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Doubting humanity and purpose...

 
pollinator
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First off, I’d like to preface with the fact that I’m tired, hot and feel like I’m getting sick, and these combine to a less than peachy attitude... that said, I’ve had these feelings before and can’t seem to shake them completely.

Growing up, I always had faith and I knew I had a purpose but never knew what it was. As a child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always something along the lines of “happy” or “alive and well”. My revelation told me that our purpose as humans is just that: to be here, alive and well. Logically, I interpreted that as simply fulfilling our needs of air, water, food, sleep and shelter in a sustainable way so that others can continue experiencing this human shindig for generations to come. I found permaculture and a family and felt that sustainability was my new guiding force, my path.

Around the same time, I got married, started a career, bought a house and dove into debt...I love life, I love my wife and I love my environment. But I’m starting to doubt humanities’ usefulness. My wife encourages me all the time (or tries to) by telling me I’m doing my part, I’m doing what I can, things are changing....

I only partially agree with that. The way I see it is simple: every single one of us has the ability to do anything right now. No exceptions. We all could quit driving. We all could stop paying property taxes. We all could follow our heart 100% of the time. We all could make a sustainable future our only priority. And we all could do that immediately. But we dont... at least not me and not most of us, considering we’re on phones or computers right now. My thought is this: if these things are really so important to us, why do we balance, compromise and pace ourselves? Why do we downplay the sense of urgency? Why are we continually dicking around? Is it just me? If I live like a modern day hobbit, will my doubts disappear, or would the entire human race need to follow suit?

I just feel that sustainability must not actually be our priority. And maybe its for the best. Maybe this planet would be better with about 5 billion less of us. I like to think that human consciousness is the peak of evolution and that this is the goal, but I cant help but wonder if the world would be better off if we just extinguished ourselves as soon as possible.

Dont let me bring you down! I’m just curious if others share my feelings or have any words of wisdom. Thank you!
 
gardener
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My thought is this: if these things are really so important to us, why do we balance, compromise and pace ourselves? Why do we downplay the sense of urgency?



My own ideas on your questions: I think those of us who are here at the forums are trying to do our parts. The trouble is, at least for me, that finances keep me from going full-force off-grid sustainable "hobbit" mode. I don't have (because I can't afford) a solar panel, land beyond what my eyes can see, etc. If I all of a sudden came across a financial windfall, you can bet I'd be moving outta town! But as long as finances are an issue, I'm still tethered to the current state of affairs. We are actively putting systems in place where we are less tethered, but we are weaning ourselves slowly out of financial necessity.

Beyond finances, I don't have all the required skills/education to go cold-turkey off grid sustainable.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's a journey for most of us. I am going to assume that most of us here grew up in the First World system of disposable stuff, credit cards, consumerism, etc. Breaking free and developing a new mindset is a process. It takes time. It might seem like we are "dicking around," but I would guess the majority of us are doing what we can, when we can. I know I'd like to be further along in the journey than I am, but I get discouraged when I look forward to what I don't yet have. I find it much more fulfilling to see how far I've already come.

The way I see it is simple: every single one of us has the ability to do anything right now. No exceptions. We all could quit driving. We all could stop paying property taxes. We all could follow our heart 100% of the time. We all could make a sustainable future our only priority. And we all could do that immediately.



I agree that we all have the ability to do something, but not everything, right now. If we all stop driving, many of us are too far away from resources we don't have available to us quickly. How could we get to necessary places in an emergency? I mean like, to the hospital? If we don't pay property taxes, I guarantee Uncle Sam will put a lien on our property and it will no longer be ours. We are trying to find that delicate balance between independent living while still being "shackled" to the economic system we're in.

I don't agree that our heart is always worth following. Our hearts have to be in the right place, in sync with logical thoughts, for it to be worth following. (This can get religious and philosophical, so I'll just say that I believe appealing to our higher sense of logic and knowledge is better than following our current emotions.)

Way back, many years ago, a wise man once told me that people are generally just doing the best they can.

For many of us, we are trying to do the best we can through sustainable living. Others just haven't had their eyes open to an alternative way of living sustainably.

