The insanity of our world: What to Do? (Part II)

[I haven’t blogged in a long time, the longest hiatus since I started this project in 2016. There are several reasons for this. One, the insanity of our world has only gotten more pervasive, intensive, and perplexing. I’ve probably started five blogs in the meantime only to put off finishing them due to mental and emotional exhaustion writing them engender. Two, I had to put the bulk of my intellectual energy into finishing my first (co-authored) book—The Earth is Not For Sale (–which hit the presses this fall.]

In the previous piece (Part I, see below), I laid out how most of our everyday actions are insane and why we continue to do them despite the illogic nature of doing so. Despite the provocative spirit of my first installment and the near invisible lack of response/reaction from those that took the time to read it, one might wonder why I persist with this topic. I guess it just feels therapeutic to get it out of my mind (where it simmers and infests other parts of my body). More importantly, I feel compelled to initiate a conversation on one of the questions I ended with, namely, “what might compel us to stop acting insanely?”

We will stop acting insanely when we come to terms with this simple understanding: “if we don’t, our lives will continue to suffer and our species will take an early exit from this amazing planet.” Since the second part of this statement is hard to fathom (particularly when our species continues to grow exponentially larger), it is advisable to hone in on the first part. Our lives are all much worse because of the insanity. Most of us realize this but we escape its implications because it just makes us feel worse. Perhaps an analogy will help here. Imagine being told you are dying from a disease. People handle this news differently. Many immediately shut down in disbelief. Others get really angry and ask, “why me?” Eventually, most come to terms with this horrific information and do what they can every day to make their lives livable without dwelling on it. This is what I think most of us do with our lives right now. We know that we live in a dysfunctional and insane world and we try to avoid focusing on it, which inevitably means we support and recreate its insanity by our actions (as discussed in Part I).

But what if we were to learn that there is a cure for our disease. I expect that many would try to cure/treat it by whatever means we can afford and access. I’ve known people to travel thousands of miles to seek wisdom and insight from non-conventional methods of disease response, for example. I have witnessed some spending their last dimes to help themselves or someone else enduring some great physical challenge. This is a reasonable response as being alive is something that we cherish and is much preferred to its alternative. However, when it comes to our everyday lives, our malaise (and continued participation in an insane society) doesn’t produce nearly the same type of response. Why? I think it is because we don’t think there is a cure for our insanity. And why should we when we are indoctrinated from the moment we come out of the womb to think that everything that is going on is “normal”/”proper” or inevitable. How many of these memes have you been taught (and how many do you believe—or at least act as if you believe)?:

–humans are inherently violent (hence, war is inevitable)
–money brings happiness
–economic inequality is natural (hence, an underclass is acceptable)
–significant numbers of people need to be “put away” as they are not fit for society (and they are not “curable”)
–nature’s creatures compete for preciously limited resources to survive
–pollution is a sign/result of progress
–feeding everyone requires us to grow mostly GMO grains
–modern humans are smarter than our ancestors
–humans are too insignificant to impair the planet significantly

In contrast, how many of these do accept/believe? (reject if you feel that are naïve or overoptimistic):

–humans from different cultures can coexist peacefully
–there is enough space, food, resources for all 7+ billion people on Earth
–rainwater and rivers should be clean enough to drink
–humans are inherently kind and resourceful
–species cooperate to survive and maintain environmental conditions conducive to life—diversity enhances survivability
–money is just one medium to facilitate exchange of needs
–there is no such thing as waste
–plants and mushrooms are intelligenct organisms

Now subtract the number of memes you accept/believe in the second list from the number of such memes in the first list. So how did you do? Did your subtraction net a positive number? Probably not and this is a major part of the problem.

Before we will do anything, we need to be motivated. If we look at the prospects for ourselves and species in the near term, I suspect most of us, particularly young people, will understand the need to change our ways. Now let’s assume that you agree with this but are rather skeptical that others will be sufficiently motivated to change too. Well, this is where a leap of faith comes in. You need to have faith in others (the fourth element in the second list). True, you cannot control others but you should be able to control yourself, at least to a greater degree than you probably allow; oddly enough, as I write this I am struck by the extraordinary efforts by the mass media and the advertising industry to make us conform (by accepting one of the first list’s memes or buying one of the millions of mass produced items that they offer). Yes, it is with this faith in others that must be the foundation of any change in the world or on your part.

But thankfully, you don’t need to act on your own and merely wait for others. Others have already made this leap of faith and are making positive changes all over the place. You just have to look; hint, it probably won’t be on your television. It is happening in your neighborhood too, so you don’t need to move to a more progressive place to get busy. I’ll end here but I will provide concrete examples of what I am talking about in a future blog. In the meantime, let others know you are changing (you can comment here for instance) and may it become contagious!