And the Darkness Goes POOF
“Lacking ecological insight it is all to easy to blame a sinister cabal, the one percent, a hostile government, incompetent bureaucracy or corrupt politicians for our troubles. Not to say all these and more did not have a hand in creating the mess we are now in, they certainly did. Yet, they too were being played by the sea changes overshoot is bringing about. As the coming century brings adjustment and correction to the human race it will be all too easy to fall prey to the rhetoric of a Caesar selling us a story we want to hear; the American dream was stolen by evil forces, the promise of the Enlightenment’s improvement of the human being was perverted by scheming cabals in corporate boardrooms, the nations are again soaking in blood because of greedy warmongers. . . “
Scott Erway, Mindful Ecology
Liars hurt us.
May your lies be bound, we pray.
I would like to thank you all, this army of courageous contemplatives, for finding your way to embrace the earth with your naked hearts. Today it is the beautiful planet’s natural systems that are threatened on every side, being hurt in the pursuit of status, power and money by short-sighted, hardhearted people blind to what they do. Earth is the one calling in our hearts and minds to be set free from our ignorance and we will not be able to shut out its cry. Earth is the poorest of the poor now as Pope Francis taught clearly.
Did you visit the prisoner?
I have turned on the television. We do not use our mouths for what they are designed for, to speak the truth in kindness. The result is that today all the world literally must cover every mouth, veil every tongue. Is this not a profoundly appropriate witness to our children alive today as each small mind deeply absorbs this altered human face, this altered human environment? We are only eyes now, watchers watching. The one-way mass media put porn in every pocket with an ideology of pedophilia justifying it every step of the way and now these overly sophisticated nervous system hacks have succeeded in “gluing eyeballs to the screen”. . . and all but silencing rational discourse. Literate culture is no longer in the drivers seat. We are mutilated.
The children look at us burning their skies with every drop of gasoline we ignite today, day after day, gallon after gallon and it quite simply no longer matters what we say, we the masked ones. You can poison people with your words. You can also poison cultures with your words if given access to the public square. These are facts of the psychological order but they are just as real as rocks. Mankind is in profound need of healing from verbal abuse, are we not? The way out is down. Only a penitential recognition of the true state of affairs promises a way forward. A wound cannot be treated if we refuse to allow its examination and the wound to our psyches from this multi-generational bombardment of vocal trash and toxicity is just such a beast.
You need to wake up to the horror.
It is the movement that simultaneously begins healing: this is the wound, this is how to treat it. We are in the situation of any adult who had been traumatized as a child. True healing only begins by first stating clearly and exactly the truth about their failed caregivers, daring the wrath of abandonment, humility and rejection by what feels like God Himself as they seem to betray “Honor thy father and thy mother.” Through trauma studies we now know that this false god had to fall if the victimized are to have any chance at recovery. I suggest our cultural life is at a very similar crossroads and that the recovering individual reclaiming sanity, self and boundaries is an apt metaphor for the challenge we face collectively. We are traumatized by the weapons and the ecological and cultural collapse and we need to stop our Stockholm Syndrome response right now. We seem terrified to challenge the sources of lies and misuse of language’s power generally. We are chicken but we can learn to hear the rooster crow! Like Peter we can feel the bitter tears of our betrayal of life itself. What happened to the innocence of childhood? Where did it go? How much did we sell it for? Who among you older folk can really plumb the depths of an adolescent trained with the intermittent rewards of electronic interpersonal addictions? If the pain that the earth is suffering does not move you, might this?
We need backbone to face the truth that in a world of increasing population and diminished or destroyed necessary resources (think food) the probability of global nuclear war only increases by the year. Shall we add a final poisoning of tens of thousands of years to the toxicity we have already allowed into the air, water and the soils? Shall this be our crowning legacy for our children or will we stop the madness before it reaches this point? In all truth, from what I have seen and all I have studied I do believe this is our shared situation today. We seriously need to have empathy for one another struggling under this burden of history that is ours. Those of us who have found the interior castle need to spread the peace we know to a world so desperately in need of it. Their harried effort to drive themselves over the cliff is accelerating, a dive into the abyss as a final act of worship to these idols of money, status and consumerism. They need to be touched by the good news: earth and we as its most awe inspiring and wonderful fruit, none of this was designed to fail. The insects and the wolves, Leviathan and Behemoth, the whale and the hippo and all the other forms by which the creator showers life with its abundance – every eye, every heartbeat, every breath of respiration witness to us of the power and the glory of that with which history deals for it is not unconnected to that with which evolutionary science deals. Nor is the long evolution of spiritual ideas within countless individual attempts to listen to just that creator any less real. We do learn to set aside pride for dignity of membership. “Thank God,” Thomas Merton once wrote, “I am like other men!”
