Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Death Stoppers Imperative

Last week I published my new book, Death Stoppers Anthology, along with related music. Included with my favorite fiction and poetry are essays drawn from blog posts that, in my opinion, best address the most pivotal issues I've thought about. The last one, Options For A Reluctant Planet-killer, ended on a somewhat hopeful note when I wrote it back in June; but afterwards I fell again into despair, this time the deepest I have ever felt. A combination of factors contributed to it, which I was able to understand as I completed the memoir that ends the book. My life wasn't objectively worse, but my attitude was. With critical deadlines approaching or already past for transformation of our global culture into something much healthier in order to avoid catastrophe, I felt helpless to make even the slightest contribution, and my self respect was plummeting.

I pulled out of my tailspin and resolved never to let it happen again. The solution and its consequences are what I have been focusing on ever since. Essentially, I accepted that it's better to do whatever you can to solve the problems in front of you, than to hide from them or try to live with them, and it helps immensely to have a plan – even if it's one that needs changing later on. My old poem "Death Stoppers," included in the book (and where it got its title), is an outline of such a plan.

Key to the plan is fearlessness. When you've faced the reality that your life isn't worth much if you keep going in the direction you're going, and the security you expected from doing so is a hollow promise used to control you by people to whom you're just a thing (the root of all evil, as one of my essays explains), then going another way doesn't feel as scary. Knowing this, and feeling it at the deepest level, enables you to buck the system you've been depending upon for your survival, beginning with a fight for transparency and accountability for the damage being done to the world, by yourself and all of us, but especially the people who are most actively and willingly tearing it apart for their personal gain.

As my mathematical model of global population and consumption explains, our present crisis is a result of the relationships between personal happiness, consumption of ecological resources that meet our needs and wants, and population size, coupled with the fact that we have consumed a critical fraction of the ecological resources provided by our planet. This situation has made a few of us effectively too happy; and with no new resources to fuel their very human lust for more happiness, they are tapping into what the rest of us are using. Acceleration of this trend, and the depletion of limited resources used by us and other species who maintain our world's habitability, will cause more and more people to be deprived of their most basic needs, leading to their death and a decline in our overall population that we may never recover from.

Understanding this dynamic supports my argument that evil is a characteristic of actions, not people. We all have the drive to exploit our environment, and the power of physical and cultural technologies has enabled us to do so far more efficiently than our biology allows by forcing us to increasingly treat everything as abstract entities. We can – and must – be forgiven for following our nature and using the tools at our disposal to do so, but it must be accompanied by a commitment to offset it by adopting a set of values, such as love and health of all life, which translates into maintaining a habitable world for our population and the populations of other species whose own happiness is tied to their roles in maintaining its health.

Since we are currently at or near our maximum population, and climate change threatens to reduce ecological resources (including members of other species) regardless of our actions, we need to rapidly convince ourselves and others that: we are facing an existential crisis; we are responsible for it; we can be forgiven for our contribution to it (and thus avoid depression leading to suicide); we must adopt a new set of values that keeps it from accelerating and happening again; and immediate action is imperative. Then we have to take the action, beginning with cleaning up our collective mess and giving natural systems room to recover. That's a tall order, but if we are to be death stoppers instead of death enablers, we need to fill it.