for creative pursuits.
Time for community projects and volunteer work.
Time for self-care, yoga and meditation.
It's a good life all in all, with dear friends who linger over yummy potluck meals ... salmon seared over a backyard fire .... sides of garden fresh veggies, and lovingly baked desserts. We've got neighbors who help each other out, the way neighbors do.... loaning tools, trading labor, offering a shoulder to cry on.
We keep our entertainment on the cheap and easy ....
... picnics at the local swimming hole when it's too hot to work
... regional camping trips with our daughters and their growing families
... visits to the art museum on free days
... seasonal parties with friends
Know what I mean? Keeping it Basic. Simple. Conserving Resources.
But sometimes it feels shameful, enjoying such a wonderful life, knowing that over half the developing world's population (about 2.8 billion people) scrape by on less than $2.00 a day!
It's hard to imagine isn't it? Two dollars buys what? A cup of coffee? Or maybe a pastry?
About 1.1 billion people in the poorest of countries eke out a living on about $1.00 or less a day.
Life is paradoxical. So much suffering. And so much beauty and love.
I look at my country - the USA - and I'm genuinely thankful to live where I have the freedom to pick and choose my lifestyle. But at the same time, I despise the vast and oppressive military-industrial complex of the United States.
Sometimes my heart aches, knowing that American corporations are shoving their agendas down the throats of people around the globe. Pushing folks away from their traditional cultures and values.
Wooing them into crowded cities, with false promises of consumer paradises.
All in the name of profits and market expansion.
Here in the U.S., in this land of opportunity there's so much oppression and pollution going on in the name of profits and so-called "Free Trade". We try to limit that pollution and oppression here, on our own soil. It's convenient to have it out-of-sight, in third world nations - often times in countries that have already been ravaged by the heavy hand of empires, past and present.
"Free Trade" has created factory zones in impoverished lands, where young adults slave long hours for low wages, manufacturing our precious fashions and electronic gadgets. In China, for instance, fenced-in and tightly guarded industrial towns have been built, where hundreds of thousands of young factory workers endure long days in conditions so bleak, that some of them end their lives by jumping from upper story windows.
(Check out the movie - "The Last Train Home" for an amazing glimpse at factory life in China)Slaving away, so we can have the latest designer look in our homes .... so our kids can have their choice of every toy imagined.
Global corporations like ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), Monsanto and DuPont, push indigenous farmers to become dependent on genetically engineered seed stocks, available only from them.
"The companies that make the GM seeds also make the weed killers that the plants need to be sprayed with. This means the companies benefit twice from GM crops: once from selling the seeds, and once from selling the weedkillers." ("Getting a Grip" Frances Moore Lappe)
Suicide rates soared in India and some other countries, after farmers were persuaded to stop saving their own seeds and using their natural fertilizers ... as they were pressured to go from their traditional subsistence agriculture into crushing debt with multinational corporations.
In a ten year period, 270,000 Indian farmers took their own lives, often by ingesting the pesticides they'd purchased for their fields !!! Fortunately, many women have been responding by returning to pesticide free farming, resulting in healthier people and livestock, and freedom from debt.
* Yes - unfortunately, it's business as usual in much of the Third World *
So that we can eat tropical fruits every day of the year.
So that we can have access to a whole smorgasbord of culinary delights.
Free Trade was sold to us as a means to better the lives of people throughout the world. In reality, the gap between the world's rich and poor has continued growing wider.
In 1950, there were about 2 poor people for every rich person on Earth; today there are about 4; and in 2025, when the world's population will be about 8 billion, there will be nearly 6 poor people for every rich person." Thomas Homer-Dixon from "The Upside of Down"
"The people who defend the existing system most aggressively are typically either in the deepest denial, refusing to acknowledge their culture's spiritual emptiness, or else have been the privileged beneficiaries of the system's power and material goods." Robert Jensen - "All My Bones Shake"
And, oh my, how incredibly privileged are those few at the very top of the heap!
This "Free Trade" juggernaut, which continues to widen the gap between haves and have-nots around the globe, is co-created by a vast advertising network, unparalleled in the history of humankind.
It's mind boggling really.
There's so much brainwashing going on in the popular media.
Pushing us to BUY, BUY, BUY, BUY.
