"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

“Nowhere Near On Track” : UN Report Warns of Impending Catastrophe As World Warms, Glaciers Melt

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2018 at 5:57 pm

Glacier Peak in the central Cascade Mountains, seen from the East. The rapid retreat of the glaciers on this 10,541-foot mountain is starkly apparent in this photo of the fourth-highest mountain in Washington State.

Oldspeak: “While the corporate infotainment networks incessantly drone on about political intrigue and immigrant caravans, almost all of Gaia’s wilderness has vanished. Humanity has wiped out 60 percent of animal populations since 1970. Rainforest ecosystems are collapsingA great drought is continuing to spread across the globeLakes in the arctic are venting methane a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere at accelerating ratesAn iceberg 5 times the size of Manhattan just broke off of Antarctica. The seafloor is dissolving as oceans become more acidic, likely due in part to the recently discovered 60% more than previously thought heat they’re absorbing. An next to nothing is being done to avoid catastrophe. This is the most important of anything we could be talking about. This is the “real change” that will affect us all, and we have no means to stop it. Yet the media brownout continues. Dahr Jamail is back with his latest climate dispatch. As usual, shit is worse and getting worser even faster than before. Read it and weep.” –Jevon

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

I have come to accept the bittersweet nature of my mountain trips. I venture into the heights for solace from the political, social and ecological demise that is raging across the planet. While camping at 7,000 feet in the central Cascade Mountains, I take in the view of the grand east face of Glacier Peak from atop Fortress Mountain. I gulp in the thick stars above. I find solace in the fact that those who are wrecking the planet will never be able to desecrate the stars.

However, while marveling at the glaciers glowing in the morning sun on Glacier Peak, their rapid retreat is starkly highlighted by the barren Earth below, where they once resided.

Visible on the left side of the photo, far off in the distance, is a massive plume from a large wildfire continuing to burn in Eastern Washington.
Dahr Jamail

My last trip was on October 20, and from the summit, a 360-degree view revealed no less than four wildfires still burning. It was well into the fall in the Pacific Northwest, yet smoke still covered vast swaths of the state and was rapidly filling in the valleys below me.

While hiking out later, the after effects were inescapable. Portions of the forest I hiked through bore the scars of previous wildfires, and served as a warning of more to come.

Wildfires, made more frequent, hotter and larger due to climate change, are torching the Pacific Northwest.
Dahr Jamail

The biggest news in the corporate media regarding climate change since my last dispatch has been the UN report stating that we have 12 years left to limit a full-on climate change catastrophe. To avoid this fate, we would need to spend those 12 years curbing global emissions dramatically. Essentially, there would need to be a government-mandated plan across the globe that would enable us to limit warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade (1.5°C) rather than the 2°C goal of the 2015 Paris climate talks. Eliminating that extra .5 of warming would save tens of millions of people from sea level rise inundation, and hundreds of millions from water scarcity and a myriad of other catastrophic impacts. Limiting warming to 1.5°C would, scientists have said, require a radical rethinking of virtually every facet of modern society, including an abandonment of our entire fossil-fuel based economy. However, currently, we are headed for at least a 3°C increase by 2100, with no mass government mobilization in sight.

Meanwhile, the warnings that the catastrophe is already upon us continue.

A recent study in a paper published August 31 in the journal Science warned that for each degree of rise in global temperature, insect-driven losses to the staple crops of rice, wheat and corn increase by 10-25 percent. Given we are already at 1.1°C warming, we are already seeing these losses, which are sure to increase. “In 2016, the United Nations estimated that at least 815 million people worldwide don’t get enough to eat,” the University of Washington Press wrote of the study. “Corn, rice and wheat are staple crops for about 4 billion people, and account for about two-thirds of the food energy intake, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.”

At the same time, scientists are deeply concerned about the fact that non-pest insect numbers are declining rapidly. Bees, moths, butterflies, ladybugs and other insects are far less abundant, and scientists around the world warn that these insects are crucial to as much as 80 percent of all the food we eat. “You have total ecosystem collapse if you lose your insects,” University of Delaware entomologist Doug Tallamy told the AP. “How much worse can it get than that?”

