Sunday, November 13, 2011
Hey to all of Occupy Portland!
First and foremost, thank you for last night. I felt proud. Stayed till 5:30am. Then went home. I was wearing my Polar Bear hat. Woke up to the camp coming down. So, what now?
A couple of things, I think. But first... ground-rules for Occupy Portland 2.0.
1. If you're at the camp, you contribute to the camp.
2. We hold each other accountable.
Priority #1- We need to move the ideas and the concepts of the Occupy Movement to the neighborhoods. I propose that you find out the park closest to you, go to that park at 3pm on Sundays, promote it to your neighbors and get some neighborhood connectivity going. Build these meetings up through outreach. When the meetings get big enough.... you have your neighborhood networked, activated and you focus your neighborhood on whatever the local, national or global needs we need to address. This is a simple step, and it decentralizes the movement and brings it to the 99%. Don't try to Occupy a park until you have the people to do it.
Priority #2- Figure out after a few meetings, the "specialty" that you can bring to the larger groups. Neighborhoods in Portland are very different, and each has its own qualities. Alberta as the "Art and Festival" coordinating neighborhood, for example. Just an example.
Priority #3- Elect representatives from your neighborhood meetings to be the voices and votes in the larger City of Portland General Assemblies. This takes away a lot of the agent provacateurs power from the General Assemblies. Keep the General Assemblies open to the public, of course. But work to limit the ability of one or two people to disrupt the Assemblies for their own ego needs or because that's their job...
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
It’s almost time for Halloween, and many of the readers of this newsletter may already know that Halloween is a traditional day pulled from Celtic holy calender of the year. It used to be called Samhain back in the day before the Celts had much of their culture extinguished and consumed by other more successful cultures. Samhain fell about halfway between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice and most sources believe that it was around October 31st-November 5th that it used to be celebrated. It was the day of the ancestors, when the veil between the living and the dead was supposed by the people to be the thinnest.
A person might think that this would be creepy to some of our ancient brethren, but in fact, most of the historical data points to the idea that the dead were welcomed in to people’s houses. Doors and windows were unlocked and opened, and food was prepared specifically for the deceased. On this day, many of the Celtic tribes would extinguish their hearth completely and then relight it. This was a ritual that was supposed to welcome in the new year. For the Celts believed that death and darkness were the prerequisite for life itself.
In fact, an ancient Welsh tradition could very well be the precursor for our modern ritual of “trick or treating”. The Welsh would bake their cakes and the less well off would take on the collective identity of the local ancestors and go from house to house asking for food. If they were refused by a homeowner, it was very likely that some property damage would ensue to the uncharitable household. The culture as a whole supported this, as the homeowner had broken a taboo, by refusing food to the ancestors.
In modern culture, death is often thought as something to be afraid of, and this is quite a departure from what our Celtic brothers and sisters thought of it. Death was thought of as a natural and sacred part of life, and much of the association of this seasonal festival was based on the honoring of death and those that have passed through that particular gate before us. In modern times we often forget about our ancestors before they have even passed on. When they stop being productive, they can become a burden rather than a blessing.
It is not hard to understand why death was associated with this season. Several obvious natural themes were in effect at this time of season. Many of the animals that were abundant during the spring and summer were now gone, either flown away, or conserving energy through hibernation. The vegetation, especially the leaves on deciduous trees had fallen and were rotting slowly on the ground. Diseases associated with the change to the colder, wetter season had come and taken some of the weak and elderly kinsmen. Death was everywhere manifest, and the nights were getting longer and colder.
So internally, this was a time of year where people confronted their mortality, when they dove deep into themselves, when they contemplated the mysteries of life and death. This was also the time of year when the parts of the self that no longer served growth were sacrificed. So the questions of the season: How do I honor my ancestors? What is my relationship with death? What parts of myself no longer serve growth?
Friday, May 20, 2011
The outer planets are almost fully settled in their homes for the next few years. Neptune will dip back into Aquarius for a while later this year before it goes into Pisces to stay for several years starting in 2012. So what does this mean? Let's go through the outer planets and speak to each of them individually before bringing it all together. The outer planets tend to be rather impersonal in their effect and they bring change to the general zeitgeist of which individuals are just a part.
Pluto in Capricorn - 2008-2024
Pluto rules transformation, exposing and excising what's rotten and no longer serves evolutionary purpose, the underworld and the underground resources, the drive for increased power, and the deep and sometimes painful transformations and transitions of life. Capricorn is the sign of the climber, it rules business, corporate hierarchies, global capital and global institutions, active leadership in practical endeavors, the high places in life,, the limitations imposed by the material world, materialism as an end to itself, and the drive for success as defined by culture, It is no surprise then that right when Pluto made it's move into Capricorn, we were beset with the biggest bank scandals in living memory. We saw the greed of the few at the very top of the economic pyramid completely bringing the global economy to a standstill. The drive for power and material resources had gone pathological in the global economy and the consequences of this drive is still unfolding in real time. At the same time, Pluto has made visible the corruption and rot in our global institutions to the aware and awake public, and there is a backlash developing against those institutions that have and continue to abuse their power.
