Monday, May 13, 2013

Sacred Demise

Last week's film screening and its attendees inspired me to consider spending less time and energy reading the doomsday scenarios. After all, I'm already convinced of the imminent eventuality of the demise of Western Civilization. What am I gonna do about it?

Right now I'm reading Dr. Carolyn Baker's Sacred Demise: Walking the Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization's Collapse. People who see me reading it think I'm crazy. So be it. Here's what has struck me so far:

I'm a sucker for etymology. Turns out the word "apocalypse" means unveiling or revealing.

Baker, via What a Way to Go, recommends we do some of these things to change our lives:

  1. Fully acknowledge and internalize that the culture of Empire is destroying the support systems on which the community of life depends, and robbing us of our essential humanity.
  2. Talk about your concerns with everyone you know. Make Peak Oil, climate change, mass extinction and population overshoot household words.
  3. Find your work in the world to preserve life, change this culture and/or create restorative ways for individuals and communities to live in harmony with each other and the non-human world.
  4. Assess what you actually need during this transition in order to live and do your work. Only buy what you need and buy from local sources in order to support the creation of local economies.
  5. Find or deepen your spiritual connection to that which is greater than you. Ask and then listen for guidance about how to live joyfully and creatively in the face of these unprecedented times (xliii).
I feel like I'm doing pretty well in many of those areas. Most of the time I let myself understand and be aware of the problem of Empire. I talk more and more about what I know, to the point of starting to alienate some of them. Finding my work in the world is a constant struggle. I feel like I'm making meaningful choices all the time, though. I've been working on number 4 for a while. It's how I was raised, to a point. It's what true conservatism means, or so I thought. And the fifth one is something I love to pursue. It's where my heart lies.

Baker then borrows from Daniel Quinn and claims that there are four myths we civilized humans tell ourselves. The ones that get to me are #3, that the "economic growth and technological 'advancement' of the 'civilized' world creates a 'better' life." The truth is that this better life "requires the degradation and annihilation of natural systems for the benefit of a few, self-selected humans" (lii). And the answer to it all is endless growth without limits. But even if there are limits, technology will save us, right? (Not right.)

Despite the certainty that these things are going to happen, Baker is a happy person. She's not optimistic that things will change and civilization will be redeemed. She is optimistic and thankful, it seems, that she can choose to live life more appropriately in the meantime. 

I'm not done reading Ahmed's Crisis of Civilization. Baker's book came from a different library and is due back much sooner than CoC. I'll continue posting my musings on this and other subjects in this venue.

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