Meanwhile, in the realm of sea level rise, things are irreversibly catastrophic. A recent study of Antarctic ice sheets shows them to be far more sensitive to temperature increases than previously believed. The study showed that when global temperatures were only slightly warmer than they are currently, sea levels were 20-30 feet higher than they are right now. “It doesn’t need to be a very big warming, as long as it stays 2 degrees warmer for a sufficient time, this is the end game,” David Wilson, a geologist at Imperial College London and one of the authors of the new research told The Washington Post.

Equally disturbingly, lakes in the Arctic are literally bubbling and hissing: They are releasing methane in large quantities as the ground underneath them thaws. Methane is a greenhouse gas 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 10-year timescale, and the widespread release of methane was a key driver of the Permian Mass Extinction event which annihilated more than 90 percent of life on Earth.

Meanwhile, the Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly. Ice extent reached its annual minimum recently, which is normally when the ice would begin reforming rapidly, particularly right in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Instead, the ice continued to decline.

To underscore how governments are not doing enough to mitigate climate change impacts, Brazil, a major greenhouse gas emitting country, recently elected right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro as president. To say he is anti-environment (in addition to homophobic, racist and sexist) would be a gross understatement. Known as the Trump of the Tropics, his plans include disempowering federal environmental agencies, opening up Indigenous reserves in the Amazon to mining and farming, and building hydroelectric dams in the rainforest, where deforestation, already at crisis levels, is set to explode.


Impacts of human-caused climate disruption across the terrestrial plane are becoming increasingly stark.

A recently published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that global insects are in a crisis, and the problem is even more widespread than previously realized. While previous studies had revealed a 45 percent decrease in invertebrates like bees and beetles in the last 35 years and another study showed a 76 percent decrease in flying insects in the last few decades in German nature preserves, the new study shows a startling loss of insects now extending into the Americas. The report cites climate change as the cause. “This is one of the most disturbing articles I have ever read,” David Wagner, an expert in invertebrate conservation at the University of Connecticut told The Washington Post of the study.

Another recent study, also in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that more than 300 species of mammals have been driven to extinction by human activities. The study showed that even if humans ceased destroying wilderness areas and ended poaching and pollution within 50 years, and extinction rates fell back to normal levels, 5-7 million years would be required for the natural world to recover from what we have done to it. “We are doing something that will last millions of years beyond us,” Matt Davis, a research leader at Aarhus University in Denmark, told The Guardian. “It shows the severity of what we are in right now. We’re entering what could be an extinction on the scale of what killed the dinosaurs. That is pretty scary. We are starting to cut down the whole tree [of life], including the branch we are sitting on right now.”

In the US West, a region iconic for its vast expanses and the freedom to roam in the wilderness that comes with them, some people refer to themselves as “prisoner[s] of the environment” (as reported in this piece in The Guardian) due to increasingly unhealthy air quality from wildfire smoke, water shortages and drought. Many residents are now wondering whether they should move.

Longer, hotter fire seasons, increasingly warm temperatures, less snowfall, changes in plants, and shorter winters are in the process of fundamentally changing Yellowstone National Park in the next few decades. “That conclusion is pretty much inescapable,” John Gross, ecologist with the National Park Service’s Climate Change response program, told USA Today. “It’s really more a question of the when and how it occurs than if.”

And it’s not just Yellowstone. The recently published study, “Disproportionate magnitude of climate change in United States national parks,” has shown that the parks have warmed twice as fast as the US average, and could well see the worst impacts of climate change. This is due to the fact that vast portions of national park areas are located at higher elevations, in the arid southwestern US, or in the Arctic. The iconic trees of Joshua Tree National Park may soon find their environment uninhabitable. Glacier National Park will eventually be free of glaciers. And many other national parks could be left virtually unrecognizable by climate change.

Meanwhile, as permafrost continues to thaw and water seeps deeper into mountain crags, increasingly severe storms (thanks to climate change) will destabilize mountains and increase the risk of landslides and rockfall.

Speaking of permafrost, a recent report showed that coastal erosion in the Arctic is intensifying climate change. As the coast there eroded during the end of the last glacial period (20,000 years ago), dramatic amounts of the frozen CO2 were released into the atmosphere. Now, this feedback loop — with climate change causing melting, melting causing CO2 release, and CO2 release exacerbating climate change — is beginning to occur again.

A recent study in Canada’s British Columbia showed that climate change is pushing alpine animals higher up mountains, as well as into extinction. The study showed that both plants and animals are shifting upslope 100 meters for every 1°C in temperature increase.

It’s not just plants and animals being forced to higher ground.

