As a culture, we are in such trouble

Posted August 12th, 2011 in Blog, Featured 1 Comment »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

I served jury duty this past week. Now here is a window on the world – who ends up in a county criminal courtroom, what stories, what realities right here where one lives. What goes on hidden behind the poverty and hopelessness, the marginalization, the racism and other forms of discrimination that create neighborhood boundaries and cultural separations, the way in which the comfortable and well-off can seal themselves behind walls of denial that anything about how they/we live has anything to do with this.

Think of England right now, or the mob violence that broke out at our State Fair last week.

We are all responsible. We are all responsible.

The case I heard included 6 counts of first-degree child sexual assault. Three little boys. Hard to write about this. I’m sure I was not the only juror that had trouble sleeping this week.

Why write about this on a website about spirituality and ecology? Not hard to make my point – how we treat one another and how we treat nature are one and the same. The brutality of some, the neglect of others, the selfishness, the lack of compassion, the individualism that insists none of the destruction of human beings or ecosystems has anything to do with me – an attitude underlies this way of life and we see its destructive impacts everywhere, including on the lives of the 3 boys who will probably never fully recover from what was done to them.

Here’s more evidence of what I mean: we have robbed Africa of its resources, taken land from its people, imposed development models based on Western capitalism that have destroyed cultures and communities, replaced local economies with an enforced role in the global economy transferring ‘wealth’ from African peoples to the bloated coffers of multinational corporations – and then we are shocked that there is famine in Somalia. We can hardly look at the scenes of the camps anymore, to see children starving to death.

Is this any different from the way in which racism, poverty, neglect, and selfishness brought about the abuse of the 3 little boys? None of these things need to be happening, none of them occur by accident or happenstance. There is absolutely a way in which to live in this world that protects children from the suffering of violent sexual abuse and starvation. These things happen by willful neglect and selfishness. They happen by way of indifference or the failure to sense what is most true about nature and our place within it – that everything is interconnected, meaning racism has an impact, rage comes from a source, famine has cause and that cause has to do with the way in which we have organized our world.

Here is another way to give evidence of what I mean as this world rocks more and more from the stresses created by our way of life. This quote comes from an article in AlterNet today by David DeGraw:

While 68.3 million Americans struggle to get enough food to eat and wages are declining for 90 percent of the population, US millionaire household wealth has reached an unprecedented level. According to an extensive study by auditing and financial advisory firm Deloitte, US millionaire households now have $38.6 trillion in wealth. On top of the $38.6 trillion this study reveals, they have an estimated $6.3 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.

In total, US millionaire households have at least $45.9 trillion in wealth, the majority of this wealth is held within the upper one-tenth of one percent of the population.

The wealth of the world has never been this skewed. My friends, we are not being governed any longer, we are being ruled. In a world where economic power, and therefore political power, is this concentrated, we have lost the ability to determine our own future.

Given this much power in the hands of so few, think about the forests and the rivers, the wetlands and endangered species, the children in our impoverished urban or rural communities, and tell me what their prospects are.

So I go back to a point I have made here over and over again – and will continue to insist on over and over again:

The only way to create change in this context, the only way to turn back the power of concentrated wealth, is with the power of people actively engaged from the grassroots up, locally, in our communities, our neighborhoods, our faith communities and union halls, in building democracy movements that are ecologically whole in how they operate, that are inclusive, that are in an integral solidarity with the poor, marginalized, and discriminated-against, that are bent on a vision of the human community and embody that vision in how the movements themselves function.

We need to build a new human community embedded within the whole of a healthy ecological community. But while that vision seems way out there in the future some place, it is actually right here in our midst – if we want it. The question is what we are willing to do, what we are willing to give up, what we are willing to change in our own lives to give some of our energy over to creating that new human, that new eco-community.

Why I do this work

As a culture we are in trouble. So is England. So are many places where the turbulence of the world is being manifested in seemingly random and explosive violence, in cruelty towards children (in too many cases the perpetrators being themselves victims of cruelty in their own past), in the rise of violent and intolerant fundamentalisms, in the fierce, cruel concentration of wealth, in ideologies of endless economic growth and consumption, and in the blowing up of mountains for coal, the dumping of toxic waste in our waterways, in the imposing of corporate industrial agriculture on communities in Africa and around the world.

It’s all connected. And because that is true, we must work to create different kinds of connections. And once again, the root of a spirituality of ecological wholeness is compassion. If violence and injustice is our bond, we will get more violence and injustice. If compassion is our bond, we move immediately into a different kind of connection, one that heals and nurtures. It is the only answer I know to what happened to those 3 little boys, to the starving mothers and children in Somalia, and to the precious life-giving eco-communities of our planet.


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One Response

  1. hombredelatierra

    The craziness we see is – in part – displaced fear / aggression. People recognize that “we have a problem” though many deny their own recognition. The denied fear / frustration / rage do not evaporate (since the real problems are not being addressed!) but are blocked from being acted upon.

    Such a situation is physiologically / psychologically / culturally / spiritually intolerable. People must either find ways to ESCAPE (psychotropes: legal or illegal; the delusional “solutions” of cultism: religious or political) or TARGETS to vent displaced aggression against (scapegoats)- recall what happened it Norway recently..

    Now the $50 million Question: WHY are people “blocked from acting” on recognized problems? We are – supposedly – living in “free societies” – in the West at least. So people SHOULD be free to act on recognized (and accepted) problems. WHY then do they deny those problems? WHY don’t they act?

    1- In actuality, despite public lip service to freedom in the West, many people today feel disempowered, disenfranchised, anomic, hopeless. Example: Free Marketeers deify the “invisible hand” of “Market Forces”. These “forces” become a Destiny against which no force may prevail, no alternative dream is possible. In reality, this is the “overly determined” universe of the fascist – or the paranoid – we are dealing with here. Since the Free Market idiotology is the dominant one today, many feel themselves to be disempowered: their sole souce of “empowerment” lies in the brutalization – real or virtual – of somehow considered lower down on the totem pole. Again, recall what happened recently in Norway..

    2- While superficially counter-intuitive, it is actually in the interests of Ruling Elites to feign powerlessness before the Mamon / Moloch of “Market Forces”: the myth pre-emptively disempowers those who might otherwise challenge their usurpation of power in democratic societies. Disempowerment of the “masses” is a mechanism of social regulation, social control favoring the maintenance of an (unsustainable, suicidal) status quo: the world is run by madmen!

    “The people in this town are not interested in sharing, they are only interested in HOLDING ONTO WHAT THEY’VE GOT” – Ron, a high school class mate; age: about 17; future electrical engineer; circa 1965.

    These are the people running / ruining the world today..

    Collective psychosis / psychose sociale ??