Friday, December 29, 2006

Love on the Rocks

I read an article a few days back outlining some of the reasons men cheat on their wives. I don't know if the reasons were applicable to women who cheat, but I found it interesting nonetheless. The article maintained that some men cheat because they cannot face the fact that their marriage is not working or even over. Rather than confront their wife with the problem, they cheat. This behavior is the acting out of their unconscious desire to be caught. When they are caught this will likely end the marriage and prevent them from having to deal with the real reasons for its failure in any way. I'm sure I'm not explaining this idea as well as I should, but I think we can get the gist of it. I don't know if this is true or a load of crap, but I won't discount the idea. I know the human mind is unfathomable in its complexity and that we've only scratched the surface of its workings. This idea of unconscious marriage sabotage intrigued me as it applies to the various conversations we've had of late on the topic of dropping out. While the topic is likely running its course and nothing substantially new will be added (short of someone actually trying it and blogging about the effort for the benefit of all), I felt like adding a bit more to the pile.

I honestly wasn't trying to arrive at any practical guidelines for "dropping out" in these posts, but that would sure be nice. I was more struggling with what the term means in the broader sense and in the personal sense. My dropping out began when I started losing faith in the, so-called, respected institutions of our world (religion, government, business, education, etc.). That is likely when yours began as well (Ran Prieur didn't experience this). I have not lost faith in them as a concept (perhaps I need more time to get to that point) but I have lost faith in them as they currently function. My reasoning must take me to the next step, which is that these institutions are run by people. If people were trustworthy then these institutions would be trustworthy. I am not a philosopher, so feel free to skewer my reasoning. I am only using the horse sense that anyone's grandma and grandpa would have used. Not all people are untrustworthy. Not all aspects of institutions are untrustworthy. But the overall concept of a trustworthy church, government or corporation is long since dead in my heart and in my mind. Unfortunately, the memes they fed me over my formative years are very hard to shake. Anyone who has ever tried to stop smoking, drinking, taking drugs or eating a certain way understands this. Addictions are addictions and civilization is one hell of an addiction. We are in a state of addiction that portends a certain end or, at least, a horrific detox. This isn't so much about educating the world about peak oil as it is organizing an intervention. Honestly, this is where we are in this portion of our timeline. We are trying to convince someone that they are drinking too much. We are telling someone we love that putting down the Twinkies is the only hope they have. Good luck. Years ago, I had a film idea that, I imagined, would star John Candy. It was about a man whose weight was bringing him to the point of incapacitation. He had tried everything from counseling, to medication, to diets, but nothing worked. He had given up and was living his life in oblivion. His wife, who loved him dearly, decided the only thing left was to show him that he could live a different way, so she arranged to have him kidnapped and kept locked away under medical supervision. It would have been a story about our addictions and how their strong bonds are nothing more than vapor shackles, yet they bind us tighter than steel. I imagined what it would have been like to drop the weight off of John over a period of time and what it would have looked like to the world. It was just a fantasy script, but it rings true of our world today. We are beyond the point of rolling up our sleeves and digging in for a the good fight. We need to be compelled to act in a reasonable way. We need to be locked in a room and forced to comply because it is the only way our lives will be saved. But once you get to that point, it is all over. I don't want to live in that place.

So, why did I mention the article on cheating husbands at the start of this entry? Because I think that most of the world is living in the same mindset as the philanderer. We know things are beyond repair, yet we choose not to confront the situation. In my own life I am trying very hard to confront the situation, yet there is so much to do. I comfort myself with the knowledge that "slow and steady wins the race." I also use other pithy maxims such as "look before you leap" and "measure twice, cut once." But as a planet, we are all mindlessly committing adultery because we can't face the fact that there is likely nothing we can about this world in which we live. We feel powerless and helpless. I don't think we really are powerless and helpless, but it is generally how most feel. So, it is easier to commit adultery with an SUV and a McMansion than it is to sit down across from our lifestyle and say, "We need to talk."

