My Amazon Review of Dean Walker’s book, The Impossible Conversation: Choosing Reconnection and Resilience At the End of Business as Usual

Disclaimer:  I have purchased and read the book.  I am a friend of the author and he acknowledged me upfront for a modest financial contribution to its professional editing.

That being said, he has asked me to review The Impossible Conversation.  I have agreed to review it with integrity and honor.

I did not want to read this book.  You will not want to read it either.  And, yet, you must, we must.  It is not a book to be overlooked, to be ignored.  Nor is its messages to be, as Walker puts it, ‘overridden’ even as we are ignoring (overriding) the warnings of our scientists and visionaries. Our future generations, if any, will read  it and they will be aghast at its accuracy and its insight and will be outraged that their ancestors did not wake up.

I am in agreement with the author’s assertion that we are at the end of our western culture of business-as-usual.

We are at the inevitable end of our culture’s assumption thatwe can have infinite progress in a finite world.  We have ongoingly and foolishly damaged our nest too much. We, as the author points out with clarity, backing up his multiple assertions with deadly accuracy, no longer have a series of problems to be solved. Rather we have a set of predicaments.  And predicaments, by their very nature, are insoluble.

He, as I, believe that our culture has spun its course and that our very near future will be an abyss.  While his main thrust is the damage done by corporations and his main concern is that of man-created climate change, there are other possible scenarios that could trigger our downward plunge. He could have said more about these but chose not to extend the length of the book by doing so.

The main thrust of his book, however, is not upon our demise.  Rather it is upon the question, How shall we live in the face of these predicaments? It is a book that speaks to joy and to personal responsibility. It powerfully speaks to reconnection with our Deeper Self … with Others … and with Earth itself.

This is a transformative book.  And transformation is difficult work… work we would rather not do. Be bold, be daring, do it anyway. The Impossible Conversation will support your work.   Our future, your future requires it.

I suggest you read the book in pieces, perhaps a chapter at a time.   It will be well worth your while.  And your descendants will be glad you did.

A Most Dangerous Assumption

 “… it was amazing how many people thought money could buy them exception from the laws of nature.”  S. M. Stirling, Dies the Fire, 2004, p. 5.

This is the grave mistake we make as a western culture, particularly as an American culture. We assume, because we have so much money and have been privileged for so long, we can get away with being predators of our own home.

Nature has a way of dealing with parasites who overstep their bounds.  Since the beginning of time she has countered threats to her balance. All-powerful, she is poised to reduce the threat from our brilliant but rapacious species. We, in our arrogant adolescence, have placed our species in grave danger of becoming a failed experiment.

Re-Thinking Your Mission Statement

“Stop it!   You are not here to speak of whether to give to the begging children. You are here to end hunger on the planet. Shift your thinking!”

In that small room in Chennai with other activists from all over the world, and from those words by The Hunger Project president of India, Lalita Banavali, my view of life altered forever. Think globally.

I brought this thinking as I was initiated into the Elders group of The Mankind Project of southern Oregon. And I brought this thinking to the planning session the following Sunday as Michael moderated the creation of our new Mission and Vision Statement.

I believe in the “Think Globally  Act Locally” bumper sticker. And that the Mission Statement of every group of concerned citizens should contain a “Think Globally” statement at its core.

If such a statement is not at the core of a group, I believe that no matter the good it accomplishes, that will have little  impact other than to have the members feel better about themselves. This is good of course, but not impactful.

Such a result might have been sufficient in a different world, one where our population was small and our ecosystems thrived. Useful in a world when we had a series of problems to be solved. Then small groups might have had an impact. Now a local group with merely local thinking can only have a local impact

We no longer have that good and simple world. Now we have a world that is out of control, one that has been described as having run off the cliff in the same way Wile E. Coyote runs off the cartoon cliff and pumps his legs in mid-air for a bit before looking down. And then crashes.

We no longer have a world with problems-to-be-solved, as every activist group assumes, wants and hopes … and often deludes itself that such is true. It is not true. Our worldwide issues are so large and so intertwined that they are like a house of cards. Remove one base card and it all falls. So too our world. Instead of a problem-solution world, we live in a predicament. And predicaments, by their very nature, cannot be solved. They just are.

Two of the simplest ways we can speak this predicament:  If every person in the world were to continue to live their present lifestyle, unchanged, it would take 1.5 earths to sustain those lifestyles. We have one earth. This one is even more informative:   If everyone in the world lived a lifestyle like you and me, average Americans, it would take five earths to sustain itself. We have one earth.

