I can’t personally remember a more insane and dangerous time in world and domestic politics. We watch almost helplessly as the sixth great extinction, this time caused by humans, ravages life on this planet. No matter how graphic the reality of the climate and extinction crisis becomes, there seems to be two parallel universes in play.  One is the reality of our planet, its atmosphere and the processes of life, the other is a largely delusional world of perpetual growth capitalism, cronyism and corruption. The problem itself seems to exist in one universe and the societal response in another delusional universe that only makes things worse.

Before we get to what to try to do about the madness of the modern world, it’s worth considering how to survive it day to day with our sanity more or less intact. The key is to first try to understand the difference between the world as it is and the world as many people believe it is.

We live in an ecology (an ecological system) first and foremost. Our society and economy relies entirely on that ecological system. Our economy at best is an abstraction based upon our ecological reality, but sadly it has developed its own systemic logic that contradicts both ecology and basic physics.

In earlier capitalism a family could own a single store, farm, workshop or factory and keep it as their subsistence business for generations without a need for continuing expansion.  However with the rise and dominance of global corporations, we have become enmeshed in a Ponzi scheme of shareholder profit maximization that has produced a flawed dependence on continual ‘economic’ growth, on a finite planet.

The madness of an economic driver that contradicts basic physics is the beginning of why we feel that we are living in parallel universes, one the real ecological world and the other a false abstract economy. But our social world too has disconnected us from our own ecological selves, and from each other through our culture of human-centred (anthropocentric) individualism.

Our society and economy is beset by a toxic collective psychosis based on disconnection. Individualism, anthropocentrism and perpetual growth are driving both our internal and our external misery. Coming to terms with this personally and spiritually is an essential first step.

I am certain that economic collapse is bearing down upon us all and with it social collapse. Whilst ecological collapse is a genuine risk as well, it will trigger economic collapse first. The ecological system is by nature (in every sense of the word) a system of adaptive resilience. Our economy on the other hand, being a Ponzi scheme, collapses if it stumbles at all. It will stumble and it will collapse very rapidly.

It almost amuses me to watch the way that many people, seem to think that ecological collapse is something we are going to be able to watch from the (illusory) safety of our economy and society. As if the ecological system is some ‘other’ thing that we really should care about but that is somehow separate to us. People just aren’t getting this. Nonsensical ideas like jobs vs environment, responding to climate chaos being too economically difficult or even the idea that social issues need to be given priority over environmental issues are all signs of being trapped in the dangerous collective psychosis of our times.

So how do we find sanity, and is there such a thing?

Disconnection is the cause of the mass psychosis, so connection and reconnection must be the first step out of it.

A deeper connection to the planet and universe is the best antidote to the despair and confusion we face. At first, connecting deeply to our ecological reality is a source of necessary grief, given the conditions we face, but in reality our connection to our immensely bigger context is the only sane place from which to observe the unfolding madness that surrounds us. Connection helps remind us of the sanity of physics, the vastness of the universe and time, the persistence of life and the resilience of evolution.  Whether we survive or not, (personally or collectively) our sanity in the present can only rely on our deep connectedness to life and the distance we can put between our perspective and the collective psychosis of our society culture and economy.

I am not saying we are all doomed, I frankly don’t know and keep an open mind on whether we can turn this around. But we should expect major disruption because business as usual is not possible. We will lose a lot of species, whether we will see human extinction, who knows?

Economic and social collapse, however painful it is for all and any of us, will be all the more threatening, bewildering and incomprehensible to those who remain trapped within the very psychosis that is collapsing on itself. Whilst it may not save us from the food shortages, the wars, or the fascism, having a place to stand, grounded in science, in nature, in physics and ecology and also to First Nations’ world views that precede this anthropocenic madness, will enable us to know the difference between the collapsing madness and the real potential for regeneration.

Our connectedness to the lifeworld, as sad as it may make us, is the only source of the sanity we need to attempt to survive individually and collectively.  The immediate future is too unpredictable to attempt to give advice on what is the best things to do to avoid catastrophe. We should definitely continue to speak truth to power, organize, rebel, protest and promote solutions, maintain respect for life and human dignity. But as we continue our work for survival we need to know where our feet are grounded.

Life itself is an immensely powerful and adaptive force that permeates this incredible planet. Even if we go full way into this sixth great extinction, life on earth will survive. It began in extremophile bacteria in lava flows, so it has a force well beyond that of capitalism.

We need to continue to be activists for survival, and each of us can best access our intuitive intelligence on how to best do this, if we insist inside ourselves on maintaining our connection, with life, with the planet, and with each other. Disruption is inevitable and regenerative culture is key.


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