Neptune is the planet that dissolves structures, it is spiritual, escapist, illusionary, mystical, self-sacrificing, idealistic, and sometimes wholly impractical. It rules the depths of the unconscious, those things that are secret and hidden, the world underneath and beside the everyday world. It also rules the delusions and illusions that are taken as truth by their adherents. Neptune is the ruler of Pisces, so it reinforces the action of Neptune. Released from constraints, Neptune is likely to show us our interconnectedness on this planet through unitive moments of group emotional connection and in the unfolding global crises that begin to spill out across the world with no regard for created borders and state lines. Neptune in Pisces begins to show us the deep connection that we hold with others, but it will also lead to a lot of escapism on the personal level through drink, drugs, attachment to false spiritual leaders, violent acts of self-sacrifice for larger belief structures, and intense and subtle emotional drives leading large groups of people to do things that are wholly irrational with both positive and negative results.
Uranus in Aries - 2010-2019
Uranus is the planet of great and terrible liberation. It is the earth shaking, it is the absolute and unequivocal form of change. Uranus is not the slow painful transformation of Pluto, it is not the slow and subtle dissolution of Neptune, instead it is the lightning strike, the great invention, the world changing idea, the revolution. Uranus breaks down structures that don't work by sheer energy and power, often very quickly. Aries represents the drive for individual freedom, for the right to do and be what the will demands. Aries is the warrior, girt with sword and sometimes shield, striding onto the battlefield. With Uranus in Aries people are beginning to demand their rights across the globe, and this drive for individual autonomy is irrepressible in the long run. There's still many years of this yet to come, and they will not be peaceful years, as the masses continue to get more and more angry, that anger will manifest in some pretty brutal ways and means.
How these influences interrelate-
The biggest issue going on leading up to and past 2012 is the direct Uranus-Pluto Square. In astrology a square is a 90 degree angle between planets, it is considered a crisis point. When it's two of the outer planets dancing around this angle, it represents pretty huge and global crisis. These two influences, Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries are in for some pretty huge battles in the coming years. What that means is that the drive for freedom from the masses is going to continue to come into conflict with entrenched and corrupt institutional, political and economic power. More and more people are going to realize that the world that they want to be living in won't be given to them by these power structures, it will have to be taken, perhaps by force. The Arab Spring is only the beginning of the pretty huge battles that will be fought across the globe, starting to really peak in 2012.
The basic battle is the drive for more individual freedoms vs. the drive for continued control of the world's resources by the global elite. The tops of the corporate, economic and political hierarchies will attempt to hold onto their positions with ever widening repression, misinformation campaigns, and violent reaction against the people. The rallying cry for the elite will be "stability" and the rallying cry for the revolutionaries will be "change". Everywhere these two are opposed there will be conflict, reactionary and revolutionary political movements and general organized entrenchment. There is real potential for reactionary movements coming to power in places of conflict and mightily abusing that power once they get it. In general, the nation-states will be under greater and greater pressure both from internal pressures and external pressures.
Now to add Neptune in Pisces to the mix. In many ways this influence will be unitive for the public across the world. Through shared sacrifice, many will come to feel an unshakable bond with their communities and the world. They will feel the shared connection and deeply connect to the universal during this time of conflict. Feeling the boundaries slip away from political boundaries, to social boundaries, to boundaries enforced by belief systems will allow a good chunk of the population to connect to each other on deep levels and work together to manifest their dreams of a better world in a generally practical way. But there's also the misuse of Neptune in Pisces that's going to come into play. The energy of Neptune always has the potential for deliberate misuse.
The way the institutional structures of power will misuse this energy is by deep distraction. It will use the means of transmission, like television and the Internet to broadcast an illusion of how things are, it will also reinforce the shared illusions of the public through media and there will be a lot of circuses, if not bread, to keep the people that have the most potential to change the global situation entertained and complacent. The drive for freedom and self-determination greatly threatens the global economic system and the corporate hierarchies, therefore, keeping the people in check is critical to their maintenance of control.
The way the leaders of the movement for individual freedom and autonomy could misuse this energy is by using the emotional beliefs of their fellow men and women to promote violent martyrdom against the institutions that they believe have become fully oppressive. The energy of Neptune has no problem sacrificing itself for the good of the whole, and coupled with the violent freedom urge of Uranus in Aries we have a lot of bombs, human carnage, and chaos that will come out of that. This will reinforce the media message of the global elite, and will allow highly fascist reactionaries to come into power. So both will feed each other.
