Heaven knows, I have plenty of inducement. But there is a reason for being, and continuing, and striving for sanity.
Every day, I feel the need to check the news. Every day, I wish I hadn’t. Worldwide, politics has gone crazy. Apart from the President of Slovakia, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and the President of Uruguay, I consider most rulers to be suicidal dinosaurs. They include a mass murderer, those whose policy is hate and discrimination, those with a history of personally exploiting others, and almost all who do as their owners tell them.
Corporations are those owners. This would be fine if they acted for the best, with long term considerations governing their decisions, but the exact opposite is the case. We are now facing the extinction of all complex life on Earth because of the short-term selfishness of Exxon, Bayer-Monsanto, and their ilk, thousands of them. Profit is their only consideration. And what is money anyway? It is a fiction, a set of zeroes in computers, and something you can’t take with you when you die.
Billions of people are suffering because a very few keep increasing their wealth, without limit. I wish I had less empathy…
I love young people. Anyone born in 1993 or after is my grandchild; anyone born in 1968 or later is my child, wherever they live, whatever their language, religion if any, the colour of their skin. I want them to have a future, knowing they won’t. And I want that future to be a GOOD place, where people care for each other rather than for Monopoly tokens like money, status, fame, power. I want a world where most people are content with their lives.
And the world is rapidly moving the other way.
Oh, I know the reasons. One is the Calhoun effect: humans, like other animals, automatically correct overpopulation in multiple ways, including terrible stress-related diseases, the breakdown of society’s structure, suicidal depression, and mindless aggression.
The other, as I have demonstrated in several places like the essay How to change the world, and my book, From Depression to Contentment, is that consumer society is based on unhappiness. People contented with what they have don’t buy. So, it’s back to greed.
All my writing, and everything else I’ve done since 1972, has been inspired by my aim of working for a survivable future, and one worth surviving in. Lately, though, my writing has dried up. My emotional energy focuses on politics, protest, joining with others to work on our extinction emergency: to wake up people to the danger. Writing, and promoting my books, seems almost selfish. I can’t drag up the energy for it.
But can we do anything? And how do I manage to stay sane?
There are good answers to both these questions.
What can we do?
Air is made up of incredibly tiny molecules. When lots of those molecules move together, you can have a Category 5 hurricane. If enough people changed their lives to maximise the chances of survival, to move toward compassion and caring and cooperation, we’d have a chance.
Survival doesn’t lie with more technology, renewable or otherwise, but of deliberately reducing the impact of our lives; of refusing to buy into consumer society; of sabotaging economic growth, which is the cancer of this planet. It is distinguishing wants from needs, and divesting ourselves from wants. Then we can change our living circumstances and the world around us, to convert needs to wants.
We need to follow the teaching of all the great religions, and atheists can stay atheists and still do so. This will build a better world, whether that survives or not.
Mother Teresa said, help one person at a time, and start with the one nearest to you. So, my wife picks up rubbish in the streets of Healesville, and volunteers in an opp shop (you may know this as a thrift shop). I drive old people to their medical appointments. We both look out for being of service to people — even people we don’t particularly like.
Our electricity consumption is one-thirteenth of that of our neighbourhood. All our household waste water either flushes the toilet or waters plants. Our 2009 Prius needs fuel approximately 60 days apart, and then not a full tank.
I am not setting us up as wonderful in any way, but showing that you can live a suburban lifestyle and still minimise your impact. Every little bit counts, as long as you don’t go in for tokenism.
Australia has two major political parties, both of which have major donors who own them. Victoria’s Premier cannot stop logging despite bushfires destroying a huge proportion of the forests, because the relevant union owns him. The Prime Minister cannot act on climate change, because the coal industry owns him.
Third in place is the Australian Greens, and I am a proud member.
This party refuses to accept large donations from any corporation or union. Any donations over $1500 are publicly declared.
Policy is designed and modified by the membership, not by some select group. This policy is based on science. It is compassionate, respectful and equalitarian by design, and exactly matches what I have been striving for all these years.
And yet, the Greens vote languishes at around 10%. I cannot understand how 90% of my compatriots can be so short-sighted.