I hope you feel better soon, Brody.
 
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First off, a lot of what you say resonates with me - I think it is good that you are making the effort to look around and wonder just what the hell we, as a society, are actually doing. I am often frustrated by the scale of the worlds problems, but I think it is important to remember that you do not have to carry that burden entirely on your own. As I see it, there are basically three avenues of attack to try and maintain your sanity in the face of impending doom.

1) You can embrace nihilism. Recognize that the end is coming, but that it doesnt really matter. Anyone who writes climate change off with a shrug and a "I will be dead before its my problem." has basically chosen to go down this route. Depending on their age, they might even be right, but in the meantime, they are generally the biggest share of the underlying problem; so maybe dont be that guy!

2) You can embrace idealism. Recognize that the end is coming, and that only by getting everyone on board for some crazy scheme can we all survive. Maybe this is what you are imagining about living like a hobbit. Sadly, it is too late for that. We have become so technologically dependent that I believe most people would not survive without access to it. Also, the problems that we have already created with technology are likely going to need even better technology to fix - If we go backwards, I suspect we will be heading down the path towards extinction.

3) So lastly, you can try and find some sort of middle ground. Recognize that the choices we make do matter, and that there is no magic-wand solution that will fix everything. In fact, it is not even clear to me that there is a path back out of the hole we have made for ourselves. But we must keep trying. Make the best choices you can, and keep moving in the direction of change. Bear in mind; sooner or later all things end. This is, I believe, as true of civilizations and societies as it is of individual lives. We cant cheat death, so all that is left to do is make the most of the time we have.

Anyway, that is all pretty abstract, and I have been thinking a bit about what concrete steps would need to be taken to effect the most change. I think the problem is that the only sustainable societies we have to draw inspiration from have all been pre-industrial. Personally, I think there is no going back. As the climate becomes increasingly challenging, growing food reliably is going to become more and more technically difficult. There are already areas of the world where traditional agriculture is no longer working, so I think we are going to need our technology more than ever in the future. So, I think the goal needs to be a sustainable industrial base. Aspects of that are within our grasp - we can generate renewable energy that could in theory run factories to make many of the products we use. But it is a massive undertaking, and I am not sure I will live to see it fully realized. In the meantime, we should be using our purchasing power and our political voices (although again, I recognize that this will be slow). My personal goal is eventually put as much carbon back in the ground as is released by my entire economic activity. I believe that getting to net-zero emissions is going to be a whole hell of a lot more realistic than getting to zero-emissions. Obviously not everyone can make enough biochar in their backyard, so we need to think about other ways to start sequestering carbon. Part of this is going to have to be done with technology like carbon capture and storage, part of it could be offset by buying biofuels, and anywhere that there is not an available alternative, money should probably be invested in developing those technologies. This is starting to feel like a rambling screed, so I will sign off, but I would be curious what other people think
 
pollinator
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I decided a long time ago that I couldn't save the world.  So I just do my best to make my little piece of it better.  I try to do my best with my land and my life, knowing full well I could do better.  I try to treat the people I care about well.  I've lost many in the last few years, and I'm not going to lie, for 7 or 8 years now, life has been very, very hard sometimes.  The thing that has changed most for me, that has helped me the most, is to constantly remind myself of all I have to be grateful for.  Practicing gratitude works for me.  It's easy to look at the world and see all the thing that are wrong, or bad, or failing.  It's just as easy to look and see beauty, and love, and kindness.  I guess my advice is, be kind to yourself, don't beat yourself up.  Look at the things you are doing right, try to do your best, and don't dwell on all the little things you could be doing better.  You can't control anyone but yourself, so don't worry about everyone else.  If you want to make a change, make it by being humble and setting the example you want people to see.  And above all, practice gratitude.
 
pollinator
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When I get frustrated with people around me and in society at large because of the irrational decision making regarding thinking about the future... I remember that we are very bad at making rational decisions and we are very bad at assessing risk. That must include me if it includes other people... but I like to imagine I'm at least starting to move up the Wheaton Eco-scale and some other metrics of "wokeness" or awareness.