Humanity cannot live this way much longer. We have crossed the point of no return.

We delude ourselves daily and interminably with these two bottom-line beliefs, both wrong. “Business-as-usual”.“Progress at All Costs.”  With these driving us, mostly unconsciously, we are killing the planet. We are tearing up our very nest with our hubris. We assume that we can devastate our beautiful blue and green planet without repercussions. Worse, these are not just something we believe, these are our contexts for life. These are where we ‘come from’… in our day-to-day lives.

We simply assume next Monday will be like last Monday. One week it will not be so. Next Monday will be a horror of unimaginable events.

We humans are facing a future of unimaginable death, famine and suffering. We are facing a future whereby our lives-as-we- have-known-them will be altered forever, most of us dying long before we hoped and dreamed. There are terms for this scenario, this most-probably unavoidable scenario  ̶  “The Long Emergency”, “The Crunch”  and “The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI)”

Put another way, we are in a crisis, long aborning and soon to climax. Perhaps in ten years:  perhaps this year. It matters not what the trigger is – EMP, terrorist attack, economic breakdown, global warming … there are so many possible. The result will be economic disintegration and a resultant loss of electrical power for decades. With that loss of electrical power comes the loss of transportation, communication, and with those will come loss of food supply and water supply. This crisis is likely to have the outcome of the loss of perhaps 95% of our population, perhaps all of us who are not family farmers or  not indigenous tribal members. With neither drinking water nor food coming transported the cities and suburbs means their inhabitants will most likely die in place. Water and food refugees will flood the countryside in desparate survival-search. And find nothing but early death.

Yet, in the face of this horror, never before experienced by humans, there is a bright spot… if we can stand far enough above.

Humanity… as a species will survive. We humans are almost infinitely adaptable and can survive in the coldest and the hottest temperature and can eat almost anything. And this statistic is also good news, at least from that dispassionate view:  if only one in a million of us survive, that still leaves 750 individuals. If many are young girls, young women, that means a few hundred Eves to re-establish human beings as a species. This may be sufficient.

Let us step even further and look at a cosmic law that also is in play:  “Transformation is Preceded by Crisis.”  I believe in this law as inexorable. Barbara Marx Hubbard has extensively written how this law applies at all levels, from atoms to molecules, to simple organisms and, ultimately to all levels of life,  perhaps to the entire cosmos. Certainly it applies to the human species and to all our endeavors. Another way to say it is, “Things have to get worse before they can get better.”

In our instance, we live inside a worldview of You OR Me, an immature worldview   based on the twin assumptions that there are shortages and that we are not connected.  We have evolved (some would say devolved) from the natural world of You AND Me so far that we are at the end of this era of You OR Me. The pendulum of change is at its extreme  ̶  discord, strife, war, exploitation of other humans and of the planet itself. Coupled with denial, we are smashing against the wall of self-destruction.

What will be on the other side of this abyss?   What will be transformed?  It is my fondest hope (ah, may it not be mere hopium) that humanity will be wiser. With that worldwide holocaust in our immediate history, perhaps we will have learned. Perhaps we will create a world that works for everyone with no one left out… that  mature world of You AND Me that we now refer to as  Heaven or Nirvana or Utopia.

So, if all that be true… or at least is a possible story with significant usefulness, then what must be the Mission, what must be the Vision of an organization on this side of the abyss that takes this all into account?

It seems to me, and possibly to others, that any mission statement must, firstly, take such a crisis-future and a transformed-distant-future into account. Secondly, it musttake actions now, right now, whose results might be available to those generations “on the other side”  who, looking back, can find the seeds to  plant in their midst, seeds which provide the basic precepts of a You AND Me worldview, seeds of a great life for all, seeds for a sustainable life on our planet.

What, then, are the roles of such benevolent organizations?  (I like to call them Seymour Conspiracies… organizations who are co-conspirators to do the world good, named after Seymour Glass, a character in a short story written in 1948 by J.D. Salinger, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” who is shell-shocked and firmly believes that the world is conspiring to do him good.)

I believe this is, at its core, an issue in the realm of beingness. It is not so much a question of doing, though doingness flows from the first.  Thisglobal issue raises both a personal and an organizational set of questions  ̶   “How do I be in the face of chaos?”  “How do WE be with each other and those outside the organization?”   It is, at its heart, a question of service, for a Seymour Conspiracy is in service to the greater good. And that greater good, no matter the horrendous circumstances, is for the world on the other side of the abyss, perhaps that transformed world of You AND me.

