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Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Back To The Future

Giving Back To The Future

By Randall Amster
Common Dreams
November 23, 2012

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night; he was alive as you and me,
although that’s not saying much anymore.

Maybe it’s a dose of 2012 cynicism creeping in, but it’s hard to
shake the escalating feeling that we’re here merely on borrowed

The strangest part of this sensation is that if one said it openly
even just a few short years ago, it may have seemed irrational
and alarmist; now, with empirical observations and the grim
predictions of most credible scientists firmly in hand, it seems
more irrational not to hold the view that the paradigm in which
we’ve been living is rapidly approaching its prophesied closure

This does not, of course, relieve us of the obligation to get
up every day and keep trying to promote the values of peace
and justice in our lives, communities, bioregions, and the
larger world.

The apocalypse is perhaps the ultimate “off day,” but that
doesn’t mean it’s also a day off.

Whatever the ineluctable combination of fate and free will
has in store for us mere mortals, it remains incumbent upon
us to roll up our sleeves and work to avert the self-inflicted
cataclysm we’ve been relentlessly courting.

Or, at the least, we might strive to appreciate the blessings
we’ve enjoyed and pass through the eye with love in our hearts
and a song in our souls.

After all, why not?

If we could do even that much, I surmise that the days ahead
might not turn out so bad in the first place.

Establishing a predominant ethos of “compassion and beauty”
in our outlooks and livelihoods gets pretty close to the root
of the matter and could be the ticket for righting the ship in
the nick of time.

The good news is that we already know how to do this, and once
it takes hold it will likely “go viral” to use the modern vernacular.

Us hominids have lived in relative harmony with each other and
the world around us for more of our time here than we’ve been
egocentric, militaristic dominators.

The post-industrial arc that is pushing to the limit the planet’s
capacity to continue supporting us is but a mere blip in the cosmic
spectrum of existence, even in the time span of our brief human

I don’t want to sugarcoat this by any means.

Simply being kind and appreciating the wonder of it all won’t
apply the brakes to our collective immolation overnight.

We also need to immediately wean ourselves off the consumer
addictions that have turned most of us into the agents of our
own destruction, and we likewise need to promptly abandon both
the hardware and software of devastation with which we’ve
laced the culture.

Dismantling the weapons of war and violence may be easier than
abolishing hatred and aggression, but the two go hand-in-hand
(much like capitalism and militarism), and have become mutually
reinforcing over time. The act cultivates the attitude, and vice-

Again, there’s good news to be found here as well.

The very same processes that create positive feedback loops in
our economic and political arrangements, and in our ideologies
and actions, can also be made to yield mutually supporting
“good” results as well.

Greater appreciation for the environment lessens our
rampant consumption, and transcending our imposed
identities as consumers opens up the prospect of being
co-creators instead.

Being purveyors of peace creates fewer conflicts around us,
and fewer “hotspots” in turn promotes greater feelings of

Experiencing relationships based on trust and mutual aid cultivates
instincts toward greater trustworthiness and adduces behavior
motivated beyond the narrow confines of egocentrism and unbridled

In this sense, a potential “self-fulfilling apocalypse” can just
as likely become a self-fulfilling utopia.

It won’t be easy, and it will require a reinvigorated spirit of sacrifice
and collective responsibility; it will also demand of us an eternal
vigilance in order to keep the positive feedback loop, well,

Whatever the challenges, they pale before the ones already
beginning to manifest in our midst.

In the end, we can either choose to alter course and turn crisis
into opportunity, or have the same (for all intents and purposes)
imposed upon us by the inescapable laws of nature. I for one prefer
the former.

What will the future hold?

On the occasional clear night, I can almost see it in my mind’s eye.

People work for sustenance and pleasure; education and labor are
intertwined lifelong pursuits; children are reared collaboratively and
joyfully; wealth is measured in relationships and one’s willingness to

The basics of food, water, and energy are firmly entrenched as the
collective assets of humankind, and in even more enlightened terms
are no longer seen as resources to be consumed but rather as
blessings for which to be grateful.

Tools replace technologies, actual people supplant abstract politics,
conflicts are welcomed as “teachable moments,” and the virtues of
meaning supersede the value of money.

The planet’s inherent regenerative processes are celebrated as
mechanistic thinking falls into disrepute.

Humans willingly take their place among the vast web of life,
not in relegation but in celebration.

Violence in any manner is an extreme aberration, and is treated
restoratively so as not to beget more.

We can get back to this future.

We MUST get back to this future, for the sake of ourselves and
our progeny.

Perhaps, in the end, it’s simply a matter of making peace with
the generations yet to come…

Randall Amster, JD, PhD, teaches Peace Studies and chairs the
Master’s program in Humanities at Prescott College in Arizona.
He is the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies
Association, and serves as Contributing Editor for New Clear

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