In December, the 21st “Council of Parties” to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Paris. Almost everybody seemed to understand that we are in “no more fooling around” territory, with some notable exceptions, like, f’rinstance, India and Saudi Arabia. Ironically, these are two of the countries with the most to lose from further climate change–like, their inhabitability. Even so, it has become common knowledge that climate change denialism has largely been, um, fuelled by oil companies who did the research in the 70’s and 80’s and, like the tobacco companies before them, realized that their product was lethal, and who nonetheless chose to elevate their short-term bottom line over the long-term survival of not just their customers, as with the tobacco companies, but of the human race, along with most other species on the planet. I could be snide and sneer about the oxymoronic quality of the phrase “corporate ethics,” but it’s not just corporations that prioritize reaping short-term benefits over preventing long-term threats. It’s a fairly common human trait, it turns out, and one that is plaguing our efforts to stop doing things that release more carbon and accelerate climate change, and to start doing things that will capture carbon and reverse our ever more tightly spiralling spin into planetary oblivion. In order to reverse climate change, we must reverse our own conditioned responses. The outer depends on the inner, as always.
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Tags: China, Clarksville Highway, coal, Columbia Pipeline Group, COP 21, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, fracking, Godot, India, Joelton, John Kerry, Karl Dean, Megan Barry, methane, Metro Council, Metro Planning Commission, Middle East, NAFTA, Nashville Next, natural gas, No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure, Paris, President Obama, Saudi Arabia, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, Transcanada Corporation, United Nations, White's Creek, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Yemen
Categories : climate change, environmental issues, financial, international relations, local politics, local self-sufficiency, peak oil, the war for oil, transition
This is the 16th chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible.” If you like what he has to say, please buy his book.
Let us pause for a moment to question the newness of the new story. After all, one of the hallmarks of the old story is the glorification of change, of novelty, of constantly discarding the old in favor of something new and better, the latest technological marvel in an endless saga of progress that devalues old relationships, knowledge, and traditions. Fixation on the new can also become a kind of escapism that sees existing problems as inconsequential, since we will leave them behind when we enter the “new” world. Some look to technology to save us, hoping that more novelty can rescue us from the disastrous unanticipated consequences of previous novelty; for example, that nanotechnology will reverse the climate effects of fossil fuel technology. There is nothing new about that ambition. So I would like to preempt that concern by clarifying that the new story is only new in the context of what we in modern “civilized” society are used to.
Many readers will recognize that the Story of Interbeing echoes the worldview of various indigenous tribes and ancient wisdom traditions around the world. None of the principles enunciated herein are new at all. I am wary, however, of appealing to “indigenous wisdom” as a way to legitimize my beliefs, first, because that would imply a uniformity across indigenous belief systems that trivializes their diversity; second, because various elements of indigenous spirituality have oft been ripped from their context and used as sales props for all manner of questionable products and ideas; third, because to draw too sharp a distinction between the civilized and the indigenous obscures our common humanity and perpetrates a kind of inverted racism that superficially valorizes, but ultimately demeans, those labeled as indigenous…..
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….In a conversation, the Lakota Aloysius Weasel Bear told me that he once asked his grandfather, “Grandpa, the White Man is destroying everything, shouldn’t we try to stop him?” His grandfather replied, “No, it isn’t necessary. We will stand by. He will outsmart himself.” The grandfather recognized two things in this reply: (1) that Separation carries the seeds of its own demise, and (2) that his people’s role is to be themselves. But I don’t think that this is an attitude of callousness that leaves the White Man to his just deserts; it is an attitude of compassion and helping that understands the tremendous importance of simply being who they are. They are keeping alive something that the planet and the community of all being needs.
By the same token, our culture’s fascination with all things indigenous is not merely the latest form of cultural imperialism and exploitation. True, the final stage of cultural domination would be to turn Native ways into a brand, a marketing image. And certainly there are some in my culture who, sundered from community and from a real identity, adopt Native pseudo-identities and pride themselves on their connections to Native culture, spirituality, people, and so forth. Underneath that, however, we recognize that the surviving First Peoples have something important to teach us. We are drawn to their gift, to the seed that they have preserved until the present time. To receive this seed, it is not necessary to participate in their rituals, take an animal name, or claim a Native ancestor, but only to humbly see what they have preserved, so that memory may awaken. Until recently, such seeing was impossible for us, blinkered by our cultural superiority complex, our arrogance, our apparent success in mastering the universe. Now that converging ecological and social crises reveal the bankruptcy of our ways, we have the eyes to see the ways of others.
music: Eliza Gilkyson, “Through the Looking Glass“
Eliza Gilkyson “Requiem“
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Tags: Charles Eisenstein, First Nations, native people, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, wisdom traditions
Categories : book review, local self-sufficiency, peace, transition
This is the 14th chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” You can read the whole chapter here and buy the book here. Please buy it. Charles Eisenstein is worth supporting!
There is another world, but it is in this one.
―W. B. Yeats
The cynical reader might suppose that I will unveil “spirituality”as an escape from the bleak, dispiriting universe of the Story of Separation. I won’t, because unfortunately, spirituality as we typically conceive it is itself a key component of Separation. It concedes that the desolate materialism offered by science is essentially correct: that sacredness, purpose, and sentience cannot inhere in matter itself, cannot be found among the generic subatomic building blocks of the material world. These things, says spirituality, reside instead in another, nonmaterial realm, the realm of spirit.
Given that premise, the goal of spirituality becomes to transcend the material realm and ascend into the spiritual. A kind of antimaterialism infuses such teachings as “You are not your body” as well as aspirations to “raise one’s vibrations.” Given that our environmental collapse comes from antimaterialism as well (a devaluing and desacralization of the material world), we might want to reconsider these teachings. What is so special about “high” vibrations? Is a bassoon less beautiful than a flute? Is a rock less sacred than a cloud? Is Earth less sacred than Heaven? Is superior better than inferior? Is high better than low? Is abstract better than concrete? Is reason better than feeling? Is pure better than messy? Is man better than woman?…..
….That doesn’t mean that every person “should” address every level. We each have unique gifts that draw us toward the work for which those gifts are best suited. Although a healthy, well-rounded person will generally engage the world on multiple levels, being as she is an individual, a friend, a member of a family, a member of a community and a place, an inhabitant of a bioregion, a citizen of a nation, and a member of the tribe of all life on Earth, even a cosmic citizen, it is also true that we go through phases of relative inward and outward focus, action, and quiet, expression and retreat.
When we no longer hold a rigid self/other distinction, then we recognize that the world mirrors the self; that to work on the self it is necessary to work in the world, and to work effectively in the world, it is necessary to work on the self. Of course, there have always been spiritual practitioners who are politically active and political activists who are deeply spiritual, but now the attraction of each realm to the other is becoming irrepressible. More and more social and environmental activists are rejecting mainstream beliefs in ways that are more personal. The Occupy supporter is also likely to support attachment parenting, practice meditation, use alternative medicine. The hippies and the ’60s radicals are converging.
music: Indigo Girls, “Get Together“
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