Since we are in this together the question before us is whether or not we can truly reason through the questions of value being thrown in our masked faces by events. How? One individual at a time wakes up to the truth that this is a sacred world. In a deep place where the spirit dwells we share this truth, passing our candle flame to a brother or sister’s candle so that they too may know light and warmth. That very act kindles in others a thirst for authenticity. This aligns them with the cosmos.
What I have been calling the Dark Child is the abused child that is silent no more. It always comes bearing a prophetic message, a word of judgement. Today, as Fall begins, Greta Thunberg brought that message to the world. So too has the Pope.
Now What ?
It is such a sacred world, how dare you not reverence it? Mindful Ecology: A Way Forward is a serious response to the seriousness of the crisis. It outlines a next good step for you to take, if you will. Are you depressed? Angry? If you are being called, do the homework, discipline yourself to the spiritual calling that it really is, these tears you shed for the earth. Tomorrow is not set in stone. Pray, meditate, contemplate; do so around ecological issues, earth’s beauty, or the cosmic wonder for 15 – 20 minutes every day. Let it shape you. No one can tell you what you need to do in response to the call you are receiving. Train and you will come to know what you need to know for yourself. Trust the heart, violence is not the way, there is another path.
Thank you, child, for speaking the true word for our time. There in the halls of power the question was raised that is fundamentally at the heart of our protest against the fossil fueled industrialized military complex. She asked the existing generation of leaders,
Who do you serve, God or Mammon?
Now What ?
The Emperor has no clothes! Oh my, where do we go from here? Mr. and Mrs. Exxon, the children want the planet back. What are you going to do? Nuclear war? More death camps? Don’t you dare do it in the name of Christ. The Pope spoke clearly, “build bridges, not walls.” It may all sound so right, this economic nationalism which, after all, correctly names the evils of globalization but, but. . . history includes many injustices against the poor. The rich cannot now say we start over at square one, now that the resources are trashed. Besides, the rich core is rotten and the South American Spirit is on the rise, bloody yes after so many years of CIA trained administrations but also filled with hope. Hope is something in rare supply just now in the overdeveloped world. Name the black and all the colors return everywhere else.
Every fossil fuel dependency our global civilization requires for its survival needs to be reversed, re-engineered or stopped as quickly as possible. Ask scientists who understand the reality of the lag involved in climate change when ALL carbon based fuel use should stop and they will say something like, ‘next March.’ Those who are starting to march understand.
Now what ?
The gulf between public words and the private experience of reality has rarely in history been this great. The disconnect between those of us who see the way Homo Colossus spreads death and destruction in its wake and those who do not is increasing. This is not a game, it reaches to the roots of each individual’s perception of the world they encounter day in and day out. These ecological facts carry the radical roots of revolutionary change for all of us, ready or not, like it or not.
If we lose Mercy, we lose it all. Yes, there needs to be a turning towards justice in truth. Yes, radically the operation will cut to the roots and the triage tents might seem small right up to the point the tide turns in our favor, but the tide will turn because the unsustainable will not be sustained. Do not miss your precious opportunity to take your place on the battlefield! Hit the triage tents and bind up your wounds and the wounds of your friends and then march out strong and confident back to the front lines. Just speak the truth, day after day, first to yourself and then to others. We have lost our reverence for the sacred that is everywhere on display throughout the natural world. We will learn to recover it and teach it to others. Never again will we allow a human abstraction, e.g. money, to blind us to the reality of the molecular world that is at hand and before our eyes everyday. The depression and anger you feel is a spiritual calling. Nurtured properly it will teach you your own way back to the path of reverence and you will enter the sacred world. You will see that this sublime order that is Earth and our presence on it is, in fact, sacred. Earth and all its glory is our inheritance, a gift to each of us being extended in all its bounty freely and profusely, right here and right now. The way we treat this sacredness that is right at hand is, today, utterly shameful. I do believe, as do many, many millions of others, that this will not always be the case.
Have you heard the voice of thunder?
