“Business, as usual, is over!” Says Terence McKenna in one of his lyrical, eloquent discourses, (this one set to music, which I found on YouTube.) “And now it’s between those who would like us to lie down in a state of half-witted anaesthesia anticipating ruin, or those who would have us stand up and claim our birthright and go forward into a shamanic domain of the spirit that exists when the human soul and the soul of the earth are united as one.”
“Business, as usual, is over,” is good news actually, business, as usual, is definitely not working for the planet, although we don’t really know what else to do because we are all so stuck in a rut. “Business as usual,” is a system, which insists on most people compromising themselves, their families and their resources in order to make ends meet. Many feel they are on a treadmill and never seem to get above simply paying the bills. Others have already accumulated so much wealth that they are addicted to and all the trappings it comes with, and then there are the rest of the planet who are living in a perpetual state of poverty and lack, which requires every inch of their energy and resources just to get through surviving one day at a time. So they are stuck too.
The “state of half-witted anaesthesia” Terence McKenna so eloquently describes, is a very amusing description of the ways we try to blot it all out and ignore the warnings. The culture that keeps us comfortable: drinking beer (and or smoking weed,) watching sport or playing video games or getting lost in some kind of ego fantasy on social media, while eating convenient comfort food and wishing it all away.
There are also those who feel they are working on making a change, by signing petitions of Facebook, attending rallies and even global conferences on Climate Change, trying their best to make a difference in every way they can. And this is all good and it helps, but there is still some kind of block, which holds proper progress back.
The kind of progress that we need now is radical progress. We are talking putting a complete stop to mining for fossil fuels, changing the way things are done so that there are no more damaging carbon emissions. We are talking about no more centralized power systems and power stations. (There is a huge discussion about all the possible alternatives.) We are talking about a change in the way food is produced away from industrial agriculture. We are talking about empowering the people and the soil again. (There is a whole discussion about solutions to this and it’s now called Agroecology.) It would require a complete break down of a system which has been running for at least a century and causing all this environmental trouble. It’s a big change we are talking about.
Unfortunately, civil society and the policymakers and the government and corporate shakers do not seem to be on the same page. So no matter how much the people cry out, the ones holding the power don’t seem to take much notice, because it wouldn’t suit them. Would it?
“As long as a political order or framework exists, you won’t’ see change as we would like to see it because you won’t be equipped to see the context. It’s not that we have the wrong tools, it’s that we have the wrong paradigm,” Explained Dr Louis Klein, Dean of the European school of Governance in Berlin, who spoke at the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch this week. “It’s the absence of a new comprehensive narrative Anthropocene Thinking.” He said.
Klein, the Dean of the school of Governance also spoke about the idea of combining and integrating different methods of thinking, but his general gist was that a holistic approach of body, mind and spirit was called for in these times. I agree. In order to cope with this one needs skills and tools for keeping one’s head above water, so to speak. To prevent becoming overwhelmed by it all, one has to find balance.
Klein spoke of Cybernetics (integration) and Resonance thinking. Resonance or critical thinking also describes the concept of a critical mass moving into a new awakening, it’s a shift in consciousness, which takes place through a form of telepathy, so to speak, where everyone, just somehow realizes something because they all tuned in to it.
I personally found it very exciting to be in a room of academics listening to a German University Dean talking this way. I would expect to hear that in my yoga class or at a spiritual conference, but the very fact that he was talking this way in terms of governance, told me that the shift in consciousness was already underway.
“Integral theory also refers to how people approach themselves. (Some are harder on themselves than others.)” He went on. “ Functional adequacy- refers to the three inescapability’s of the human being: your body, your mind and your spirit,” he said, quoting Goethe, “a healthy body is a healthy mind.”
Yes, it is about body, mind and spirit. If we tune in on a spiritual level, we realize that we want to live closer to the earth, eat healthier food, make choices that relate to a healthier body and therefore choose to clean up our planet step by step, through our food choices, our energy choices and our activities and actions. It becomes a new way of being. By being in this state we create a healthier environment around us naturally and effortlessly.
Some would say it is a bit idealistic, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if the CEO’s of big corporations starting thinking this way and making decisions according to the principles of healthy body mind and spirit for all. Decisions in business are all based on nothing but profit margins – the logic of that framework. The result is a completely toxic imbalance of the health of the environment, which directly impacts the body, minds and spirits of the people and animals who live on it. Everything is connected. People animals and planet suffer symptoms and illnesses that reflect their environment, the abuse it has suffered and the mentality that causes this abuse. (We are talking about a rape mentality actually.)
