Unthinkable Premises

November 8, 2015

Features of US Culture: Economic Exploitation/Expansion, Ecological Destruction, Oligarchic Governance, Built on Genocides With Impunity

Primary Meme of US culture: Profits for a few (mostly White men/patriarchy) through expansion at ANY cost =US empire. This selfish model is now global on a finite planet. John Locke defined empire as a way of life that takes wealth and freedom from others to provide one’s own welfare, pleasure, and power. It is an ecological disaster and morally indefensible.

1. An unthinkable premise to ponder: The US as a nation and culture is irredeemable and unreformable, built on three Genocides.

Genocide #1: Our origins derive from forceful dispossession of Indigenous and their land, killing millions with impunity, justified through a myth of exceptionalism. This set in motion a pattern of a pretend society, built on lie after lie, from Manifest Destiny to Full Spectrum Dominance. The past is never in the past, as its features always remain present in the psyche.

Genocide #2 was forceful dispossession of Africans of their labor and dignity, killing millions with impunity.

Genocide #3 was and remains the forceful dispossession of “Third World” peoples of their resources and labor, killing millions with impunity.

The US, as is typical of empires, is unsustainable, built on unspeakable behaviors. The wool has not been pulled over our eyes. Our eyes are the wool. Our US model has morphed into neo-liberal globalization, destined to destroy virtually all planetary life.

But Humans ARE redeemable and reformable if we choose to re-organize in bioregionally sufficient food and simple tool cooperative cultures. Ceasing obedience to nation states will free up our energy and imaginations to create new social configurations integrated within bioregional carrying capacity.

2. An unthinkable premise to ponder: Industrial civilization, now nearly 300 years old, is a heat engine that is destroying virtually all life on the planet. Its collapse is inevitable and essential!

Patterns of plunder without accountability lead to delusions of grandeur and obsessive narcissism. As a species we are on the eve of a terrifying era of accountability/correction after centuries of mindless entitlement when arrogance overwhelmed humility. Question: Can we access our ancient archetypes of cooperation, mutual respect, local community, and fairness, enabling us to experience a radical, evolutionary liberation from an epistemology (system of knowledge) rooted in separation from and domination over nature, to one of integration with while embracing nature? Our dignity begs us to practice a turn toward local, bioregional cooperative food and simple tool economies. Nature bats last and since we have considered ourselves separate from nature we are on the verge of striking out. We could choose to rejoin the earth even as Gaia’s corrective mechanisms cause rightful collapse of industrial civilization! 

3. An unthinkable premise to ponder: The Gaia, or earth-life force, is in process of a massive correction of our species’ wayward behavior, i.e., correcting a lethal planetary cancer. This correction is causing rapid, irreversible disaster due to heating of our planet. A rise of four or even six degrees centigrade seems likely, and will result in death of our species and thousands of others – the 6th great extinction in geological history. This one is caused by us! Virtually all the scientific data that examines rapid convergence of critical ecological tipping points reveals irreversible global climate catastrophe.

So, what do we feel when we think of these unthinkable premises? Courageously facing our historical habit of denial requires us to honestly process the fact that we are in the midst of the 6th great extinction caused by our own behavior. How do we face this while we socialize and share food with one another? Might this be an evolutionary opportunity for dramatic shifts in consciousness, for (re)discovering an earth-based epistemology? Hopium does not serve us. Practicing compassionate love, empathy and mutual respect are critical as we face scary, unprecedented realities. Experiencing life’s precious sacredness in every moment is urgent as we discover a higher consciousness where dignity trumps longevity, with death and extinction in mind. Life is a spiritual journey into the unknown.

*S. Brian Willson conducted this workshop at the 57th Pacific Northwest Regional Seabeck Conference, July 3, 2015, Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR)

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