I awoke this morning and read two scary articles courtesy of the terror of my RSS feeder. First, Dave Pollard counted down the order in which his domino theory of outright planetary collapse may unfold. Then, I read Andrew Simms article on why we only have 100 months left before reaching the tipping point for runaway climate change.
Neither of these scenarios are unfamiliar me, but something about waking up this morning and reading them straight off got my attention. I started thinking about what to do and started reflecting on some of the things that I am already doing.
There are levels on which we work and live as a human being. From the personal to the cosmic, we live nested in spheres of influence and connections that sustain us. So here is my thumbnail take on what we can do at different levels. While I aspire to these, and practice many of them, I’m not perfect, which is why the first one makes sense.
- Practice meditation or personal inquiry so that you have the wits to handle massive change that lies beyond your control. If you are the kind of person that completely loses it whenever the power goes off you have work to do. Meditation and inquiry also generates compassion for yourself and others, which is a key capacity.
- Erase your debt, get out of the credit economy.
- Wean yourself as much as possible off of products and services that you don’t need and that contribute to waste, carbon emissions and debt.
- Choose wisely how you spend your money. Invest in local food and food producers and in local businesses to strengthen the economy around you.
- Grow your own food, and learn how to take care of your body, your home and your things.
- Do not be a passive consumer of anything, including ideas and entertainment.
- Do what you can. ASk for help. Work with others.
- Think about your work and what you are being trained for. Euan put me on to an old George Monbiot piece on this.
- If you have children in your family, don’t send them to school. Investigate alternatives that will raise them up as learners, able to adopt to change rather than fixed in old knowledge and old paradigms. Help your children participate in your community and help your community understand that the place for children and youth is ANYWHERE, not locked away for seven hours a day in schools.
- Families are an economy of scale bigger than one. It makes sense to work together in learning about your home and community, growing food and looking after one another.
- Use the family relationships as a practice ground for working with relationships. Apply what you learn there to working with others.
- Work with others to meet common needs. For example, start up a community shared agriculture program to enhance food security.
- Learn how to work together well. Learn good processes, and be conscious about how you are with others.
- Offer what you can and ask for what you need.
- Participate in local affairs and in what people in your community are doing to sustain positive futures for yourselves.
- Make meetings count. Especially if you have to travel, then make sure that what you are doing is spending your time, carbon emissions and money wisely. There might come a time when meeting to set good relationships and exchange good ideas is a thing of the past.
- Andrew Simms has a god line in his 100 months piece: “the government must lead.” If climate change is the issue, governments must lead in setting the kinds of targets, incentives and influence that the market needs to make alternative possible. It cannot be up to us alone to tend our victory gardens and turn off our lights. Governments at all levels must take responsibility for how the influence or don’t influence the environment that makes it possible to change. In Canada, our government is not doing anything meaningful to mitigate climate change. So either I could run for office, or vote for someone who will. In the meantime, I can continue to practice personally in defiance of the mainstream economic model that is killing us.
- Writing about and practicing these kinds of strategies does have the effect of tipping the collective consciousness. When it comes to radical changes, individuals lead, and governments follow, sometimes very far behind. Global corporations are the last to change most of the time. Local governments and local business change first. Support those shifts.
Above all, don’t lose heart. If you lose heart you become a significant part of the problem. If you withdraw, you become a burden on the system, and worse if you refuse to change, you continue to give a tacit mandate for the status quo to continue, if only to meet your needs. If anything, these doomsday scenarios are useful for throwing into relief the kinds of daily choices that we make. Above all, act with consciousness in what you are doing. Consider the consequences and actions and let people know about strategies that work.
That’s what I’m learning these days.