The second thing that came up was, The age of sustainability is over!
It was one of those talks when you expect to spend some time together playing with ideas, but then it explodes and the discussion carves deep into multiple layers of existence.
The other day an anthropology student working on her thesis interviewed me on my understanding of sustainability. I could tell her a bunch about what it is likely not and how we are fooling ourselves into believing we were living sustainably. Changing light bulbs does ring a bell, I guess. This, in itself, has the potential to upset your average conversation partner beyond reason, despite the fact that ‘greenwashing’ has long ago taken residence in every dictionary there is. Noticing she understood my point and was willing to ask the right questions in order to help the talk developing it was a real pleasure to discuss the actual party killer with her for an extended amount of time:
Not only is civilization as such an unsustainable model because it is based on separation and therefore on anthropocentrism and therefore on eternal expansion and therefore on violence and therefore on destruction (read “Endgame” and other works by Derrick Jensen for a more comprehensive explanation), but we have allowed ourselves to get trapped in a place literally beyond return.
Has that ever occurred to you? We could come up with the blueprint for a perfectly sustainable society, put it into practice tonight, and still get our plane crashed, because we have run out of jet fuel, the craft is already plummeting, and there are no parachutes on board… but we still have plenty of Coca-Cola available.
Being aware of the situation, what are we going to do? Do we ignore the steep decline which we can feel in our guts? Will we rattle the video screen, screaming at the top of our lungs that we want out? Or are we staying calm, trying to help our neighbour cope with the shock? As far as I’m concerned, the fact that we are all dead in a minute, with no one left to tell our story, doesn’t mean a thing. It is no excuse for selfishness. It never was, even if we had a thousand years to live, and we simply need to do what feels right, be it against all odds.
Though very few share my alleged pessimism regarding our near-term survival some of us have at least understood the need for action. Unfortunately, all of the sustainability movement & most of environmental NGOs have been hijacked by Mother Culture. People like Cory Morningstar and platforms like Deep Green Resistance or Wrong Kind Of Green have described how well-meaning activists get soaked up by financial interests which make them believe that their actions have a beneficial effect on the natural world when all they are attempting is, to sustain the unsustainable set of living arrangements called industrial civilization. The colossal misguidedness is as tragic as it is typical of modern-day existence. I cannot help but wonder whether there is meaning in anything we do when it seems we are caught in a hopeless situation. I’ll come back to this in a minute.
First let me repeat what many of my regular readers know already; I am not about stopping anyone from doing anything. In reaching out through my writing I attempt to shed a light on the insane thought patterns of our culture in order to raise the questions that actually matter. We need to see what is real. Only then is there a chance of us being able to make a difference.
Talking about sustainability, what is it exactly that we want to maintain? Our way of life? Or life as such? Ask yourself which one is more basic. The answer tells you something about goals worth pursuing and prices to be paid, and I do hold that, if we come from our deepest understanding of reality, we get a sense of a fundamental, innate kind of morality. When we allow that set of deep values to intuitively guide our actions we no longer let ourselves get stopped by petty arguments, nor do we rate success as highly as before. We eventually may fail to achieve what we wanted to happen; we may die in the process of pursuing our aspirations. The whole world may fall apart, which we may foresee or not, but we won’t stop following the path of right action.
Raising awareness in ourselves and others is a necessary first step for inciting activism. We need to know the facts, we need to get our goals straight, we need to get connected. Yet no amount of words, and I must have spilled hundreds of thousands of them already, no amount of learned philosophizing nor new-age self-improvement talking-heads’ workshops can replace walking the talk. It is only when thought, words, and action are in line with reality, with what is, that we have a chance at touching that which will last in one way or another. As over short or long none of us lasts, as even our whole species goes extinct sooner or later, sustainability requires us to transcend both our personal interests and the interests of the human race. This is why, as a person who foresees an impending calamity, I am more inclined to live actively than ever before, at times when I still believed in changing the world. In acting, I consciously manifest the understanding that wanting to change the world is rejecting what is and that this notion led us to the unsustainably complicated culture we hate to let go even as it kills us. To act sustainably, to me, means to live simple or, in its most radical form, to simply live. The age of sustainability, the bloody rule of civilized ways is over. Only existence is eternal. Whatever will be, will be.