An Incredible Journey: The Hubris of Kepler 22-B

What about that John Corzine?  Is he the man, or what?  The guy lost a few billion dollars of his clients monies in a series of financial charades, some of which he cannot even account for, and he expects to be given a hall pass. Is that hubris, or what?

It is maddening to observe how the anesthetized and confused American consumer continues to absorb the avalanche of bad financial news concerning the rest of the West – Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Hungary – while refusing to acknowledge the fact that her own country is itself on the brink of financial ruin. Is it not good old American hubris? She resists admitting that austerity measures yet more severe, and likely much more damaging than in those other countries, are about to strike at the heart of the homeland as never before imagined.  Then she reads in the news:

Congress’ super-committee conceded ignominious defeat Monday in its quest to conquer a government debt that stands at a staggering $15 trillion, unable to overcome deep and enduring political divisions over taxes and spending. (AP)

Hearing this, she wonders: ‘What does that have to do with me?’  Her ignorance is as sad as it is maddening.

Of course, the not-so-silent footnote here is that the entire GDP of the USA for 2010 was a mere $14.5 trillion.  So ignoring the financial wizards of OZ and their goofy protestations, we really are living a dream, a fairytale, or perhaps, a nightmare; and we are about to be rudely awakened by a hard fall out of bed. The value of everything this nation produces does not even equal the debt load we carry, and which continues to mount daily.  All the while, our investment in the military and the “war on terror” continues to expand like a hot air balloon. It is much easier to justify the expenditures and keep the citizens off-guard and in-tow when the enemy is an amorphous idea – terror, as opposed to another nation.

Of course, when the forced austerity measures come into full swing, it will only add to the economic pain and social turmoil already riddling the citizenry – the 99% that refuses to be silenced.  Federal and state layoffs, reduced public services, reduced financial assistance for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the vets; all of this will have a much broader impact.  It will push us closer to, if not over, the tipping point. Imagine if the twenty billion dollar ($20,000,000,000) mayor of NYC has to layoff a whole lotta’ policemen. Wow! They may just join the ranks of those they recently harassed.  Furthermore, we must recognize that…

[T]he failure of the panel, formally known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, has left behind a separate house full of orphans that Congress must find a way to deal with before January 1, or else taxes will soar on the middle class, jobless benefits will expire, and doctors will see their reimbursement rate slashed by nearly a third, threatening elderly access to health care. (HuffPo)

Just watch the ranks of the 99% swell then!

In the meantime, the US and its comrades-in-arms are already plotting attack scenarios for Syria, and laying the foundations for an attack on Iran – again in the interests of feeding their self-consuming hunger for oil and world domination before the end-time arrives.  They are spoon-feeding the public with rehashed and dubious information about Iran’s nuclear position and goals; and they are inserting themselves into Syria under the pretense of protecting human rights (Bradley Manning, anyone). Never mind that the Syrian opposition has already requested us not to interfere.  Yet we remain undeterred.   More hubris?

Speaking of human rights: what about the recent shredding of the US Constitution that is keeping apace with larger socio-political developments?  You thought the Patriot Act was a freedom-buster. Well, wake up comrades, and read some of the fine print in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (Senate Bill 1867).  Not only does it authorize the deployment of US Armed Forces (military units) on homeland soil in support of States’ efforts to squelch dissent (Sec 1607); it also gives the Commander in Chief the right to authorize indefinite detention of US citizens in military prisons without charges or due process, if such citizens are deemed a threat to national security. (Sec. 1032)  The tyranny of our democracy is becoming ever more strident.  Hubris?

Given all of the convergent factors, many prognosticators have speculated over the past few years as to the events that would trigger the turning of this beast, put it on its knees, and usher in the final days of this proud empire and its industrial civilization. There are several elements contributing to this imminent outcome: peak oil, climate change, the increasing severity of natural disasters, systemic destruction of ecosystems and the biosphere, slow destruction of the water tables, the meltdown of world markets, increasing social unrest globally, and political upheaval, are all key indicators and symptoms of the approaching final solution.