Some humans in the US are also moving to higher ground, as the era of mass climate migration has begun. The Great Migration in the US, a period during the 20th century when roughly 6 million black people fled the Jim Crow South for cities elsewhere, was the previous largest internal migration in the US. One study showed that by the end of this century, sea level rise alone could displace 13 million people, six million of those in Florida alone. That number doesn’t include people fleeing drought and wildfire-prone areas, nor those having to move for lack of water, or ensuing violence. Making matters worse, another leading climate scientist warned that 15-20 feet of sea level rise is possible within the next 70 years. That amount of sea level rise would mean the end of, literally, every major coastal city on Earth. The number of people displaced would be in the hundreds of millions, as New York City, Boston, Miami, Lagos, Jakarta, Shanghai, Mumbai, New Orleans, vast swaths of Boston, and Ho Chi Min City would all be underwater.

A recent report from Yale 360 argued that the current system of rating hurricanes needs to be scrapped, because it fails to account for how climate change-augmented hurricanes are now carrying far more powerful storm surges, often moving slower, and bringing flooding from rainfall that the current system cannot account for.

If all of this information makes you feel despair, you are not alone. Another recent study warned of “catastrophic” mental health changes that are tied to climate change, including high levels of stress, anxiety and depression.


As usual, climate change-induced disruptions are glaringly apparent in the watery realms of Earth.

A massive iceberg is now poised to break off Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. The iceberg is notably larger than the one that broke off the same glacier a year ago, which was 4.5 times the size of Manhattan.

In the US, given how many millions of people live in coastal flooding zones, with more looking to move to the coast, no one is required to even tell you if your future home is likely to flood. According to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sabin Center for Climate Law, “[i]n 21 US states there are no statutory or regulatory requirements for a seller to disclose a property’s flood risks or past flood damages.” The other 29 states have varying degrees of requirements to disclose this information.

In the low-lying coastal nation of Bangladesh, an entire country already beset by regular flooding, there is now an ongoing rural exodus into cities that is literally reshaping the country. With 163 million people, Bangladesh is the world’s most populous delta. There, riverbank erosion alone displaces between 50,000-200,000 people annually, and the capital city of Dhaka is absorbing between 300,000-400,000 people — mostly climate migrants — each year.

On the other side of the spectrum of climate change-induced water disasters is drought.

In the US, a crisis at Lake Powell, between Utah and Arizona, is looming as the ongoing long-term drought impacts plaguing the Southwest are reaching farther and farther upstream. Water rationing has reached far upriver as places in Colorado have had to ration water due to diminishing snowpacks and the ongoing drought.

In New Mexico, water reservoirs are nearing bottom as they have been used to help people survive the record drought of 2018, but now they are nearly dry, prompting worries about how to deal with the future, for which only increasing widespread drought is predicted. For example, by late September, the largest reservoir in the state was at only 3 percent capacity.

Down in Australia, an ongoing drought is hotter and drier than anything people in the impacted areas have ever known, and it is getting worse. “It’s quite unusual to get over 40C here but this last summer and the last couple of summers have been so scorchingly hot,” a sheep farmer there told The Guardian. “You can see the water being sucked out of the dams, sucked out of the soil, sucked out of my life and you can’t plan for that.”


After another summer of rampant wildfires across the US West, several continue to burn well into the fall. Since my last dispatch, a Wyoming wildfire forced evacuations from hundreds of homes and forced the closure of a highway south of Jackson. By mid-September the wildfire had scorched at least 40,000 acres.

At the time of this writing, wildfires continued to burn in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Nevada.

A recent report discussed how wildfire tornadoes, record sizes and temperatures of wildfires, and other seeming anomalies will become phenomena we can expect regularly going into the future, thanks to climate change.


Record-breaking warm temperatures beset Anchorage, Alaska, in September, along with unusually dry weather.

Of the record-breaking high temperatures there, climatologist Brian Brettschneider told the Anchorage Daily News, “we are absolutely smashing, obliterating, September records.” The average maximum daily temperature in September at the time of that report was 65.9 degrees Fahrenheit, more than 3 degrees warmer than the next closest September. On average, the typical average high temperature for the month of September there is 55°F.

High-temperature records were set across the state that month with Palmer, Kodiak, Seward, Kenai, Cordova and Valdez all setting records.

