It’s time to articulate the core assumptions and beliefs that empower THE HAMMER.
Before I hammer them out, though, let’s get something straight: thousands of words, if not books, would be necessary to describe how I’ve arrived at these conclusions. This is a blog, however, and not a book. So brevity will prevail… for now. Want to know more? Then stay tuned to further blog posts. Subscribe.
The natural world is disheveling before our eyes. Its degradation outpaces the very scientists who keep their fingers on the pulse of the web of life. The number of species, and the number of individuals within these species, are plummeting, while human numbers, and the average impact per person, continue to increase.
We humans need a healthy natural world to be healthy; the natural world is from where we came, and the only soup within which to simmer. Simply put, our own health correlates strongly with the health of the web from which we evolved. Simpler yet… fouling our own nest is insane.
Nature’s tapestry is disheveling because of human activity. If you imagine a dashboard of gauges which track our well being through time, the gauges went to hell when the industrial revolution began. The graphs that track negative impacts over time start to aggressively climb when the industrial revolution began; they look like freakin’ hockey sticks! Population soared; the impact per person soared; the ecological footprint of our species soared.
Human activity is driven by a singular global driving force… commerce. ‘Grow or die’ says our mainstream paradigm. We’re no longer a globe inhabited by citizens. Instead we’re a big box store full of consumers.
Capitalism worked well, for a while. Resources, air and water appeared infinite… for that while. Human law seemed to be aligned with natural law… the natural world seemed able to absorb our waste, our numbers, our extraction.
Once a carrying capacity is reached, further growth is problematic. Growth is good for a while. Like watching one’s child grow, there’s a point when growth becomes problematic. At the point we exceed healthy limits we…well…become unhealthy.
Sustainability requires that human law be aligned with natural law. Our healthy future depends upon keeping Mother Nature clean. Now armed with the knowledge that our numbers, our waste, our toxins, our pace of extraction exceed the carrying capacity of our natural world, our only sane choice is to scale back human impact to align with what’s sustainable.
Alterations of immense scale are needed to halt, then reverse, the ravages of this grow-or-die paradigm. Steady-state economics becomes necessary to avoid collapse. Such proactive changes require intense governmental action, and they’re needed NOW! Changing our light bulbs voluntarily won’t get us there. Enormous, radical change is necessary.
Those in power, whether in government or in commerce, climbed to the top of their game playing this ‘grow or die’ game, but the rules they used during the climbout are not working any longer! Although they were the right rules… for a while…the rules our leaders continue to play with, we now know, are the wrong rules!
Our leaders in government and commerce are not apt to give up their high and mighty power. Even if we ask nicely, or send in countless letters to the contrary. Sir Isaac Newton nailed it when he postulated that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. The rich, powerful and famous are happy to remain in motion.
Comfortable consumers want their leaders to stay in power. Indeed, this ‘grow or die’ paradigm did create more creature comforts… creating creatures willing to enjoy the ride; creating marketing that effectively pulls the wool over the eyes of said creatures. It is foolhardy to expect comfortable people to choose leaders who promote discomfort. (“Want less”… imagine that!?)
People tend to change when they are stressed, right? And their degree of desired change is directly proportional to their degree of discomfort. But will that change come in time? Will that change solve the problem that caused their discomfort? Will ‘the people’ understand the cause of their discomfort or, instead, will the media convince them that they’re inherently part of the problem? That it’s not so bad?
In order to design the right changes that address the problems at hand, we need to clearly understand their cause and effect. And this requires us to know the truth.
Today, mainstream media reaching the masses is anything but truth. Instead we’re fed propaganda, fabricated authenticity, purchased by the rich and famous, so that changes sought will not address their causes! Truth will be spun so as to maintain the momentum and status quo of the rich and famous, fanning our race to the bottom.
While our ‘grow or die’ system continues to collapse, the media, owned by the rich and famous, will purposefully confuse the causes of system failure. They will suggest additional regulations, or less regulations, depending upon which party is in power, all the while promoting the core value of our mainstream ‘grow or die’ paradigm… as Rome burns.
It’s not about sustainability anymore, if by that we mean let’s stop, and sustain, where we are. We’re in system failure now and I have no interest in sustaining system failure, do you? Collapse sucks. We need a new system that embraces a steady state at the level commensurate with Mother Earth’s ability to absorb that which we do.
When I’m riding my bike and I realize that I’m heading in the wrong direction, needing to head the other way, step one is to apply my brakes. At a system level, step one is the same: apply our brakes. Instead our pace of reaching the cliff edge continues to accelerate.
What in the world can I do about this mess I just described?
This. Amidst a plethora of other things… I can use this tool. With this blog, this hammer, I can hammer out danger, I can hammer out warning, I can hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters, all over this land.
A healthy toolbox includes more than just a hammer. So I will continue to work towards converting our company into a worker-owned cooperative. I will continue to serve on the Board of RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. I will continue to focus on decreasing my own ecological footprint, as well as nudge those within my spheres of influence to do the same. I will continue to support the health and well being of the numerous organizations I helped create: Sustainable Connections, Futurewise Whatcom, and Transition Whatcom.
And I — we — need you by my side, rowing just as hard.
Derrick Jensen wrote this:
“….the fact remains that if we judge my work, or anyone’s work, by the most important standard of all, and in fact the only standard that really matters, which is the health of the planet, my work (and everyone else’s) is a complete failure. Because my work hasn’t stopped the murder of the planet. Nor has anyone else’s. We haven’t even slowed it down. It’s embarrassing to have to explain why this is the only standard that really matters, but at this point embarrassment is the least of our problems. The health of the planet is the only standard that really matters because without a living planet nothing else is important, because nothing else exists. Compared to this, the number of books one has published doesn’t matter. How beautifully or poorly they are written doesn’t matter. Financially supporting oneself doesn’t matter. Life itself is more important than what we create.”
Architect William McDonough adds this:
“If we understand that design leads to the manifestation of human intention, and if what we make with our hands is to be sacred and honor the earth that gives us life, then the things we make must not only rise from the ground but return to it, soil to soil, water to water, so that everything that is received from the earth can be freely given back without causing harm to any living system. This is ecology. This is good design. It is of this we must now speak.”
It is of this I must now speak.