I love butterflies. They remind me of the fragility, randomness and beauty of life on this blessed planet. And wow, are they ever a mess in the middle of a metamorphosis!
The Industrial Age is passing and everything we take for granted is changing rapidly. Like all previous ages, the Industrial Age will leave a permanent mark on future ages.
What is that mark to be?
As a tenth grader I went to an American high school in a re-purposed World War II prisoner of war facility in England. There were shower heads in the walls of our science lab. It was located next to a US nuclear weapons air base in a beautiful rural community. We had to pause during our classes when the after-burners of the F-111 bombers kicked in. This was during the first wave of “Arab” terror attacks in the 1970’s. There were rolls of razor wire surrounding our school to keep terrorists at bay, completing the Prisoner of War aesthetic.
I published a satirical underground high school newspaper with my friends. “Are we being kept safe from terror or are we in prison?”
Is there any difference between safety and prison in the nuclear age? Why does it seem like the more we strive for security the less our civil liberties and rights are protected, much less nature and mother earth? What is Mutually Assured Destruction? Why is nature cut down, covered over, poisoned and converted into the machinery of war and all this unnecessary stuff we consume? Is this what I am here for?
I have held these questions for half a century while trying to make a difference and keep my head above water. I believe that although success is not probable, it is possible that we may survive all of this and achieve peace, abundance, beauty and cultural respect for all. We may live to tell our grandchildren how we achieved the improbable.
The way forward exists. But our awareness is overgrown with centuries of neglect and invasive ideas. Our will to push through the overgrowth, or crawl beneath it, needs strength.
“The New Old Way” is a phrase introduced to me by a respected and beloved Hawaiian elder and friend, Al Lagunero. To me the term has come to signify the search for ancestral continuity in a time of cataclysmic global transformation.
A just future lies outside of our present collective grasp, but not beyond our reach. Together we must face the most difficult navigational challenge of human history. We are already inside the chrysalis. What butterfly will emerge is up to each one and all of us, inseparably.