The issue of global warming that is now just getting heated-up, is yet more hubris, our over-reaching self-confidence, our willful ignorance, and our consequent refusal to accept responsibility for this death spiral.  According to the World Meteorological Organization:

Global warming gases have hit record levels in the world’s atmosphere, with concentrations of carbon dioxide up 39 percent since the start of the industrial era in 1750, the U.N. weather agency said Monday. WMO Deputy Secretary General Jeremiah Lengoasa said CO2 emissions are to blame for about four-fifths of the rise. But he noted the lag between what gets pumped into the atmosphere and its effect on climate. (HuffPo)

http://www.5min.com/Video/10-Disturbing-Facts-About-Global-Warming-517195404

Such hubris is a psychological flaw that seems to be rather deeply entrenched in our cultural memory, at least since the beginning of historical reckoning. This confidence, nay cockiness, clearly reflected in the emergence of hierarchy, special statuses and classes of citizens, underpins this history and our dominating approach to the world we once shared.  In this sense, our history is the story of a tragic hero, blind to his own frailty, marching headlong to bring about his own demise through heroic ignorance.

Not to worry, however, the powers-that-be are getting ready to blow this joint anyway, leaving its rotting and fetid corpse to us riff-raff, 99% of the global population. ‘Let Mother Nature have her way,’ the oligarchs must be mumbling to themselves.  ‘What the hell do we care!  The end of the world as we know it is only a problem in THIS solar system.’  NASA has already assured them that planet Kepler 22-B is a real “earth analog” residing in the sweet spot or “habitable zone” of another solar system only 600 light years away.  Isn’t that the great good news?  Imagine (as John Lennon said), it will only take 6,000 to 10,000 years to get there.  Refueling on the way may be a problem, however.

But hey, we got the money and we got ‘the right stuff’.  Pack your bags, comrades, we are going to Kepler. We are going to fuck up that place even more quickly than we fucked up Mother Earth. Don’t hesitate, however. There is no time to spare.  Download your DNA and get the Avatars ready, because our mission is clear; we are going to take out anyone standing between us and our manifest destiny, a new civilization in our new planetary home.  It is our fate, and we will not allow any freaky sideshow indigenous savages to get in our way.

OK.  So maybe I am jumping the gun here.  Maybe it is not Kepler 22-B; maybe it is too far away.  But, I am certain that while the oligarchs are preparing to unleash the US military on us homies, they are simultaneously reviewing all possible scenarios, and still paying NASA researchers to find them a new homeland to secure.  Hubris, on the grandest scale.

Again, the deflections, obfuscations, fairytales, and plain lies just keep mounting, while we continue to believe we are who they tell us we are; and we dutifully comply with their demands, because we do not really understand how to question their logic.  They keep the big show coming so we do not have the time to stop and look around behind the curtain to see the wizard pulling the levers. And most of us never get to witness the profound alienation and anonymity we suffer in their ongoing game of charades.

The incredible journey has already begun, my friends.  Make sure your space suit is on and your gravity boots are laced up; it is going to be one hell of a long and tumultuous ride, I’m afraid.  Now, grab your fracking-fluid and GMO salmon, before the supplies run out.

64 Responses to An Incredible Journey: The Hubris of Kepler 22-B

  1. murph says:

    Sandy,

    I am in full sympathy with this posting and at the time of this comment can’t come up with anything to expand on it.

    Have wanted to comment on the paintings/pictures/prints that head your posts. Where are you coming up with those? I find them fascinating and strange.

  2. Peter says:

    Current financial system demands growth as cornerstone of its stability. Almost all money in circulation comes from credits; as there are no moeny in circulation for interest payments, the money to pay interest should be wrestled from other players of the system, or borrowed to be re-payed later.
    As soon as financial system does not grow, and I believe the moment is now, it starts to devour itself – there still is growth, but only for the top part of it at the expense of the bottom. Therefore Syria, Iran, and ultimately the idea of conquest of other planets.
    What can we do? We can try to opt-out of the system. Internet has given us extraordinary tools for communication, including financial information. One such project is BitCoin – distributed, cryptographic money and payment system without central authority.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Interesting alternative, Peter. But, of course, our problems are much larger than just centralized banking.

      • Pēteris says:

        Yes, problems are much larger. In fact, it is not only the central banking to be blamed, but the credit economy as such, that has been in operation since antiquity, since the usage of gold and silver as money. Some religions have tried to ban usury, namely Christianity in middle ages and islam to this day, but the temptation is always there. Money, that does not rot, leads to usury and centralization of power, because the one who has it always can make more by lending. Only wars and general mayhem may give a temporary rest to this centralization, by killing lenders and borrowers alike; but the cause is not eradicated.

