Recently, I conducted a survey investigating people’s thoughts on the idea of transcending nationalism. 4 out of 5 people, when threatened at gunpoint, agree that “the only way for civilization to meet its end gracefully, that is – terminating with a soft landing (instead of a harsh and abrupt ending) – is via transcending nationalism, dissolving national borders, and approaching this dire environmental situation together, as one species – instead of a collective of divided nations with individual agendas and goals regardless of the common fate we all share.” Kinda stupid isn’t it – that we know this but somehow fail, or refuse, to act according to this knowledge. This is, people, magical thinking. The problem with this particular sort of magical thinking is that we (humans) are killing the planet and its inhabitants (including ourselves).
Are we suffering from the unintended consequences of enlightenment – unraveling and revealing the mysteries of nature only to use this knowledge to destroy ourselves (you can hear the little godevil screaming a resounding yes)? Are we suffering from the intended consequences of rogue states, groups and individuals who are out to destroy, manipulate, control, abuse and exploit (you can hear the toy poodle barking a resounding “WTF”)?
I think nature is fighting back; and nature will win. Nature will kill us all for messing with her. She will say, “you tortured and abused me and my inhabitants to a point where you can no longer survive – dummy! Now you must go and I will help you.”
Then, finally, we (they) can all have some peace. And nature, with a few earthquakes, the destruction of the infinitely intimately intertwined interdependence of the “web of life” due to human activity, a few volcanic eruptions, a flipping of the magnetic poles, and an asteroid collision or two, will wipe us all out and the earth will begin her recovery process.
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I don’t think the threat we are all facing, that some of us caused and most of us perpetuate (most of us in the so called civilized world, anyway), could be more immediate and more serious. Or, I don’t think we realize the seriousness of this threat; this threat to our own existence.
Let’s try to be rational and differentiate between being an optimist, a pessimist, and a realist with respect to the current state of the global environment and the effect that humans are having on climate change. Though nobody knows for certain what is going to happen we really should choose to error on the side of caution and take steps that are necessary to at least, if not reverse the course of events, soften the blow.
In a way, we are fortunate because the same actions that will soften the blow will, if possible, reverse the course of the seemingly inevitable path we are on towards a global environmental catastrophe (greater than the one that is already happening that no one notices…that is, one that really catches peoples attention) which will render our species extinct (or radically alter the selection process for reproduction). It is also true that the same actions that will soften the blow would have prevented this global environmental catastrophe from happening at all. In other words, we have to start doing what we should have been doing all along which, to state it simplistically, is to realize that we can not sustain our own existence by continuing to fill our basic survival needs (shopping, weapons, make up, erection pills, etc) as if nature were an infinite reservoir to satisfy our needs.
This simple statement includes, by my saying so right now, all of the factors related to environmental degradation (clear cutting, damming, toxic water, air and land, etc) that are part of the process of supplying our human needs. All of them. As an example consider the manufacturing of nuclear weapons. Think about how toxic is the process of extracting uranium ore, processing it for use in nuclear power plants, then converting the spent fuel rods to weapons grade material. So much damage is done just making nuclear weapons there is really no need to even use them for the destructive purposes they are intended (they’re really just for show anyway. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is the name of the game. It’s kind of like a battle of the bands where the bands are really shitty so the only thing to really vote on is their hair and their costumes (which is not much different from the way US Presidents are selected)).
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While the relationships I will draw are only one set of an infinite set of possibilities (i.e., many of you will be ready to argue your points saying, “no uh this and well uh that and you didn’t calculate this and that’s not true and fuck you and all that”), it can be considered at least instructional to contemplate the ramifications of my conjectures – regardless of their accuracy.
It seems reasonable to suggest that if we, as a species, are going to change our actions, we need another set of principles upon which to base our practices. Or, we can continue the completely ineffective approach of leaving it to governments, their agents, and the global body politic to take care of things. That, of course, would be passing the idiot/insanity test (or failing it).
Since we can’t rely on governments to actually do anything reasonable to soften the blow of human population overshoot and the destruction of much of the the earth’s natural relationships between the living and the not so living, we must rely on the people – the subjects – of those governments. If we are going to need a new set of principles, we will need a delivery system for these principles.
Let us just say, for the moment, that in light of how dire the situation is, the governments of the world decided they would use their educational institutions to educate, universally, people about survival on planet earth and, along with that, how to be nice to one another. Let us just say, for the moment, that all of the “leaders of the free word (enchanted prison)” had a brief moment of simultaneous enlightenment (like they all ate some Amanita one night/that is, they tripped hard together) and realized that it really wasn’t fun to be a selfish destructive asshole hated by the enchanted prisoners, that they (we)really need to deal with the situation as a species since attempts to deal with global climate change thus far have done nothing to curb the environmental devastation we are causing – and have caused.
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Countries can not be competing to exploit Earth’s resources while attempting to cooperate to preserve and restore the earth’s natural state (by leaving it alone). Therefore, in order to effectively deal with this as a species, for the sake of our own survival if nothing else (if that is what it takes to get people to think and to act) it will be necessary for us, as individuals and as nation states, to transcend nationalism.
Nationalism is an important part of a person’s identity – part of one’s “nurturing” [read, inculcation]. Asking someone to give up an important part of their identity for any good cause is dreaming big. However, it will be well worth the work that goes into transforming, and transcending, hopefully, the part of one’s identity/ego – actually, the collective ego of a peoples born within certain geographical borders – that is the root cause of the conflict restricting, and in some cases prohibiting, meaningful attempts to soften the blow.
Transcending nationalism will be difficult to at first just like giving up anything (one is addicted to), but with time it will become easier and will feel much more natural and comfortable than the current psychological/emotional/intellectual/spiritual/psychical states people are enchanted by – the magical thinking that imprisons all of earth and it’s inhabitants. To ease us into our new way of thinking and living we could perform certain rituals, if necessary, such as carrying our passports for fun and even trading them with each other and border guards – who could be employed to remind travelers that they are entering into a global historic landmark of a peoples of a culture, a language, a history, a heritage ( just like yours), that they are in love with ( as you are with yours), that they cherish, (as you do yours), that is filled with great beauty in music and literature and poetry and dance and food and drink and imagination and story (as is yours).
There is no need to give up our cultural, religious, or spiritual identities. In fact, these identities will become of increasing importance in defining our differences, as well as our similarities, and we will engage one another on the playground of our commonalities – finding joy and beauty in the differences of our cultural identities while we work together to stop destroying the earth – and of course, ourselves.
We will have to redefine our relationships as being from a competitive and destructive nature to relationships based on cooperation and creativity. Part of the process will require reparations and reconciliations from the exploiter to the exploited. A process which, as it unfolds, will end up with most everyone giving everything back to everyone since somewhere in our ancestry it is likely that there were those who exploited others and their where those who were exploited by others.
Once we re-educate ourselves towards survival through preservation of the land base, we will be able to transcend nationalism and prosper in peace, collectively, as a species. If we could do it yesterday, we could do it much faster. Please!