High-temperature records continue to be set around the world on a regular basis, yet in the US, the impacts are clear. Late October saw another record-breaking heat wave hit Southern California, with Los Angeles hitting 102°F.

Denial and Reality

In a recent interview, Donald Trump, who had called human-caused climate change “a Chinese hoax,” said it is real, “but I don’t know that it’s manmade.” He also said the climate will “change back again” — whatever that means.

Meanwhile, the ongoing denialism continues unabated in his administration. Climate change information was removed from an important planning document for a national park in New England, with the rationale that it was deemed a “sensitive” topic.

The North Carolina government did not like the science about sea level rise, so literally passed a law banning policies based on such forecasts. The state, of course, is still recovering from flooding from Hurricane Florence.

Meanwhile, Trump’s EPA has abandoned restrictions against hydrofluorocarbons, a chemical that has been linked to climate change. OPEC announced it is predicting a massive increase in oil production over the next five years — enough so that it will offset CO2 reductions from electric cars. On that note, it was recently exposed that the state of Texas, already the leading emitter of greenhouse gasses in the US, has approved 43 petrochemical projects along the Gulf Coast since 2012 — projects that add millions of tons more of greenhouse gas pollution.

Stunningly, despite the terrifying weather events and dire predictions of what’s to come, it has come to light that the Trump administration is aware of and accepts a projected 7-degree rise in global temperatures by just 2100. This came out in a draft statement issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was written to justify Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks built after 2020. “The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society,” Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the US Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002 told The Washington Post. “And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it.”

The Trump administration’s stance on climate change is essentially that we’re doomed, so what’s the point in cutting greenhouse gas emissions?

With regard to the alarming UN climate report, the White House basically shrugged it off, claiming that emissions in the US have dropped since 2005. This is a true statement, but does not explain the reason for that, which is a historic shift away from coal-fired electricity and toward renewables and natural gas.

Fortunately, reality is striking back.

A group of 17 bipartisan state governors representing states that comprise half of the total US GDP has vowed to both fight climate change and fight Donald Trump on the issue. They recently pledged $1.4 billion to support electric cars and institute new policies geared toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Stunningly, even Bloomberg, a business news outlet, is running stories with titles like “New Climate Debate: How to Adapt to the End of the World.

And of course, the language coming out of the UN is a sign that the international community is beginning to understand the full weight of climate change’s implication.

Alas, this realization has not yet been met with the policy response it deserves. The author of a key UN report on the dangers of breaching the 1.5°C global warming limit recently said that the world is “nowhere near on track” to keep warming below even that already arbitrary level.



Conjunction Junction: The Least Important Election In History

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2018 at 5:16 pm


Oldspeak: “The problem that is set for our time is that of freeing man from the curse of economic exploitation and political and social enslavement.” –Rudolph Rocker

When the state becomes the guardian of power and privilege to the neglect of justice for the people who have neither power nor privilege, you can no longer claim to have a representative democracy.” –Bill Moyers

The question is not how do you get good people to rule, that is the wrong question. Most people attracted to power are at best mediocre at worst venal. The question is how do you make the elites frightened of you?” –Carl Popper

If voting was that effective, it would be illegal.” –Father Phil Berrigan

If this sounds like I’m discouraging people from voting, then good. Fuck voting in this system designed to oppress. As the saying goes, if voting changed something they’d make it illegal. What should be common questions routinely go unanswered around the voting system, like why are we still dealing with the same issues generation after generation; e.g., homelessness. After a couple hundred years of voting it seems like we could have solved this issue as it’s rather easy to work out when there are enough structures to house everyone.

And why would we construct a system at all that awards so much power to so few, and a system that is so corrupted that people ascertain by not voting it leads to tyranny. The system itself should never allow for such a thing, but it’s innately authoritarian in premise, and continuing to vote and pretending like it makes a difference is false hope. It’s like tugging on the controls on an arcade machine without inserting a quarter, where it kinda looks like you’re making something happen on the screen, but everything is on rails. Your input makes zero difference in this undemocratic system which is designed to ignore you.

