What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

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Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Break in the Broken Wheel - By Dave

"Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The Sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The Wind, in its greatest power, whirls."
Black Elk
Native American writer and cultural historian

" A paranoid is simply a person in full possession of all the facts."
William S. Burroughs
American writer

There are myriad reasons, in this unprecedented age we all find ourselves in, to be sad, anxious, despairing, and even paranoid. It seems as if the Sacred Circle of the World has been violated and we, proud homosapiens all, are the perpetrators of the deed. Toxic degradation and climate radicalization- human driven, are placing the entire globe into an extinction-level-event unparallelled since the Permian Terminal Catastrophe...the one that took the dinosaurs...and we all participate in the process.

Some of us, to avoid the agonizing side-effects of being "in full possession of all the facts" will stop our ears, shout down the doomsayers, or simply allow ourselves to become numb-anesthetized. These are all perfectly predictable, human responses, and can't be roundly condemned by any of us, since we're all so familiar with those feelings, and have indulged them, and will indulge them again. We have to. It's a survival mechanism. None of us truly believe in our own death...it would be too distracting. After all, we've got to get on with the business of hunting and gathering...we can't allow ourselves to become paralyzed by the enormity of the world as it is.

But some of us can't help it. We have to look directly at the bald facts... not knowing is worse. So there it is. The facts just keep pouring in. We try to assimilate them, meanwhile performing whatever sustainable strategies we can to save resources and keep that carbon footprint down. But how to manage the temptation to consider everything to be unmanageable? The despair and fear part of it?

I have developed some coping mechanisms, exercises, habits that serve me whenever I hear the big, bad voice howling in my ear, "you're doomed!". It helps me to think of the words and acts of others who have seen their own horrors and holocausts, and have transcended them. Something Robert Frost once said comes to mind often: " It is the habit of each succeeding generation to feel itself the most put upon in history." It amuses me and puts things in a different perspective right away.

I have heard of poetry being defined as a secret language that, once you unlock it, teaches you that you are not alone...that others have gone this way before you, and thought the same things, felt the same things as you. There is a great comfort to be had there. Many dark and uncharted ways have been navigated to take us to this place we call here. How can we abandon such a long and torturous journey as the one described by all our visionaries and artists?

America's great poet laureate Walt Whitman spent most of the American Civil War in the field hospitals, tending to the sick, dying, and dead soldiers...by many thousands before it was over. He changed their bandages, washed their bodies, and wrote letters to their families when they were incapacitated or dead. By the thousands. Day after day, year after year, Whitman kept his vigil and gave all of himself to his self-appointed task. Far from being crushed by the burden of all those young lives suffering and ending, he seemed to rise above even that final fear that we all must face:
excerpt from " When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" by Walt Whitman

"Come, lovely and soothing Death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later, delicate Death.
Prais’d be the fathomless universe, 140
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love—But praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.
Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome? 145
Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.
Approach, strong Deliveress!
When it is so—when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee, 150
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.
From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose, saluting thee—adornments and feastings for thee;
And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread sky, are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night. 155
The night, in silence, under many a star;
The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose voice I know;
And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil’d Death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.
Over the tree-tops I float thee a song! 160
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!"

Another poet who is much on my mind these days is the singer song-writer Bruce Cockburn, who can comfort us and warn us at the same time:
The Broken Wheel by Bruce Cockburn

Way out on the rim of the galaxy
The gifts of the Lord lie torn
Into whose charge the gifts were given
Have made it a curse for so many to be born
This is my trouble --
These were my fathers
So how am I supposed to feel?
Way out on the rim of the broken wheel

Water of life is going to flow again
Changed from the blood of heroes and knaves
The word mercy's going to have a new meaning
When we are judged by the children of our slaves
No adult of sound mind
Can be an innocent bystander
Trial comes before truth's revealed
Out here on the rim of the broken wheel

You and me -- we are the break in the broken wheel
Bleeding wound that will not heal

Lord, spit on our eyes so we can see
How to wake up from this tragedy

Way out on the rim of the broken wheel
Bleeding wound that will not heal
Trial comes before truth's revealed
So how am I supposed to feel?
This is my trouble --
Can't be an innocent bystander
In a world of pain and fire and steel
Way out on the rim of the broken wheel"

Many before us have trodden dark and forbidding pathways and come out the other side with wider vision and stronger purpose. Can we do less?

1 comment:

C Robb said...

Once again
An excellent post