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Sat Aug 17, 2019, 12:56 PM

Do what you do

Found on FB, written by a friend.

I had a discussion with a friend a couple of days ago, and tatters of it clung to my thoughts.

She said that, yes, even though she doesn't dwell on it, she knows things are falling apart.

The gist of her narrative was this: people aren't stupid, they can see the country decaying into collapse, and they know the weather is changing for the worse.

She implied that people like me talk about it all the time, but don't tell people what they can do. It's because there is nothing they can do.

Even so, yeah, they get it.

Her point was pregnant with implication. It isn't nihilism or defeatism, it is pragmatism. Things are going to tumble, no one knows how soon or how bad, but soon and bad, and there is nothing to do for it but get up and go to work. For most people, if they don't do that, then the collapse is now.

Penn Jillette once made the observation that people do what they do every day. In a crisis, they do it more. After years of sociological study, I never heard it said more succinctly. Indeed, the stones and bones of past peoples bear witness to that. When the volcano rumbles, when the sea is dark with foes, when the heat kills the wheat and floods fall the ox, people will, until the last moment, do what they do, but desperately. And when it falls apart, for a time they labor to prop up their little corner. Until the stark realities that steer the stars and turn bones to stones overpower our need and belief, and if we live we are not who we were.

It makes sense; most people have little real choice about how they live. The daily need to eat and sleep already exhaust many people. Pragmatically, the choices are few. It is a Red Queen life, and while we can't muster the time or money or energy to do more.

If they could, what would they do? Collapse isn't something you can prepare for, really. Preparations for tomorrow fall apart the day after. Grow food, to stave off starvation, but then someone steals your food. Join together for mutual support, but then some are rewarded more than others, or perhaps our numbers draw the attention of larger groups, and we all starve. Buy guns to protect yourself from raiders, but raiders will kill you for your guns. In the end, the choices are few.

Really, the reason the Green New Deal, and the Club of Rome, and for that matter, Donald Trump have any listeners at all is that they promise to somehow allow people to keep doing what they are doing.

My endurance for all things apocalyptic is spent. I'm writing less and less because I've said what there is to say. My friend's subtle admonishment tumbled the last of my voice. There is little to add.

Garden, go fishing, do what you do.

Enjoy the day.

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Do what you do (Original post)
The_jackalope Aug 2019 OP
Newest Reality Aug 2019 #1
The_jackalope Aug 2019 #2
Mickju Aug 2019 #3
Delphinus Aug 2019 #7
Duppers Aug 2019 #4
The_jackalope Aug 2019 #5
Delphinus Aug 2019 #6
hunter Aug 2019 #8
Mike 03 Aug 2019 #9
hunter Aug 2019 #10
The_jackalope Aug 2019 #11

Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 01:09 PM

1. That was an excllent observation and summation.

It mirrors my own thoughts on the situation and covers a lot of ground concerning the current Zeitgeist.

I tend to not post or talk much about the impending clouds of problems of many perfect storms immanently converging and accelerating, (of which climate change is a major wind blowing). My personal summation is that, sure, do whatever you can to help or mitigate this, (especially if it feels right) but it is far, far too late to stop the major impacts that will play out in all sectors of human life. Perhaps, those who survive will benefit somehow in the far future from anything we try to do now to pull back on the grand environmental carnage party in progress--a few hundred years from now or more. Meanwhile, the devil will have his due and the piper will be payed overtime for the excesses.

What stands out is to find what is meaningful and valuable now and to console and comfort and connect while there is time. There is going to be a lot of "climate grief" experienced and displayed by many people, young and old. Perhaps we can resort to more compassion, mindfulness and even some appreciation for what we have in the here and now and bring that to bear as a therapeutic offering to each other as a means of healing and inner strength.

I can suggest putting far less emphasis on the future and focusing on the present for what it is worth. This, too, shall come to pass and change is always inevitable, one way or another.

After all, things are more like they are now than they every were before.

Thank you!

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Response to Newest Reality (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 02:06 PM

2. FWIW I stopped writing about the problems in 2013, after coming to much the same conclusion.

With a little help from Buddhist meditation I pulled my focus of attention out of the future (hope), out of the past (blame) and into the present reality.

Talking or writing about the problems themselves is of little help. Let the scientists do the diagnosis and prognosis, let the historians, anthropologists and sociologists examine the history and the why, and let us get on with conscious, compassionate living in the here and now.

This summer has awakened a lot of people. There are more joining this tribe every day.

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Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 02:49 PM

3. Reluctantly, I agree with you.

Even if we stopped all fossil fuel emissions today the global temperature would keep rising to an unlivable level. We all know the emissions are not going to stop, in fact they keep rising.

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Response to Mickju (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 03:41 PM

7. So true.

I wish TPTB (the powers that be) or even the IPCC would talk about this. I read Jared Diamond's book, Collapse, many years ago and he talked *then* about how there is enough in the atmosphere it would last 50-years.

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Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 03:02 PM

4. Spare any more lives ending horribly, prematurely.

Stop having children. (Folks have them for their own selfish needs anyway.)