And in response to the hordes of people who will insist that not voting is irresponsible and support the age old lie that if we just can get the right people in power then, then, the system will turn around – Such naive assertions should be met with a dose of reality which is glaringly clear through a cursory look at history. Such people should have to explain at what point in time there has been a sea change in our system from where it started from genocidal slavers to benevolent rulers, because such a change is nonexistent, and all one need do to figure this out is pick up a copy of Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States. What’s been there from the get go to present is abuse, stemming from the very origins of western civilization and top down social hierarchy.” –Jason Holland

“In a system where since its inception, politicians, literally, choose their voters ; where it is generally understood by anyone who bothers to see, that democracy never really was a thing here. That in fact, we’re living in a hyper-violent, sociopathic, crypto-fascist oligarchical collectivist kleptocracy. Why continue to participate in this anti-democratic illusion of participation that passes for voting? Why continue to pledge allegiance to a political duopoly that is of no use to anyone but donors who pay millions and billions to play? Why continue to pretend that this is a representative democracy? Why continue to pretend that plugging new and multi-colored and/or gendered circuits in to a foundationally corrupt and unjust system of governance is going some how, against all odds and hundreds of years of history to prove it, is going to some how bring about “real change” and not much more than cosmetic change? Sigh. Survival sickness abounds. Meanwhile, As Vanegiem said “Thus in our universe of expanding technology and comfort we see people turning in upon themselves, shrivelling up, living trivial lives and dying for details. It is a nightmare where we are promised absolute freedom but granted a miserable square inch of individual autonomy -a square inch, moreover, that is strictly policed by our neighbours. A space-time of pettiness and mean thoughts.” He wrote that nearly 70 years ago. That is Precient. Seriously tho, enough with the “This is the most important election ever” propaganda. It’s just more unnecessary environmental pollution at this point.” –Jevon

Written By Jason Holland @ Dissident Voice:

The US midterm elections are almost upon us, but this is a needless bit of inconsequential trivia. It really doesn’t matter. All the Republicans can win or all the Democrats.  Either way it means about as much as a fart in a category 5 hurricane. The net result of actions taken, legislature composed, or honesty with the populace will be inconsequential.

The primary difference between the two parties, who are merely playing a game of good cop/bad cop, is only if you’d prefer to see a rapid more authoritarian style ecological collapse or if you’d prefer one with a soothing dulcet voice reassuring you everything will be fine at two minutes to midnight. Neither have a workable plan on the table to get the US in a sustainable ecological state before it all comes crashing down, nor do they have any notion of creating such a plan.

The best the Democrats offer are conciliatory gestures in policy shifts, but they have not the wisdom, fortitude, or honest intent to stop the devilish system at the heart of the matter. During Obama’s presidency there was a time when the Democrats controlled the senate and the house and they showed their true motivations. They did nothing to pass policies to assuage the damage being done and stop the plunder of Earth for profit, or to end the wars, or to quell mass incarceration system. Even with total control we know what the Democrats offer amounts to platitudes.

And keep in mind, even if the entirety of congress, SCOTUS, and POTUS were controlled by Democrats we still would not find ourselves in a sustainable society, as again, no workable sustainability assessment and plan of transition has ever been done by the party, nor do they care to do something which might lead to such blunt truths. Because those truths would mean decentralization of power and reduction of economic influence for the neoliberal class. Monied elites know the game, and their egos immediately nix any solution set that doesn’t focus the onus of power and attention directly on them.

So what are we doing here in this system? We don’t have a pragmatic solution on the table to avoid ecological collapse, which is accelerating much faster than most think. Meanwhile the people are simultaneously being told by proponents of faux democracy that by not voting for one of the major political parties one is wasting a vote, and not voting at all is akin to a crime by their measures.

What such people either don’t know or won’t admit to is that we are stuck in a system where a financial gun is held at the head of the people at all times. This communicates to the people that if you change, the elites will pull their money out of markets and go Galt. The powers that be will make sure you suffer for your insolence to stand against them. They’ll make finding a livable wage impossible and thus threaten the plebs housing, supply of food, and ability to get healthcare for no other reason than a puerile egotistical insistence that they get their way. They simply don’t care what happens to the people or mother Gaia. Their self interests are why they sought out power to begin with and they’ve devoted their lives to it, and they aren’t surrendering anytime soon.

As it stands, this finger trap of a system will forever spin in place and only create varying levels of profit for capitalist interests. What the system won’t do is solve any of the real problems it has created because it’s been designed to operate to do exactly what it’s doing now, which is drive profits and power directly to the 1%. Democrats only push back enough with pretty sounding words to win your vote over the other guy they are running against, but they’re going to sell out just like their opponent because they themselves are part of the problem.

