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ragstoridges:

Rant 9
My theory has always been, that if we are to dream, the flatteries of hope are as cheap, and pleasanter, than the gloom of despair.-Thomas Jefferson
Dystopian novels routinely predict bleak post-collapse worlds.  Whether it is 1984’s fascist nightmare, Cormac McCarthy’s  cannibalistic wasteland in The Road, or the uber-competititve world of the Hunger Games, the future is so dark we won’t have to wear shades.
Such depressing scenarios resonate because they fit our own pessimism.            
Of course, throughout human history, societies have collapsed.  Ours will be no different.  However, history also teaches that not all collapses are catastrophes.    
First, humans are social creatures.  More specifically, we are creatures uniquely unsuited for  solitary survival.  Buddha calls this reality “dependent arising.”  We fail alone.  However, linked by our talents, our needs, our interests, and our affections, we survive and thrive.  
The nineteenth century Russian agrarian-anarchist Peter Kropotkin argued that Darwin’s evolutionary theory had overemphasized competition.  Kropotikin correctly pointed out that for all creatures cooperation is as important to survival as conflict.  Naturalists have repeatedly confirmed Kropotikin’s assertion.  
Thus, when one society collapses another will inevitably rise.  
Second, our current society is unsustainable.  We waste finite resources.  We allow too few to have too much and too many to have too little.  We routinely poison our planet for fast profits.  Our mindsets, ossified around assumptions debatable in the Enlightenment, are now preposterous.  The result is a suicidal, uncreative society.
Consequently, a post-collapse world might positively alter human society.  
Collapses tend toward smaller, more localized communities.  Previously-static hierarchies crumble. Egalitarianism re-emerges.  Fewer nonrenewable resources are used because the system that demanded them and distributed them is gone.  Money becomes what it has always been, paper and soft metals.    
Human society still exists but on a simpler scale.  For example, people with skills barter with other skilled people.  Apiarists trade honey for orchardists’ fruit.  Cobblers trade their shoes for dairy farmers’ milk.  People re-learn traditional skills that  suddenly have resonance.  Wortcunnen, for example, are suddenly in demand.  Blacksmiths are once again wizards.
Of course, as any failed state illustrates, societal collapse causes pain.  Pharmaceuticals  disappear; entertainment is self-performed; criminal court systems are nonexistent.  A thousand conveniences…toothpaste, strawberries in the winter, pothole repairs…are gone.
Yet these human costs are somewhat irrelevant.  Unsustainable societies such as ours collapse.  And increasingly draconian attempts to forestall collapse delay and intensify suffering.  Consider climate change.  Continuing our current trends consigns future generations tofewer resources and bleaker choices.  
Thus, like the Old Testament’s apocryphal Noah, we must build our arks before the deluge.   We must preserve and nurture what future generations will need, not what our current generation wants.  
A Zen pledge asks individuals to practice
Infinite gratitude to all things past,
Infinite service to all things present,
Infinite responsibility to all things future.
Keeping alive important skills for the future?  That is a noble “service” we can all do NOW.  
May we each create our own Ridges as BRidges to a more grateful, giving, and responsible future. 
Zoom Info
Camera
SONY MHS-TS10
ISO
100
Aperture
f/2.8
Exposure
1/100th
Focal Length
5mm

ragstoridges:

Rant 9

My theory has always been, that if we are to dream, the flatteries of hope are as cheap, and pleasanter, than the gloom of despair.
-Thomas Jefferson

Dystopian novels routinely predict bleak post-collapse worlds.  Whether it is 1984’s fascist nightmare, Cormac McCarthy’s  cannibalistic wasteland in The Road, or the uber-competititve world of the Hunger Games, the future is so dark we won’t have to wear shades.

Such depressing scenarios resonate because they fit our own pessimism.           

Of course, throughout human history, societies have collapsed.  Ours will be no different.  However, history also teaches that not all collapses are catastrophes.   

First, humans are social creatures.  More specifically, we are creatures uniquely unsuited for  solitary survival.  Buddha calls this reality “dependent arising.”  We fail alone.  However, linked by our talents, our needs, our interests, and our affections, we survive and thrive. 