We Americans are so very well overfed,
dumbed down & entertained right into complacency,
- the soul numbing trance of excessive material abundance.
We're so jammed full of meaningless snippets of information
(have you heard the latest about Brad & Angolina?)
... so cluttered with sordid crap, that we don't even know our own history.
Studs Terkel, who chronicled modern American life for several decades, said...
"We've got a nationwide case of Alzheimer's, when it comes to knowledge of our recent past."
Who knows what the near future will bring?
Each new decade brings more amazing change than the last.
Maybe its time to assess the consequences of our modern cultural choices.
Are we on the right track?
These days, we rely on a vast and complicated global system of commerce, energy and communication to deliver our day-to-day needs. So far it's worked fairly well.
I can gas up my car and drive to the grocery store whenever I please.
But what if the proverbial shit hits the fan? What if for instance, there's just not enough cheap oil left to ship goods and food half-way around the world? Shouldn't we be shoring up our local and nearby supply systems? Get back to producing most of the food and goods we need, right here, in our own geographical regions?
I see the growing trend to replace home and school lawns with veggie gardens and fruit trees as a hopeful one. As the average age of our farmers gets older and older, we need to inspire new generations of farmers and gardeners. Whether you grow corn, beans and squash in a suburban lawn or seasonal
greens on an urban rooftop, it feels good to be personally involved in producing some of your own food.
We can work to preserve the farmland that remains ... and be
thankful for the agricultural land that hasn't been paved over, or turned
into shopping malls or McMansionvilles. In time we'll probably want to de-pave and reclaim vast areas that have been given over to car culture.
What if our technologically based health care system is overwhelmed by an outbreak of contagious disease, resistant to antibiotics and spread at the pace of jet travel? We'll be so much better off, with widespread common knowledge of basic, natural and effective healing techniques.
And if saving our precious, protective atmosphere means saving our rain forests - the lungs of the earth - then we'll need to quit clear-cutting vast stretches of tropical, temperate and arboreal forest lands. We'll be better off with plenty of folks, right here in our own communities, who know how to build with the resources that are right at hand:
- whether its stone, cob, native woods or bamboo, steel, adobe or recycled plastics.
Yes - I'm thinking that right here, right now, in our own bioregions, it's a perfect time for large numbers of us to regain and perfect the skills and knowledge of basic, everyday life.
Basics like: * food production
* education and care of our young, our elderly and disabled populations
* home, building & infrastructure repair & maintenance
* natural medicines and alternative healing techniques
* bioremediation of our damaged ecosystems
Just a few generations ago, there was widespread knowledge of basic life skills. These days it's all about specialization. Large numbers of Americans don't even know how to cook!
Here's a little cautionary tale - about widespread crisis and how it can play itself out in different locales:
Both of my parents were young during the Great Depression of the 1930s. They resided in opposite corners of the same state, and had quite different memories of a time that left so many people suffering. My dad recalled hunting for chunks of coal that fell off the trains, to help the family cook and heat the house. He foraged for wild greens and mushrooms to supplement meager fare. It was a difficult, hardscrabble time.
( photo by Dorothea Lange) (photo by Adam Clark Vroman)
My mother, on the other hand, grew up in a farming community - in Mennonite and Amish country - among people of faith, who had lived in cooperation with each other, practicing good land stewardship, generation after generation. She says the Depression was felt so much less in her region. The tumbling world economy was a mere ripple pressing in from the outside.
Moral here? Whatever change comes our way, we'll weather it better if we're living more self-sufficiently, in closer harmony with the Earth and each other.
* CHANGE IS HAPPENING * REST ASSURED * CHANGE IS CONSTANT *
* REST ASSURED * CHANGE IS CONSTANT * CHANGE IS HAPPENING *
All around the planet, throughout the ages, wise ones have predicted that eventually we'd face a major turning point in the BIG wheel of time. A transition time, with the potential for destruction and turmoil, and also the potential for rebirth and renewal.
* Here We Are * Right Now *
What do you call this changing time we're in? Global Climate Change? ... Peak Oil? ... Armageddon?
The end of a 5,125 year cycle of the Mayan calendar ? The transition to the Aquarian Age?
Some say we're living in the Kali Yuga, a dark age when evil comes to the surface to be destroyed just before the in-coming Golden Age.
Others say we're in the beginning of the Anthropocene.