We are easily influenced. We are cheaply baited by propaganda that suits our biases.

This is sad in and of itself, but it helps to explain the irrational behavior.

As for humanity's purpose and hope for the future... I like to think we are being faced with an epic mega challenge... and if we manage to get this right, if we can solve and cope with climate change and the massive scale of human migration and conflict it's already starting to cause, if we can learn how to get along without killing each other, if we can protect the weak among us in times of crisis, if we can do these things then we might make a huge step in our journey as a species. I hope that journey is towards a state something like the near-utopia of Star Trek. A future where disease is mostly history, greed is amusingly alien, and interpersonal problems are solvable within a single episode!

If we didn't have these giant challenges now, we probably would at some point in the future. We are being tested. We are in the crucible. Will we come out as a coherent alloy of human metal? Strong and resilient? That is on all of us to do what we can.

I don't know about you, but I do well when faced with a challenge!
 
pollinator
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The world doesn't care what you/I/humanity does, it was here before us it will be here after us, the climate has changed hundreds of times before sometimes those changes caused mass extinctions sometimes they don't seem to coincide. The world spins on, a ball of rock orbiting a glowing ball of gas, it will continue to spin, continue to evolve new life over and over until that ball of gas expands and eats it up. From the worlds point of view it really doesn't matter what we do, neither does it matter to life on earth it will also continue it won't look the same as it does today, but even if we didn't exist life would not look the same in a million years as it does now, nothing is stable everything is constantly changing.
From a slightly more upbeat point. mass extinction allows new creatures to develop, new forms get to exist to fight to survive to evolve.
 
pollinator
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I consider myself a nihilist, but I find it quite freeing, not depressing. I know that nothing I or humanity does matters in the long run, so I don't need to stress about it. Even if nothing we do matters in the long term, that's not the time scale humans exist in. We live in the present. So I do what I can to improve the present for myself and those that come after me. Knowing that nothing I do will actually make a difference stops me from feeling burdened by responsibility, though. Instead, I'm free to take pleasure in what I'm able to accomplish in the moment, because the moment is all that matters.

Humans are still evolving. Again, we live in the present so we don't see it. But we're not the end product. Maybe we'll stop being selfish and lazy eventually. For the moment, it's Idiocracy.
 
gardener
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Earth is a pretty big place, with quite a few people, and while we may not have a big influence over everything, we can have a great influence over our own life. I'm a fan of Taoism, which may provide insight into living life in a changing world. Somewhere I have the book 'The Tao of Pooh' which explains the philosophy of it as Winnie the Pooh seems to be a proponent.



JRR Tolkien once wrote: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
 
gardener
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Life is so short, I can't wait for everyone to catch up. I focus on my own impact and sphere of influence. Extinguish myself ? No, I have the ability to turn/guide someone, my impact has increased the effort.  
 
pollinator
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Skandi Rogers wrote:The world doesn't care what you/I/humanity does, it was here before us it will be here after us,


I think that's an important perspective.

On a related note, you may have heard the humbling argument that humans have essentially been invented by viruses, bacteria and fungi as a means of escaping the gravity well of Earth. A species capable of that would have to be intelligent, aggressive, restless, curious, and able to function in organized groups. By definition, there would a lot of collateral damage along the way. But we are no threat to our microscopic overlords, and they have infinite patience.
 
pollinator
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I've had similar bouts of doubting whether or not humanity is good for the earth. Right now it feels a lot more negative than positive, but humanity has the ability to pull its collective ass out of the fire. The big question for me is how much damage will be done to us and the earth before we get ourselves back on track, because I do believe that we will. So for now my husband and I are focusing on making our plot of earth the healthiest and most balanced that we can. It's a big job but the result feels good and is beautiful to look at. I think that all anyone can do is work with the tools that they have right now and make the best of it.

