This is an edited transcript of a conversation that took place on April 24, 2018 as part of the inaugural quarterly issue of Kosmos Journal. The theme of the first edition is Unlearning Together. As such, it felt appropriate to have a quartet dialogue of unlearning, focused on a complex of issues associated with the inevitable transition to post-capitalism; namely, the issues of grief, collapse and the mystical impulse of transcendence that can provide deep healing in such troubled times. One of the key questions is how we come together to explore the edge of our practice as seekers, as activists, and as advocates for a more just and loving world.
So the fascist society — which can’t be a democracy, remember — becomes one giant authoritarian exercise is seeing just who these people that are “born better” really are. Who among them is the most cunning, vicious, and ruthless predators of all, the Nietzschean uberman, who can dominate the weak the most savagely? It usually begins like this: can they exploit the weak, the alien, the immigrant, the foreigner, the disabled? Take their wealth and belongings? Kick and punch them down? But it’s a contest now. Who will go further? Soon enough, there is someone willing to put the weak in ghettoes. Then to split up families. Then to put children in camps. And then the unthinkable happens.
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These are deeply spiritual times. I’ve done everything I can to serve a better world with the desperate hope that I would live to see the “more beautiful world my heart once knew was possible.” It was a lovely dream. There is no new world. It’s over.
In reality, what Emma and her friends are experiencing is a profane, contemporary iteration of what youth in ancient, tribal times experienced in a sacred, contained, ritual setting. In those times, the community understood that rites of passage in youth were as necessary as learning to walk, cutting teeth, or entering puberty. Thus the community prepared its children for adolescent rites of passage because they understood that children come to this life with an inherent need for them. In fact, they understood that not providing rites of passage or what is sometimes called initiation, guarantees that the child will never grow up and in fact, will become toxic to the community
My purpose with this book is not to convince you of the apocalyptic times we are now living in, or of the biosphere collapse currently underway, or of what you already know inside yourself. The fact that this book is in your hands is indicative of a truth that already lives within. My purpose for this book is to highlight the inauthenticity of who and what we’ve allowed ourselves to become so that in these final times, we can awaken to, and embrace all of who and what we’ve always been meant to be. At the very least, let’s make our final ride enlightening, compassionate, and caring. Let’s at least become as a result of what now is.
I probably won’t change many minds about Trump/Russia in what I’ve written above. Some will probably conclude that I’ve sold my soul to the Clintonites (for the record, I did not support Clinton in the election), or that I’ve bought into anti-Russian propaganda emanating from the neoconservative foreign policy establishment. But that’s also part of the story: we are entering a post-truth era in which tribal alignment matters far more than mere facts, which are becoming ever harder to establish to everyone’s agreement. Jennifer Kavanagh calls this “truth decay,” and notes that it makes the job of informing and mobilizing the public much harder—not just with regard to Trump-Russia or politics in general, but also when it comes to climate change and the other collective survival threats
In order to talk about extinction anxiety I first need to address epistemological anxiety, otherwise, you won’t know if what I am saying to you is a bunch of ‘fake news’ served up by yet another privileged white male. Epistemology is that branch of philosophy concerned with how we come to have knowledge about anything at all. In the age of Trumpism, this is a question about truth and lies. Like the negative space on a painter’s canvas, Trump’s compulsive lying (averaging about five a day since he became President, according to the New York Times) brings into stark relief the question of what truth is and how we come to know it. It raises the question of our own critical thinking skills in assessing the veracity of information sources and our own predisposition to believe false information that reinforces our entrenched positions. Furthermore, Trump has introduced a new form of lying to the political sphere, lying as entertainment
The very sobering data of our planetary predicament
As Kali and Trump are disrupting the planet, you are offered the help of Andrew and Carolyn to ponder the 4 strategies and actions that awake humans must embrace going forward into the Dark Night of the Soul. The tools they provide to navigate the crisis are: Reconnection, Resistance, Resilience and Regeneration and each chapter has suggested practices to help the reader focus.