When I try to imagine our human destiny, try to peak in on us in a little while, say in a mere 10,000 or 20,000 years, the world I see is not one of space travel and Jetsons cityscapes. Instead I see a return to living among nature in beautiful simplicity, with our energy spent on spiritual and communal living, living mostly as hunters and gatherers with maybe some supplemental cultivation and animal husbandry techniques thrown in. I see a drastically reduced human population and a return to balance and ecosystem health.
I stumbled upon a book at the library that addresses our future and makes me hopeful that my vision will become a reality. The book is called The Long Emergency, by James Howard Kunstler. It’s about the end of oil and the end of this crazy consumer-mad culture.
Before this book I had never completely thought through our immediate future, the next hundred years or so, or even the remainder of my lifetime. Most people would be horrified if reality plays out the way this author believes it will, but I am so excited by the possibility.
The decadence of the past two centuries, the rape of the planet, will turn out to have been a strange, temporary anomaly. All of the nonsense of our culture will be cleansed. There will be no more megastores with 30 styles of toasters to choose from, no Hollywood, or fashion industry, cars will become untenable. We’ll have to return to the land, living locally, and rebuilding true community. We will have to return to our rightful place on this earth, as a small part of the whole, letting go of our delusions of grandeur.
I know the readjustment will be tumultuous--there will be a lot of childish temper tantrums as nations and individuals revolt against the inevitable and necessary turnabout. Imagine how yuppie-dom will rebel as they’re forced to give up their behemoth cars, their lives in suburbia which can no longer provide for them, their gym memberships, season tickets, dry cleaning, cheap electricity to power all of their gadgets, trips to the mall, the cinema, the nail salon and tanning booths, their lattes and 57 kinds of imported artisan cheeses.
Imagine the unrest! And of course it will be more dire than that. In many places there will be mass starvation, disease, lack of health care, lack of water, depleted soils, and unpredictable climatic change. It’s all a recipe for war between and within countries, for mayhem and anarchy.
I understand the magnitude of suffering that will result and yet I celebrate our likely fate. This cancer needs to die off. This monstrosity of selfish, gluttonous, irresponsible “culture” (if it can be called that) that is our modern world needs to be excised. I don’t mourn the loss of human life, even possibly my own, which will result from this readjustment, because spiritually I know we all go on in one form or another. I’m excited for future generations who hopefully will have the opportunity to inherit a better world. Of all the lifetimes I sense I have lived, this has been the hardest to come to grips with. For my whole life I’ve been bothered by the excesses of this world. The grief I carry is terribly deep. The full realization now that this culture is a very temporary one comes as a huge relief.
Before I read this book, in working with my forest meditation, I had imagined that maybe someday, tens of thousands of years from now, this forest would again exist on this earth, and humans would walk and live amidst it and experience the radiant spirituality of these great beings. Now having read this book I think Yes, the great for us will return one day. What a miracle that would be.
So again, all of this thinking brings me back to my great moral dilemma, livelihood. What should I be doing in this lifetime given our situation?