Reflection 99: Can We Get There from Here?

May 6, 2009

 

(Copyright © 2009)

 

Consciousness is given us to solve personal problems. Given the world situation of today, we are all in our element because we are all equally challenged. We can’t go on as we have gone in the past. Earth would not be able to withstand the collective stress, nor could we. The work of consciousness is to come up with a plan of personal action suited to the fix we are in, and to execute that plan.

 

So what do we do?

 

My point in this blog is that in order to come to grips with the world situation, we must each first come to grips with our own contribution to that situation. Every one of us is personally implicated because, collectively, our carelessness in living on Earth has led to the collapse of our economy, backbone of today’s culture.

 

Put succinctly, too many of us have consumed world resources at too high a rate for too long a time for Earth to meet our demands. We need to scale back our expectations from now on to give Earth’s ecosystems a chance to recover from our cumulative onslaught.

 

Can we do that? Can we replace the idea of perpetual growth and increasing profits with a truly sustainable level of consumption by scaling back our desires? Or does the inertia of cultural habits condemn us to perpetual decline unto oblivion? If we look to a technical solution to bail us out, we will delude ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem. If so, so much for consciousness, Earth’s gift to every one of us through our shared heritage of Earthling descent.

 

No longer can we sustain the myth that we live in the real world and are doing our best to respond to its challenges. The implication being it is the world’s fault for falling apart, not ours. My response to that, in one word, is “Nonsense!” Each of us is wholly responsible for creating the world we live in—that is, the simplified version personal consciousness paints of that world. When facts are twisted, it is we who bend them out of shape. When truth is slanted, spin is spun, evidenced overlooked, data deleted, outcomes shaped and colored to our advantage—it is we who are pressing “reality” to conform to our desires. Earth cannot heal itself without our healing ourselves first—healing the way we take Earth into ourselves and distort its truths for personal gain.

 

The way to a better world ahead requires each of us to heal his or her personal attitude toward, and outlook upon, the world we inhabit—ultimately, Earth itself. Which requires us to heal our personal consciousness of the world if we as a people are to avoid inflicting only further abuse on all people’s planet.

 

We have taken our personal points of view so much for granted that we are not accustomed to seeing life as an interaction between the knower and the unknown mystery that lies beyond the limits of human understanding. We do not know it all. In fact, we know almost nothing. Even the most highly educated among us live in a world of concepts and constructs in their heads that have slight relation to, or bearing upon, the world beyond their own minds.

 

Great comfort is to be found in living in such orderly worlds—and every specialist seeks tenure in just such a place. Every scientist, economist, theologian, merchant, engineer, construction worker, and all the rest of us. But also great harm flows from the resulting disconnect. Think of the great engineering projects that have forced our magnificent vision of the world on the world itself. In remaking the world to our specifications, we have almost killed the Earth, our sole means of support in the universe.

 

Think of the great dams we have built on our rivers; hundreds of thousands of miles of asphalt laid down; mountain ranges mined for coal; carbon dioxide spewed upward; global warming and sea-level rise; topsoils plowed, polluted, eroded; marshes converted to golf courses, suburbs, and cities; species harried or “harvested” to extinction; nuclear weapons designed, built, upgraded; the horrors of every war fought for whatever cause; deforestation in the name of progress and wealth; misrule of the governed as a matter of course; corruption of living systems managed for human use only; and the many other follies we boast of as improvements and accomplishments on our cultural resume.

 

No wonder our present situation is dire. We created it all by ourselves for the sake of temporary profits and advantages, unconscious that we were putting a long-term—even fatal—curse on ourselves and our homeland. A man’s gotta make a living, we say in our defense. But at what cost? Well, now we know.

 

In a labyrinth, the way in is the way out. After slaying the Minotaur, Theseus followed the thread he had laid down, the thread Ariadne had given him for that purpose, and off they sailed for Naxos—with disastrous consequences for them both. If we think the solution to our problems is to apply more of the same techniques that got us where we are now, we are deluded. There is no techno-fix that can save us because in applying it we would be leaping into the same void, the same state of unconsciousness that has been our undoing.

 

No, this time we must take a wholly new approach. The problem lies not in any assumed world beyond consciousness, but in the world of consciousness itself. The solution lies not in unexamined consciousness, but closely monitored consciousness as a means of being aware of the far world that lies beyond ourselves. We must graduate from mythologizing the Earth as ours to control to following Earth’s example in regulating ourselves in keeping with our ecological circumstances. We are not lords of the Earth; Earth is lord of us. We have fought that battle for too long, with little but disaster to show for our pains.

 

The point of this blog is to share the good news—we can do it. We may have to radically rethink who we are, but it can be done. We can take responsibility for our own judgments and interpretations of events, learning over time to manage ourselves instead of others, leaving management of our physical environment to Earth itself.

 

Looking inward, we come to understand our own consciousness so that we can look outward with true compassion and understanding, advancing to a new stage in our development. We have been stuck on this level of vaunted personal achievement for too long. It is time to advance to the next level, that of true understanding and cooperation. We can do this through a process of truth and reconciliation. By being accountable not just to ourselves but to all others on the planet, and to the planet itself.

 

We can do this. Largely untried, the way is still open: Know thyself. Which is a challenge, not an answer. Rising to it is the key to finding solutions to what we see as the world situation, but is really our situation, the situation we have created for ourselves by not fully appreciating our greatest gift, our conscious minds.

 

See the following two posts, Reflections 100 and 101: The Way Ahead I and II, for details of the course we must set for our coming journey.

 

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5 Responses to “Reflection 99: Can We Get There from Here?”

  1. insomniac said

    Howdy Steve,

    Good one!

    I’ve posted a couple of paragraphs and links over at evolver.net. It’s a place i’ve been hanging out these days. Fits right in with the theme.
    http://www.evolver.net/user/insomniac/blog/can_we_get_there_here

    Hope its ok.

    I agree, of course. Consciousness, understanding the understander… tough assignment, but we can do it!

    cheers,
    jim

    • Steve Perrin said

      Jim, good to hear from you. I’m working on understanding the understander. Reflection 113 will get to that in June. I’m working a month ahead. Which is new to me; I’m usually at least a month behind the world, it spins so fast. –Steve

      • insomniac said

        Howdy Steve,

        Just to let you know, the stuff i posted on evolver.net has collected an “Awesome” rating and one guy said your last paragraph gave him chills.

        You are getting through to us.

        cheers,
        jim

  2. Kevin Gorman said

    Hi Steve, haven’t read this one, or any since “Angels”, still working on reply to your last question. Just wanted to let you know I’m still around, and still very much interested.
    Kevin from behind my eyes

  3. Steve Perrin said

    Kevin, I wrote Reflection 112 in response to Jaynes’ book (as far as I’ve read). I think he got it backwards. Language is made possible by the workings of the brain and consciousness, not the other way around. He’s bright and articulate, and, I would say, wrong. Metaphor, by my thinking, reflects the synthesis of concrete sensory data with broad but poorly defined concepts serving as possibilities for interpreting and meaning.
    I’ve been meaning to respond to your 4 billion year tale of evolution, but haven’t quite wrapped my brain around it yet. Hope all is well.

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