Yes, humanity's impact on the Earth is now so profound that a new geological epoch - the Anthropocene, has been declared. Experts say the new epoch began around 1950, and is likely to be defined by radioactive elements dispersed across the planet by nuclear bomb tests. An array of other signals, including plastic pollution, soot from power stations, and vast amounts of concrete may also define this new era.
The passing epoch, the Holocene, spanned 12,000 years of relatively stable climate, during which all human civilization developed. But the striking acceleration since the mid-20th century of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the global mass extinction of species, and the transformation of land by deforestation and development mark the end of that slice of geological time.
The Earth is so profoundly changed that the Holocene must give way to the Anthropocene. (The Guardian)
* Right Now * The Road of Life Takes a Major Turn *Joanna Macy - a contemporary Buddhist teacher and scholar - has labeled it the Great Turning.
She says ...."this is a most extraordinary and beautiful moment. Because in this moment we can make a choice for loving life and taking care of each other."
Where do we go from here?
How do we move from a highly competitive and hierarchical culture, to a nurturing and cooperative one?
From a fear based culture to a sustainable, caring and natural one?
We CAN birth a new, better, more adaptive way of being. We can even do it with some grace, style and humor.
The sooner we can naturalize our lives, the smoother the transition can be.
I'm convinced that the more we embrace the solutions, the more we'll be able to buffer the turmoil of change. This course correction needn't be a terrible burden, though of course, it may be for many. It's inevitable. Part of the solution comes from simply reaching across the political and social divides, to cooperate and tackle this big mess together ... might as well, because ...
We're all in this together.
Come on. Jump in.
It feels good and satisfying, working together with folks who share a vision, and a sense of commitment to a more sustainable & peaceful future.
* Find your tribe.
* Share your work and resources.
* Create a saner culture, grounded in the love of all life.
Please, let's go beyond thinking outside the box.
In fact, let's step right out of the box.
We find ourselves in uncharted territory.
Do we flow with this Great Turning ... this reality that's right at hand?
Or do we "stay the course" and continue with "business as usual" - thereby risking the collapse that comes quite naturally to bloated, unsustainable systems?
What do we do in unfamiliar, potentially dangerous circumstances?
Well, you Slow Down.
Yes, you slow down and assess the situation -
and then proceed with Alert & Cautious Attention and a Kind Heart.
... this "revolution is in part against the very speedup that has made us all busy, distracted, anxious, and unable even to perceive the tenor of our own times. So it is a revolution in perception and daily practice, as well as against the concrete institutions that spell the misery of everyday life for too many and the destruction of the Earth for us all."It may never be finished, but the time to join is now." Rebecca Solnit
"The Great Turning" & "Agenda for a New Economy" by David Korten
"Eaarth - Making a Life on a Tough New Planet" by Bill McKibben
"The Real Wealth of Nations" & "The Power of Partnership" by Riane Eisler
"Exploring Deep Ecology" - Northwest Earth Institute
"The Sacred Balance" by David Suzuki
"Voluntary Simplicity" by Duane Elgin
"Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability" - Worldwatch Institute
"The Transition Handbook - From oil dependency to local resilience" by Rob Hopkins
"Ancient Futures : Learning from Ladakh" by Helena Norberg-Hodge
"The End of Growth" by Richard Heinberg
"The Sustainability Revolution" by Andres R. Edwards
"Living Downtream" by Sandra Steingraber
So hey ... remember my favorite fridge quote?
"We live in a kind of dark age, craftily lit with synthetic light, so that no one can tell how dark it has really gotten. But our exiled spirits can tell. Deep in our bones resides an ancient singing couple who just won't give up making their beautiful, wild noise. The world won't end if we can find them."
Well, deep in our bones, that ancient couple is still singing their wild and beautiful songs. And if we're going to move from this strange time, toward a saner, kinder, more natural future, we'll need to listen in & find them again.
Gotta find our inner harmony ... our untamed yin, and our undomesticated yang. Need to harness the fiery, dancing energy ... the moxie ... the chi that can motivate us to change.
Let's help each other bring our exiled spirits back.That essence lives in every one of us, waiting to come out and be embraced. Let's lovingly help each other peel away the hardened layers of pain and fear and shame, that get in the way of living authentically.
love & determination will see us through
Naturally Peaceful by Janine Offutt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.