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December 26, 2004

Denial is the Worst Form of Apathy

by Kevin & Donna 

From our observation and experience, there seems to be a polarization taking place in human consciousness.  First of all, there are those who are speaking out about the conditions happening worldwide (which is not being reported by the corporately owned media).  When speaking about these issues facing the world, such as economic instability, environmental degradation, peak-oil, disruption of the basic infrastructure (food, fuel, clean water, medicine, adequate housing, social services) as well as social injustice, political corruption, religious fanaticism, the growing threat of world war, there are some who will agree that this is indeed happening.  But there is also an opposite reaction from those who do not believe this viewpoint. They do not see the evidence all around. They do not wish to be reminded of it and would rather believe that by generating a cohesive influence of love and positive thoughts, somehow such gloomy scenarios will be prevented. 


The bottom line, if one can bear to face up to reality, is that the current model of civilization is crumbling as we speak.  And while it is vitally important to think positive, pray, fast, meditate and so forth, it is also a fact that the established model and standard idea of western civilization, which is esteemed by all the world's industrial, democratic societies, is simply not sustainable. There are not enough resources on the planet to keep the current population going, and there is certainly no way to accommodate even more people without destroying the environment and all life.


It has long been known that population explosion is the most serious threat to the environment of this planet, but few people understand that the cause of this explosion was due to the cheap availability and overuse of fossil fuels. The ability to produce abundant food became possible because of machinery, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and transportation, which are completely dependent on products made from oil. Consequently, this surge in food production created massive population expansion during the last one hundred years.  To maintain that ever growing percentage, we will have to produce more food, which translates into using more fossil fuels, chemicals, more machinery, more energy, extracting more ground water ... see the problem? It cannot continue ad infinitum.


Inevitably the whole system is going to crack, then melt down quickly. Of course there are always suggestions that alternative energy sources will solve the problem. But that isn't necessarily true. All the known and available alternative energy sources fall far short of meeting the present demand required to keep the infrastructure intact. In fact, the United States alone is the world's worst energy monster. We consume more than 25% of the energy produced in the entire world. Now look at China's industrial expansion, as well as India. Alternative energy technology may help in small ways, but it cannot solve the situation that is before us. The decision makers of this world are apparently short-sited because no elected official wants to be the bearer of bad news - so what solution do they choose? WAR!


The reality is, there aren't enough resources to keep the world going with this kind of wasteful expansion, and there isn't enough cheap oil, drinking water or enough space to store all the nuclear and toxic waste being created by human beings. There is no other solution except for each one of us to drastically downsize and reduce our current lifestyle, and we must do it yesterday. We're already about 30 years behind addressing this situation. This means, in effect, we must learn to eat less food, use less gasoline, use less electricity, less water, less propane, less natural gas, and spend more time and energy working out creative low-tech solutions. 


We need to start doing things that promote good health, exercise, all the necessary things that are practical and sustainable.  We need to stop expanding and buying things we don't need, stop overspending money we don't have. We must rely more on our human ingenuity and learn how to do things more simply, such as living in smaller shelters, reducing the amount of electrical devices we need, growing and storing a lot of our own food, composting, rebuilding the topsoil, planting trees (rather than cutting them down) catching rainwater, etc. 


My brother and I were talking recently about these issues and we both agreed that the level of apathy in our present society is absolutely astounding. There are so many people who simply don't want to hear about this, they don't want to think about what is actually happening and they react bitterly when someone stands up and speaks about it. It reminds me of the Japanese saying: "The nail that sticks up above all the others is the first one to get hit." Ironically, I don't think that talking about preparing for tough times is being negative at all. I think it is merciful and kind. It goes back to what I said before, "The earth cannot sustain the excessive lifestyles of millions of people", especially those who are taking resources from other parts of the planet in order to insulate themselves from nature. There will probably be a lot of suffering in the years ahead, mostly due to war, disease, weather changes, starvation and poor sanitation. It has already begun, and just because it isn't being accurately reported on the national news doesn't mean it isn't true.


I can't help but think of Wal-Mart as the ultimate insulation barrier, because where else can one go to see the complete antithesis to nature. I mean just look at it, thousands of tons of stuff on twelve-foot high shelves, everything you could possibly want or need under one roof. It looks like total abundance, but just look at what had to be done in order to keep that facade going. How many people have had their livelihoods destroyed or their lands exploited just so we can have the convenience of five or more Wal-Marts in every major American city?


The illusion created by corporate beasts like Wal-Mart has a lot to do with keeping this level of denial firmly rooted in social consciousness. And yet I know perfectly well that it isn't Wal-Mart's board of directors' fault, they are simply providing what we have all chosen to support. We allow these manipulative practices to continue by the personal lifestyle choices we make every time we walk out our door, get in our car and spend a dollar, Euro or whatever. It isn't being negative to stand up and tell it like it is, in fact, it needs to be said even louder! The present global infrastructure is showing definite signs of crumbling.  Look at the loss of jobs, not just here in the United States, but in Germany, Cambodia, Russia and all over the planet. Look at the weather changes, this is already affecting the areas where the world's food supply is grown. It is happening. 


We are not trying to paint a gloomy picture, but merely speaking from our hearts about the plain facts. The situation facing the entire world is not something to just ignore and hope that it will go away. It is our responsibility as a global community of enlightened, loving and compassionate people to embrace the true reality of life on planet Earth, embrace nature and make the kinds of lifestyle choices that we truly feel are workable and realistic, no matter how small. We have to do what we can and that is a start, but to go on ignoring the problems and refusing to face what is happening is not wise and not very compassionate for ourselves and our families. Downsize, cut back, reduce, and live simply! We must do it now!


Nobody really knows what is going to happen over the course of the next 10 years, but it is possible to get a hint by simply looking at the devastation occurring in the poorer parts of our world. Disease, lack of clean water, unemployment, lack of basic food, parched lands, drought, famine, unstable weather patterns, floods, civil protests, violence, war ... it is happening and it is spreading. We were warned over a decade ago by many of the world's top scientists. And it is unfolding exactly as they said it would. 


 Some 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this appeal on November 18, 1992. The Warning was written and spearheaded by UCS Chair Henry Kendall:


"Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about."


The wise thing to do is learn to adapt to what nature brings and focus our energies on creative solutions, practical skills, independent gardening, animal husbandry, food preservation and cultivating within ourselves a disposition of cooperation, trust and calmness so we can prepare and help each other through this time of change. We all need to seriously make the kind of lifestyle changes that will reduce our level of dependence and consumption.  


Please share this letter. The time is now!



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