** WARNING: PESSIMISTIC IDEAS BELOW **

I’m not sure what happened.
I am pretty vigilant about monitoring the media I consume.
I try to avoid things that put me in an unnecessary state of anxiety or fear.
I avoid agitating political commentary and self-esteem eroding celeb-worship.
But I am distressed.
It started with the book, “Story of B.”
I won’t do it justice, but the basic premise of B’s philosophy is that humanities ills can be traced back to agriculture. Humans lived in balance for eons until some clever hunter/gatherer invented the idea of exploiting the land at the expense of other species. It allowed for massive food abundance, which allowed for exponential population growth, which led to the gradual – and total- disconnect of the human species and the rest of the world.
I read the book around Thanksgiving time, so used it as a starting point for a lecture on gratitude. I asked, “How many of the things in your life that you are truly grateful for are the result of societal or technological advances?”
As news reports of Black Friday sales and shopping madness filtered through my friends feed, the human disconnect became so glaring that it hurt.
Evidence of our crises piled up around me.
• Activist friends clamored on Facebook about Senate Bill S 510 Food Safety Modernization Act and the scary restrictions on our food.
• A speech by Bill Moyer highlighting the collapse of the American Worker (and the empowerment of the Corporation and super elite) over the last 20 years.
• New TSA rules that showed us our future as we continue to sacrifice freedom in the pursuit of perceived safety.
• A trailer for a movie called, “Earthlings” turned my stomach. As far as I can tell it is a one huge montage of animal cruelty footage. I’ve never been much of an animal rights activist, but the disconnect between our actions and the effect we have on non-human life (animals, plants, waterways, oceans) is rarely illustrated with more vividness than in a slaughterhouse.
• FixCongress pointed out the insult on top of this injury with a single tweet, “39 new congresspeople have never held office. Will they like spending 70% of their time raising money?” Ugh. Hopelessness delivered in under 140 characters.
• Finally, I re-watched the powerful Story of Stuff and – even with it’s over-the-top examples – felt like I was punched so hard in the gut that I lost my breath. The sickness of our humanity is hard to fathom. Even if I made dramatic changes to my life patterns, the momentum of our cultural illness feels unstoppable. It is our consciousness that is sick. And the outbreak is global.
How can human life be so amazing, and so horrific all at once?
How can humanity be given such a unique gift to experience an awareness of the world, while collectively being so destructive to the natural balance of that world?
I am rattled.
Yesterday I was so out of sorts that I wrote out “What I believe” in an attempt to anchor myself.
I may need to re-read that list daily. Maybe more often than that.
I am having a hard time seeing humans as anything but a virus on the planet. People like the Unibomber seem far less villainous to me. It seems naive to believe that we will get ourselves in balance on our own.
Granted, there are many people who have awakened to the situation. People who are either immune or cured of the cultural virus. But these are tiny, powerless pockets – like the doomed survivors in a bad zombie movie.
I suppose the only way to peace is to focus on the present moment.
The only way to feel in balance is to achieve it intimately and personally.
And, perhaps, the only way to live in joy is to let go of the belief that humans should or will persevere. In the same way that life is painful if you fear death, so too is humanity horrific if you fear extinction.
Perhaps the acknowledgment of the disease – and it’s advanced state – can allow for a renewed appreciation for the preciousness of it all.
In the same ways that viewing a sunset – knowing it would be our last – makes it so much more beautiful.
Maybe all we can do is gather good friends, pour some cocktails, and toast the clouds as the day fades to night.
(Just try not to think about how it is the smog in the air making the sky so colorful.)

NOTE: Please excuse the pessimism. Pink-tinted glasses expected to return shortly.

Comments
  • Touch Pu'uhonua

    You would need to be an unfeeling stone to not be occasionally rattled and discouraged by the misadventures of humanity, especially after over-exposure to mainstream media which promotes anxiety and is blind to most good news and to the healthy alternative cultural strands which are increasingly abundant. The problems which human beings inflict have been commented on since at least the time of Buddha and Lao Tse – along with the possibility of enlightened responses!

