Friday, August 26, 2011

Apathy & Hedonism

It's been suggested that dealing with the realities of climate change and/ or peak oil is like going through the stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It's important to note that these stages are not in any real order, nor are they complete. Additionally, one my slip back into any of them later, acceptance not necessarily being an "end" stage, but more of a temporary state between bouts of the other, less fun stages.
I have been feeling a lapsing of acceptance recently, receding back into denial and it's various permutations. Retail therapy is nice, and I've been buying art supplies, and getting my mind off of the ugly state of the world by retreating into my normal pattern of unsustainability and hedonism. I'm working on some art projects, going to work, and living day by day as so many of us do. I sometimes fin myself thinking: Why bother adjusting my life if I will have to eventually anyway? Block out all the misery and war, all the inevitability of our demise, and be happy for what you do have.
This may sound really absurd, but I ruminate on and remember fondly often an old episode of ALF.
yep, that ALF

Anyway- He has some brush with death that I don't recall- and realizes his own mortality in a really visceral way. He becomes monomaniacal, obsessed with the potential for his own demise.
He can't do anything about it, but he sure as hell can try.
He won't leave the house, because some disaster may befall him outside. Then he begins to see the danger all around him in his own home, and moves into the garage and won't budge. Eventually the little boy makes him see that, in essence, even in the most prepared, safe environment- he is vulnerable, and there is simply no way to make his well being a sure thing. He comes to accept that he may be hit by a car, or caught by the bad guys, or a can of paint might fall off a shelf and hit him in the head, but the very act of being alive puts him at risk for death.
This all seemed very profound as a kid, and helped me get over my acute fear of nuclear holocaust (Thanks to Akira Kurosawa's Dreams for that one) and become ok with the fact that things are really finite.

I guess that's kind of how I've been feeling. A conscientious denial. Ok, so the world is going to get worse, not better. But it's not specifically your fault and there's certainly nothing you can do personally to fix it. I can do things to make myself feel better, but they won't necessarily be to my advantage, because I cant see the future, and nor can anyone else, and as much as I try to make my life more transition friendly, there's absolutely no guarantee that it will have any affect at all on the well being of my family or myself.
If I plant a garden to help my family eat, there are any number of reasons my efforts could be in vain, for instance.
Not to say I should neglect doing the things I can that will potentially help and certainly not hurt- but to spend so much time fixated on the problem won't help me.
It seems obvious, but when faced with the information at hand of how the world is declining even now, it's hard to integrate calm into my life.
I guess I just hit a wall. At a certain point I just get ineffectually angry, but can't make change happen. So I have to step back from that information for awhile and cool off or I'll just get more and more pissed and depressed until I'm useless.
There's not a good end point here so I'm just going to leave it with this. I have what I have now, and for now, I'm happy and things are good. I should prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and not think too hard about what the worst may be and how likely it is to happen or what it might be, because we simply can't know the future.
Be aware, be informed, do what you can, but remember to be happy for what you have and appreciate this short, interesting, awesome life, or something.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One Point for the Doomers

Sometimes it's a little (or a lot) depressing and/or scary to think of the effects that the confluence of peak resources and climate change will have on this planet, and sometimes I feel almost excited for the change. I really don't know what will happen next. Sometimes, I feel like "Wow, it's about time mama nature kicked our asses."
When stuff like the griping, piddling, and quarreling that's happening in Washington about some unbelievable amount of money that we are mysteriously allowed to owe becomes a topic of "should we/ shouln't we" is the focus of our attention, rather than: "How did we get here, how can we fix this?" or "This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs, let's reexamine our expectations as a nation and figure out how we can solve this. If we don't fix this now, we'll be up shit creek right quick." I tend to lean towards the most nhilistic of these thought patterns.

Yep, we have it coming
(photo credit, me 2001)

A friend of mine on Facebook asked the seemingly innocuous question "should it or should it not be a constitutional amendment, given our current situation, to balance the budget" and a heated debate about the debt-limit ensued, but no one ever asked these basic questions.
No one said that we might be here because we have become used to a lifestyle that we cannot support (except me)- no one said, these are maybe not the questions our government should be asking. We have issued ourselves a credit card with a limit of a gajillion dollars- should we make it a gajillion an one? should we cut these basic social services, or these? (B/c of course taxing the wealthy and not being in several military scuffles at a time is out of the question) Do we really HAVE to be responsible? It's like saying:

"We are on fire, and currently burning to death, but I just noticed that our Prada Bag is getting a little warm, do you think we should set it down before it catches fire?"

We're suffering from the most epic case of denial that I can possibly imagine. When posed with this problem, it's such a surreal issue I can't even begin to formulate an answer.
When, in the near future, we are posed with questions that are much more severe, like water availability, or gasoline shortage- I begin to realize that the basic and fundamental questions I was previously certain we would ask ourselves will go totally by the wayside.
We will (and have currently) ignore/d the real issues, and try desperately to treat the symptom rather than the disease.
Tonight, I side with the doomers.

I am very afraid that we will not ask ourselves Why, How, or What can we do as a nation to fix this before it's too late to prevent catastrophic destruction. Rather- will put off the reality of it and continue to occupy this state of denial (it has cable!) until we have destroyed any possible hope of salvaging a graceful decent. We will eradicate our own future and that of our children's because taking the bus to work and turning off your lights is too much of a pain in the ass.

This is what I am most afraid of, and the more I see of human nature, the more likely it seems.