  3. xraymike79 says:

    LOL…. my laughter ultimately turn to fear and sadness. This is my favorite essay of yours thus far. For more hubris and dark humor, read this post:
    “Psychopaths in control of a sinking ship”
    http://www.chrismartenson.com/forum/timelinestages-collapse-our-way-life/39261?page=145#comment-124834

    No society can long survive where lying and the habits of falsehood have infected the public conversation to such an extent that we can speak of it as a “culture” itself. … Whenever we begin to experience life or our experience as absurd in that sense, then we know that the grand narrative is disintegrating; it is becoming incoherent. It is no longer felt to be our story.” – Scott Preston

  4. javacat says:

    Sandy, the art this week is absolutely fantastic! One of my favorites! A new artist? Wonderful stuff.

    I don’t know that it’s always hubris that creates the attitudes Americans hold. I think that at some point, leaders may truly have believed in the value of The American Way and The American Dream as the way to lift the world to our station (OK, that is arrogance.). Now, I feel that it’s beyond hubris. That folks aren’t even faking it anymore with a “greater good for humanity” theme. The “me-grabbing” strikes me as much more blatant.

    As for Americans reaction to the failure of the super-committee to come to any resolution…Most comments I heard were that people were not surprised. No one expected the committee to come to resolution. My sense is that people across the political spectrum have lost faith in the government to accomplish anything in a meaningful way, especially as we enter in the presidential election year cycle. That’s not hubris; it may be resignation.

    The legislation you mention (Senate Bill 1867) and the fact that drones have been approved to patrol the US-Canadian border are deeply disturbing, yet the only outcry I saw was on liberal blogs and websites. Are we just so numbed that we move about only in a fog? Or so stressed by the demands of our daily living (and many are struggling greatly), that there is no energy left for the struggle except a shrug, a snort of disgust, and then, back to life as usual because it’s all we feel we can manage? It may be hubris among the legislators in the sense that they are out of touch with reality, for sure.

    • kulturcritic says:

      All of the above, Michele. Numb, confused, out-marketed, stressed, disgusted, dumb and dumber. And we tend to believe our own press releases… p.s. the artist today is Yuri Ivanov

    • Brutus says:

      Javacat sez:

      Are we just so numbed that we move about only in a fog? Or so stressed by the demands of our daily living (and many are struggling greatly), that there is no energy left for the struggle except a shrug, a snort of disgust, and then, back to life as usual because it’s all we feel we can manage?

      For those of us still with something to lose, I suspect continuing to play the game is exactly what you’re describing. For those of us with nothing left to lose, the streets beckon. Some are out there already, though it’s unclear what’s to be done, really.

      As with the above stat on greenhouse gases having embedded within it some lag time for the full effect to be felt, I suspect the momentum, and on balance the inertia, of our hallowed way of life on the planet will finally come to full rest only when all of our energies in their myriad forms are spent. Whether it will be like the marathoner who completes the race and then collapses and dies at the finish line or the automobile that sputters and rolls silently to a stop once the fuel is used up I can’t prophesy, nor would knowing matter much.

      It’s clear that more people (though still few) are leaving the rat race and compulsory motoring behind, some of whom are silent about it while others are profiled as kooks and weirdos. Struggle, shrug, and snort perhaps, but then resign oneself to getting on with the next phase (in advance of the masses) we’re all about to discover.

      • kulturcritic says:

        God bless the collapse!!

        • john patrick says:

          Even Sodom was granted a reprieve for 50 good men. All the way down to five…

          I know that many of us seek justice for the insanity and nonsense. Me, too. What is civilization without respect for law and binding word? But, if there is one innocent child in the mess, should we not withhold the doom and damnation? A day. A week. Perhaps many years. For the sake of the innocents who will be slaughtered.

          • kulturcritic says:

            JP – very heart-felt on your part; but I am afraid it will mean little. In fact, we have have years until it becomes chaos, but it certainly seems chaos it will become. Prognosticating doom does not mean we entice it to come sooner. When i said god bless the collapse, I was merely echoing the sentiment above, that we need to get on with living differently in advance of the final unravelling.

