Monday, December 15, 2014


I recently celebrated by fifty-fifth birthday, the first one that followed my personal transformation from a "reluctant planet-killer" into a "death stopper." As detailed in my new book, the transformation kept this birthday from becoming my last, dangling a thread of hope in place of a push over the precipice of despair about a future that looks grimmer by the day.

Since finishing the book, that hope has been manifested in an evolving vision of an ideal world. I now find myself seeing that vision overlaid with my experience of the real world, with the differences highlighted in almost overwhelming contrast. The contrast is overwhelming in large part due to coincidental timing with the consumption orgy preceding another celebration, Christmas, which cynically and hypocritically objectifies the most precious of human motivations, love, and uses it to accelerate our sabotaging the system of life that keeps the world habitable.

Despite my new-found courage and vision, I allowed some partial indulgence to mark this particular birthday, which typically signifies entrance into a sort of "pre-retirement." My wife and I stayed overnight at a local bed and breakfast, which unfortunately is now up for sale. I ate some not-so-healthy food, along with some good stuff. After more than a year of going without a watch, I finally got a replacement. I even felt okay with it, up to a point.

That point was reached during a trip to the local grocery store after we got home. There I was forcibly reminded that everyone including us is working at the equivalent of a job: buying unhealthy stuff that makes us and others unhealthy until society says we can do otherwise, which of course it will never do because too much personal power depends on it. It was craziness set to an appropriately mind-numbing musical soundtrack of repeating Christmas songs, much of whose meaning was lost in another century.

In the healthier (and more honest) version playing in my imagination, the store aisles would be replaced by an open space dominated with locally-grown food and products people had personally created. Neighbors would know each other and be committed to helping each other on a regular basis, so the "Christmas spirit" of giving would be a normal aspect of life, with competition for how much good we could do instead of how much power we could wrest from others to enhance the lives of a few close ones. The mall where I got my watch would be replaced with such markets, if anything, but more preferably it would be returned to open space that could be colonized by wildlife.

With Christmas only ten days away, the old habits are already returning. I expect I'll be compromising a bit even as my thoughts are further turned toward what a better future might look like and how to help create it.

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