But remember that in the meantime, people are coming into a place of shared power, clear views of the structures of power, as well as clear views of the corruption of many of the institutions as well. At the same time they are gaining their freedom and autonomy through the uprising of the people across the world. They are feeling their connection to each other and the Earth and there is a deep healing happening in the midst of the crisis. What I would suggest is that you connect to those people that are working to build community, that you work on yourself, that you gain your freedom along with the sense of your shared connection and responsibility to the Earth and each other. We are interdependent and we are all connected, and together, armed with that knowledge, we can start making these changes work for the good of ourselves, our communities, and the Earth itself.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Many of us don't really think too hard about how global problems can come home to roost in our localities. This might be a matter of just not being able to process the breadth and depth of issues that are happening around the world. We as a culture, perhaps even as a species seem to be unable to assess risk to the future from our present actions and inaction. We do not see the future consequences of action and inaction because we are not conditioned to project for the future based on available data. Before this year began, I wrote down some pretty general predictions. I will repost the essay here. It was entitled "Patterns for 2011" and was written on Tuesday, December 28th.
It seems like Portland has the capability to come together to solve our issues, but if it doesn’t benefit each individual financially, will we have the will? This is also unclear, as the global financial unravelling continues to impact many in the community. No year more than this year when we see the real on the ground results of the budget cuts. It seems that the community could use some unity, and my belief is that this year, a lot of individuals are going to be coming to similar conclusions. Acting locally, working in collaboration with others, and moving quickly towards a more sustainable way of life will be huge keynotes for people in Portland this year. Expect to see a lot more Portland people planting gardens, and a lot more community involvement in general. The people will have a voice this year, and expect the more traditional Portland street protest culture to re-emerge, but in interesting ways. I see more protests symbolizing the world we want to create together. Protests of expression, music and good will.
Let’s zoom out to the national stage now. What’s going on there? Well, honestly things are not looking so good there. Two states might go bankrupt this year if not more, California and Illinois are teetering on the edge of an abyss. There is unlikely to be much accomplished in the next congress that benefits those states that are caught with their financial house in terminal disarray. We will see a very oppositional political system at the very time that quick reaction is necessary. This means that emergencies will come up, and be ignored for the sake of political points. Plus, even as our congress moves towards a deadlock, more and more information is coming out about the United States less than exemplary behavior on the world stage. So at a time when many around the world will be watching us closely, we’ll be caught up in intense infighting.
So, our power at a nation is slipping based in large part on our decisions as a nation, some that were made in secret and some that were not. Wikileaks is currently embarrassing the US on the world stage and the reaction of the US at the exposure of our secrets has been to attempt to suppress the whistle-blowers rather than admit it’s own moral and ethical failings. In the meantime we miss the fact that Wikileaks is a danger to all the world’s political leaders and could one day be instrumental in bringing real change to political practices in some of the more totalitarian places on the globe. If we can accept our own dirty laundry, acknowledge it and move on, that would be the best possible face that the US can show to the world. But my feeling is that the US government will probably try to shoot the messenger, maybe literally. Which would lead to total disintegration as a trustworthy player in global politics. Honestly, it might be too late to reverse that already.
Zoom out again. The world stage is fraught with tension, the weakening of the US on the world stage is bringing out some real intensity from the rest of the world. China is both ascending politically and weakening it’s grip on dissenting voices domestically. This will continue as more and more of the Chinese people break down the Great Firewall of China. Europe is crumbling, as whole nations are being forced to pay off bad bets on behalf of finance, and the people are none too happy about it. Expect pitched battles on the streets and the challenge of governments through both peaceful and violent means on the continent. In the Middle East something has got to give, and we’re likely to see some open hostility there especially as the price of oil goes up. Which it will. N. Korea is the joker in this deck of nations, a nuclear armed state that seems to be directly lifted from the pages of George Orwell’s 1984. We can only hope that the military there decides they don’t want to follow the fat child of Kim Jong Il.
But nations are nothing like the whole story, the global picture is a world of fixed material resources and the idea that we can expand and grow in our current industrial paradigm infinitely. 2010 was the approach to those limits, but we are more fully entrenched in them in 2011, which means that entirely new patterns of relating and consuming on the planet are about to become more and more necessary. If this coming year needs a name it’s the year of the wall. As we continue to slide on the peak of global oil production, we need to go to more and more intense places to slake the world’s thirst. We are finally at the point where the downward slide of the supply curve starts coming into the game.
So bringing this back to the here and now. This year is going to be intense and will demand action and participation. We as a people and as a community can’t wait for solutions to arrive, we’re all being called to be the solution and to do it in any way we can. Enjoy this time of crisis and remember that it is also a time of opportunity. You hold a piece of the puzzle in your hands, heart and head and you’re going to have to take it to the community and see where it fits. I predict a tremendous growing season in 2011 so plant your seeds well, and grow an exceptional garden.
