Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Short on hope

So many things going round in my mind.

Thinking mainly about social traditions and expectations, the status quo.

Divorce and remarriage have moved the points on the tracks of our social interactions, so that unspoken rules now have to be abandoned in favour of discussion and negotiation, often painful and messy.  Things that were once the subject of tacit understanding now must be aired, and what came out of the box will not always go back in.

In similar vein, the global changes brought about by consumerism and growth economy – the voracity inherent in our financial systems that try to demand infinite expansion from a finite ecological system – are just now on the verge of tipping us into territory for which we have no maps and nothing can prepare us.

The terrible hardships of the 1930s Economic Depression offered the kind of challenge I think I might be equipped to face – a question of sticking together and somehow getting through.  At times in my life I have been terrified, at my wits’ end, not knowing how to provide or where to find resources.  But we kept on, and Providence never failed us; and in the end we got through.

The scenario unfolding post-peak-oil is the beginning of terminal decline; it is not the kind of thing one can get through.  The prospect of water wars and food wars fills me with dread.  In these last years, watching Afghanistan . . . Libya . . . Darfur . . . Sierra  Leone . . . Zimbabwe . . . Iraq . . . Israel and Palestine . . . and so many others, my soul fills up with black floodwater of sorrow and horror.  Even in my own country, the endless spiteful carping of racism – what the Scots have to say about the English, what the English have to say about the French, what black folk have to say about white folk, Muslim about Christian; how can it come to any good? 

In our garden there are patches of ground elder, a determined, prolific, creeping weed, almost impossible to eradicate.  And in the tubs we have vine weevil, a beetle whose maggots eat the roots of pot plants so that everything seems fine until the flourishing plant suddenly keels over and dies – and you see there is no root beneath the leaves and the flower.

So it is with our society – the top is all colour and gaiety, and underneath the roots have all been eaten away.  Meanwhile the seeds and roots of war are so endemic, have such a root-system riddling through every corner of the garden, that I cannot see how we would ever begin to get it out.  The more you dig the more you propagate.

I am grieving for this world, and for the blind and greedy soul of man that eats away at the roots of things, insatiably, until all the beauty, the flower of creation, has no sustenance any more and life is cut off.

Response in me is withered.  I can see no remedy.     Perhaps if the whole human race returned right now to radical simplicity, complete catastrophe might somehow be gentled, slowed down.  But when we will not even sacrifice a holiday, a car choice, a preference for bloody chunks of animal flesh, the luxury of tender salads flown from overseas protected by the packaging of plastic boxes – what hope is there? 

Humanity is violent to the core.

On a brighter note, my friend Gail mentioned a book she had recently read and enjoyed, Mark Boyle's The Moneyless Man.  I got it for my Kindle and am finding it engaging and inspiring and fascinating.  Managing on little money is a challenge I welcome and enjoy; I cannot begin to imagine how I would manage as Mark Boyle did, a whole year with no money at all.  Riveting reading, and very well-written.

A question it raises for me, in re-visioning economy in terms of community and sharing rather than transaction, is how those of us who are basically solitary fit in.  This is a knotty one for me in church too - that without question social engagement and interaction are encouraged and embraced; groups helping groups in groups in a group setting - AAAAGH!  Is there no alternative?

Well.  You will be pleased to learn that tomorrow will be my last post here for a week, as I am going to Spring Harvest with the Badger.  Yes, it is a mega-group, a Group to the power of ten infinitely self-multiplying with compound interest.  How do I survive it?  Simples.  I don't attend anything.  I just waft through, enjoying the privilege of living for a week in a village of people for whom faith is a prime motivator.  It makes a vibe as gentle as a fragrance.

On the way home I am hoping we can call in and catch up with my good friend Teresa whom I haven't seen in ages.  She lives in Bridgewater, just a few miles down the road.  The snag is I haven't been able to make myself phone her to let her know we shall be there.  I do have trouble making phone calls.  The spirit is willing and then I just . . . somehow . . . don't.   I think the Badger might call her for me.  He laughs at phones.  

We stay in a shared chalet at Spring H, and I find the simplicity of them as pleasing as the  lack of privacy is terrifying - this is not a chalet just for me and the Badger, you understand, but will be shared with our dear friends John and Rosanna.  Now I love these friends very much.  But the chalets - we all share a bathroom and the year before last, sharing a chalet for 6 with a posse of strangers and their many visiting teenage friends drifting in and out unannounced was an experience that I can only describe as "enhanced" by discovering the door of our solitary bathroom had no lock.   Luxury and sophistication I do not require; privacy I do.  Gulp.

