As flooding continues in mainaland Europe I continue to be amused by the “authorities responses”:
“We should accept that we humans should be humble, that even in the 21st century we don’t completely control nature – that is one lesson from this situation.”
Nature is not for us to control … and it seems that “we humans” are still in dire need of more lessons to make that perfectly clear to us. No fortifications (built at the expense of nature) can hold back nature. We are welcome to live with nature, we will not be allowed to subjugate it. We still have quite a learning curve ahead of us when it comes to humility.
The lowest places belong to water. Houses and roads should be built in higher places. While it may have been sensible for civilization to develop alongside water-ways it is just as sensible to realize that we need to improve on that historical pattern of evolution.
I was just thinking yesterday about gravity. Gravity is a force of nature that we cannot deny – we learn to live with it, we have to … and ultimately it works for us in many ways .. in fact so much so that we take it for granted. Other forces of nature are not quite as demanding of us … they are more inviting. It is up to us to either accept their invitations or resist them … and to live with the consequences of our choices.
I realize that the idea of relocating cities may sound crazy but history has shown that it is possible. We were able to rebuild cities that were practically destroyed during wars. It is possible, just hard for us to accept. If more people migrate from cities to rural living then future cities may also be smaller … and since villages are smaller – they may be easier to redesign/relocate.
Or we can leave things as they are, continue to press nature to support our way of life. To then get struck by nature as it tries to assimilate our demands of it. And then feed on the drama of the consequences of our choices … and look for ways to further alienate ourselves from nature (by placing even more stress on it) … until we lose the battle … because nature isn’t going anywhere anytime soon … we may be:
From 47% of Britons will develop cancer in their lifetime by 2020
“By 2020, 47% of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point before they die, according to projections drawn up by Macmillan Cancer Support.”
That is one messed up society … but there is good(!) news:
“Macmillan’s analysis includes good news too, though. It anticipates that the proportion of people who survive a diagnosis of one of the 200 or so forms of cancer will reach 38%.”
And after all is said and done:
“We also recognise that we need to be looking at how we can help cancer survivors get back into their day-to-day lives after their treatment is complete.”
Britons will be able to go back to their day-to-day cancer inducing life and maybe by 2020 they will have new statistics on percentages of people who have managed to survive cancer twice – that is before they die.
British Future Quality of Life Scale: (1) Alive; (2) Survived Cancer; (3) Has Cancer; (4) Survived Cancer Twice; (5) Has Cancer 2nd Time; (6) Dead.
Reading about flooding in Europe and thinking (a) how grateful I am for the relatively moderate and safe climate I live in and (b) what if we’ve been constructing houses in all the wrong places? I don’t follow news frequently enough, nor thoroughly, nor do I have a good memory … but it seems to me that both frequency and intensity of such events are on the rise.
For the time being we (as in humanity) seem to be using two of our facilities to mitigate these events: religion (we pray to avoid such events or that they pass quickly) and force (we build barriers to further isolate us from nature). Isn’t it time that we tried to bring some intellect into it?
As Bill Mollison & Sepp Holzer would probably say: the valleys (lowest points) are for water, houses and roads should go further up on the hills.
The wackiest thing would be to hear in a couple of months complaints about a drought that is threatening the world’s food supply. There is more than enough water, we need to learn how to store and use it more wisely. Our indulgent living has destabilized our ecosystem (the signs really are everywhere) – we can no longer rely on a constant flow of anything (sunshine nor rain). It is rdicilously childish to expect regularity yet that it what we continue to do. This is all our doing … and fortunately we can also undo or redo or do much better.
We are in a kind of planetary boiling-frog paradox. We have trained ourselves to expect a singular global melt-down: a meteorite, global temperature rises, global sea-level rises, peak oil, etc. But it seems that nature operates in a more organic and gradual way. We are bombarded by events that are trying to wake us up … and we don’t seem to recognize them as the manifestation of the meltdown that is already taking place. We continue to consume and protest and vacation,
ignorant in denial of a change taking place around us.
In the words of Sarah McLachlan singing about letting go:
hold on to yourself
for this is going to hurt like hell
What is it in me that refuses to believe
This isn’t easier than the real thing”
Law as a social framework (including legislative, judicial, enforcement, punishment and public perception aspects) seems to be deteriorating … and I believe that’s a good thing. I believe the law, at its best (a rare combination of legislation & implementation) provides, at best, mediocre social norms. Typically it seems to describe the lowest level of tolerated behavior which will go unpunished by society. A far cry from being a motivating force for progress and growth.
Though I do feel there is potential for law to improve within its own domain I don’t expect much of it. It is too committed to upholding too many notions that need to be scrutinized. As with many things, progress will need to come from outside the box.
ILLEGAL: I believe change will come from conscious and aware members of society who are able to challenge norms and strive for better. Their efforts will be illegal in the sense that they go against the written laws but they may do so without causing any losses or damages to anyone or anything else. They will, for the most part, go unnoticed, working from the fringes of society mostly unknown to mainstream society. They need to be free to explore on behalf of society without the burdens of society holding them back. Since these people usually strive to uphold society they experience a tension and need to develop a certain capacity for illegality.
UNFAIR: Some of their discoveries will eventually (this is a process then can take decades) be noticed by mainstream society. They will cause debate. Some of these people, those whose discoveries are most digestable by mainstream society, will be invited in (maybe even tempted with celebrity). Others will be discovered and prosecuted and sometimes punishment. Their contribution will become a measure of how much unfairness they are able to accommodate peacefully.
NORMATIVE: Eventually wild and illegal discoveries will sink in and become normative. When they do their histories will be lined with social oucasts and unfair treatments … and eventually the once radical now normative patterns will also be challenged … over and over again in a never ending cycle of evolution.
I am tempted to say that a healthy society needs to cultivate such “research outposts” on its fringes … but I don’t think that is possible nor necessary. Fringe is a natural phenomenon. Society needs to be careful not to overrun it, to facilitate (create, nurture, protect) a space for the fringe to do its thing.
Another talk about our current money system and its shortcoming. It’s a good talk, though not a great one. One thing I loved about it … at one point the presenter tears a 20 euro bill and drops it to the floor as a symbolic act … yet for the remainder of the talk he continued to move around the torn pieces but never dared to actually step on them … actually avoided them quite a few times.
Symbolism is not enough … a long age of superficial symbolism contributed to our current story and it will take powerful intentions to overcome the superficiality and move beyond it to a better story.