I wrote this just based on observations made in 2010. What I still feel is important is coming together with some unity towards taking care of our local needs locally, but there's not much money in that, and this is a problem. There is a good chance of the bottom falling out this year as the much-touted "Economic Recovery" begins to unravel. It's just not based on a firm foundation, and therefore will not hold up as more pieces begin falling down. The big spark to social unrest will be food this year. Almost all the food commodities are going up and up, and there's been pretty spectacular failures of crops based on what used to be rare weather events around the world. In the developed world, we'll grin and bear the higher costs, but in places where people are making a dollar a day or less, we'll start seeing more and more massive social unrest. That's all for now.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
The Environment of Activism
I recently attended and participated in a podcast about the current state of activism at the home of a really good friend. We talked at length about our past experiences and our current feelings and thoughts about how things were going. There were a lot of people there, so I was not able to completely speak my peace as everyone seemed to be jam-packed with things to say. The experience was a good one though, as I always like to learn what other people are thinking in order to check my own beliefs for validity. This essay is an attempt to explain some of the things that I was not able to say during the podcast and to reflect on the ideas that were generated and crystallized there.
First, I should explain why I have any credibility to speak on the subject. I have been involved in many forms of activism over the course of the last 10 years. I have worked for many groups, primarily environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, the state Public Interest Research Groups, the Sierra Club, the Oregon Natural Resource Council, and the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. I've basically been working on the fund-raising end of these groups, with some stints of voter activation as well. There is a lot that can be said about these groups, both positive and negative, but this is not the place to call out groups specifically. Instead I will talk about the larger organizational challenges that seem to be inherent in this type of activism.
The reason that I have been involved with environmental activism is pretty simple. I have a deep and abiding belief that we must do our best to live in balance with natural systems in order to have a long and interesting future for humanity. Our current dynamic of exploiting natural resources to the point of ecosystem collapse, while greatly enriching some in the system, steals from the abundance of future generations to the point of absurdity. I believe that it's important to fight for the planet's resilience and therefore for the continued survival of our species and other species that we're dependent on. I believe that the Earth is a living system, and has a consciousness that is working to teach us our basic dependence on natural systems and the consequences of breaking natural law.
I don't expect the reader to believe the same things that I do, but I'll justify my belief so that the reader can better understand it. I believe the Earth is working to tell all of humanity through the oceans that we are all connected. Because of the vastness of the oceans, humanity has a tough time thinking that anything that we do can have an appreciable effect on it. We are learning at this point in time that our appetites and reckless disregard have wreaked havoc on our oceans. The ocean is the basis of all life on this planet. Life didn't start on land, it started in the primordial waters. At our very deepest level, we are the offspring of the ocean. I will quickly note three events that are teaching us that we ignore the oceans at our great peril.
The North Pacific Garbage Gyre – This part of the Pacific Ocean, close to the island of Midway is where much of the plastic dropped into the ocean goes to live out the rest of its' very long life. There are some artists that have shown the real world consequences of this garbage patch. In a series of photographs called Midway, in which an artist named Chris Jordan took pictures of the skeletons of young albatrosses, their bellies swelled with multicolor pieces of plastic that had become lodged in their stomachs until there was no room for food. These albatrosses starved because they were being fed and feeding on things that were not food, but instead the waste products of the entire Pacific Rim that was unthinkingly dropped into the ocean.
The lesson of Midway is pretty simple. Our waste does not just go away when we toss it. It gathers in ever increasing spirals of the detritus of our late stage industrial civilization. We are supposed to ignore this great tragedy of the commons because it is just the price of progress. In fact, it's better if we do not know that this is happening, because the gears of our economic system depend on consumers throwing away things that must be replaced. The deeper problem and the deeper lesson is that thoughtless action, multiplied by the millions of people engaging in it, has a deep impact on our ecosystem and our shared global resources.
The Gulf Spill Disaster- The aptly named Deepwater Horizon explosion and emission of untold amounts of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico is still in its early stages, and the long-term effects of this disaster are still unknown. What is also unknown is the full scope of the disaster, as oil spills of this magnitude will unfold in their effects over decades. What is known is that BP had a terrible safety record across the US and would often not live up to their basic safety obligations and chose increased profits over safety over and over again in their practices. There is an excellent documentary called “The Spill” that shows this blatant disregard for the potential results of their actions.
The lesson of the Gulf is also pretty simple. As oil becomes more and more scarce, the risk of our extraction becomes greater than the reward. Because of our desire for cheap, plentiful energy, and the energy corporations desire to make greater and greater profits, we will continue to search in more and more ecologically sensitive areas to feed that desire. Our addiction to oil as the basis of industrial culture is a fact, and in the age of declining oil, the probability is that more and more risky projects to extract this substance will be green-lighted. The big lesson is that our addiction to this source of energy is leading us down a blind alley where major ecosystem collapse is a guarantee rather than a pessimistic “doomer” scenario. The Gulf Spill as it continues to unfold, will show us the future as more and more risky behavior virtually guarantees more spills of this magnitude.