I have to keep reminding myself that only in the last generation or so have we had the ability to instantly access all of the woes of the world and it's current population of over 7.8 billion people. Even in the best of times that many people will have a lot of crap going on. Just seeing the news makes everything seem like there is nothing good happening, which is not true at all. I limit my time online looking at the news so that I don't get caught up in all of the drama.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Robin Katz wrote:II have to keep reminding myself that only in the last generation or so have we had the ability to instantly access all of the woes of the world and it's current population of over 7.8 billion people. Even in the best of times that many people will have a lot of crap going on. Just seeing the news makes everything seem like there is nothing good happening, which is not true at all. I limit my time online looking at the news so that I don't get caught up in all of the drama.


I think there is much wisdom in this. I recall vaguely some retiring news anchor saying "Well actually, in 99 percent of the world, things are going reasonably well. But noone is interested in that." It's intensified by the Internet, and the collapse of the news business model. Now, it's all about clicks and views. Fear sells. Crisis sells, disaster sells, scandal sells. And if the news cycle doesn't offer enough to feed the fire, there is no option but to spin fluff into controversy. And fear. And so we become a bit more fearful and downhearted than we really need to be. Not that there aren't real problems: there are. And there are real solutions also, that move in slow motion as real solutions usually do. Far too slow for the news cycle. But me and thee are deeply vulnerable to the Fear Industry. And the danger is that we lose the belief that we have agency -- the ability to advocate for positive solutions, and to enact some of those positive solutions with our own two hands, and to inspire others to do the same by our example. My 2c.
 
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I believe the older we get the more tired we get of seeing the same crap over and over. Politicians feuding, religions at violent odds, refugees piling up on borders, thin skinned idiots with big mouths... it just gets old. I have lost most of my faith in humanity. So, I have a philosophy and it came by the way of an epiphany.
My philosophy is simply smile. I smile at everyone. I can change nothing but what I control so I smile that my workload is so light. I gave 20 years of my life defending the Constitution and i smile about that. I smile a lot. A funny thing happens, too. People smile back. When they smile back I feel like I've done some good. That makes me feel good, so I smile more. It restores some of my faith.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Stacie Kim wrote:

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's a journey for most of us. I am going to assume that most of us here grew up in the First World system of disposable stuff, credit cards, consumerism, etc. Breaking free and developing a new mindset is a process. It takes time. It might seem like we are "dicking around," but I would guess the majority of us are doing what we can, when we can. I know I'd like to be further along in the journey than I am, but I get discouraged when I look forward to what I don't yet have. I find it much more fulfilling to see how far I've already come.



I agree that its a journey. As far as the mindset goes, that can change in an instant though. It happened to me in an evening several years ago.



I agree that we all have the ability to do something, but not everything, right now. If we all stop driving, many of us are too far away from resources we don't have available to us quickly. How could we get to necessary places in an emergency? I mean like, to the hospital? If we don't pay property taxes, I guarantee Uncle Sam will put a lien on our property and it will no longer be ours. We are trying to find that delicate balance between independent living while still being "shackled" to the economic system we're in.



As far as getting to necessary places like hospitals, who’s to say what is necessary? Are we necessary? Is it necessary not to die if you’re horribly injured far from a hospital? And for sure, if you or I stop paying taxes, we will lose our house. But if millions of us stopped paying taxes together, we would collapse an already dying and broken system. I guess I’m struggling more with Jesus’ attitude of not worrying about tomorrow, what we’re going to wear or what we’re going to eat. Living off of faith alone while the worrying, planning side of the brain withers has always been attractive to me.

I don't agree that our heart is always worth following. Our hearts have to be in the right place, in sync with logical thoughts, for it to be worth following. (This can get religious and philosophical, so I'll just say that I believe appealing to our higher sense of logic and knowledge is better than following our current emotions.)

Way back, many years ago, a wise man once told me that people are generally just doing the best they can.

For many of us, we are trying to do the best we can through sustainable living. Others just haven't had their eyes open to an alternative way of living sustainably.

I hope you feel better soon, Brody.



I will say that I feel quite a bit better now. I extrapolated my original revelation a bit and that’s where my issues started. My original message was “embody love”. My logical and reasonable thinking mind ran with that and turned it into sustainable human life, which I think really muddies the waters. As long as I keep it simple as the original message was, these doubting thoughts have no purpose.

