The New Old Way: Toward a nonviolent end to the industrial age and the regeneration of nature
This blog is dedicated to my great friends and teachers: Kelley Janes, who is also the mother of my two children Linden and Daisy (also friends and teachers), James Donaldson, Al Lagunero, Jim Anest, Malidoma Patrice Somè, Jon Young, John Konovsky, Kari Bown, Julie Miller, Thomas Elliott, Douglas Simon Amrine, Julie Puhich, Erin Schrader, and David Hauer. My world is the world it is because of these beloved people. And I am in the world because of my parents, both helping from the other side now, H. Leonard Brisley and Minerva Whittier Pearson. I am so grateful.
Introduction: “Oh, and by the way ….”
We live in a marvelous age of human ingenuity. We travel through the sky inside gigantic machines of human creation. We can speak to loved ones half way around the planet while watching the expressions on their faces on a screen we can carry in our pockets. Our greatest athletes are breaking records every year. We can watch moving images of stories taking place in fantastical worlds that appear to actually exist. Oh, and by the way, civilization as we know it today appears to be doomed.
Today is Earth Day, 2016. A child born today enters into this paradoxical world as national leaders gather in New York at the United Nations to sign the Paris Climate Agreement. For some, this is hopeful. For others, this represents a business as usual response to imminent global ecological collapse. A child born today, enters a world which has lived with common knowledge of the possibility that human ingenuity might end civilization as we know it in a cloud of radioactive fury for seventy one years now, since the fateful day that the Enola Gay released its payload above Hiroshima, Japan. Four generations of adults have passed this world on with this one small hitch attached to the operating agreement of global civilization. ”Oh, and by the way, all this wonderfulness could end tomorrow. Sorry we didn’t fix that little problem.”
Plus, to make matters a little more troubling, the picture of human civilization’s wonder painted in my opening paragraph is as remote as a science fiction movie for most of the world’s population (except for the screen that fits in your pocket part.) Living in a resourced modern nation it can be very easy to overlook that fact.
This blog, besides being a book gone wrong, is my attempt to sort this out a little. I’ve been secretly obsessed with two strange desires since I can remember: to live a Stone Age life in a cave somewhere and to help transform society into a beautiful expression of human caring for one another and our beloved planet. That is my own personal paradox and it has woven a strange but fascinating path for me through the labyrinth of modernity. I am privileged to have been able to indulge an exploration into both of these passions, neither of which generates a very good income, and raise up two amazing children with my beloved spouse in the context of this journey.
I’d like to think that I’ve learned a thing or two of value. I hope desperately that I have. This blog is my attempt to pass on reflections that might be helpful toward shaping the character of the new world that is coming. We still have the possibility, if not the probability, of an abundant, just and peaceful future. We have the ingenuity already in hand. Technology is not the problem. The problem is social will. Social will determines the social allocation of resources. As long as we devote more resources to war than to ecological restoration we are a doomed civilization.
How do we shift social will?
I hope that I have something of value to offer this conversation. Welcome aboard.