The Fukushima Meltdown- Although recent events have pushed this particular disaster off the front pages, it is still very much “happening” and the long-term effects are unknown. Because the plant is right by the ocean, this is the first time that humanity gets to witness what large levels of radiation released over a long period of time do to our oceans. The optimistic scenario is that the Fukushima meltdown could be “fixed” by the end of the year. That means that there's a lot of time for the ocean to be the petri dish for this particular experiment. Japan is one of the most heavily seafood dependent cultures on the planet, and much of their coastal waters could be heavily effected.
The simple metaphor here is that the “nuclear option” for future power generation has a very intense downside. For as long as the process of nuclear power generation creates substances that are extremely detrimental to organic life over the course of many centuries, it is not a safe bet on a globe that is never in complete stasis. There is no way to make these nuclear plants completely safe, and a meltdown can have very destructive results for all life on the planet over the course of time. The subconscious theory that the ocean, is so vast that it could never be effected by our actions is now in the process of being tested.
I would postulate that the oceans are right now teaching humanity that we are definitely all connected on this small planet, and that our actions and our inaction has vast consequences that are only now becoming clear for a large percentage of the population. Our natural response unfortunately, when faced with such huge issues is to close our ears and pretend that the problems are not happening, to veil ourselves in the illusion that we are not a part of the Earth, but somehow apart from it. This conscious veil of illusion is what keeps us from experiencing the reality of life on this planet and the real crossroads that we face as a species upon it.
What does all that have to do with activism? The first leg of activism is knowledge. It is important to look squarely at the issues of the day without illusion. The core of activism is “between your ears” as a good friend of mine is fond of saying. The critical analysis of the world is the first step towards understanding what is really going on. It's important not only to see the big picture scenarios, but also to see the little choices that when multiplied across the planet, create the current conditions. So there is an element of humility in the knowledge that you gain. By recognizing the larger systemic problems, you can also recognize the small roles that you play as an individual to either feed the problems or to feed the solutions. But the solutions to these problems are not solely in the realm of individual actions, there is no expectation of sainthood from people living in modern culture.
In activism today there are two main problems with the acquisition of knowledge. The first is systemic. Unfortunately, in the information age, knowledge is difficult to find at times. There are thousands of different points of view about any issue, and each of those points of view have their partisans. Much of the commentary and “knowledge” about crucial issues are rife with subjective interpretations, deliberate disinformation, and unexamined assumptions. Many people around the world are paid to disseminate ideas and views that benefit their employers. Many people parrot whatever talking point they heard most recently as a substitute for examining the issues. Knowledge is a rare commodity in the information age, and the acquisition of knowledge is rife with pitfalls, traps and dead-ends.
The second problem is related, but is more individual rather than systemic. It is the trap of fundamentalist knowledge, the trap of the fixed position. The people that practice this generally build their knowledge base, believe they have the full and unvarnished truth, and then proselytize and viciously defend their position from the stronghold of their world-view. This is just as prevalent in activist circles as it is in religious circles. The trap of fundamentalist knowledge demands an enemy. That enemy can be anything from industrial capitalism, to atheism, to Roman Catholics, to HAARP, to the opposing political party, and so on. In fundamentalist thought, the position is generally an emotional belief position, which is tremendously resistant to outside influence. To be in this position is to disqualify all information that contradicts or threatens to change the position. There is nothing wrong with belief, or with deeply held convictions, but if everyone that doesn't believe what you believe is “the enemy”, you might be a fundamentalist.
The second leg of activism is wisdom. Wisdom is gained through successful navigation of knowledge, it is the fruit of that which knowledge is only the seed. To use an example, knowledge would tell us that we have the physical capacity to dig up our oil from the Alberta Tar Sands, wisdom would make the case that this is not the path to long term sustainability. It is the wisdom of activism that looks at the long-term results of current actions, it is wisdom that sees where the path leads and attempts to make this path visible. Wisdom sees an extinction coming before it is here. Wisdom comes from both dark and light sources. There is the wisdom of the abyss, that comes from turning over a lot of rocks and seeing what's under them, even if it's scary. When you stare into the abyss without blinking or turning aside you gain hard-won truths. There is also the wisdom of the eternal, which religion does its' best to teach to the masses. This is the deep wisdom of the universe, the recognition of the place within it and the comfort that comes from that.