 
Brody Ekberg
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Carl Nystrom wrote:First off, a lot of what you say resonates with me - I think it is good that you are making the effort to look around and wonder just what the hell we, as a society, are actually doing. I am often frustrated by the scale of the worlds problems, but I think it is important to remember that you do not have to carry that burden entirely on your own. As I see it, there are basically three avenues of attack to try and maintain your sanity in the face of impending doom.

1) You can embrace nihilism. Recognize that the end is coming, but that it doesnt really matter. Anyone who writes climate change off with a shrug and a "I will be dead before its my problem." has basically chosen to go down this route. Depending on their age, they might even be right, but in the meantime, they are generally the biggest share of the underlying problem; so maybe dont be that guy!

2) You can embrace idealism. Recognize that the end is coming, and that only by getting everyone on board for some crazy scheme can we all survive. Maybe this is what you are imagining about living like a hobbit. Sadly, it is too late for that. We have become so technologically dependent that I believe most people would not survive without access to it. Also, the problems that we have already created with technology are likely going to need even better technology to fix - If we go backwards, I suspect we will be heading down the path towards extinction.

3) So lastly, you can try and find some sort of middle ground. Recognize that the choices we make do matter, and that there is no magic-wand solution that will fix everything. In fact, it is not even clear to me that there is a path back out of the hole we have made for ourselves. But we must keep trying. Make the best choices you can, and keep moving in the direction of change. Bear in mind; sooner or later all things end. This is, I believe, as true of civilizations and societies as it is of individual lives. We cant cheat death, so all that is left to do is make the most of the time we have.

Anyway, that is all pretty abstract, and I have been thinking a bit about what concrete steps would need to be taken to effect the most change. I think the problem is that the only sustainable societies we have to draw inspiration from have all been pre-industrial. Personally, I think there is no going back. As the climate becomes increasingly challenging, growing food reliably is going to become more and more technically difficult. There are already areas of the world where traditional agriculture is no longer working, so I think we are going to need our technology more than ever in the future. So, I think the goal needs to be a sustainable industrial base. Aspects of that are within our grasp - we can generate renewable energy that could in theory run factories to make many of the products we use. But it is a massive undertaking, and I am not sure I will live to see it fully realized. In the meantime, we should be using our purchasing power and our political voices (although again, I recognize that this will be slow). My personal goal is eventually put as much carbon back in the ground as is released by my entire economic activity. I believe that getting to net-zero emissions is going to be a whole hell of a lot more realistic than getting to zero-emissions. Obviously not everyone can make enough biochar in their backyard, so we need to think about other ways to start sequestering carbon. Part of this is going to have to be done with technology like carbon capture and storage, part of it could be offset by buying biofuels, and anywhere that there is not an available alternative, money should probably be invested in developing those technologies. This is starting to feel like a rambling screed, so I will sign off, but I would be curious what other people think



I very much appreciated your “rambling screed” and mostly agree with you. I think path 3, the middle ground, is where most of us should be at. I guess my main struggles is that in path 2 you say that we’ve gotten so dependent on unsustainable technology that most people couldn’t live without it. My thought is, should they? No judgment here and no discrimination, but maybe there really is only one way for human beings to live on this planet sustainably, and maybe that means losing 75% of the population and the survivors reverting back to living the way we did before white men traveled the world ruining everything and forcing their will upon the world. I’m not saying this is the case, I’m just saying it’s absolutely possible.

Like what if we all quit the rat race and just spent all of our remaining time and energy planting trees and building hugelkulturs to sequester carbon? Everyone could just do their part, with no bullshit, and if we die we die. So be it.

I do think that the world is horribly overpopulated, and I dont wish any harm or death to anyone. But it is what it is, and if that’s what needs to happen, who are we to say otherwise?
 
