“I see a lot of people telling us the world is crashing and burning but very little advice for little people able to plan for the future. Help!!” I get emails. And sometimes I even write essays about them. So. How is one to survive all this — these tumultuous, anxiety-inducing times? I’m going to take you through a seven step self-help program, from tiny to big, shallow to deep, and then we’ll discuss the thinking behind it.
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.
Consider this nightmare scenario: a military coup. You don’t have to strain your imagination—all you have to do is watch Thursday’s White House press briefing, in which the chief of staff, John Kelly, defended President Trump’s phone call to a military widow, Myeshia Johnson. The press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like, for it was in the logic of such a coup that Kelly advanced his four arguments
Let me apologize in advance for what may be an upsetting piece of writing for some of you. If you’re in a state of shock or exhaustion from recent events, perhaps you should skip this one.
I don’t offer this analysis in order to further distress anyone — but until you understand what is happening and how that influences your psychological state, you’ll remain the emotional equivalent of a rag doll shaken to-and-fro by events. Such understanding may not bring you to a place of calm acceptance. But it will set you free.
I have to honestly think of myself as deeply cynical and hopeless in relation to what I believe our cultural systems and institutions can ultimately provide us. A new deal with the old dealers won’t save us. New dealers in the same game won’t either. A new game, or an assortment of new games, might. The needed change is fundamentally a cultural change, not a piece of legislation or a piece of technology, and it is a change that is struggling from many directions to break through. The mainstream culture is focused on news-making individuals, institutions and events – not systems – so this cultural shifting is relatively invisible and under-reported. Have faith in it, be on the look out and maybe even jump in somewhere
Those familiar with The Three E’s understand what I mean when I say there are some very sizable disasters headed our way. They are mathematically unavoidable at this point. But while we can’t control *what* will happen, we each can control *how* we will meet and react to it. Advance preparation is essential. But no plan is foolproof. Having the ability to deal with unexpected setbacks is also key — which a tribe helps immensely with.
Let’s get real and face together the likelihood that the human race now has two possibilities before it: An extreme crisis that leads to the survival of a bedraggled and traumatized remnant in a vastly degraded world, or the total annihilation of that world. We can never rule out, of course, the possibility of a sudden evolutionary leap in humanity or even miraculous divine intervention, but we would be narcissistic fools to count on them. We have come to the current situation because we have drunk a deadly cocktail of illusion. Our only hope now, rugged though it is, is in daring to live beyond the need for any kind of magical thinking—beyond, in fact certainty of any kind. We must take complete responsibility for the horror we have engendered and for the response we are now called to make to that horror, whatever happens. Such a response demands of us something far deeper than what conventional religions and visions of activism call for–nothing less than living and acting from the Self, both without illusion and totally committed to compassion and justice even, if necessary, in hopeless situations.