If this sounds like I’m discouraging people from voting, then good. Fuck voting in this system designed to oppress. As the saying goes, if voting changed something they’d make it illegal. What should be common questions routinely go unanswered around the voting system, like why are we still dealing with the same issues generation after generation; e.g., homelessness. After a couple hundred years of voting it seems like we could have solved this issue as it’s rather easy to work out when there are enough structures to house everyone.

And why would we construct a system at all that awards so much power to so few, and a system that is so corrupted that people ascertain by not voting it leads to tyranny. The system itself should never allow for such a thing, but it’s innately authoritarian in premise, and continuing to vote and pretending like it makes a difference is false hope. It’s like tugging on the controls on an arcade machine without inserting a quarter, where it kinda looks like you’re making something happen on the screen, but everything is on rails. Your input makes zero difference in this undemocratic system which is designed to ignore you.

And in response to the hordes of people who will insist that not voting is irresponsible and support the age old lie that if we just can get the right people in power then, then, the system will turn around – Such naive assertions should be met with a dose of reality which is glaringly clear through a cursory look at history. Such people should have to explain at what point in time there has been a sea change in our system from where it started from genocidal slavers to benevolent rulers, because such a change is nonexistent, and all one need do to figure this out is pick up a copy of Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States. What’s been there from the get go to present is abuse, stemming from the very origins of western civilization and top down social hierarchy.

When the people claim they achieved a victory what they have really achieved amounts to a gesture that shuts them up. It’s analogous to a hungry child crying that has just irritated their abusive parent enough they finally concede to give them an extra morsel of food. The child then celebrates like they won a battle; however, the child is still in the abusive state but now thinks their wails do something. What they don’t realize is if they get annoying enough what they will be met with is not another conciliatory gesture but a beating.

Thus I call on the people to grow a spine and stand up to our abusers. Stop choosing between which pro-mass-murder psychopath in a suit you want ruling over you and start fighting for something worth having.

Should we not at least try to come up with some kind of plan as a people to organize a real solution that could potentially shake monied elites from their elevated perches? If we are to change, then a real stand has to be made against this archaic and draconian system of social hierarchy presently installed because the powerful aren’t going away and they cannot be reasoned with. They have no plans of surrendering their ill gotten gains accumulated over several centuries of abusive behavior.

Many of our problems are very solvable, as they are merely the result of childish power grabs and a desire to control the labor of others. By not subscribing to this system it doesn’t mean giving up, it means shifting focus. It means incorporating real pragmatism to stop the nose dive into dystopian apocalypse and take a swing at a sustainable egalitarian borderless global society where humanity finally rids itself of the parasites who continue to insist they are more crucial to the world than the hosts they feed from.

If we rid ourselves of those arrogant parasites and their system of abuse, we will find freedom again. A freedom like Native Americans and Aboriginals knew for thousands of years before the bloodsuckers latched upon us. Many will find this vantage point to be highly impractical, but I find naive half-assed solutions, endless extreme unnecessary suffering, and a trajectory leading directly to societal collapse to be far more impractical


Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
— Dylan Thomas



Inner Cities

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Oldspeak: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” –Marcel Proust

“YESSSS this is where the practice meets the pavement. Where all those hours on the mat and the cushion find their full expression. Where the inner work becomes outer work. In everyday life, living, breathing and moving through life mindfully. With openheartedness, awareness, fearlessness, compassion, loving kindness. Choosing to see and hear deeply. Being present with the world as it is. Seeing all living beings as part of yourself. Choosing to respond to that bump on the street or train, that step on the toe,  that cutoff in traffic with equanimity and compassion rather than anger and annoyance. This subtle shift in awareness is profound. I know speaking from personal experience, choosing to see and interact with homeless people, smiling at strangers, holding doors, offering seats, carrying things for and making eye contact with people, does indeed cultivate a feeling of being interconnected with All. Markedly reduced feelings of fear, anxiety, loneliness and alienation. But man, the deprogramming and unlearning that has been required; whew.  A lot. But choosing to see with new eyes, with heart opened, has done wonders for my mental health and general well-being. Grateful for the experience. How many opportunities can you find to practice loving kindness today? ” –Jevon

Written By Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche @ Lion’s Roar:

With noisy neighbors and the homeless camped on street corners, city life offers many opportunities to practice kindness. Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche on how urban living can open our hearts.