Both are absolutely necessary, and this leg can go in two maladaptive directions, fixation on the abyss, or fixation on the eternal. The fixation on the abyss is the deep dive into the darkness of the world and the universe. This is spending so much time on the monsters of existence, on the existential horror that you are unable to see the beauty. This path leads to extreme levels of isolation, fear, and paranoia. To be in this spot mentally is to be paralyzed by the immensity of the problems that are faced in our modern world. It is also to have untouchable, faceless enemies with incredible power, that you are not able to confront directly. This leads to frustration, and as most people are conditioned to ignore the abyss, it means screaming into the existential void of the Internet, and trying to find people that share your particular brand of paranoia which if found, only reinforces your position. People can get lost in this darkness for a long time. But that doesn't change the fact that seeing the darkness clearly allows a person to make informed decisions on how they're going to move forward.
The other side is the fixation on the eternal, this is a magnet for narcissism and often lives in a world of false light. Those that are fixated on the eternal have generally had an experience of transcendence, and they hope to live in that state of existence again. There is nothing wrong with the search for transcendence, but if that search forces you to pretend that everything is all good all the time, it has become pathological. By reinforcing that all reality is just a construct projected from the individual self, the individual self becomes both the most powerful ego in the universe, and the most downtrodden. People become locked up in the ideas that if they just get pure enough, and good enough, then the world will change with them. This also leads to isolation or creates adherence to the doctrines of many teachers of the false light. A lot of so called “enlightened people” on this Earth are just swindlers laughing all the way to the bank with the funds collected from their devotees.
Wisdom is seeing both the dark and light, taking them both in, and learning from both of them, but using the wisdom gained as a catalyst to both knowledge of the subconscious self and of the shared material reality that we each have a hand in shaping. To ignore the light or the darkness is to starve the soul, but to see both allows a person to actively engage in the world as it is, rather than how they fear or hope it to be. This type of balanced wisdom allows the individual to engage on issues of the time and place with integrity and this integrity is absolutely necessary to individual and collective evolution and development.
The third leg of activism is to quote a friend, justified true belief. These are the foundation stones of character in a human being. They are the examined and tested assumptions, theories, and ideas that have proven their worth based on a persons life experience. The core beliefs are the driver of the personality and give strength to the thoughts, words and deeds of the individual. Without these justified true beliefs, a person is at the whim of whatever the zeitgeist of the moment happens to be. Without these beliefs, character can only be built accidentally and the power to change and challenge circumstances is lessened immensely. To reach a justified true belief requires a lot of intellectual, psychological, and emotional heavy lifting. But to not do the lifting is to ignore the laying of the foundation of personality and character. Many have not done the heavy lifting, and therefore have not deepened their understanding of the world.
The are two issues associated with justified true belief that are important to note. Many people in this world just try on a belief system as if it's a commodity. If that belief system doesn't suit them, they discard it, and go shopping for a new one. This shallowness of character is ultimately self-defeating. Because if the work has not been done to justify beliefs, when tests come that challenge these beliefs, there is little to guide the character in his or her response. The beliefs have no bearing on the life of the individual and are therefore of no actual worth. The individuals with no built foundations will be rocked by circumstance, and at the first sign of resistance will tend to drift off into the seas of apathy. This is where many live. With no underlying structure that they have built up, the winds of change destroy their lives.
Of course there is the other side of this particular duality. There are the justified true beliefs that life and reality have outpaced, and when some people are faced with the fact that the foundation stones that they worked so hard to build are infected with rot and are no longer of service, they cannot bear to re-examine them and change them. If there is too much rigidity in the foundation, when the earth shakes, the entire lives of those that have invested so much in their own foundations can collapse. In the grasping to hold on to those beliefs that have become outmoded, they can lose the entire structure that they depend on.
Like a lot of things in life, the key is balance. The justified true beliefs that one holds as their foundation can be either too loose, or too rigid. Either extreme will cause suffering. If a belief is ultimately justified, it should be able to stand up to tests and it should be able to continually be examined, revised and updated. Justified true beliefs tend to be most damaging to society when they are mandated onto all people. This comes from the desire of the individual to expand the truth as they see it and make it available to all people. When individual beliefs are forced onto the broader culture they cannot help but to become institutionalized, which are even more resistant than personal beliefs to the changes associated with life and reality. Codified individual beliefs become the driving force behind organizing groups, but they also become the basis of the fundamentalist drives.
The fourth leg is action. To act without knowledge is ignorant, to act without wisdom is folly, to act without justified true belief is meaningless. But to act with all three in working order, is to act in alignment with one's own examined will. Activism is between your ears, but it is manifested through the will and action of individuals on the great playing field of the world. Activism that is missing any of these legs will not be able to stand the test of time. It is the activism of narcissism, or the activism of the mob. The activism of narcissism is doing the things to be seen, to be in the scene, and for the immediate ego gratification of imposing your will or your belief upon some small corner of the world. The activism of the mob is the self-righteous fires of anger aimed at the external enemy, only to find out that the new bosses are the same or worse than the old bosses. This is the activism of emotional catharsis, making “them” pay for your suffering.