  • Danger Bunnie

    *Gently wipes pink-tinted shades*
    I am so sorry Beautiful One. You are seeing everything I have been valiantly trying to warn people about for decades. Now you understand how I feel most times. Just keep being that Love Warrior we have grown to love, and know this… I may just be a humble Bunnie, but I got your back.

    You DO make a difference.

  • Seska Lee

    Sometimes we get these wake-up calls and they help us remember what we need to do. It happens to me though I can be inclined to think all or nothing thoughts which further make me feel more upset. What you wrote in the previous entry will be bookmarked for those moments. I am on a particular journey and it resonated in all the nicest ways. Even the rattled entry did too. Thank you.

  • Europa Gitte

    I actually think it is important to see the whole picture. Maybe we need the darkness to see light. Just decide consciously on what you do and how you personally can affect that balance. Take all the discouraging news and make it a point to counter them with joy and beauty that you see and create in your own world and let it spill over to your friends. They in turn affect their friends. And so the circle goes and change is achieved. Beauty is everywhere we look. If we add our awareness and strength to it we actually might penetrate the darkness and turn it into light. 🙂

  • Beverley

    John, there are people out there who are trying to fight the system and I believe they will achieve great things. They might be small pockets, but it is a multi faceted approach, and when those dots start to join up they will be a force to be reckoned with. If we all do one small thing a week to make a change, keep that change and make a new one the week after, just keep adding the changes. We can make positive changes in our lives and living those changes we will impact on others. I agree with you it is frustrating, but for me I have to focus on the people, like you who are giving of themselves and want the world to be a better, peaceful and loving place to be part of. So don’t be discouraged, these small changes do count in the great scheme of things. Remember a flood starts with a single drip of water.

    Namaste, Beverley xx

  • Beverley

    LOL, I mean’t drop of water, in no way am I suggesting you are a drip! Maybe that doesn’t translate from UK English to American English?

  • Eleanor

    All of these things are true.
    Many things can be true at once.
    And grief-tempered joy is stronger than happiness chosen only because it’s shiny and far more pleasant than hopelessness and sorrow.

    This contrast experience may at some point make your usual choice to feed the right wolf that much more precious and fine. My mother compared this time in the world to that of end-stage labor pains. It’s horrible, and you want it to stop, and you have absolutely no control over whether or not it happens at that point, *and* something amazing and beautiful is being born.

    Immediate actions to take:

    1.) Take deep, slow breaths, breathing softness in through the front of your heart chakra, and out the back. It may help to pull the right energy in to visualize pink rose petals being breathed through your heart. Soft, resilient, soothing. If your back gets warm, it’s all good. If it doesn’t, it’s all good.

    2. Take a peek at http://directory.ic.org/iclist/ and, without even bothering to do anything else, just scroll down and look at how many people are choosing to live in different ways, ways that are not highlighted by mainstream media. The revolution is not being televised.

    3. Read the Desiderata, the message from the Hopi elders, scroll through a few pages of CuteOverload, and consider checking out a few of the free EFT instructional videos available on youtube.

    And then just keep spreading the love that you already do. You are being the change, and — this part is kind of huge, really — inspiring others to be the change, that’s Needed.

    <3

  • Isabella Valentine

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I love love love that you did.

    I also have the book The Story of B… and Daniel Quinn talks about more food = more population. The more population, the more food is necessary. The more food available, the more population builds. The more population builds, the more food is necessary… and around and around it goes. It is a LOT to take in!

    About 4 years ago, I discovered what I thought was the ‘worst of humanity’ while reading the book “Skinny Bitch” which exposed (to me) the cruelty within slaughterhouses. This led to me joining PETA and becoming vegan/vegetarian for a few years. This turned out to be medicine for me on my spiritual path because now I strive to only eat the meat from an animal from which I’ve made peace through my intentions, heart, and low demand for more. Every time I watch the news (which is becoming less and less), it seems that most reporting agencies create headlines designed to produce a fear response from the audience. By the way, if you’re looking for a reprieve from shock news, I respectfully recommend http://news.discovery.com which has become the first thing I read every day. It reports on primarily impressive feats by humans, robots, animals, and anything on the Earth or beyond! What a fabulous feeling!

