Email exchange between Ruben Nelson and Gordon Kubanek (CACOR members):
From: Gordon Kubanek
Sent: March 8, 2019 5:58 PM
This may seem ‘extreme’ – however based upon the latest data perhaps not…of course, if we decide to wake up and take action things change but until that happens this rant may be more accurate than we are comfortable with…
Have we miraculously transformed our entire energy system into one that does not poison and degrade the natural world? Have we slowed the onslaught of plastic pollution choking the planet’s rivers, lakes, and oceans? Have we done anything meaningful to halt the deterioration of the planet’s biodiversity toward mass extinction? Has this global, hi-tech civilization done anything significant to avert its own demise? Despite a constant flow of warnings from the scientific community and even a letter signed by more than 20,000 scientists, the simple answer is no. We have failed to address the complexity of our rising population and a degrading environment. Yes, we are self-conscious and thus able to recognize the fact that we are destroying the only home we have, but will the end result differ much from a population overshoot of bacteria in a Petri dish? Dependent on a continuous stream of finite resources imported from across the globe, modern megacities contain the seeds of their own destruction and that of all other life forms upon which humanity depends for its survival.
On Sat, Mar 9, 2019 at 4:43 PM Ruben Nelson wrote:
Gordon, (and all),
I continue to appreciate your gifts to us. Keep them coming.
The case I would make is as follows:
- It is perfectly possible for all creatures who are a product of evolution, that includes us, to get themselves into situations that are more complex than their present state of development can handle. In such cases, those involved tend to die.
- As a species, we are in such a state now. That is, for reasons that are understandable, but not yet well understood, our late Modern/Industrial form of civilization has become toxic. Because this is not yet well understood, virtually all of our energies as a species are still devoted to extending (making sustainable) our late Modern/Industrial form of civilization.
- We are doing this because we have come to believe that the Modern/Industrial ways of knowing ourselves, one another and our cosmos are the very best ways developed to date. We really do think that a 1st Enlightenment way of knowing is “the end of history.” Tragically, it may well be, but not in the sense Francis Fukuyama meant this phrase in 1989. In simpler terms, the “sustainability industry” is learning that we are in trouble. However, it is still far too deeply enmeshed in the presuppositions of our Modern/Industrial form of civilization to realize that what it offers is just a better version of Modernity, not an alternative to it. Even a “better version” is still lethal.
- The likely outcome is the death of our species and many (most?) others, possibly within the lifetime of some now living.
- We are not powerful enough to wipe out all life on this planet. This Earth with life will carry on, with or without us, for the next billion years or so.
- There is a path that would avoid our death and the death of much else – namely, learning at very deep levels to our-grow (as in “grow up”) and let go of our Modern/Industrial identities, aspirations and cultural systems as we seek to re-discover ourselves as co-creative relational persons in a co-creative and relational cosmos. Our work is to learn to cooperate with our own evolution at every scale at which we exist as persons, from individuals to a global species, as we become conscious co-creators of the next form of civilization. (Yes, I know this sounds too grandiose and is a very long short. But it is our only option, as far as I can see.)
- Sadly, this option is not an idea in good currency in any culture today; nor is any established institution dedicated to making it so, let alone a significant global movement.
- Getting this path into our hearts and minds and on our agendas and into our budgets is the deep work of the next decade.
This is the case I made in my presentation of the Don Michael Day of Learning in San Francisco last December when I was honoured as the 2018 recipient of the Don Michael Award. If you have 58 minutes you may wish to watch it. I welcome comments, critiques and even rude remarks, as long as there is a twinkle in your eye.