I've led you from the island of Midway to the legs of activism, and now it's time to tell you what I've been picking up from my own travels through the oceans of activism. In many ways, modern activism is the justified true beliefs of individuals becoming just another extension of the market. Working on the fund-raising side of the environmental movement, I have seen this played out time and time again. I am not against this, otherwise I would not be working in that field. The justified true belief that guides me is the belief that if we want to exist long-term as humans on this planet past the survival stage we have to start learning how to exist in balance with natural systems rather than existing from the exploitation of natural systems. The preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that not only is our current path unsustainable, but it is pathological. Following this path will lead us to a systemic collapse both socially, economically, and ecologically. This is my belief.
The coming ecological collapse is the most pressing issue in my opinion because the Earth is the basis of all life that we are aware of. Not only is it the home of humans, it is the home of millions of different expressions of the fundamental life principle. What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves, and currently, we are abusing the Earth far past its' capacity to regenerate itself. Most of us are ignoring these facts because they force us to examine our own choices and the collective choices of our culture. We know deep down inside that we must change our behavior, but we are afraid of how these changes will effect our “standard of living”. The assumption here is narcissism of legendary proportions, that our current comfort is worth the struggle of thousands of generations that are yet to be born.
The problem lies in all of us, and in all of our collective choices up to this point, but the solution is also in our hands should we wish to grasp it. There are some real obstacles to moving forward at this point, and I believe that it's important to see them. Our monetary market system is based on the theory that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet. This theory, although unconsciously supported by a large cross-section of people on this planet is demonstrably false. The invisible hand of the market will never be sustainable, as it is against the interests of growth to be sustainable. We cannot fix the monetary-market system, and the good news is that this system is not a force of nature. It's just a codified system that we are holding onto even though it is a primarily resource destructive force in our world at this time.
The big task for activists at this time in history is to learn how to top from the bottom. It's going to take a lot of standing up together, not just in protest, but in service to our communities. We need to figure out how to make our houses, our blocks, our neighborhoods sustainable. We need to figure out how we can take care of our local needs locally. In short, we need to organize based on the skills that we need to be able to sustainably maintain ourselves in the communities that we are a part of. This means growing our own food, producing our own goods, taking care of our own waste, and taking the responsibility to do it together. This is real community interdependence and self-reliance. This is no longer expecting the market to take care of our needs, but to do it ourselves and in the meantime build a resilient culture. But no one can hold this kind of activism on their shoulders alone, and no group can claim credit. We have to do it together. We are the change of the culture, we are the people that can carry this burden. We're waiting for ourselves. We're waiting for ourselves. We're waiting for ourselves.
My heart aches right now, I am tired and weary. I need a hand, some support from my community. I will continue to raise money for environmental and public interest groups based on the battles that need to be fought. But I can never raise enough money to change the game, because money rules the game. I just want to see you in the neighborhood, and I'd like to put our heads, hearts and hands together and figure out how we can move together as one. It felt good to write this.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
It is time for you to hear this, whether it be dangerous knowledge or not. Understanding the methods and motives of the worship of the God of High Places is very important for the future viability of the human race. I am just a squirrel, eating an acorn in the boughs of the tree of life, but the knowledge of the God of High Places has been transmitted, and must be shared across the entire tree, from root to tip. The first thing that you should know is that the God of High Places is a belly God. The second thing you should know is that that belly is never full. The third thing you should know is that unless you're the elect, you've got a good chance of being dinner. Why are you on the plate, you might ask? Because the God of High Places demands sacrifice.
This is his way, and I say "he" consciously, because the God of High Places is very much aligned with the masculine force of the universe. This God is currently fucking the Earth for his own pleasure, with the help of many servants across the globe. You can call this God a metaphor, if it makes you sleep better, and indeed, this God works as a metaphor, a shape-shifter across the planes. But whatever name he might be called, the hungry belly God has always been the same God. All through human history, there have been times and cultures where this God has risen to the top of the hierarchy. He is the God of High Places, and the heights are where he is most comfortable. To occupy those high places in order to best serve him is the gift he offers to those that are willing to play their part.
Let me go back into my akashic records to tell you of the first time I met this God. It was on the outskirts of the burgeoning Aztec empire, and I was a farmer. It was my first field sown as a man, and my seeds were well-planted and were coming up well. My corn was coming up strong, and I was almost certain that such a yield would attract my chosen woman to become my partner for life. I looked forward to the harvest with great joy. It was a month from the harvest when the Aztecs visited us. It was not a social visit, as they burned our crops and let us know that we were dependent on them to survive over the coming year. We had become their slaves, and our land was now theirs.
Being a young and healthy man at the time, the fires of vengeance burned brightly in my heart, and I rallied several of my tribesman to fight back against the Aztecs. We were few, so we used the tactics that the few should always use when confronting the many. Stealth attacks, making use of the knowledge of the land to retreat, quick raids to keep ourselves fed. But we were too few, and the Aztecs eventually found us, and led us by the neck to their city. It was built in the center of a great lake, with long bridges leading in. We had never seen so many people in one place, as we had always lived within our boundaries.