One of my initiatives is to convince the Greens to create a support organisation of high-school-age kids. I’ve constructed a questionnaire I want to circulate, once the concept is approved. Here is the preamble to it:
Hundreds of thousands of young Australians participated in the global climate strikes. There is a good reason. Greta Thunberg is right: we must listen to the scientists. The science tells us that the future is bleak, and it is the young people’s future.
For hundreds of years, each generation has stolen from its future. There is no more future to steal from. This is it: the young people of today have realised, they need to fight for life.
There are many ways of doing this, and we must use them all.
Words are useless. Again, Greta is right: we need to DO things differently. Everything we do should be designed to reduce our impact.
Much of the damage is done by a few big global businesses. We need to use our money to pressure them to improve their game. Now.
We need to become knowledgeable about the relevant issues, and lead everyone to change their personal lives.
They are not listening, or they agree in words, and do nothing. Gandhi used nonviolent protest to free India. Martin Luther King used nonviolent protest to fight for equality. Protest stopped the Vietnam war.
But this is not enough. There is also politics, which influences everything. Politics has enormous power, and those of us who want to save a future need to be involved in it.
The Australian government is currently the Liberal-National COALition. They are dinosaurs galloping toward extinction. Since the last Federal elections, Labor have shown themselves to be Liberal Lite. They are no better.
The only political force for survival is the Australian Greens.
If you want a future for yourself, your friends and family, for everyone, you need to personally take political action. This means becoming a Greens supporter.
Within the next few years, you will be of voting age. Your generation is showing an understanding and passion previous ones have lacked, and need to adopt.
The Australian Greens encourage your activism, want to enhance your impact, and help you to ensure that your commitment to a survivable and decent future is maintained.
You don’t need to be a teenager to take this message on board. Join us.
Elsewhere on Bobbing Around, I have reproduced the last section of my novel, Ascending Spiral, which sets out the same logic differently.
OK, so about 90% of Australians, and the overwhelming majority of people elsewhere, too, are galloping toward extinction. I am not stupid, and can see that working for survival is probably futile. Whatever we do is way too little, way too late, and the forces opposing us have the money, the power.
Since 2015, my fun has been writing the Doom Healer series. In there is Bdud, a villain who invaded Earth 10,000 years ago. His job is to push humanity onto the path of greed, conflict, hate and fear, to breed us up to exceed the carrying capacity of the planet, then to have us die en masse, with as much misery as possible.
Our Universe does have a defence. Certain species have evolved to guide life like ours when it has departed from the progress toward enlightenment. Two such beings are here, helping us.
There is also a reincarnating spirit who started 10,000 years ago. If the invader is a virus, this person is the antibody. Prophecies have foretold the final duel between these two. In Christianity and Islam, this is the Second Coming.
Well, outside my computer, I can see plenty of evidence for Bdud, but none for the Saviour.
So, why don’t I just give up?
Because I can best fight Bdud by refusing to buy into greed, conflict, hate and fear. There is sound scientific evidence for reincarnation. We go round and round the wheel of life, going up and down, but, inevitably, growing, until we have learned the Ultimate Lesson, and become enlightened. The Dalai Lama has said, enlightenment is so we can be of service, and “My religion is kindness.”
So, all of us are apprentice Buddhas. Being temporarily associated with a body is a means of learning. Nothing else matters. Win or lose, succeed or fail, live to an old age or die young, enjoy the tokens society values or live a life of deprivation — all of it is immaterial. Whatever cards you were dealt, you are successful if you play them in a way that advances you spiritually.
This is my consolation, and the reason for keeping up the effort. I want to make a difference, to make our world a better place, to have a future for all the young people everywhere. If I succeed, great. If not, I have still done my task as an apprentice Buddha, however far I may still be from enlightenment.
From my personal past life recalls, I know there are other seats of life in the universe. So, when the students burn this school that is Earth down, we can continue elsewhere, progressing toward perfection.
So, if you also experience environmental despair, let me invite you: do your best, work for a survivable future, and one worth surviving in, but don’t worry about outcome. We do the best we can do, and it is good enough, even if the dinosaurs succeed in global suicide.
You will find three other relevant resources here.
This post came about because Rhobin Courtright’s challenge for her round robin participants is to look at the influence of politics on our writing.