Spiritual practitioners often aspire to live alone in the mountains among wildlife, yet a city can be an equally or an even more supportive environment for practice. Unlike the wilderness, cities don’t have many trees, aside from those in parks, but they do have lots of people and—if you think about it—people are natural too! Because cities are filled with so many people, there are many more opportunities to practice kindness, compassion, joy in others’ happiness, and equal care for all.

In the city, even if we hole up in our apartment, we can’t escape the fact that others surround us. There is the old woman next door, a transient who sometimes sleeps on the stoop, and there is the drummer upstairs. If we try to isolate ourselves too much, we won’t be able to practice loving-kindness. If, on the other hand, we cultivate a sense of being interconnected—of being a part of our city in the same way that we are a part of our family—then we will develop loving care and kindness for all of our city’s people and we will have a lot of opportunity to practice.

Living in the city, we brush up against so many people each day. Sometimes just smiling at someone or opening a door can be the practice of loving-kindness. On the bus we can give an elderly person our seat. If we take a taxi or pick up our laundry, there is always a way to extend warmth in some way. There are many homeless people living on the street. Sometimes they sit with a cup or a hat in front of them, asking for money. Sometimes they hold signs that say, “I’m hungry, can you help me?” Sometimes they are friendly and sometimes they look depressed or cold. They often have plastic bags full of belongings. It seems to mean a lot to them when someone takes the time even to notice they are there.

When we have a family, we never get our monthly paycheck and think, “I’m going to just blow this!” We always think of our family—the rent, the groceries, and our children’s education. Knowing that our family depends on us, it is rewarding to see how our support benefits their lives. We never feel that our family members owe us something and we never question why we are giving them our support. A sense of responsibility sustains us, so that we feel motivated to continue.

Now, I am not suggesting opening our doors and inviting everyone in. Maybe that is not so realistic. People are complicated; it’s not always so easy to help. Yet there are small ways that we can extend warmth—small gestures that bring a lot of meaning to our lives and to the lives of others. Through participating in this way we help shape our city, our state, our world. If we adopt all the people of our city as our family, anything we can do for them brings fulfillment.

Mothers and fathers find so much pleasure in doing things for their children. They don’t really separate themselves from them. If their children feel happiness, it is their happiness too—pure joy. It can be the same with our adopted city-family. In a family every individual may not have the same needs. There are always some members who need more help, who may have an illness or run into difficult situations, and then there are always those who have an easier time supporting themselves or better luck with what they want to do. We try to do what we can to support everyone, to hold equal care for all.

Of course, when we approach homeless people on the street, we never know what to expect. Some may appreciate it when we try to offer them something, and they may even like to give us something back in return—an apple or directions—as this can give them a sense of integrity and an opportunity to be generous too. But because homeless people live on the fringe, they often don’t express themselves in ways that we feel comfortable with. Some of them look angry and unapproachable. Some of them curl up in a corner covered with blankets. Others might give us the finger and tell us to get lost. That’s their way of surviving, so we need to respect it. Whatever their actions, we can always extend kindness to them by genuinely wishing them well, hoping that they are able to stay warm and find enough food. This powerful method of extending care to all works to chip away at our own indifference and partiality.

Usually our principles guide us in a positive direction, but some principles can limit us. For instance, we may feel that people should go and get a job rather than beg. We may worry that if we offer money to someone who asks for it, they may buy alcohol or drugs. We may feel that offering money to those in need is condescending or we may feel that it’s a petty, superficial solution to a much deeper social problem—one that needs to be addressed in a larger way. Sometimes we may feel so overwhelmed by the suffering around us that we decide it is futile to try to do anything at all. Or, we may feel it is too much of a hassle to reach into our purse and search for some change—that it will attract too much attention.

But when someone literally asks us for our help, how can we ignore their request if we have the means? Addicts have to eat. If we feel concerned about offering them money, we can offer them food or blankets instead. They have a body and feel the hotness of the sun and the dampness of rain on their skin. We should appreciate any opportunity to respond, because it is so much better than walking around thinking about ourselves all day long.

It is most important that the heart responds when there is an opportunity—that we are moved to care for others rather than getting so stuck in our own head. If we can’t recognize opportunities to help people in need, mostly it’s our own loss. Small gestures of kindness transform us; they show us the best part of our mind and connect us to others in the best possible way.

What does it really mean to change the world? If we look around, there is always something we can do.