Brody Ekberg
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Trace Oswald wrote:I decided a long time ago that I couldn't save the world.  So I just do my best to make my little piece of it better.  I try to do my best with my land and my life, knowing full well I could do better.  I try to treat the people I care about well.  I've lost many in the last few years, and I'm not going to lie, for 7 or 8 years now, life has been very, very hard sometimes.  The thing that has changed most for me, that has helped me the most, is to constantly remind myself of all I have to be grateful for.  Practicing gratitude works for me.  It's easy to look at the world and see all the thing that are wrong, or bad, or failing.  It's just as easy to look and see beauty, and love, and kindness.  I guess my advice is, be kind to yourself, don't beat yourself up.  Look at the things you are doing right, try to do your best, and don't dwell on all the little things you could be doing better.  You can't control anyone but yourself, so don't worry about everyone else.  If you want to make a change, make it by being humble and setting the example you want people to see.  And above all, practice gratitude.



Thank you for this! Gratitude has gotten me out of funks before. I also cluttered up my original message during my revelation. It was “embody love”. Any way, any how, in any form, no matter what. My brain turned it into a human based story about sustainability, but that might all be hogwash. Embody love is what I need to remember!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Lew Johnson wrote:When I get frustrated with people around me and in society at large because of the irrational decision making regarding thinking about the future... I remember that we are very bad at making rational decisions and we are very bad at assessing risk. That must include me if it includes other people... but I like to imagine I'm at least starting to move up the Wheaton Eco-scale and some other metrics of "wokeness" or awareness.

We are easily influenced. We are cheaply baited by propaganda that suits our biases.

This is sad in and of itself, but it helps to explain the irrational behavior.

As for humanity's purpose and hope for the future... I like to think we are being faced with an epic mega challenge... and if we manage to get this right, if we can solve and cope with climate change and the massive scale of human migration and conflict it's already starting to cause, if we can learn how to get along without killing each other, if we can protect the weak among us in times of crisis, if we can do these things then we might make a huge step in our journey as a species. I hope that journey is towards a state something like the near-utopia of Star Trek. A future where disease is mostly history, greed is amusingly alien, and interpersonal problems are solvable within a single episode!

If we didn't have these giant challenges now, we probably would at some point in the future. We are being tested. We are in the crucible. Will we come out as a coherent alloy of human metal? Strong and resilient? That is on all of us to do what we can.

I don't know about you, but I do well when faced with a challenge!



I agree that the rational mind has gotten us into a lot of this mess and that it might not necessarily help get us out. I also agree that this is an epic mega challenge and that we need to act as though it is in order to reach our full potential. Thats part of what worries me though is that I dont feel that society is acting like this is a big deal. People keep worrying about work and money and what they’re going to do on the weekend. Or masks or no masks. What about carbon? What about pollution? What about temperatures and droughts rising? What about the fact that most of us spend 1/3 of our lives at jobs we dont like making money that we dont need to buy things that are creating this very problem? I guess as long as we are aware of the situation and do our part, things will work out as they need to. Thats faith for me.  
 
Brody Ekberg
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Skandi Rogers wrote:The world doesn't care what you/I/humanity does, it was here before us it will be here after us, the climate has changed hundreds of times before sometimes those changes caused mass extinctions sometimes they don't seem to coincide. The world spins on, a ball of rock orbiting a glowing ball of gas, it will continue to spin, continue to evolve new life over and over until that ball of gas expands and eats it up. From the worlds point of view it really doesn't matter what we do, neither does it matter to life on earth it will also continue it won't look the same as it does today, but even if we didn't exist life would not look the same in a million years as it does now, nothing is stable everything is constantly changing.
From a slightly more upbeat point. mass extinction allows new creatures to develop, new forms get to exist to fight to survive to evolve.



This, I believe, is the mindset of equanimity that I do best in. I’ve been filtering my entire life experience through this “sustainable human future” lens for years now and it’s just another duality. It’s caused tension in relationships, in myself and between myself and society at large. I (and maybe everyone) need to embrace the possibility that maybe we wont have grandchildren, maybe the future wont include humans, and maybe its all fine either way. I need to get back to simply embodying love, wherever, however, whenever. Anything else added onto that is a mind created construct that seems to do more damage than good most of the time, at least in my experience.
 