I am a very optimistic person and I can see (in my own mind) how easy it would be to fix many of the large issues facing us. These remedies would cause only modest impacts on our lives. They would certainly be far, far less inconvenient that what awaits us just around the bend. I honestly don't think anyone has the best answer for a collapse or severe upheaval scenario. If you strike out on your own in the country with livestock and weapons, you are still subject to accidents, weather, government and gangs. If you live in a rural commune you are still subject to accidents, weather, government, gangs and each other. If you live in the city you are still subject to accidents, weather, government, gangs, each other, disease, etc. I'm not saying one way is better than another, I'm just saying that all ways have weaknesses. Besides, I think the best solution for the collapse scenario is to avoid it completely by taking action now. It is incredibly frustrating to know that the road to the cure for our world's ills is right in front of us, but we won't take it. We won't sit down and say, "Honey, I think we need professional help." No, we can't fix it all, but we can make things much easier. Ignoring a problem never solves it.

This takes me back to where we started this conversation: To me, dropping out is in your mind. There are certainly practical steps in dropping out, but they all are subservient to the mental aspect. Once the mental work begins, the other solutions will make themselves known. I wish mine was as easy as a tent, a rifle and a backpack full of gear, but it isn't. Even if we found a way to make the current American lifestyle extend for another 100 years, I would want out. The modern lifestyle is intertwined with a philosophy that reeks of lies, greed and exploitation. I feel as if my soul must go on a fast to purge out the bad things that this civilization has used to build up my cells. At the same time, there are marvelous things about this world that I don't want to change or lose. Sometimes we need to be still long enough to take stock of what is important so we don't throw it away rashly in a fit of zealousness. I do know that we can't all buy land. We can't all just start growing our own food and making our own clothes. We can't all just decide to build a cob house. We can't pack three kids and the dog in a car and head for the mountains. Without planning and preparation there will be nothing but disaster. We can start to learn these skills if we feel we want to use them, but they are not something learned or implemented in a day. Sure, maybe you could buy land with some others, but you'd likely fight over who gets to build their house in the sunny spot. Our great weakness is our fear. Call it inspired selfishness, call it sin, call it survival instinct, call it whatever. Unless that aspect of ourselves is conquered we will just bring the worst part of ourselves into the next phase of civilization. I know there are many great people with whom I'd enjoy trying to make a go at a self-sufficient life, but most would be poison to me.

I think those who have foreseen the impending phase of our civilization may be feeling fatigued from the work of sounding the alarm. I also see the danger that the mainstream are beginning to peddle a homogenized version of this message for their own ends. Once that happens there is no telling how the message will be distorted and diluted. Dropping out isn't giving up, but it is giving up on your former, unrealistic view of this world. I'm working out my plan with a heavy heart rather than with excitement. It will be me committing adultery. I will be stepping out on my long-term commitment to faith in humanity and my Polyanna hope for the future. On second thought, I really won't be committing adultery, I'll be asking for a divorce. Maybe I'm not as cowardly as I believe myself to be? Time will tell.

More on this later...


Anonymous Joshua Laskin said...

Frank wrote: "Our great weakness is our fear. Call it inspired selfishness, call it sin, call it survival instinct..."

I think I've a sense of what you're getting at, here. I would call it: fear-for-self; or Selfism. Me thinking, of me, as 'My Self'--rather than, as the roles I play in community, or my relationships with people and planet, or as practice not identity.

My Fear-for-Self, is my fear for the *status* of My Self. How does my Self *compare* to your Self? How can I judge the respective values of this Self to that Self? How can I weigh selves' importance? How do I know that I, or you, *matter*?

Any hope would lie in our ability to shift our focus, away from Self, over to the Whole. I'm not talking about God, or Communism. We'll each ever go for what we each want, and/or need--we can't change the nature of the beast. But we do also need to open the big-picture eye in the back of our skulls.

Open the group eye. Open that door.

Being, Human.

January 02, 2007 7:37 PM  
Anonymous Don said...

All our institutions are broken, none more so than the churches. They support a failed president even and policies that are against the best interests of their members. They do this by fear that hides an underlying greed for power using mythology. As someone else has said "May the last politician be strangled by the entrails of the last priest."

January 03, 2007 11:24 AM  

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