By Joe Brewer
Jan 2, 2017
Your feelings of pain and uncertainty are real. The world is now in a time of darkness. Shadows are all around us. It can be very confusing and painful. But it may reassure you to know that feeling pain and confusion is a sign that you are awake.
Humanity is now in the crucible. We have crossed the “planetary boundaries” for safe operation of our globalized civilization — and are now fully in the mode of overshoot-and-collapse. Our political systems are corrupt. No real choices can be found by operating within them. The media institutions have become instruments of distraction and confusion. Very little that is real can be found there.
As we prepare to enter 2017, there is much to feel concerned about. I feel it quite personally. My wife and I are expecting the birth of our first child any day now. We are entering this dark world with eyes wide open that we are living through the death of capitalism and the planetary crisis it has given us.
Stated simply, we are all entering a broken future.
It is now the case that less than 62 people have the same aggregate wealth as 3.7 billion. Nearly half of the human population lives in extreme poverty. More than half of the world’s topsoils that we use to feed ourselves have been depleted in the last 100 years. More than 90% of the game fish have been removed from our oceans. And then there is the rise of fascism and dictatorships around the world — with Trump being the most visible token of this global pattern.
I say these things not to spread despair, but to acknowledge the seriousness of our situation. We are entering 2017 as a world in turmoil. People are scared. They are lashing out in pain. Many (dare I say most) are not emotionally prepared to discern what is actually going on. And yet it is the case that discernment has become more vital than ever before. Political revolution is about waking up to what is really going on.
As my wife and I prepare to birth our child, we are taking steps to engage this troubled world. I wrote this on my Facebook wall yesterday:
At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, I will deactivate my Facebook account…
My wife and I are expecting a baby to arrive any day now. We are moving into the next phase of our lives together. The last decade of my life was dedicated to openly sharing with the world — with regular posts on Facebook and Twitter throughout most of this period — as the work I’ve been doing that applies cultural research of various kinds to heal communities and help global humanity to make the transition in the coming decades.
Now it is nearly 2017. Global warming is not only unaddressed, it is accelerating and the global system is intensifying the ecological destruction in its last gasps of wealth hoarding and short-sighted greed (for some) and necessity for survival (for most). Our political systems are deeply corrupt. The media ecosystems of the world (including Facebook) have become largely dysfunctional and toxic. Circus distractions rule the day as a metaphorical Rome burns just beyond the horizon.
Know that this is merely an evolution of my work. The work will continue with increasing earnestness and urgency. A central part of the work will be to ensure survival for our child and to maintain as much continuity in our lives as we can manage. This means focusing inward for the birth, then gradually navigating how we re-emerge into the world. I will continue to help birth the Cultural Evolution Society. My work with /TheRules will grow and intensify. Collaborations to seed “culture design labs” around the world will continue to take shape.
Yet a time for inward cultivation — for birthing our family and laying foundations of real community — is now before me. I know not when I will reactivate this account. A great deal of care was given to nourishing dialogue with the few thousands of people whom I’ve connected with over the years. This is a social commons in my world (even though it is technically “owned” by a private corporation as a commodity to extract wealth from). I value all of you greatly. You enrich my life as I hope to have enriched yours.
But for now, I must prepare for fatherhood and the hardships soon to escalate upon our troubled planet…
Onward, fellow humans.
This period of preparation we are giving ourselves is an act of rebellion against the status quo. We know that in order to help bring about meaningful change we will need time for reflection, strong bonds of trust among our friends and family, and a healthy environment for laying the emotional foundations for our child.
The future may be broken, but that does not mean it cannot be fixed. Fixing it will require healthy humans. And that means raising healthy humans. Preparing them for the future is a vital piece of the transformation that is now inevitable. Many will remain in denial about this fact — but they are merely showing that they are not yet far enough along in their own grieving processes to see the truth.
The truth is that the current system has already started to collapse. What is often not said is this: there is a silver lining in collapsing an empire. Yes, there will be great harms committed. Many will in fact die as this unfolds around us. Yet in the midst of the turmoil something else will happen — a great deal of mental energy, financial resources, and human capacities will be liberated from their previous entanglements. We will begin a process of composting parts of the old system that finally enable us to grow and expand the new ones that will replace it.
I encourage all of us to do the internal work on ourselves that times like these call upon us to do. We must be strong. It’s okay to be afraid, but we cannot let fear dictate how we live through these times. Let us choose love and life even in the midst of shadow and pain. For it is now upon us to be the midwives of a new world and also to be hospice providers for all that is dying around us.
What we cannot do (for it is a physical impossibility) is go back to the way things were before. If you are uncomfortable now, just wait because it’s going to intensify. Yet in this awareness emerges a reservoir of strength you scarcely knew you had within you. I feel it burgeoning up within me. I am ready for the broken future — or as ready as I can be.
Now those of us who have spent our lives preparing must ready for the crucible. It is almost here. We can feel it coming. And we know that our true spiritual work is about to begin.
Onward into the unknown, my dear fellow humans.