Right where you are, what do you notice? Who do you know? With whom and what do you interact? Neighbors, family, co-workers and friends? Beetles, grasses, crows, cats or raccoons? Flowers, vegetables and fruits? Gadgets and machines? Which of these resonates with you? Which seem important? Answering that question to yourself tells you a bit about your world – its size, its scope, and how it has changed over time.
So much has been lost in technically advanced societies as our cultures, bit by byte by inch by dollar, erode and shrink. Our status as persons, humans, and citizens is replaced slowly with a single, global status as consumers. Anything that does not serve the ends of global corporatism, anything that fails to bolster our status as effective micro-sites of production and consumption, has been relegated to the status of ‘unnecessary.’ Most of us no longer “need” good schools, because we don’t need to know overmuch to do the kind of work the corporate world desires. Most of us no longer “need” good health care, because only some of us really matter to make sure the business cycle turns over, and most of us are expendable: we can be easily replaced if we become disabled, sick or die. Each of us needs only to have enough – skills, money, time – to get and spend, and get and spend more, on endless commodities that can be manufactured for us wherever it’s most profitable for governments and their global corporate funders to manufacture them. The fact that the planetary population has grown exponentially larger, beyond the carrying capacity of most environments, makes outmoded geopolitical and economic structures that much more problematic and you – yes, even you – less necessary.
Often without conscious awareness, helped along by a pervasive background of marketing-advertising that leaves no blank space unbranded, we have increasingly ignored and insulted our birthrights: Ancient systems of knowing that located people and communities in a comprehensible – perhaps, say “settled” – time and space. And historically, many indigenous traditions have been consciously and systematically destroyed by imperial ambitions, racism, political greed, religious anxiety, or global corporatism. Certain of the widespread spiritual and ideological systems that remain – either because they are resilient or because they favor history’s winners – have developed paranoid, embattled fundamentalist wings. Their soldiers simply may be unable to adapt to an increasingly frenetic, networked, diverse and heterogenous world, or they arise as offense against perceived threat. Such systems become totalisms obsessed with purity; they develop monstrous and misshapen ego forms whose violence threatens the very existence of earth’s living communities.
Caught between the Western technological paradigms of endless growth and the reactionary demand that we bend the knee to absolutist ways of life, it would help us to clear out a space in our lives – a space that existed not too long ago – in order to question what is happening in and to our world and ourselves. We need a little oasis of sane consideration in a world that most people intuitively understand is becoming mad, but few have the strength or know how to challenge without creating more suffering and turbulence.
To restore does not mean to go backwards, to “take back America,” to “take back” anything. Interiorly, we already know that nothing belongs to us, and no matter what we do desperate to fight it, all things that move along at a quantum clip can neither be squeezed to a stop nor dragged backwards.
To restore means to encourage reconnection with the most somatically obvious things – the work of one’s hands; gut feelings of fear, joy and anger; a glimpse of the charming eight-eyed face of a jumping spider; wordless delight in the vortical twirl of a rose blossom.
To restore is to challenge the paradigms that have got our matter, mind and spirit tangled into an unsustainable mess. Such paradigms include, but certainly are not limited to:
– The religion of “markets” as a solution for everything.
– The alienation of people from household and community life and labor.
– The alienation of people from creativity and the work of their hands.
– Neglect of quality, universal public education, and poor to absent knowledge of science, leading to ignorance of the wonders and wisdom of the wider world, of science and the scientific method.
– The alienation of people from the earth, with its ecosystems and its other nations, all the animals and plants (among other living things) that make human life possible.
– The dominance of the global corporatist-statist complex which has reduced the status of humans and citizens to mere “consumers.”
– The creeping dominance of totalist systems, now as in the past, that promise easy, catechistic but false solutions to conundrums that have stumped even the best minds of history.
To restore is also to call out the ridiculously obvious, because though it barely needs saying that we really do seem to be approaching an Orwellian state of affairs, we really do seem to be approaching an Orwellian state of affairs. To challenge pervasive ignorance, growing illiteracy, non-sequiturs in argument, and the conflation of fact and opinion that we routinely field from the mainstream market-media machine and the populace that buys it would seem so obvious as to be unnecessary. But it appears to be necessary.
To restore also means to draw attention to the non-obvious but likely true. There are many wondrous things of and in the world but we humans seem to limit ourselves to only the most obvious. When something is ignored or shunned by the media, by pundits, by demagogues, by herd-mind, even though it is widely supported by data or evidence, restoration of its truth to common discourse is not only useful, it is necessary in order to restore respect and dignity to the whole creation/appearance as phenomenon and as mystery.
Hence, this blog begins as a little drop in a larger wave of others addressing the same things.
Here are the “House Guides” I will try to follow for the blog and that I’ll appreciate commenters following too.
I) NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY
Appeals to authority are not adequate to qualify opinion. Any authority, whether personal, systematic or textual, derives its own legitimacy from empirical data. We’ll define “empiricism” broadly here – it may be sensate, radical experiential or scientific; still, qualify what you state or believe, understanding that there is rarely one “answer.” Let’s think for ourselves – we didn’t have enough cash to rent a special brain-check room.
II) PAY ATTENTION (WATCH WHERE YOU WALK)
Where and when we can, let’s do it ourselves: DIY. When we don’t know it, let’s open to learning and training. When we don’t know how, let’s ask for help. Be creative, take care of the materials, work with absorption and love. Settle down. Pay attention.
III) PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR NEIGHBORS (NO GLASS BY THE POOL)
Who are you without an ‘other’ to define your very self against? Without others, none of us could exist. Our others are other people beloved of us, but they are also other people we do not know or that are assuredly not beloved of us; they are other species and creatures, beings, objects, elements and particles. Others are all things that are “not-me.” Since there is no self without other, and no subject without object in our evolutionarily bicameral consciousness, minding your neighbor person, your neighbor sparrow, rat, spider, dog, oat grass, tomato plant, woodshed or chain link fence leads to a state of integration. Be kind, be aware: Everything is personal to each of us, because we identify with it and project our feelings and meanings onto it. Remember that your neighbor does this just like you do. On the other hand, nothing is personal, because everything really just happens yet it’s our own mistake of consciousness that it’s happening “to us.” The Golden Rule was invented independently in many cultures because of these silly little concerns.