  5. countrykenrs says:

    Mayhap your conjecture explains W’s announcement that we, the US, were going to send a manned mission to Mars back in 04 with the ex NASA administrator/mouthpiece, Michael Griffin, suggesting NASA might be able to launch a human mission to Mars by 2037 by diverting $11 billion from science missions to human exploration activities. Unfortunately for them it appears that when they looked under the hood of their little chemical rocket program they likely found they had under estimated the program costs by two or three orders of magnitude. A one way trip to Mars perhaps one to two orders of magnitude. Gotta get Mars terraformed ASAP to make it habitable for the uber-rich. I wonder how they will manage without a plethora of lackeys to accomplish the physical labor for them? Details, details

  6. xraymike79 says:

    I’m sure we all intuitively understand the impracticality/impossibility of “colonizing alien worlds”, but it just helps to clarify the insanity of such ideas with the help of a physicist who has a PhD from Yale, Ben Crowell:

    …We’re all familiar with the earthbound tropes represented by Horatio Hornblower, Captain Hook, or Stanley and Livingstone, so why not just translate all those tired old storylines into outer space?

    Well, there are a lot of good reasons why not. Let’s start with energy scales. The U.S.S. Enterprise of Star Trek fame is about the same size and tonnage as the Queen Elizabeth 2, so if it was moving at half the speed of light, its kinetic energy would be something like 1024 joules. That’s equivalent to about a hundred billion Saturn V rockets, or about a thousand times the total megatonnage of the world’s nuclear arsenals. In other words, the Enterprise is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. If you accidentally crash it into a planet (didn’t that happen in one of the movies?), it’s more than enough to destroy everything alive….


    ‘It’s Getting a Little Warm in Here’
    If we really are restricted to slower than light (STL) travel, what kinds of stories can we tell while staying within the bounds imposed by the laws of physics? The next pesky problem comes from the laws of thermodynamics: it turns out that even if the Galactic Federation wasn’t worried about your STL spaceship’s awesome potential as a weapon of mass destruction, you’d still get roasted alive by your own engines. Here’s how it works. If a spaceship is going to travel at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light, then the amount of energy it needs to carry along is on the same order of magnitude as Einstein’s E=mc2, and this is the amount of energy you could produce by converting the entire ship’s mass into pure energy. In other words, the only fuel that’s going to have a high enough energy density is a supply of antimatter, which you can annihilate slowly as you go along. That means your ship’s drive falls into a very broad category of devices known as heat engines — devices that turn heat into mechanical work. The laws of thermodynamics place strict limits on the efficiency of heat engines. These are not just technological limits that might be surpassed by clever engineers someday, they’re fundamental limits that come from the basic laws of physics.

    Now let’s say your spaceliner, with a mass of 100,000 tons, is going to spend ten years accelerating up to one tenth of the speed of light, a speed at which it would take most of a human lifetime to get to the nearest star. That means your engines have to have a power of 1011 horsepower, or about ten times the output capacity of the entire U.S. energy infrastructure. If your engines are fifty percent efficient, then half of that energy isn’t going into propelling your ship, it’s going into heating it — and remember, there’s no air in outer space, so you can’t use a fan to blow air over a radiator. Your ship will melt down in a fraction of a second from its own waste heat. What if we make the engine more efficient? The theoretical maximum efficiency of a heat engine according to the laws of thermodynamics is given by 1-Tc/Th, where Tc is the cold temperature of the environment into which the engine can dump its waste heat, and Th is the temperature at which the heat is produced by burning the fuel. Letting Th be a million degrees Kelvin (and assuming we can contain something that hot!), and letting Tc be room temperature, we get a theoretical maximum efficiency of 99.97%. That still leaves 0.03% as waste heat, and that waste heat is still enough to kill the crew faster than you can say “well done.”

    from “Why Space Opera Won’t Fly”
    http://www.lightandmatter.com/article/spaceopera.html

  7. Martin says:

    Ah, yes – the Great Unmasking continues; the ‘Super-Committee’ being one of the most visible tell-tales that the Congress-critters may as well give it up and go home to at least enjoy the collective implosion from a more comfortable (for awhile) perspective, surrounded by family and friends all the while dreaming of a deus ex machina to drop down and save us all at the very last minute before the curtain finally falls.

  8. bmiller says:

    Well, you are in rare form tonight. The ship is sinking and the band on the deck has stepped out for a smoke. Make sure to take a deep breath before leaping into the water.