The nineteenth century Russian agrarian-anarchist Peter Kropotkin argued that Darwin’s evolutionary theory had overemphasized competition.  Kropotikin correctly pointed out that for all creatures cooperation is as important to survival as conflict.  Naturalists have repeatedly confirmed Kropotikin’s assertion. 

Thus, when one society collapses another will inevitably rise. 

Second, our current society is unsustainable.  We waste finite resources.  We allow too few to have too much and too many to have too little.  We routinely poison our planet for fast profits.  Our mindsets, ossified around assumptions debatable in the Enlightenment, are now preposterous.  The result is a suicidal, uncreative society.

Consequently, a post-collapse world might positively alter human society. 

Collapses tend toward smaller, more localized communities.  Previously-static hierarchies crumble. Egalitarianism re-emerges.  Fewer nonrenewable resources are used because the system that demanded them and distributed them is gone.  Money becomes what it has always been, paper and soft metals.   

Human society still exists but on a simpler scale.  For example, people with skills barter with other skilled people.  Apiarists trade honey for orchardists’ fruit.  Cobblers trade their shoes for dairy farmers’ milk.  People re-learn traditional skills that  suddenly have resonance.  Wortcunnen, for example, are suddenly in demand.  Blacksmiths are once again wizards.

Of course, as any failed state illustrates, societal collapse causes pain.  Pharmaceuticals  disappear; entertainment is self-performed; criminal court systems are nonexistent.  A thousand conveniences…toothpaste, strawberries in the winter, pothole repairs…are gone.

Yet these human costs are somewhat irrelevant.  Unsustainable societies such as ours collapse.  And increasingly draconian attempts to forestall collapse delay and intensify suffering.  Consider climate change.  Continuing our current trends consigns future generations tofewer resources and bleaker choices. 

Thus, like the Old Testament’s apocryphal Noah, we must build our arks before the deluge.   We must preserve and nurture what future generations will need, not what our current generation wants. 

A Zen pledge asks individuals to practice

Infinite gratitude to all things past,

Infinite service to all things present,

Infinite responsibility to all things future.

Keeping alive important skills for the future?  That is a noble “service” we can all do NOW. 

May we each create our own Ridges as BRidges to a more grateful, giving, and responsible future. 

ragstoridges:

Rant 8
In Rant 7, I argued that our society is nearing collapse and posed the question:
What then should be done?
My answer may seem opaque, but I hope will eventually make sense.
Buddha argued that all living things have “three marks of existence.”
First, all beings are impermanent.  Obviously, we all die.  But Buddha further asserted that even while alive we are each nothing more than temporarily assembled bundles of energy that he called “skandhas.”  (It is interesting to note that this assertion has been confirmed in multiple quantum physics’ experiments.)  Thus, humans and all their creations are impermanent.
Second, all living beings suffer.  Sickness, sorrow, aging, and death are inevitable.
Finally, individuality is a mirage.  In reality, every human, every thing, and every process is dependent on every other entity.  (Chaos theorists echol this assertion, by the way.)
Taken together, Buddha’s “marks” urge perspective.
Our society is collapsing because collapse is inevitable.  
So, what should be done?
First, we should fairly judge our collapsing society.  Is it worth battling to delay its collapse ?
Ask yourself these questions:  Is this society happy?  Are its members cared for and nurtured?  Does the society urge its members toward self-control, community, and kindness?  Does it reward its members for respecting the planet and protecting its multitudinous life forms ?
The answers (if we are honest) are largely negative.
This society pits each of us against one another.  It routinely wrecks the planet for illusory “profits.”   It rewards the self-centered and socially-irresponsible with wealth and status..  It routinely ignores our poor, sick, and struggling.  Our pampered power elite scoff at accountability and evidence little interest in our countryside, our small towns, and our small farms.  Our technology produces genetically-engineered monstrosities.  And on and on.
In short, if our society collapsed our planet would be better off, the Third World would be better off, and it’s highly likely that we ourselves would be better off.
However, like death, collapse comes in many forms ranging from the apocalyptic to the peaceful.  It is our moral and ethical responsibility to do that which we can to make this inevitable collapse as gentle and peaceful as possible.   Our actions should be life-affirming. We should prepare for  collapse by re-connecting with the land, with those practicing nearly-lost skills, and with our own best selves.   This society has warped us, making us meaner and darker than we really are.  It will inevitably warp and darken the lives of our children and grandchildren even more.  It is an ungracefully dying organism that fears nothing so much as its own death.   Of course, our self-absorbed corporate and governmental “leaders” will desperately try to coerce participation because, despite all their insistences that WE can’t do without THEM, the truth is the reverse.  Without US, THEY are grotesqueries and phantasms.
Rags to Ridges seeks to engender gentle and positive collapse.  And then, in its aftermath, we seek to do our tiny part in building  a greener, kinder, more positive society.
Zoom Info
Camera
SONY MHS-TS10
ISO
80
Aperture
f/2.8
Exposure
1/412th
Focal Length
5mm