And, of course, I agree with all the above.

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Response to Duppers (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 03:30 PM

5. Absolutely.

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Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 03:37 PM

6. That was

brilliant. Thank you for sharing it.

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Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Sat Aug 17, 2019, 10:50 PM

8. My ancestors all survived by being where the worst shit wasn't.

Same as everyone.

I'm a white guy. All my ancestors escaped some of the worst shit Europe and the British Isles had to deliver. My last ancestor to the U.S.A. was a mail order bride to Salt Lake City but she didn't like sharing a husband so she escaped that shit too.

My ancestors were all here in America before the U.S. Civil War, but they all managed to be where The U.S.A. Civil War wasn't. I was curious about this as a child but none of my great grandmothers or grandparents would talk about it. Apparently out in the Wild West of the U.S.A. my ancestors ignored the Civil War or quickly removed themselves to places where they could ignore it. About half of them were pacifists, religious dissidents of various sorts. One of my grandfathers was a conscientious objector in World War II, but his compromise was to build and repair Liberty and Victory ships for the Merchant Marine.

My wife's family history is more extreme. Her ancestors, many of them indigenous Americans and other ethnicities deemed undesirables in the U.S.A., were forced into Mexico and Canada by the U.S.A. Army. They returned later as "immigrants" in the first half of the twentieth century. My father-in-law was born in a tent in a farm worker camp near a small farm my parents used to own. His parents were considered Mexican, even though his ancestors were native to what is now the U.S.A. Southwest. My wife's other grandfather was Canadian in World War II for similar reasons. The U.S.A. Army refused him, the Royal Air Force did not.

My wife has far deeper ancestral roots in North America than I do, and they all survived worse shit than any of my white ass U.S.A. immigrant ancestors did, even my ancestors who denied any Catholic or Irish heritage because they could pass. None of my wife's grandparents got that pass.

The family tree of life on earth goes back to the beginning of life on earth. We are ALL among the survivors.

But there is nothing special about humans. This planet has seen many innovative species come and go. The branches of our line may be lopped off in a few generations, or the entire branch of humanity may be lopped off very soon, Homo sapiens extinct by their own agency.

I hope I never have to decide which neighbors I will protect or seek protection from, and which neighbors I'll have to eat.

Soylent Green is people.

Some people have found comfort in their study of various philosophies and religions, I've found mine in my study of Evolutionary Biology.

Life goes on. What will earth be in 100,000 years, a million years, a billion years...???

If anyone believes in Gods or Heavens or Reincarnation, or Endless Cycles, the only thing of any importance in all those places are the stories we live by.

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Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Sun Aug 18, 2019, 09:22 AM

9. Great post. "In a crisis they do it more"

That's a huge concern: "In a crisis they do it more." Nations will do it more. States will do it more. Individuals will do it more. That's what worries me: that we won't "come together"; rather, we'll pull apart in this deluded fantasy of rugged individualism and self-preservation.

I once corresponded with a professor who teaches Game Theory about what nations would do about climate change, and he was not encouraging in the least.

Michael Klare has written some very good books about this idea that nations (like people) will compete against each other to get the resources that remain, hastening the decline, because "in a crisis they do it more."

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Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Mon Aug 19, 2019, 01:50 PM

10. One thing my wife and I didn't do is have lots of children as our parent's generation did.

My parents and my wife's parents were celebrated in their churches and their communities for having many children. At the point it became difficult for them to feed and clothe all their children, when no more of us could be crammed into full sized station wagons, our parents became radical promoters of sex education and birth control. My wife and I had that in common when we met.

Our generation has had zero, one, two, or three biological children per family, averaging close to one. Other children are adopted.

My mom was forced out of her career in radio and television when she and my father decided to have children. That's just the way it was then. When my youngest sibling started preschool she was eager to resume her career.

The economic empowerment of women, realistic sex education, and freely available birth control will make the future a little less grim than it might otherwise be.

Our children are now adults. I hope we have instilled within them the resourcefulness and compassion that will make this world a better place in spite of the damage our current economic and political systems have done to the earth's natural environment and our own human spirit.

I'm an amateur evolutionary biologist by natural inclination and some formal training. I have some intuitive understanding of deep time. This old planet has seen many innovative species come and go, sometimes in an instant. Humans may be one of those species. A million years from now we are nothing more than a curious layer in the geologic record.

Maybe our intellectual offspring will be scattered throughout the solar system, maybe there will be just a few million humans scattered about the earth hunting and gathering, living as our own ancestors did a million years before us. Either outcomes counts as "success" in evolutionary terms.

But most species of life on earth are lost, the earth sheds species as a tree sheds its leaves.

For now we should cherish and protect the species we share the planet with for their fate is our own.

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Response to hunter (Reply #10)

Mon Aug 19, 2019, 02:07 PM

11. "The earth sheds species as a tree sheds its leaves."

I haven't heard that metaphor before. It's brilliant - concise, evocative and meaningful - and it triggers the unexpected shift in perspective that is the hallmark of such phrases.

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