Society's most reactionary and reluctant elements who hold and defend material wealth now see problems brewing that have just begun to rock their world. They know climate change and oil depletion are hitting an overpopulated, toxified biosphere. Their approach, however, is not at all to let go of any control they think they have over their own and others' lives. Nonrenewable resources will instead be gone after anew, with the hope of merely changing or switching the resources to exploit and exhaust.
They call their tomorrow renewable-energy powered, but on close examination there would still be massive, unending draw-downs of non-renewable resources. This means that only an elite is to benefit from such things as solar panels and green cars, as these manufactured items cannot be given to the Earth's billions of people over many years. The industrialists of both the old and new stripe do not understand or respect entropy, the law of nature that says the structure and quality of matter degrades whenever there is energy-transfer (as with burning fossil fuels).
With all we know, our minds still become rigid in locking perception on the "materialist world." The materialist world is an aspect of the material world that emphasizes the culture of materialism and most concerns of consumer society. When consumerism takes over our minds and hearts, we need to seek natural surroundings or obtain release through yoga or meditation, for example. These respites and tonics are not a substitute for living a spiritually/materially balanced life. Some people think they can "have it all," i.e., driving to a yoga retreat that few can afford.
When the mind is locked, and we can't "turn it off" or find peace or refuge from our thoughts and worries, this is an effect of the manifestation of reality we have created with both our culture and personal choices within it. We become our own prisoners of our perception that is in turn limited by our daily choices and conditions.
Solutions include unmasking reality
The solution does not lie in taking drugs or obtaining the money to enjoy greater advantages of materialism — including even New Age methods of relief. Rather, the solution is in dismantling the "false reality" of materialism and the physical structures of the dominant society. If one could become a spiritual warrior and actually immobilize cars, depave streets and disable any destructive systems, the masses of drones and worker ants of human society might run around wildly in circles of confusion. But they would be freed of their deadly, stifling boxes for a while (or henceforth, if the system crashes).
Street theatre and creative use of media can enhance mass perception, as practiced from the beginnings of society on through to the present. The Yippies and the Diggers of Haight-Ashbury were effective in their era, and new issues have demanded new action. In Sparks, Nevada over the Labor Day weekend, a feast of factory-farm meat — 130,000 pounds of pork ribs — took place. If someone were inclined, he or she could walk through such a crowd wearing a boar's skull with blood dripping from the tusks, as an amplified scary voice intones that it has come to haunt the humans. Experience shows that not everyone in a target audience is swayed immediately, but it can help to enlarge consciousness — despite the riskyness of such an action.
Iraq and perception of U.S. mainstreamers
When Iraqi resistance forces destroy U.S.-backed systems of control, and oil facilities are sabotaged, it is an intention to fight Western (infidel) culture and use violence against the violent, alien invader. The people of Iraq feel they have no other choice, as decisions to invade and control Iraq were made years ago without the input of the Iraqi people.
Not every Iraqi is part of the resistance, but a poll in early summer of 2004 put the support rate at 90% of the population. The perceived reality of today's increasingly desperate Iraqis is one of degeneration of cherished old ways and formerly reliable institutions, despite the violence of the previous regime. To meet today's challenge with violence is the choice of those who believe there is no other way at the moment. However, peaceful ways are always better, and are not sufficiently tried by those tending to commit aggression. Then again, self-defense can call for lethal force.
Still, comfortable American materialists who expect to continue their affluent living through profligate energy use (see bottom story on electric power in California) must endeavor to see reality through others' eyes such as Iraqis'. If we do this, we can take peaceful action for everyone's sake by understanding the connections between energy, war, politics and lifestyle.
Death of nature and individuals
Our normal cultural perception of reality blinds us to the unique, spiritual essence of each individual. So it is through the death of someone close to us that we can then sense the full being who has departed from our everyday plane as an integrated organism.
When commodification of nature renders the ecos of the economy into a growing wasteland and artificial environment, we cannot appreciate the spiritual, sacred value of life of individuals or whole species. Indeed, most of the individuals participating in the dominant system are unconscious of their true condition and relationship to their often hidden masters. People allow themselves into being herded into darkness, being brainwashed that there is "better living through (petro-)chemistry." Lives and nature are devalued to the point that the extinction of the human race is in the works.
Some creative solutions
The situation being what it is, the question is What can we do about it? People who think independently of regimented society and who are not pursuing material wealth in a greedy fashion, instead occupy themselves in various approaches to counter the runaway death machine killing the biosphere and degrading our already compromised lives. Some may pour their energy into helping to bring sustainable agricultural practices to the attention of mainstream members of society. Others may create art or music or write about problems and solutions. Other activists may take direct action against symbols of authority or against the authorities themselves. However, despite the extreme nature of the threat to life as we know it, and the incorrigible behavior of corrupt "leaders," there is little resistance or support for resistance.
The analogy of frogs being slowly heated to boil may be most apt. In Iraq, people felt the boiling water thrown over them and they decided to jump and attack their enemy. This is not to say the Iraq insurgency is not tainted by self-serving elements. And some indulge in certain scams or atrocities to seek vengeance against their opponents.
For consumers enjoying peaceful slavery in their lives as they work for petroleum-guzzling/providing entities, the boiling-water wake-up call could be the sudden unavailability of petroleum. It is then that perception will be radically jolted en masse, if not altered, and the illusion built on petroleum and on oil-wars will dissolve like an acid eating the feet of those dwelling in materialism in their Babylon. But anyone already aware of the petroleum-illusion and who has tried to avoid the corporate juggernaut may be able to sidestep the crash of the falling U.S. giant.
The better our consciousness is developed to see the whole of reality as much as humanly possible, the more likely peace will break out for a long stay.
What the (bleep) do we know
The film by the above name is about physics, altered states of perception and consciousness. The vehicle for the film's ideas is a story of a troubled yuppie failing to enjoy her privileged lifestyle in a glamorous city as a photographer. But she is soon taught that she is an integral part of her universe that she is shaping, and that she may as well enjoy the wonder of it all and accept reality. It fails as a comprehensive scientific documentary, but many interesting concepts are thrown at the viewer combined with slick cinematographic/computer effects to tickle the imagination and recall our existing knowledge. The film makers' upcoming project in fall 2004 is to document a global healing conference that features shamans flown into the U.S. from all over the planet.
The world that we know in our waking state is a manifestation of reality that conforms to our expectations and normal perception. It is time to both widen and deepen our perception and consciousness, such as paying greater attention to our dreams and learning about quantum physics (which can be amazingly fun). That said, there can be no let-up in action to defend biological diversity and the beauty of nature. This does not mean social justice can or should be ignored, but it must be anchored to Earth defense.
The following letter in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, August 28, 2004, was in response to a spokesman for a business/government consortium who called for "5 Steps for Preventing the Next Power Crisis" two days before.