ragstoridges:

Rant 8

In Rant 7, I argued that our society is nearing collapse and posed the question:

What then should be done?

My answer may seem opaque, but I hope will eventually make sense.

Buddha argued that all living things have “three marks of existence.”

First, all beings are impermanent.  Obviously, we all die.  But Buddha further asserted that even while alive we are each nothing more than temporarily assembled bundles of energy that he called “skandhas.”  (It is interesting to note that this assertion has been confirmed in multiple quantum physics’ experiments.)  Thus, humans and all their creations are impermanent.

Second, all living beings suffer.  Sickness, sorrow, aging, and death are inevitable.

Finally, individuality is a mirage.  In reality, every human, every thing, and every process is dependent on every other entity.  (Chaos theorists echol this assertion, by the way.)

Taken together, Buddha’s “marks” urge perspective.

Our society is collapsing because collapse is inevitable. 

So, what should be done?

First, we should fairly judge our collapsing society.  Is it worth battling to delay its collapse ?

Ask yourself these questions:  Is this society happy?  Are its members cared for and nurtured?  Does the society urge its members toward self-control, community, and kindness?  Does it reward its members for respecting the planet and protecting its multitudinous life forms ?

The answers (if we are honest) are largely negative.

This society pits each of us against one another.  It routinely wrecks the planet for illusory “profits.”   It rewards the self-centered and socially-irresponsible with wealth and status..  It routinely ignores our poor, sick, and struggling.  Our pampered power elite scoff at accountability and evidence little interest in our countryside, our small towns, and our small farms.  Our technology produces genetically-engineered monstrosities.  And on and on.

In short, if our society collapsed our planet would be better off, the Third World would be better off, and it’s highly likely that we ourselves would be better off.

However, like death, collapse comes in many forms ranging from the apocalyptic to the peaceful.  It is our moral and ethical responsibility to do that which we can to make this inevitable collapse as gentle and peaceful as possible.   Our actions should be life-affirming. We should prepare for  collapse by re-connecting with the land, with those practicing nearly-lost skills, and with our own best selves.   This society has warped us, making us meaner and darker than we really are.  It will inevitably warp and darken the lives of our children and grandchildren even more.  It is an ungracefully dying organism that fears nothing so much as its own death.   Of course, our self-absorbed corporate and governmental “leaders” will desperately try to coerce participation because, despite all their insistences that WE can’t do without THEM, the truth is the reverse.  Without US, THEY are grotesqueries and phantasms.

Rags to Ridges seeks to engender gentle and positive collapse.  And then, in its aftermath, we seek to do our tiny part in building  a greener, kinder, more positive society.

Deep breaths

I am measuring time now by the way that I see the world.
I feel that it is getting shorter this time,
because I loathe almost everything.
Most of all being myself.
There are days when I can seem to fool myself into complacency
but today isn’t one of them and this isn’t one of those times.

Big kid classes

I am taking a critical thinking course. This is a college course. So, why is it then that when asked a question by the professor about the processes of the mind when changing a habit that almost every single person in the class responds about how they or someone they know have quit smoking. Can they not answer the question objectively? This is a CRITICAL THINKING COURSE, not story time. And so, this is how the whole semester will go…in every class. I think it is fair to say that I do not play well with others.

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