I would like to share a few thoughts this earth day. It has been awhile since I added a new essay to this site but, happily, the number of subscribers continues to rise. Though this is just one voice among many I do believe it is unique in its focus on the physical, emotional and spiritual impact our ecological transgressions have on people of goodwill who dare to study these things. I hope my readers remain centered in peace. The fact that the ecological news just keeps getting worse and the policies of the powerful corporations and governments do not change in any proportionate degree are wholly expected. Mindful of our ecological reality we expect nothing less.
Once again the public discourse fails to have the courage required for an adult conversation concerning the true state of the earth’s ecosystems, the primary causes of their accelerating destruction and the essential changes to our cultures and lifestyles required to respond effectively. Now the magic numbers being bandied about are “we only have a decade left to change our ways,” as if the time lag built into climate change had not already pushed us over the cliff and we do not already see tipping points in our rear-view mirror. The BBC’s recent and praiseworthy effort, Climate Change: The Facts (on YouTube here, today anyway) is a good example. It is just not possible to have a public conversation that does not include the happy chapter at the end — you know, the one that promises everything will be alright with a few technological adjustments here and there, though they may cost a bit, our perpetual shopping need never end. I think the happy chapter is a lie. I applaud the wisdom and courage of Greta Thunberg and the Youth Strike 4 Climate activities, this is just the type of dark child awakening I have been saying we should expect. She stated quite clearly when she refused to keep going to school, paraphrasing, what’s the point when business-as-usual has no future? Why go to school to learn more facts when the most important facts, the ecological ones, are being so routinely ignored? The happy chapter is wearing thin.
This is a time for repentance. Those who push the delusion of a new green economy uncoupled to a whole new set of human and social values are selling a chimera designed to avoid that necessary sorrowful confession of our failings. The happy chapter at the end of so many books analyzing the facts of ecological and social collapse is becoming ever more difficult to believe in. The magical incantation we have been repeating since the 1970’s, ‘we only have a decade more to change our ways’ rings hollow. As the ice melts and the fires burn, the methane bubbles and the holy wars get hotter the beginning of a properly proportional response breaks out here and there. I see Mindful Ecology as one such response, not that what I have to say is all that critical but that these thoughts occur to someone like myself is a true sign of the times. What father of goodwill, educated in the ecological facts, does not struggle daily with the pain of our pervasive biological, cultural and spiritual poisons? Isn’t this what is driving the disruptive demonstrations of Extinction Rebellion as well?
So much for European news. Here in the land of the free, free to burn fossil fuels from the moment we rise to the moment we fall asleep and nothing else, here the ecological news is so bleak as to defy description. We certainly do not have anything like the sane and scientific presentation of the BBC or demonstrations such as what is happening in England and Sweden. No, here the news of the day, literally today, news designed to bring despair to one and all who care about the issues constellated on earth day is. . . wait for it. . . exceptions to Iran’s oil sanctions will end in a few weeks. Sadly, thoughtful people everywhere cannot but wonder if this petrochemical administration is not simply marching us closer to the threshold of World War III.
Here is why I am writing to you today. Do not let the carefully planned fear mongering lead you to terror. Do not let it squeeze the spirit out of your soul and your soul out of your body but keep your seat, keep your perspective. All the evil that men and woman do will never overcome the power and wisdom blooming everywhere throughout our garden planet. We walk on sacred ground born from the mysteries of deep time and deep space. Though the depths of these deep wells may look like a dark night to us, they are in fact wells of light. The order we see on display everywhere still sings of an intelligence only a fool would name meaningless chaos.
More than ever we need to hone our triage skills. The dark child grows stronger in saying “NO” to all those forces — human and cosmic — that would sacrifice its life on the altar of convenience and quarterly profits. It is time we raise our voice until it is heard, yet all the while remaining on our guard against the jack boot thugs willing to dress in green to steal our vision and pervert our hope. Kindness born from compassion is still, and will remain, the way forward. We need a call to repentance, a turning around born of sorrow and simple sackcloth and ashes, to ring out all across the earth, not a call to war. Small is still beautiful.
As promised, the book dealing with the subjects of this web site is now available. The book form allowed me to develop arguments and ideas in more depth as well as providing a more permanent form of the objection we are making to the insanity of business as usual.
“Limiting global warming to 1.5ºC would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment.”
The IPCC report currently in the headlines is timid, in my studied opinion, yet even so is enough to strike terror into the hearts of those capable of absorbing its message. May those hurting in these days of dark news find their way to the healing fountain of joyous gratitude and learn once again to play. . .
Read more about the book here.