  9. xraymike79 says:

    What’s going on over there in Russia. I was impressed by this statement in an article today:
    On Russian TV, a Straightforward Account Is Startling…
    “In Russia, there is a culture of revolt,” Vladimir Solovyov, a Kremlin-friendly television host, said in an evening news appearance on Rossia 1 last week. “And this culture of revolt ends in bloodshed. In Russia, there is no culture of fighting for your rights within the framework of the law.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/world/europe/russian-tv-changing-its-strategy-shows-protests.html

    • kulturcritic says:

      And we have seen just how effective “fighting for your rights within the framework of the law” works in the USA. It is a fucking joke here. How is the OWS deal working out for you? Not too good I suspect. Wherever there is hierarchy, there is no justice!

      • xraymike79 says:

        Just posted about the hypocrisy of it all here:
        http://www.chrismartenson.com/forum/timelinestages-collapse-our-way-life/39261?page=146#comment-124919

        ” The gun barrels of capitalism slowly grind and creak as they are turned inwards, placing in their sites the new domestic enemies.”

          • kulturcritic says:

            Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets in Moscow on Saturday shouting “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” forcing the Kremlin to confront a level of public discontent that has not been seen here since Vladimir V. Putin first became president 12 years ago.

            The crowd overflowed from a central city square, forcing stragglers to climb trees or watch from the opposite riverbank. “We exist!” they chanted. “We exist!”

            So here is the bottom line folks. When will the citizens of America finally awake from their own stupor, and make the same demands of their thieving oligarchs. When will they go to the streets and vociferously demand the resignation of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Ben Bernake, Timothy Geitner, and the others? When will they demand imprisonment for Cheney, Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld and their ilk? We talk about repression of free speech in Russia, like we think we know what we are talking about; but the Russians have the BALLS to go to the streets and speak their minds (as they did with the fall of the USSR); all the while, we tout our own freedoms but do not have the guts to demand an end to our enslavement or the eviction of our slave masters. We are a joke.

            • javacat says:

              As I read this, I think of how quickly the OWS efforts, which seemed to be on the verge of bursting into some authentic movement of change, have faded from media coverge. Our local library, which–to their credit–let the Occupiers camp on library property once the City declared they couldn’t sleep in the park (a distance, literally of about 10 feet), a month later decided that they couldn’t tent on library property because of insurance liability. Is that the bureaucratic bow-out or what?

              What agreements have been made that limit the coverage, the treatment of those arrested, the meaning behind the movement? Now that there’s no pepper spray, and the crowds are dispersed, have the PTB simply sprinkled fairy dust of forgetfulness in our eyes? It feels as if we will simply acquiesce and move back into the well-worn path. We nod ‘okay’ and continue as we did before, one more commodified protest swept away into a dustbin.

  10. Hazen says:

    Sandy, I’m very much attuned to your visions of this, our age of destruction. Things fall apart. Shit not only happens, it’s happening to us. American exceptionalism is a lie with which we delude ourselves. We can no more control our descent from this industrial eminence than a man who has tripped and fallen headlong down the stairs can control his descent. Some, maybe many, will survive the fall, but what they carry across to the other side won’t much resemble the civilization that so many have taken for granted.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hazen – yes, it is an age of destruction, and I think we are in mid-fall without much chance of stopping the descent. The cards are, and have always been, stacked against us, because we were (are) our own worst enemies. We endorsed the ferocious rise to the top, the exceptional life, the Dream; we hungered for it, emboldened by all the fakery, marketeering, and political gamesmanship they offered us. We are not merely complicit; we are responsible for its dissemination worldwide, and the concomitant destruction of forests, mountains, waterways, air, species, and humans globally. I have no real idea where it ends, although JP would like me to imagine a better alternative for the sake of the children. I can imagine, but that will not make it real.

      • John Patrick says:

        I cannot “imagine” a bright lining, myself. Deep down, I agree it’s a total shit-sandwich. But, maybe we should try to save some bread for the innocent hungry. Will it fix anything? No. Not a damn thing. There is no “winning.” Sometimes, you just maintain the untenable. For the sake of what little good remains. And this preservation, may be the only thing worth passing down to future generations. And they will have to do the same…

        And, I hate the idea of doing such because we are capable of so much more. Maybe. Are we? It doesn’t matter. it’s the only thing we can do for those we care about. Think of it as a new tree of life with roots in a fertilized reality.

        • kulturcritic says:

          I hear you JP. And other innocents, far from us, will continue to suffer while we maintain it for those we care about. Now, I am no altruist, believe me. And I have a small son to protect and nourish. But, I am only making a point.