    Without getting explicit, I was rattled today when I read that a man in Argentina raped his own 13 year old daughter and then got her pregnant 10 different times. I was reminded of a similarly unfortunate situation involving incest rape victim Elisabeth Fritzl who was held captive for over 20 years. What? People do “bad” things to each other. I asked myself, how could this be? Surely my own thoughts didn’t create THAT. This led to a complete restructuring in my eternal spiritual quest to wholely integrate yin and yang and the silver lining around and in-between. In the Zen tradition, there is a saying, “The whole world is medicine.”

    Sometimes I deal with my own traumatic experiences whether watching a video on animal cruelty or remembering the memory of a particularly horrible experience for the sole purpose of asking myself, “What can I learn from this situation?” In one case my mother mercilessly whipped me for hours after a police officer took her word over mine when I complained about years of being physically abused. I still feel justified anger which I am gradually releasing. Just a few nights ago, I opened up to my husband about that incident – something I hadn’t discussed with another human being besides my own sister who was there when it happened. I asked my husband, “What can I possibly f*ing learn from being so ruthlessly abused? How can humans BE this way? How am I supposed to forgive my mother when she did this to me (insert vicious behavior here)…” And my husband, after listening to a series of traumatic memories, said to me, “Would you have learned the same level of patience and gentleness [being a parent now] if that had never happened?” The answer was a resounding, primal “no.” It was the best possible thing that could have been said to me in that moment. Maybe the simple answer was that it happened so I could see an example of what NOT to do. It wasn’t the answer I was looking for, however, I recognize it’s value.

    Viewing the whole world is medicine is also discussed in the book “Buddhism for Mothers” — I know you’re not a mother in the physical sense, but the philosophies within the book is totally on par with other subjects I’ve heard you discuss during Hugnation.

    Here is an excerpt:
    “I was aware of a very clear choice: I could allow all the mini-catastrophes to turn me into a quivering wreck or I could choose a spacious response of relative detachment (What would any of this matter by tomorrow anyway?). I tried to accept the situation rather than wasting energy on aversion and resistance. As mothers we won’t always be comfortable and relaxed but we can still foster an attitude of tolerance for our situation, telling ourselves that every moment is part of our spiritual practice.”

    I must say, I LOVE seeing you express these thoughts. I love all things Halcyon, rose-tinted glasses or otherwise. Like Bunnie says, you DO make a difference. We all do.

