As the conversation about Near-Term Human Extinction (NTHE) grows increasingly deafening, I notice many people behaving as if they are already dead—and in fact they may be. Do we have 15 years, 20 years, 50 years? Should I move to another location? What’s the point of doing the job I now have? Why even have health insurance if I’m not going to be here anyway? And on it goes…I have no problem with preparing for the future. I’ve been writing books on that topic for about six years. The future has come to meet us and smack us upside the head on just about every level imaginable. And…living primarily in the future takes a terrible toll on us in current time. In fact, it strip-mines our lives in the here and now and guarantees that we become “extinct” long before NTHE does its dirty deed.
When hope is used to reject reality, this is called denial, and denial usually has a darker side than the (fertile and therefore rejuvenating) darkness it initially resisted. When we accept the dark and difficult side of side of life, the experiences that are not rosy and peaceful, we give ourselves an opportunity to undergo transformation, a transformation that can deliver us in earnest to a new level of fulfillment, integration, and therefore healing.
There is a vast difference between going supine before one’s oppressors and surrendering to the vast, ineffable order of the heart of creation. The task is ongoing—and arduous, even, at times, terrifying. It involves a drowning—a baptism of sorts, but of the poetic (not fundamentalist) variety— a washing away of calcified habit and a rebirth by an immersion in the embracing waters of a larger order—one that is not defined by a compulsion for domination of the things of the world one cannot control.
On some level, it is tempting to say, “goodbye and good riddance” to 2012. For all the positive experiences it may have brought us, those were overshadowed by losses that will live with us for a very long time. But no matter how much we would like to “put them behind us” and declare their end, the truth is that they mark the beginning of a new era of deepening loss and cultural chaos. I assume that the reader understands this, but at the same time, I believe it is crucial to evaluate the lessons which this formidable year offers us.
“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
—attributed to Sinclair Lewis
In these turbulent times, it is both comforting and inspiring to hear the words of the mystical Persian poet, Rumi, who after more than 700 years is being passionately embraced by millions around the world who crave the juice and joy of poetry that speaks powerfully and personally to life in this age of uncertainty.