          • John Patrick says:

            Yep. I hear you. Same with me. Wishful thinking will not change the tapestry hanging on the walls of hell. Still–the first action should be to look for the light switch. And, then–the door leading out. Having made the journey a number of times, myself, there is always a key laying about somewhere.

            Plato had the same discussion in the cave. And, the question, do you go back in and show the way out, or abandon those left behind and move onward. The choice made, is what defines character. And soul. I think. Regardless if anyone follows.

  11. Hazen says:

    Some people regret the past. I regret the future. My children and grandchildren, even now, are inheriting that future. I don’t come to this issue with “clean hands” as the lawyers say—my realization that civilization is an enormous swindle came early, but my actions didn’t sync up until later. JP is right. To show empathy and compassion is the best action now; not easy, when the wolf is at my door too. I believe there is a higher consciousness. It’s never bestowed on us. We make it, or attain it, within ourselves, and after much work and help from others.

    • John Patrick says:

      I’m as complicit as anyone else. And, even sensing danger years ago and learning first-hand that you can’t convince anyone, I wandered awhile with various docients of Hades. But, eventually this is tiring and offers little positive/constructive emotional and psychological reward. How many times do you want to hear about the wolf eating the three pigs. I just cannot live in that realm for long. I found purpose and soul-honor in identifying with the importance of community. And realizing, if community and family were the most important to me, then it may well cost me everything I am/have. If it comes down to preserving one spore of something pure/divine, one innocent soul, then how many must be lost before one says, “no more.”

      I don’t know if I’ll be successful. But I know one thing–the notion of saving for retirement or sipping margaritas in my boxer shorts just became insignificant… We have work to do.

      • kulturcritic says:

        Empathy, compassion, and above all, humility. But that third one is the hardest one for me. Certainly we were all trained (over generations) to be individuals, conquerers with a heroic sense of self and self-worth to match. This for me is the most difficult delusion to overcome. And I can admit it, right here, up front. But the egoism and sense of entitlement that goes with modernity, is quickly spreading throughout the rest of the globe. It is a powerful force that sucks up everything in its path; it is the devil, it is living at the gilded gates of hell. It all appears like a paradise until you no longer recognize the man in the mirror. But recognizing the situation and doing something about it are two different things. Certainly community (however defined) is part of the solution; the issue of sharing and taking care of one another is key. But, the work that is to be done cannot be driven by the same intentionality that drives us to succeed. That keeps us in a loop, a double-bind that has no exit. I think learning how to do things and not-do some other things is a way out. Maybe that is the work that is required. And, of course, part of my work is spreading the word.

        • john patrick says:

          The double-bind. I agree. There are no winners. Besides, who wins in a race run by one?

        • javacat says:

          Three good words, kC. Humility is hard to embrace because the culture is so diametrically opposed to the notion of working quietly, for the sake of the work instead of the ego. It can affect one’s status and progress in one’s career if others measure you based on self-promotion. One can get ‘run over’ by following the humble path because you’re perceived as not valuing yourself or what you do. Playing by their rules seems necessary sometimes, even as it clouds one’s vision and steals the soul.

          Giving and giving away feels important at a gut level. Certainly we know that in some HG cultures, giving away showed status, it showed honor, showed response. Friends who work in Burkina Faso, where water is beyond precious, tell the story of how villagers welcome their guests by sharing a cup of water. All honors the relationship, the connection. We can cultivate giving in ourselves, and model it for others. Giving and community cannot, however, be coerced or mandated if it is to be genuine, compassionate and loving.

          Ego can take many forms…from the stereotyped Ugly American to the self-righteous New Age guru. Any time our self (lower case) gets in front of the work, ego is in the way. If we see ourselves the victim, it’s ego. If we perceive ourselves the winner, it is ego. When ‘me’ gets in the way of being, it is ego.

          This is more of a rant than I intended. 😉 Not so much in the ‘holiday spirit’, I guess. What I’m feeling keenly right now is that it takes a kind of surrender to move into that place of empathy, compassion and humility. One must be willing to jettison the norms of measure, peer measure, etc. and understand that others may perceive you a weak or soft–or not perceive you at all. It takes a while to root out some of those inculcated reactions, but it also takes you out the the game, and into being.