But the knowledge of what was to come made it hard to enjoy our experience in the metropolis. We were to be the sacrifice for the harvest. Our blood would be fed to Huitzilopochtli, which was the name of the God of High Places in that time and place. The belly God was hungry, and we were to be dinner. I wish that I could say that this story ended well, but it didn't. I was led up the stairs of the central pyramid, the blood from the hundreds of sacrifices before me staining the steps a pattern of dull and bright red. I was laid down on the altar, and my heart was cut from my chest by a priest in amazing finery. As I died, I understood who I had been sacrificed to, and I also got to see the view of the entire city below. It was a beautiful and terrible moment.
The God of High Places had taken me, but my soul wasn't his, and I was able to see the reward of the priests that served him. In life, the priests got the view, and all the trappings of wealth and power that the God of High Places bestows. But in death... There are no words for that, and the price paid is much too high. Understand that I don't expect you to believe any of this story, if it helps, just think of it as a metaphor. I have been the sacrifice to the God of High Places before. I have been held to the table, and had my will and person violated at the core to serve the hungry belly that's never full. I recognize this God now, and I don't hate him. I just think he sucks, and is a terrible being to worship.
Perhaps you are wondering how to recognize this God at work in the world right now. The truth is that he always hides in plain sight. Who has the view? Where is the pyramid? The thing to remember is that those with the view have the power to run the programs. Those with the view are always talking about sacrifice, but never sacrificing themselves. We have arrived at the point where the priests are global, which is one of the reasons why this time in history is so full of crisis and change. Are you catching what I'm throwing yet? Do you know who the priests are?
Well, if you're not catching it yet, I'll give you some more time to think about it while I break down the reasons that the priests are able to hide in plain sight. Think of the pyramid on a human scale, the way you get to the top is by crawling over the backs of everyone else. At the top of the pyramid, where the best view is, you are standing on the metaphorical shoulders of nearly everyone else in your structure. The real power of the priests is to build the consent of those that carry the burden as a matter of course. In the Aztec empire, the blood sacrifice was just a part of life, demanded by the Gods. The only way the priests could get to that position was by using the fear of the Gods to keep the rest of the pyramid in line. People of good moral and ethical conscience will simply say "That's just the way things are, we can't change the way things are."
This is the main reason that the God of High Places can rule a culture. Those who want the view will fight to get it, and even those that don't want the view will enforce the structure that allows it because they believe it's just a fact of nature. So, now it's time to expose the God of High Places. The God of the empty belly rules the market system at this point in time. His priests occupy the rooms in the skyscrapers across the world that the common folk can't get to. We serve at the leisure of the priests and their strange God, because we believe that the market is "just the way things are." Our sacrifice is just beginning in the Developed nations, but has been ongoing in the "developing" nations.
This global priesthood of elite worshipers has catapulted many to the highest view so far attainable in human culture. As the world struggles with economic downturn, the priest class consumes and attains a greater and greater share of the world's resources. We allow this to happen, because unconsciously we've been programmed to believe that the invisible hand of the market is a fact of nature. The truth is that the invisible hand belongs to the God of High Places and it is becoming more visible day by day. This is the hand that takes from the social safety net, and gives to the bank executives, it takes from the hungry children and gives to the commodity traders, it takes the shared resources of the Earth and gives in the form of ballooning bank statements to the elect. To the priesthood.
It's important to note that all of the elite are not of the priesthood, some get to the view through true force of character and world shaking ideas, but these people are the minority and do not call most of the shots. At the top of the pyramid, it is mostly blood and corruption, no matter how beautifully tailored the costumes are. The decisions that are made from that vantage point are geared towards two main directions. To keep the bottom of the pyramid from realizing how they're serving the top, while the bottom aspires for the same position, and to amass the resources of the world into the hands of the servants of the empty belly God. We are still his food, and will continue to be as long as the priests are successful in their main endeavors.
But the game is not over yet, and those that made the rules for the game fear greatly that we just decide as a people to stop playing. Let us figure out new ways to use the resources of the planet for the good of all, not just the few. Let us understand that we must work in balance with natural systems rather than at the expense of them. Let us understand that as the base of the pyramid, it is our own actions that support it. Let us look in the eye of the God of High Places and say, "I SEE YOU."
I am but a squirrel on the tree of life, but I have seen the God of High Places. Looking into my heart I have realized that I have been the food of the empty belly God in other lives. What I cannot do is stand silent in fear as the power of this God threatens to eat us as sacrifices to a never-ending, never lessening thirst for more. I am not afraid of the God of High Places, I have been on his altar before. I may be again, but it is tragedy not to stand strong when you see him standing in the power gained from the greed of the few. Fuck the view.
I SEE YOU