Friday, December 27, 2013

We're Sick

As a society, we stopped producing food decades ago.  Most of our families left their farms to go join the urban masses sometime in the last century.  That's when our disease took hold.  While we still learn as kids that that the food we eat comes from farms, that's about as far as our understanding goes.  We've lost the knowledge and understanding of what makes a farm -- or anything in the natural world -- really work.  We don't care about something we don't understand.

When we see on the evening news that the US is wracked with (climate change induced) drought, we might think "that's too bad for those poor farmers".  We might even suffer a moment's consternation as we realize that food prices will be going up.  We have no fear of starvation though.  Food will still come from somewhere (from the store of course!).  We "know" but we no longer understand how important the natural world is, because we think we've left it behind.   We've got more important issues to occupy our thoughts, like Miley Cyrus' butt.

The fact is that we are a part of the natural world, in the same way that your big toe is part of you.  We cannot separate ourselves from it any more than your toe can cut himself free from a life in your stinky shoes to embark on a new life of leisure at some sandy tropical beach.  We think of nature as a separate entity;  something we may enjoy on weekends when we venture out from our man-made environs.  We don't need it anymore, so we're cutting ourselves loose, heading out into our brave new world.

If we truly understood ourselves to be a part of nature, we wouldn't just shrug our shoulders at the news that our oil addiction just killed the Gulf of Mexico, shortly before we go to visit the gas station yet again.  We wouldn't brush off news that endocrine-disrupting chemicals are now making their way out of fracked groundwater and into our drinking water, right before we fire up the furnace to keep our home warm and toasty with "clean burning" natural gas.

If we truly understood that nature's health is our health, anyone suggesting something as absurd as this or this would be treated like a knife wielding intruder smashing his way into our children's bedroom.  Why?   Because both of them will ultimately accomplish the same thing.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Last Nomads and the Culture of Fear

Please read this powerful and thought provoking article by permaculturist Toby Hemenway on our society vs. the nomadic societies we've destroyed.  His thoughts closely echo my own.

We also stopped at Little Bighorn on our move from Washington in 2008, and it struck me how recently this battle and the associated genocide had occurred.   The house we now live in was built before the battle, on land also taken from natives who treated it far more respectfully and appropriately than we have.

In a short 150 years, our "domesticated" masses have destroyed the freest people on the planet.  We're well on our way to destroying the possibility of anyone ever living in freedom again (I'll laugh at anyone who proclaims the US to be "The Land of the Free"), or living at all for that matter.

Those of us who accept the status quo, and who follow the default course that our society has laid out for us are guilty of the most heinous crimes imaginable, though most refuse to recognize it.   The worst evil imaginable is little more than the product of our own ignorance and complacency.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Turning Down the Volume

I've lately been listening to Mary Roach's book "Stiff" on my daily commute, a fascinating (and often stomach churning) book about all things cadaver-related.    One chapter covers the history of attempts to resuscitate cadavers and heads (freshly guillotined!).   The next moves to attempts by surgeons to transplant living heads (on animals thus far, though I'm not yet finished with the book).

One comment in particular caught my ear.   She mentions that people in sensory deprivation chambers invariably hallucinate and ultimately go mad (relating to the fact that a detached brain, if kept alive, would most likely suffer a degree of sensory deprivation with similar consequences).

Another book on my recent list (Pandora's Seed, by Spencer Wells) discusses the rise in mental health issues in modern society, to the point that mental health issues are expected to be the second leading cause of death in the US by 2020.

Could widespread sensory deprivation be the cause of our mental health issues?   Absolutely.

We already know that our immune systems "go mad" when they're deprived of frequent exposure to irritants and pathogens, resulting in a massive increase in allergies and autoimmune disorders, to the point that many children now risk sudden death from the exposure of a single drop of peanut oil or milk on their skin.  Researchers have discovered that Amish children, who frequently live on farms with livestock and often go barefoot in the summer (both likely sources of exposure to pathogenic bacteria), have very low allergy rates.  Coincidence?

So how are our lives like sensory deprivation chambers?   Consider the life of any human before the industrial revolution (or better yet, before the advent of agriculture), and contrast that with our daily lives now.   The pre-industrial human spent the majority of their time outdoors, directly experiencing everything from extreme temperatures to wind, rain, and all the weather that we nowadays just view from the comfort of our climate controlled car/home/workplace.

Their daily activities were highly varied.  They used their hands, not machines.  They hunted and gathered wide varieties of food (leading to better nutrition -- human stature dropped significantly once we became farmers), travelling through all sorts of terrain.  They built their own homes.  Schooled their own children.  They did everything that you and I now pay others to do for us, either directly or otherwise.  Nowadays, most of us repeatedly perform a single specialized task for which we receive money, typically performed within a climate controlled building while sitting still.  It's boring.

So to relieve the boredom, we go home, sit, and turn on the TV, computer, or game console.  We don't make our own entertainment, as pre-industrial man would've done.  We've outsourced damn near everything.

The net effect of trying to avoid physical work and make ourselves comfortable is that we've turned down the volume on life -- moving ever closer to the point of complete sensory deprivation.  The compartmentalization of our lives and careers has deprived us of varied and essential experiences. It's no wonder that both our bodies and minds are going nuts.

Get rid of the fossil fuels, and I suspect these ills of modern society will go with them.