  • Denise

    ((HUGS)) ((((((HUGS)))))) MASSIVE (((((((HUGS))))))) to YOU!!!! Can we agree to disagree! I just got done thinking of how amazing the people I live by right now are amazing. They are growing their own food to eat…they save $ and don’t live in a lifestyle of the rich and famous. They help each other out and are very active in the community. I just at work last night had a Massive Wave of *WOW* come over me as I was telling one of the girl’s I work with how I had met her Uncle when I was out taking pictures and he helped me by giving me all the locations to take great photos and where the kids can go be entertained….For *Free*and it was all stuff outdoors. No cost and *Fun*! Sleigh riding and hiking. Being by the Lakes and the Mountains! Backpacking and enjoying the outdoors! Even a place to go feed the Deer here! He was the nicest guy! I’m happy I moved to a place where their are Friendly faces. Well, the girl I worked with told me how he got his house! This guy……had for years collected bottles. His front yard looked like a massive bottle dump. though it may not have looked attractive and some would have thought He was crazy-Well, he was able to build his family a home on bottles. Recycling!!!!!! Recycling!!!!!! She told me how he collected bottles for recycling and how he was able to actually put new flooring in his new house and walls because of those 5 cent bottles! WOW!!!! I’m Inspired!! I couldn’t help but have the Biggest Grin go over my face as I realized…..this is exactly why I moved here….to be moved by incredible stories like that! I just overheard on the radio how people all in the USA are spending more time Home and more time on saving and preparing their own food and cooking healthier. People are getting Married in order to be happy and healthy! People are waking UP! They are not feeding into the *Must Haves* but the *Must Be* must Be Happy and Healthy! :)) I feel personally ALIVE!!! Like I want to go collect bottles for recycling and for the plants I want in my house! I want plants inside my living room but am taking time for MYSELF right now! 😉 As for being a Virus….I’m a Nurse! I’m around the sickest people. I Love <3 my Job! I use protection for myself while I work. I am Diligent about exercising Safety when working. I don't want anything that would cause myself to be sick or to bring anything home to my children. I've recently been sick and it wasn't because of a typical germ. I had Lyme many years ago and have effects from it in the NOW and have had Severe exhaustion which caused my own self to get sick. Balance….it has brought me back to realizing what is important and what isn't. (Hence) the reason for staying home with my children and practicing in just BE-ing! Whatever the reason for it….a realization of I'm working myself to death and the material things mean nothing if I can't be with my children. YUP….ok thanks to my immune system for the Wake Up call!! There are alot of nasty things on Earth but their are even more Wonderful things on Earth! I always make a joke to my children when I tell them they are my Germs! LOL! Well, they ARE!! We are germs….we pollute and we carry viruses and we also fight them off. There are good and bad….Yin/Yang!!! I joke about Aliens…..people who believe in the aliens in space….WE are the Aliens! LOL! We are the Martians! The Goblins and the Ghouls! We are the humans wrecking havoc on Earth and in Space! We are also the humans who are bringing balance to Earth and others! But, like everything…..there is good and bad to it. Yin/Yang!! Recycling…..well the Universe will do what it must to be Healthy and Happy. Massive earth quakes to get rid of a germ it's fighting. Earth takes care of itself. Just like us humans…we have an Immunity and we fight off the germs and bad viruses. You write-The only way to feel in balance is to achieve it intimately and personally. YES!!! Self preservation! ONE'S self must be Healthy and Happy in order to help others have balance. We all share what works and what doesn't in the juggling act of balancing Life! For myself….I'm doing that in the NOW! It starts with one's self and then one's self can relate what worked and didn't work and then share! You can walk in any store big/small small town Mom and Pop shops or big huge Market store and FIND self help books….self help tools and ways to be healthy and happy. We germs….(humans) created ways to share with others. To share with other germs! How Wonderful!!! Embrace the good/bad germs! No judgement just <3 Love <3! Love to be Alive and be able to find balance in this Amazing Universe! :)) You my dear friend…..are Amazing!! You are one of the Best Germs on Earth!!! ;)) You will get your MoJo back! <3 All my Love <3 Denise

  • sarah

    Hey there, chin up! It’s all a part of the Human Condition. It’s always been Heaven and Hell, Good and Bad, Black and White…..there have always been the more enlightened and those who live in the dark, and I’m quite sure there always will be. I don’t think for one second anyone could ever change everything and make it Alright (look what happened to Jesus, Gandhi, etc). But I do feel that around me, now more than ever seems to be a growing number of people who CARE, who want COMMUNITY and who need inspiration -and that’s where you come in. People look to the charismatic and the inspired to speak and lead and voice and motivate – and you are one of those. There will be days when it all washes over you, but you’ll rise up and find the energy to speak as only you can. People love you, you definitely SERVE a Purpose. Take five and polish the glasses, or better yet, get a pair with lower magnification.

  • Tracee

    My friend & I had a discussion about this the other day… we are the first society that is abandoning buildings. Not even Rome did that. She has been talking more & more about the fall of Rome compared to us. We are doing worse…

  • Charlotte/LaliaTK

    Oh, John, you’ve stumbled across the source of most of my own agony. Whatever you do, don’t look into Peak Oil (http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/) or contemplate what effects it will have on an already scary-looking situation.

    This is the source of my inability to wholly embrace the Love Warrior idea – because in the face of stuff like this, IS love REALLY all we need? ‘Cos to me, it looks like we’re going to need something more, and to me, focusing wholly on the love aspect feels too much like running away from reality.