          • john patrick says:

            Nicely said, JC. You will certainly have little competition if you give things/yourself away. For me, the surrender comes not as a giving up, but rather giving it/ego all away–the needs/drives that got us in this mess to begin with. I do think the universe has its own resonant frequency of being. When we match ourself to it, a small idea/force is magnified many times to further accomplish the universal goal (relentless love). We–become coparticipants. Or, as the ancient footwasher said, something about moving mountains…

            Consider the humming bird. It “flaps” its wings at 10,000 times a minute (a guess). There is no way a muscle can contract/expand at this frequency. But–once the initial effort is made to match/find the resonant frequency, only a small amount of energy is required to keep it going. Smart little bird…

            The key to avoiding being “run over” on the lower path, is accepting ones participatory/authority that belongs to the higher goal. Me thinks…

            • javacat says:

              Yes, much of what you say makes sense, JP. When I’m in situations that I currently find myself in, I feel the pull most sharply, as if I’m caught between the realms of takers and givers. I catch your distinction about not giving myself away. I was working toward the thought of non-attachment–of being as generous as possible in mind and spirit and material. What I need to lose, not accept, is the perception that I am being run over, for that image means I’m still working within that other framework.

              When I say surrender, I mean it as a release, an acceptance, not as a giving up or defeat. Rather I letting all the ego-scales fall. Holding onto the fears or egos or whatever enculturations one wants to name takes tremendous energy. Surrending, letting it all go, does not.
              Not that I’m there. Not by a long shot. But moving as one participating in the world, even with many stumbles, is not such a bad place to be.

          • kulturcritic says:

            Competition is the enemy. Cooperation, the key. At least that is one of the distinguishing characteristics between egalitarian vs hierarchical societies.

      • javacat says:

        I don’t understand all of you post, JP, but I felt the shift in tone at the end. What tipped your scales? We have work to do, for certain, but where & how? Each our own, with a connection to whatever community we can make–live, in the now, digitally?

        • john patrick says:

          Hi JC. I certainly don’t know what anyone else besides me can do. The “work” I had in mind had to do with our individual calling. For me, it came/comes down to a decision to further prepare for coming doom/justice, or–preserve that which has value. In the end, I think only one path is the key to opening the door…

  12. Hazen says:

    Hmm, this thread is becoming quite a feast of ideas. Muchas gracias a todos and especially to Sandy for getting the ball into play. Yes, not-doing seems key. Stopping what we do automatically, without thinking, out of habit, mindlessly. In other words—we begin to try to live with attention. Empathy, compassion, humility—I find all of these as hard to do as paying attention. But they are goals, objectives, something to work with and toward, in the sense of having a daily practice. I once heard a Lakota medicine woman say that we should live lightly on the earth, so lightly that when we die we leave no trace behind. This seems the antithesis of everything we’ve been taught to believe. Such an expression of humility must be deeply disturbing to human beings infected with the disease of civilization, which puts the ego and self-assertion before all else, as many here have noted well.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Good advice from the Lakota shaman. Too bad we couldn’t help ourselves.

      • Hazen says:

        I think the advice still applies, even on the downslope of “history”. Treading lightly has both existential and ethical dimensions. It might also help rein in the ego, which you’ve identified many times, Sandy, as the chief culprit in our “civilized” dysfunctionality.

        • kulturcritic says:

          Yeah, the whole fairytale of individuality and ego satisfaction that drives into the status phenomenon is a real killer and deal breaker. Treading lightly must be both the cause and effect of ego dissolution. It is a fine road to travel, difficult for us to navigate, but worth the focus. Thanks, Hazen

  13. john patrick says:

    Leave no trace behind… perhaps, why some of the ancient seers put no marks on paper. They taught in their community, nearby, but had no desire to go to the planets. I like the expression of your Lakota friend.

    A friend once told me, “Good things pass away, so that more good things will come your way.” I know. It sounds trite. But it places the dissolution process in a new light. Except when I told that to my grandmother, “C’mon grandma, you’re next.” And she hit me with a tube of rolaids.

  14. troutsky says:

    The cool thing about the future is that it is unknown. Shit happens and some times it is actually just. But one thing we do know is if you sit on your hands the status quo wins every time. If we’re going to go, go with a bang folks. The fun is just beginning!

  15. John Bollig says:

    Sandy,

    What a spicy meatball you have made for us all today. That just accelerates the plan to get the land. My feeling is that we will be able to feed ourselves and the immediate family. Now as far as medical care is concerned, we have informal agreements for medical care lined up. This world is screwed and we better be prepared for chaos.

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