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Jan White wrote:I consider myself a nihilist, but I find it quite freeing, not depressing. I know that nothing I or humanity does matters in the long run, so I don't need to stress about it. Even if nothing we do matters in the long term, that's not the time scale humans exist in. We live in the present. So I do what I can to improve the present for myself and those that come after me. Knowing that nothing I do will actually make a difference stops me from feeling burdened by responsibility, though. Instead, I'm free to take pleasure in what I'm able to accomplish in the moment, because the moment is all that matters.

Humans are still evolving. Again, we live in the present so we don't see it. But we're not the end product. Maybe we'll stop being selfish and lazy eventually. For the moment, it's Idiocracy.



I’ve looked into a lot of religious perspectives, but not much into nihilism. It sounded bleak to me, but honestly, when I consider my attitude when I’m most calm, most grounded, most balanced, I feel much like you described above.

And I love that you mentioned Idiocracy! I used to think it was such a silly movie and now see it’s a slight, comic exaggeration of the way we actually live now!
 
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Mark Brunnr wrote:Earth is a pretty big place, with quite a few people, and while we may not have a big influence over everything, we can have a great influence over our own life. I'm a fan of Taoism, which may provide insight into living life in a changing world. Somewhere I have the book 'The Tao of Pooh' which explains the philosophy of it as Winnie the Pooh seems to be a proponent.



JRR Tolkien once wrote: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”



Thank you for this! I’ve read a bit about Taoism and heard Alan Watts reference it quite a bit in his lectures. I’m at a point where I don’t feel a need to commit to any isms, but definitely gleaned wisdom from many of them including Taoism. It’s funny, no religious texts talk about sustainable human life on this planet. They’re all about finding peace amongst the storm. I thought i was being clever running my everything through the sustainability filter, but doing so created a split in my experience and all kinds of problems. I need to get back to the simple truth of being present for the ride.
 
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:

Skandi Rogers wrote:The world doesn't care what you/I/humanity does, it was here before us it will be here after us,


I think that's an important perspective.

On a related note, you may have heard the humbling argument that humans have essentially been invented by viruses, bacteria and fungi as a means of escaping the gravity well of Earth. A species capable of that would have to be intelligent, aggressive, restless, curious, and able to function in organized groups. By definition, there would a lot of collateral damage along the way. But we are no threat to our microscopic overlords, and they have infinite patience.



I have not heard that theory but I love it! Considering “our” bodies are comprised more of foreign cells than human cells, it makes sense on many levels!
 
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Robin Katz wrote:I've had similar bouts of doubting whether or not humanity is good for the earth. Right now it feels a lot more negative than positive, but humanity has the ability to pull its collective ass out of the fire. The big question for me is how much damage will be done to us and the earth before we get ourselves back on track, because I do believe that we will. So for now my husband and I are focusing on making our plot of earth the healthiest and most balanced that we can. It's a big job but the result feels good and is beautiful to look at. I think that all anyone can do is work with the tools that they have right now and make the best of it.

I have to keep reminding myself that only in the last generation or so have we had the ability to instantly access all of the woes of the world and it's current population of over 7.8 billion people. Even in the best of times that many people will have a lot of crap going on. Just seeing the news makes everything seem like there is nothing good happening, which is not true at all. I limit my time online looking at the news so that I don't get caught up in all of the drama.



I agree! I forget that my intention with buying our house and pursuing permaculture was to better my own life, the life of my future family and the environment we live in. Its not about changing the world or fixing society. It’s about being ok with the man in the mirror. And I dont watch the news at all, so most of that doesn’t effect me much. I’ve just been filtering my reality through a sustainability mindset and it has brought me away from the peace of the present moment.
 
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Michael Dotson wrote:I believe the older we get the more tired we get of seeing the same crap over and over. Politicians feuding, religions at violent odds, refugees piling up on borders, thin skinned idiots with big mouths... it just gets old. I have lost most of my faith in humanity. So, I have a philosophy and it came by the way of an epiphany.
My philosophy is simply smile. I smile at everyone. I can change nothing but what I control so I smile that my workload is so light. I gave 20 years of my life defending the Constitution and i smile about that. I smile a lot. A funny thing happens, too. People smile back. When they smile back I feel like I've done some good. That makes me feel good, so I smile more. It restores some of my faith.



