Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Importance of Focus

I think it's time to start to focusing on the genuinely important facts of life in these latter days of empire. Anyone who is paying attention already knows the criminality of what is and has happened in our country and on our planet. Providing innumerable examples of more of the same does nothing to get people to prepare for what lies ahead as the whole Western Imperial Project unwinds in the face of global economic meltdown, peak energy, and massive climate changes. More importantly, it fails to direct people into the activities that will sustain life at the local level, the level where it really matters when you are cold, hungry, and need a safe place to sleep.

No, I'm not thinking about some post-apocalyptic dystopia. I AM thinking about what happened during the Depression which was real. And about Dmitri Orlov's description of what happened in the former Soviet Union when people had to fend for themselves which they were used to and we aren't making what we face that much worse.

However, of greatest importance going forward is not so much about our material comforts as it is about our social and spiritual connections with each other and those around us at the local level. Preparing for the great unwinding will necessitate recovering our lost humanity in a similar vein as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol." As Mencius said, "commiseration is the beginning of humanity." Without the ability and capacity to commiserate we are not fully human for it is only in adversity and suffering that we can know the pain in anyone else's life. And as Dickens said through Marley, "`Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. `Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!'"

What this means is that the shelter we will need most is in each others' hearts for it is only in opening our hearts to others that we can build a real community based on cooperation to fulfill not only our physical and material needs, but our most vital need of all: our spiritual need for genuine acceptance and communion with others rather than the petty gratifications of the ego. The shallowness our existence is being revealed for what it is in these times of great anxiety and spiritual dissonance. The great work ahead is to forge real bonds with our fellow humans so that no one is left out, left behind, or forgotten. The only exception are those who forfeit their place in community by refusing to cooperate within it. Our safety and our future can only be found in each other as we learn once again how to be true human beings.

This is my focus. That the empire is crumbling is a cause for celebration rather than one of consternation. In this regard I am of the same mind as Henry David Thoreau in "Walden" when he says, "And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter — we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?" On the other hand, we need as much repetitionof the work ahead and how to get there as we can get to overcome the work of Edward Bernays and his creation of the "Century of the Self."

To that end, let us use all our online and real world resources to help each other rebuild community rather than stand in thrall at the crumbling of empire and the end of the dystopia it is has created.