“We are living a post-truth society, there is no truth in complexity and we need to acknowledge that. It helps more to look at resonance than to look at “truth’” at this stage.” Klein went on. “So how does change work? Change is a definite. There is no escaping it.” He too suggests that there are two ways of approaching it: “We can move from crisis to crisis and muddle through it, or we can see it as a project that needs to be managed. “ One can use intelligent design, – to organize and direct purpose. Then figure out the leverage points, the sensitive spots and see what resources there are. A new perspective comes from a mind shift in perceiving the same evidence with a different idea of what it is. He gave the example of those eye-bending graphics that one can look at and either see one thing or another, depending on your perspective.”
So, he said, ‘We have to debate and co-create, in a democratic society we should take time to figure out what kind of world we want to live in. Based on what kind of values.”
This mentality parallels with the solutions presented by American author and economist, Charles Eisenstein who describes, “The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.” In his book by the same name. He writes about creating a new story of integration, and interbeing as opposed to the old story of separation. To save the planet we have to work together in co-operation instead of competition. This is the discourse of love and wholeness, abundance and sharing in the community as opposed to a fear of scarcity in competition and fear. It may sound idealistic, and it may take some work and commitment to get over some of the mental barriers, but it’s up to us to make it, but for that we have to wake up and smell the chocolate, because actually, we can choose a sweeter road out of this mess if we wake up in time.
“We have to learn to navigate in uncharted territory.” Concluded Klein, “People with different viewpoints- should create conversation and discourses about Earth stewardship- being in tune with what’s around us. In organic farming practices, one works to create better soil every year, the reward is a better crop and better produce every year. “ The Dean, who grew up on a family wine farm in Germany said. There are direct long term rewards in choosing to work to improve, enrichen and build up the soil, as opposed to just corrupting it with chemicals for a short term profit. (It’s a no brainer.)
At the end of his talk, an awkward thing happened, my associate, who I was sitting next to, stood up and heavily criticized the whole event. He started by indicating that the audience attending this talk was privileged and white, (which was not actually completely true, the audience was mixed but more white than black and mostly female) and secondly he had an issue with the fact that this man was from Europe talking to us in Africa and so this was all just a continuation of the colonialist ways which have kept us in the same old groove for way too long. This, of course, got everyone rather agitated and made the speaker uncomfortable, (although he handled it very well.)
The wounded struggle story has become a crutch for many South Africans. It is the wounded hero identity and it too keeps a large section of the population in ”a state of anaesthesia anticipating ruin.” It may also be termed post-traumatic-stress-disorder or a form of neurotic depression. Whatever the condition, this kind of thinking is a vicious cycle, creating further wounding and further ruin. I suppose it’s a kind of malignancy, which we need to identify in order to heal. It’s s mental block to progress based on traumas of separation and lack, and it’s preventing functional progress.
I had to follow my associate’s attack with a counter-argument that- no; this conversation about the Anthropocene was much bigger than the “us vs them” historical argument. It was no longer about black and white, rich and poor or any of those labels and identities. We are all in this together. Climate change and the fate of the planet will affect us all. We will all be washed away by the same wave if it hits us, (may this never happen) no matter what our race or our bank account is.
Of course, the poorest of the poor are the most vulnerable to the elements, but it is everyone’s responsibility to step up to the challenge protect them, as they are the often voiceless ones. We have face what is coming together.
We have no choice about what we are facing, but we do have a choice about how we respond to the problem. I love the idea that we could manage it by co-creating our future using an approach of integration and holism because then we are talking about a state of love and not fear. We are talking about uniting in spirit for the sake of all, for reasons of Ubuntu and not ego. I love the thought of creating a new resonance and a new song and a new story that rises above academic postulations and identity by being it. Because it is time to step up and be earth warriors for the for the sake of the innocent ones who cannot speak for themselves, the poorest of the poor, the starving children, and our own children, the elephants, the rhinos, the whales, the last polar bears, the last panda bears and even the little frogs and butterflies that are constantly losing their habitats to the one creature on the planet who doesn’t know when to stop: the blight of man. Already too many of these creatures have been reduced to nothing more than names and images in textbooks. There is no longer any living proof of them. 200 species are being lost every day.
My children are lucky to have seen elephants, but it is predicted that elephants too may be extinct in a few years from now and if that happens, it will be forever. My girls are the same age group as the amazing Swedish activist who has spoken so clearly for her generation, Greta Thunberg. We watched her TED talk and wept. We cannot sit by and allow the adults in charge to leave our children with an uninhabitable earth in the future.
As Chief Seattle wrote famously, in his letter to George Washington, back in the day, when (as we know) colonialism stole the commons from the first peoples of America, “We do not only inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” He also pointed out that “When the last river, is gone, then will you realize that you can’t eat money?”
On Friday the 15th of March, I plan to accompany my children in a protest at the Cape Town Parliament for Climate change, inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg to take a stand. Business, as usual, is over. “It’s time to stop looking for hope and start taking action,” as Greta Thunberg points out. There is no going back.