So what group of us is most valuable to serve?   Who of us is most necessary for humanity’s future? Who must survive?

I wonder if that group we must endeavor to serve, that group that needs the greatest protection, that group which offers the most promise for transformation … is the young girls. For these will be the originators of our new world, our most precious and necessary members. They will be our Eves.

And perhaps our present groups must also consider offering great protection to those who protect and teach the young girls. These would appear to be the strong young men, our warriors of protection. And also offer great protection to that group of wise older women, once revered as Crones, who both teach the young and who carry profound spiritual and survival teachings from this side of the abyss to that distant place.

So let us consider creating Mission Statements and Vision Statements that are larger than our day-to-day world, that are larger than our You OR Me worldview. Let us have Mission and Vision Statements that are worthy of our greatest honor, of our greatest aspirations for ourselves and for our species itself.

And let us co-create vision statements that are worthy of God, the God that is without and the God that is within.

Elders Rock! Now in Hard Copy

“ELDERS ROCK! Don’t Just Get Older: Become An Elder”

“To Be An Elder Means to Live Life in Full-Bloom”

 “The purpose of this powerful book is to restore humanity’s natural Third Stage of Life ― Elder.”

 

Elders Rock! Group

Our Elders Rock! Group in Fort Lauderdale has two great notions: Our world needs the Wisdom of Elders. And we need Elders to teach Elders to teach Elders to teach … and so on. Three months ago two of us initiated such a Group at the Center for Spiritual Living in Fort Lauderdale.

There are no models, so we are making it up as we go along. We are excited to be pioneers in the restoration of Elder as our natural Third Stage of Life.

Here’s our thinking:

Our world has been run by mere adults without Elder Supervision for too long. Our world with its immature You OR Me worldview leaves many of us out. That worldview has led to our present world of sexism, of racism and ageism. As Einstein told us, “The world we have now is a function of the thinking we have done to date.” And that thinking, at its most basic, rests on an immature worldview, a You OR Me paradigm, with its underlying assumptions of separation and perceived shortages.

A world that includes the Wise Elder would have a different worldview ―a You AND Me worldview, a paradigm of inclusion, compassion and sufficiency. A world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out.

Background:

I woke up one morning with a message. From that space between asleep and awake, the hypnagogic space, I awoke with this, “Bring back Elder. Write a book.”

“Sure.  What’s an Elder?”

The first book I could find on Amazon with ‘Elder’ in the title was In the Arms of Elders by one William H. Thomas, M.D. I loved it. I was inspired. Encouraged, I wrote my book and sent an early draft to Bill. He liked my ideas but said “. . . it just isn’t a book yet.”   It wasn’t. Now it is. Due for release, it is titled, Elders Rock! Don’t Just Get Older: Become an Elder.

But it takes more than one person, more than one book, to restore Elder as our natural Third Stage of life. Dr. Arleen Bump, Senior Pastor of the Center for Spiritual Living read it. “Dr. Thomas is right. And you also are right. Let’s form an Elder Group at the Center.”

……………………………….

Our growing Elder group of eighteen has met four times and each of us has declared, “I am an Elder!”   Our ages range from 52 to 85. We have varied backgrounds but our commonality is what matters. Each of us has long known we were committed to making a difference. The group works with the wisdom attributes of Elder – Compassion, Listening and Acceptance. We are inspired by the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

We have two events scheduled – a Reception and Book Signing for Elders Rock! On December 4.

The second event is our strong support of Dr. Bill’s Age of Disruption evening here in Fort Lauderdale on November 6. Go Bill!                                       507 words.

Introduction to “Pop’s Advice”

 

Introduction to Pop’s Advice

 

It is a small truth that “Every journey begins with a single step.”

A larger truth is, “Every journey begins with the destination clear.”

Each of us has a destination in our life we have created, usually by default. If you live inside an unconscious default destination, it better be a good one. The accompanying blog entry, Pop’s Advice, is the story of one of these good ones, and for me it was a great one.

I suggest there is a better way than counting on a smart father’s advice. Instead consciously choose a future, throw it ‘out there’, tell the world about it, and allow it then to pull you into itself. One single step at a time.

It is never too late to create consciously. Best get at it.