Even in spite of this, I am looking forward to the unusual opportunity of actually spending some time with my husband, and John and Rosanna whom I have not seen for far too long, and also catching up with Rosie Humphrey and her family, another good friend I haven't seen in a while.  

You may notice a theme emerging here: I do love my friends, but one of them did once describe me as "a cat that walks alone". . . "Haven't seen in a long while" applies to virtually everyone!

365 366 Day 94 – Tuesday April 3rd
  (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)  

 A rainhood that came right down over the face.  Jolly good for keeping out the rain. Lethal for onward progress.


Gill said...

I have only recently found your blog and I find myself nodding in agreement as I read your words. You so eloquently pen the thoughts I have too.

Ember said...

:0) Good to meet you, Gill - thank you so much for taking the time to say "hello"! x

Buzzfloyd said...

I don't think it's true that humanity is violent to the core. Humanity is violent in cultures where early weaning from the breast is the norm, and all the more so where physical contact between babies and their mothers is reduced.

The more I find out about how the earliest events of our lives shape everything that is to come, the more I am shocked by the violence we inflict upon the youngest people. It can only beget more violence.

maria said...

I always leave filled Pen. Yes, the world is a bit too much with all of us.

Ember said...

:0) Hi Maria - yes, it is!

Hey Buzz x The violence of humanity spreads deeper than those obvious personal encounters we can observe. Some animals are skinned alive in the rush and mayhem of slaughter house processing. Some wars start because indigenous peoples are thrown off their land by those who have seized their forests for palm groves or stock ranches. Some pickers have cancer because they were routinely sprayed with the fungicides and pesticides that protect our table grapes. This is our violence as well as the ugly shouting and hitting that brings fear into the eyes of a child. Who among us is exempt?

Buzzfloyd said...

Yes, I understood that you were talking about more than obvious physical violence. The correlation is still there.

Poor attachment in infancy results in a reduced ability to empathise and to act altruistically. Punishment and reward systems in childhood reduce capacity for moral thinking and encourage selfishness. Early weaning and separation from the mother mean that the brain and gut's oxytocin and serotonin systems fail to develop properly, forever reducing the capacity for love, increasing the tendency towards violence, depression and other mental illnesses, anxiety and isolation.

Strong attachment in childhood, adequate nutrition and physical contact foster engaged moral thinking, social accountability, the energy to sustain interaction, the preference for peace.

The Neanderthal revolution - in which the practice of farming began - coincided with the introduction of early weaning into human culture, the ascendency of male dominance (previously, men and women were socially equal but the life-giving female form was venerated) and perhaps the tribal warfare that eventually wiped out the Neanderthals.

The hope for humanity, I believe, is in raising people who have had their needs met in infancy. When torture of babies is so entrenched in our culture, it's no wonder that we produce such dysfunctional, abusive adults.

Anonymous said...

I googled Mark Boyle and read an article that he wrote about his book. Although I applaud the concept, when he talks about taking stuff from skips that's actually theft and he can be prosecuted for it. There needs to be a better way for shops to deal with things they can't or won't sell. At the heart of the problem is our greed for profit and moneymaking...our thoughts that it doesn't matter what happens as long as I have what I want NOW!
There are better ways of dealing with so many things that require us/councils/business etc to spend money. My uncle's company makes a machine that you can put all landfill in and it converts it to pellets that can be sold to power stations to use to produce electricity. I don't understand why every council in the country isn't made to have these and use them...it would get rid of landfill overnight. The only thing I can think of is that it's the cost. (Sorry...personal side tracked rant over! lol)

We have been brainwashed into thinking that we neeeeeeeed stuff. That our lives would be better, we be prettier, thinner, more acceptable if only we had all this stuff. I'm not sure that most people have the backbone to cope with out the things they think they need.

I'll stop there as I could write screeds on the subject but you'd tire of it ;-)

On the subject of phones I love them. I have a great phone package that allows me to talk to my friends all over the world for nothing other than my monthly payment and that makes me very happy :-) Being able to pray with friends in other time zones is awesome :-)

Ember said...

Hi Buzz, hi Debs - thank you for your good thoughts! xx

Penny said...

Am not sure about the early weaning = violence idea. Have lived in cultures where both breastfeeding till early childhood and violence are concurrent norms.
I'm not sure that humanity is violent to the core either. (I like to believe that if we are made in the image of God we have the essense of him at our core.) But when we become fixated on our own way violence(whether direct or indirect) does seem to be our forte.

Ember said...

Yes, indeed - it upsets me that so very much violence comes from religious people and institutions :0(