    …of course, focusing wholly on the looming catastrophe tends to be a paralyzing thing. There’s a balance there and I sure haven’t found it yet. It gets more difficult every day for me to have hope, to continue to see the beauty and worthwhile-ness of humanity. I can’t be sure exactly where we’re going, but it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    Here’s an article I found last week which really resonated with me: The Burden Of Knowing, by Charles Hugh Smith. http://www.countercurrents.org/smith191110.htm

    Welcome to the awakened. I will be very interested to see how you end up dealing with this, because I’ve been stuck in this place for a while.

    But there’s one very important thing that gives me hope, and it’s one area where you might be wrong. You said:

    “Granted, there are many people who have awakened to the situation. People who are either immune or cured of the cultural virus. But these are tiny, powerless pockets – like the doomed survivors in a bad zombie movie.”

    Fortunately, this is not true. There is, thankfully, one major group out there that is fully aware of the type of future we’re facing, and they are working together in a group that already spans the globe. They’re working on re-localizing things like food production, economy, etc. to make civilization more resilient in the face of various unpredictable shocks.

    Please do check it out. You won’t be sorry.

    http://www.transitionus.org/transition-101

    I’d love to discuss this with you more if you’d like. I’ve been living and breathing the news articles about this “crap” for too long. You’ve reminded me to keep one eye on the “cone.” That keeps me sane. Thank you.

    Hang in there. This wave will pass. There is hope.

  • DhammaSeeker

    “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13, English Standard Version (©2001)

    Love abides.

  • Ingrid Baisch

    Hi!

    New to your stuff, so your note about disregarding this post was all it took to convince me that this would be a perfect place to start. My instincts did not fail me.

    ” … tiny, powerless pockets … “? You know better, but it’s powerful that you wrote it anyway.

    I found this shortly after Katrina: “No single raindrop believes it is to blame for the flood.” It inspires me – or rather, it’s implied corollary does – that EVERY SINGLE RAINDROP makes a difference, for the good or the not so good.

    Every single little thing you and I do, John, makes a difference.

    Every time I use my little bambu spork instead of a plastic spoon or fork is one less plastic spoon or fork that will end up in a whale’s belly. That brings me a smile every time I use my spork.

    Every time I use my bandana instead of a paper napkin or towel is one less piece of tree turned to trash. That brings me a smile every time I use my bandana.

    Every time I smile at a stranger is one less anxious moment.

    Oh my goodness they do add up.

    Believe it. Yeah, you do.

  • t'om

    All of this is true, ills in a neat bundle =)
    — dote
    > AND AND ! <
    remember
    that one sign of the new being born is the old wearing out

  • Kat

    Im not trying to doom you with this statement but, “If you didnt have dark cloud days I think I would worry”. As your many talks seem to suggest, neither extreme is good — from the pessimistic individual that seeks to cite everything wrong with the world to the optimistic person who chooses to live in ignorance of the fact that the world isn’t perfect. In fact, perfection is not really a natural phenomenon so thats probably why your normal disposition is so refreshing. You seem to strike a healthy balance.

    However, even the most balanced individual will have days where their brain goes into realms that are part of one extreme or the other. I have days like this. Sometimes its just overwhelming the amount of human ignorance, stupidity and senseless violence that permeates our world as a whole.

    Personally, Im glad you wrote this out despite that it is not your normal repertoire of happy gratitude in life. Its actually a feat for you to not censor yourself in fear that it will make people react adversely to this sudden bout of pessimism. You feel what you feel and there is no point in dwelling on it, just as there is no point in invalidating it by self-editing and keeping it inside.

  • t'om

    my comment (above) got scrambled somehow, seriously edited, I suspect the electorns, (lets round up the usual suspects)
    most of what I said is missing…

  • Ali young

    The ancient cultures incorporated both life and death, dark and light….all which is born, including civilizations, also pass….after years of activism I am finally concluding that this may also be true of species and planets…. I KNOW I’ll be going and maybe we all will…sometime…but hey guys, didn’t we burn with magnificence… What a life….wasn’t it wow….wasn’t it the best opportunity ever…….didn’t you love squeezing every minute dry….even of its misery…. a toast then, to Earth…and her glorious inhabitants, the earthlings…..and meantime, no kind act is ever wasted…

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