Archive for April 15th, 2009

Last night I went to a PermaCulture meet-up. It was surprisingly enlightening. The presentation was excellent. The group was diverse (for Maine standards). A few things in particular struck me.

I was impressed with just how clearly the presenter stated just how unsustainable our current way of living is. We have built the most complex system of economics, communities, infrastructure, and culture ever seen on the face of the planet; and it is all built upon the premise of endless cheap fossil fuel and the idea that we can consume and create endless waste without consequence. Most people realize this isn’t sustainable and major change has to come. But you can’t argue that this is not currently the situation and foundation of our modern life. 50% of the Earth’s non-renewable resources have been used up by the baby-boomer generation. These are gone forever. Richard Heinberg (a peak oil expert) was quoted as saying, “Any system that uses fossil fuels is unsustainable” (The quote may not exact). Is there any part of our modern economic system that isn’t built on the premise of cheap energy?

The question is can we make change in an organized intelligent preemptive manner? Or are we going to face collapse of the system without having planned for it? Personally I am changing my way of being in the world and planning and building my future now.

The second thing that struck me was the PermaCulture approach itself. It blends perfectly with my view of Druidry. Not only does it take an integrated look at living in the environment, taking into account humans, rocks, trees, water, animals, the whole community of what I call “souls”, recognizing the relationship on all levels between these souls.  It also looks at systems over time.

In Druidry we are asked to not only look at the a soul with respect and equality, but we are asked to look at the whole story of that soul. We can’t just take into consideration the energies of the moment, but we need to look at the bigger picture and listen to the life story of that soul. This may sound abstract but it is perfectly normal in the our justice system. We take into consideration (most of the time), the history of the individual and the history of the relationship between an perpertrator and the victim. There is a difference between cold calculated murder for money and killing a person whose has been one’s abuser for a years on end. We look at the history, the whole story. Druidry ask that we do this in all of our relationships, from family and friends, to our food, to our tools, to our homes, and on and on and on, every relationship. Of course we do this within the limits of our human consciousness, but we are asked to try.

We need to bring this approach to all of our relationships, including our relationship to world via consumerism. It may sound strange to look at the whole story when one is buying a light-bulb but that is precisely what we as consumers, need to take into account. When we look at the history of a light-bulb, we look at the ethics of the company that produced it; the ethics of the company selling it; we look at the creativity and genius that went into the design and development; we look at the intention of the manufacturer in regards to quality and longevity. This conscious consumerism has to become a normal day to day way of being in the world. Making unconscious choices gives power to people and entities that have no sense of obligation to the indiviual, the community, or the planet. Do we really want to give money to companies that abuse children? Cut down the rain-forest? Spew hate on the radio and television? Create super-fund sites?

I see being a consumer and engaging in the economy as working and relating directly to deity. The gods of trade are forces that moves within the human collective. Trade is a natural expression of what it is to be human. We do business. I think the gods of trade are, at this moment in time, the most prevalent of all the gods of human nature. They are ruling the planet. Once again we have submitted to deity and as I mentioned before, submission is no way of living an ethical life. Submission certainly can be easier and allow us to just follow the herd, or follow a leader without having to stress our minds, emotions, or our souls with responsibility. The end result of this is always a lack of peace. There isn’t a respect for the boundaries and nemetons of other souls (and just as important, the nemeton of our own soul). Submission allows us to cut ourselves off from listening to the whole story, to experiencing the story of another soul for ourselves. We are simply swept along with the currents of the forces in play. Submission allows good people to run a concentration camp. Submission allows us to stay quiet while politicians send money to people who make land-mines. On a less extreme level, submission allows us to buy eggs from a factory farm that rips the beaks off from chickens without anesthesia, or buy items made with processed genetically modified corn which funds the mass marketing of foods which are causing massive disease in our society.

So what we need to bring into being is a new paradigm for engaging with the gods of trade, one where we have equality, one where we stand on our own two feet, rooted into the Earth, grounded in our line of ancestry and heritage. And from that place, we can make conscious decisions about how we trade. When we do this, our acts of trade will not only be sustainable but even better, enhancing. The items and services we trade will not be depleting of the environment. We will be adding to our communities items and services that build a better life, more closely entwined with the natural world. The offensive and horrific concepts of “waste and garbage” will disappear.

We can no longer view ourselves as separate from Nature. What we do to Nature effects us. What we do to each other effects Nature. We are perfectly entwined. Our way of being in the world, our acts of trade must built on this simple truth as a foundation.

Am I being idealistic in thinking this is possible on a global scale? Most likely I am. But speaking for myself, I refuse to give in and submit to the norm. When I engage with the gods of trade, it will be from a place of equality and respect. I will not submit.

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