My reaction? Politics is STRANGLING my writing!
This then grew into a major rave, which, hopefully, can be a resource for others struggling with the same issues.
If you approve, I’ll be grateful for many shares, and spreading around the link to this post.
Please comment, then visit the other participants in this round robin. Oh, the only thing is, their contributions will come live on 22nd February.
Latecomer to your work and this post – just finished “Ascending Spiral.” I’ve read all of Michael Newton’s books. Curious what your take is on WHY life (at least the kind we know and most of the ones you reference in your book) has generally started with conditions that promote violence and self-preservation, e.g. ecosytems reliant on a food chain…
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Bonnie, what a challenging question!
The straight answer is, I don’t know. After all, I was very young when life started evolving. 🙂
My understanding of evolution is that if there is a way of making a living, some organism will fill it. So, if I get nourishment from sunlight, I make organic matter that’s food for someone else, on and on, round and round.
And scientific evidence shows that even plants feel pain. That is a great survival mechanism.
All the same, the major force running our universe is metta, or universal love. http://bobswriting.com/bill/metta.html
Perhaps the answer is in the title of that book, “Ascending Spiral.” Everything needs to start at, well, the start. That is savagery, and we then grow from that.
I’ve reviewed “The Old Testament Case for Nonviolence” by Matthew Fleischer here: https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/bobbing-around-volume-19-number-2/#matthewf He argues that the acts of violence in the Torah are only early steps toward Love for All (which is also in the Old Testament, in Leviticus).
Anyway, thank you for tickling the old neurons.
You do know that if you have bought “Ascending Spiral,” you have earned a free electronic copy of any of my other books? Please email a review to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll publish it in the next issue of my newsletter.
And this q&a is so interesting that I’m asking your permission: may I publish it too?
Your new friend,
Yes, of course. I am thinking about all of this and more as I too am a writer working on my second novel which is delving into these questions. If you ever want to chat further about any of this, let me know!
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Bonnie, please send me a message via my contact form!
A lot to consider…I’m your era – my kids are your kids’ ages, my grandkids, too. I worry about the world we leave them, but less so the physical one than the one filled with hate, divisiveness and violence.
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I agree, Skye. What’s the point of survival in a hateful, hate-filled world?
Yes, Bob, the Earth is suffering from the human population’s growth and their actions. Hopefully, more awake to the consequences and change before civilization ends.
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Thank you for visiting, and reading this rather long post. I keep sane by divorcing myself from outcome. If civilization ends, it ends. It’s not that civil anyway. I’ll do my best to build a BETTER world, regardless.
Sound Eagle, I did have a look at your magnificent encyclopaedia of Chinese entertainment, but I have a rather overwhelming number of things awaiting my attention. So, it was a quick look rather than an exploration.
Dear Dr Bob Rich,
Thank you for giving us another very sobering but highly edifying post.
Have you celebrated the Chinese New Year in any way? Here’s a fun post that I recently published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/soundeagle-in-chinese-new-year-celebration-spring-festival-lion-dance-food-ornaments-traditional-culture-and-architecture/
Though my said post is very long and encyclopaedic, the three navigational menus there can help you to jump to any section of the post instantly so that you can resume reading at any point of the post over multiple sessions in your own time.
Please enjoy the said post’s attendant “attractions” and multimedia extravaganza taking you on a worldwide cultural journey.
Any of your Chinese friends would be very impressed or even shocked if you were to regurgitate to them just a fraction of the contents of the said post.
If you like cooking, there are some fantastic food and yummy cuisines to tempt you in the post, plus a lot of videos showing how the Chinese New Year is celebrated in different countries and regions of the world.
Happy mid-February to you!
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Sound Eagle, my dear son, no I haven’t celebrated Chinese New Year. But then, I didn’t celebrate Roman new year either.
As I wrote in the last Bobbing Around when announcing my 77th birthday, every second is a new start: a new birth-moment, so also a new year.
My wish for you is that all those moments be full of purpose and meaning.
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Thank you, my dear godfather. Please kindly visit my said post as I would like to receive some feedback from you regarding your impression of the post and my approach used in the post.
We both certainly have another thing in common: publishing long and expansive posts.
Like Father Like Son! 🙂
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