I have heard of the smiling thing working wonders for people. I always thought it was strange that random people smile at me. I figured they must just be that happy or having a fantastic day. I smile when it happens naturally, and hate forcing it. But the saying “fake it until you make it” definitely seems to work for people. I also used to smile at myself in mirrors, which helped. I fell away from that but will get back at it!
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote: [...]you say that we’ve gotten so dependent on unsustainable technology that most people couldn’t live without it. My thought is, should they?



It is not really they, it is we. I have made enough spreadsheets of how much food I have grown to know that staying fed off what you grew would be Tough. Take away all the drip tape, the water pumps, the food dehydrator, the freezer, canning lids, salt and all the myriad other little things that we have learned to simply not see as "resources" anymore because industry provides them in super abundance; and suddenly the outlook starts to look pretty grim. And sure, does it really matter if humans die off? Group number one would say "Nope" and they might well be right.

The fact is, these different approaches are just coping mechanisms. Its a way for us to try and come to grips with the fact that ultimately we are going to turn into rotten corpses, ash, or some sort of gross, chemically pickled mummy buried in a lavish box. There isnt a right answer, and none of them will save us individually; there might not even be a workable solution left that saves us collectively. I am trying to come to terms with that possibility, even though I really doubt anyone alive today will live to see the end of the human species. Everything ends; so I think its important to get as much enjoyment out of life as one can. With the caveat that we should be living in such a way that we are not just "drawing down the principal," ravaging the planet in slow motion, so that some day a generation is born into a world that can no longer sustain them. Sadly, there are place on earth where that is happening already. So really, the goal should be not to just maintain, but to restore. I hope enough people get on board, but we will see. In the meantime, I am going to put my boots on and go chip away at the flank of these problems. If enough people join in, we just might buy ourselves enough time for a real solution to come along. I take more satisfaction from fighting a hopeless battle than just sitting down and waiting to die; but that is just me.
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

Dont let me bring you down!



Sometimes we need to be "brought down". There was nothing unfair or untrue in your post-- just blunt observations. There's an overwhelming moderating effect that goes along with being a part of society, and the loftiest ideals always seem to be brought back down to Earth by reason and pragmatism. Your finger-pointing is warranted. I felt the sting, and I'm sure others did. I welcome it. Complacency is easy. It's also seductively deceptive. We think we're just being practical and doing what we can, but are we? Outcasts, outsiders and outliers are the only true agents of change.
 
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Hi,  I don't have the same worldview as you. I don't doubt humanity because I think everyone is inherently evil. It's just some of us try to do good, but our best is like used tampons. I also think the creator of the universe made each of us for His purpose. We can find that purpose and do it, or not.

The ancient scrolls tell us God gave humanity "dominion" over the earth, meaning to be caretakers. So I do what I can with what I have because He wants me to not because of climate change. Since climate change is not my religion I also listen to other scientists with different data which tells me the earth isn't going to end in 12 years. (Funny but every year the earth is going to end in 12 years. Yet it never does.)The climate changes but man has minimal impact on global warming. In the 70's co2 was causing an ice age and we were all going to die. As a child back then I was frightened every winter I was going to die, but I didn't. Now its global warming. How can two opposing things be correct? Only in a religion I guess.

Still I take care of what God has given to me. I also try not to buy things from companies that poison the earth and its waters.

So my faith in God gives me the strength to carry on with my care taking, and I am at peace.
 
Michael Dotson
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Brody Ekberg wrote:I always thought it was strange that random people smile at me. I figured they must just be that happy or having a fantastic day. I smile when it happens naturally, and hate forcing it.



A forced smile make one look as if they're straining to get rid of last night's dinner.
I do the smile in the mirror thing, too. It's a great motivator in the morning, after coffee and after I get that second eye pried open.

 
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This thread has been awesome, but it's drifted off far too much into territory that is reserved for the Cider Press so I'm going to lock it now.

If anyone wants to start a similar one in the cider press, please feel free.
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