Questioning A Life With Industrial Civilization

Late in 2010, I came to the stark realization – no, let me rephrase that – I finally tore the facade off my neat little world view of how if we all just alter personal habits; hold hands and pray, hope, and love; and write our representatives enough, we can change the madness in the world that is destroying the oceans, the soil, the forests, and the world’s inhabitants including ourselves. I had to look at my life, the life I’m consciously carving out to serve as inspiration to others who are also seeking some solution or salve to the pain that comes with witnessing the destruction of our ecosystems, and admit that I’m not closing the loop – I’m not living sustainably. I’m not even coming close. That wasn’t a surprise, really. I knew this all along and am continually reminded by those who wish to point out – as if to expose for a sham – the flaws inherent in attempting to reduce one’s environmental footprint while living in Industrial Civilization. You know what I’m talking about. They say things like, “If you really cared about the environment, you’d give up your car and live naked, in the woods. Oh, and stop breathing while you’re at it.” The surprise was that I suddenly awoke from the belief that I could somehow continue to live in Industrial Civilization and bend the rules to make my life the exception and if I could do it, everyone could do it. Right?

Here comes the tricky part of this revelation. If I suddenly realize that it’s near impossible – short of a miracle of epic proportions (because we know that people will not voluntarily change) – to transform our culture of domination and destruction into something resembling a sustainable, closed loop, life regenerating system, in a time frame that is necessary to halt the complete decimation of our fishes, forests, and topsoil – all things necessary for human life on this planet, by the way – what are the life options available to me?

  1. I could continue to live a life as small as possible and do nothing else, all the while grumbling and dissatisfied with the way of the world.
  2. I could write more letters, hold more hands, and hope and beg for change.
  3. I could take the advice above and retreat to the woods, car-less and naked, and practice breathing less.
  4. I could forget about all this nonsense, stuff the aching feelings I have for the loss of habitat, critters, and human justice, and fall back in line as a consumptive driven member of this culture.
  5. I could continue to live a life as small as possible and figure out a way to participate in the disassembling of Industrial Civilization.

I’m probably leaving out a myriad of other choices based on variations of the same, but all and all, I believe these are the fundamental choices available at this moment in time.

Sound radical – disassembling Industrial Civilization? Sounds radical, to me too; although, living in a world where 70% (and increasing) of the world’s fish species are depleted or fully exploited and 80% (and increasing) of the earth’s forest cover is already lost to deforestation, to name only two effects of Industrial Civilization, sounds far more radical and risky.

How will Industrial Civilization be disassembled? Stay tuned in 2011, as I strive to formulate an answer to this question.


Choctawhatchee Bay

Kayaking on the Intracoastal Waterway post BP Oil Spew in the GOM

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Solman17 says:

    I built a net zero home and do my best to grow all my own veggies. Bike everywhere possible. Near vegan diet. I would not give up hope completely, but there may yet be a way to make it work for you. The “smallness” you refer to will make you live longer as you will see in books about the “Blue Zones” of the world. The centenarians who live in these places are pretty much outside the industrialized world and healthier for it. I doubt there will be a paradigm shift in behavior in this country, and the industrialization keeps growing. Perhaps in 100 years when oil is a lubricant instead of an energy source we will see a reversal. If everyone lived as we do consuming less, aware of the consequences, we could make a sustainable healthy world. You speak of fishes. I only eat one or two a year and no cows or pigs or chickens. Surely, if people adopt a healthy sustainable way to live we can make a difference. Let me know what you figure out. My own sons will NOT join me in this so how can we get the world to change short of the destruction of humanity by some type of James Bond villain in Moonraker? Maybe a virus will solve the problem as it did in War of the Worlds. Let’s do the best we can with a peaceful solution because war is the greatest polluter of all. We can do more, but others must join us.

    • elitrope says:

      Solman17, thanks for the comment and I welcome the discourse. The truth is, I have given up hope and that’s a good thing. I liken hope to prayers and wishes, which can be good for keeping the spirits up, but lacking in action. You and I are certainly taking action, though we both know that too few people are voluntarily taking action. Have you by chance read Lierre Keith’s book, _The Vegetarian Myth_? I’m currently reading it and it has wielded a new perspective on the vegetarian diet as the most appropriate for the planet. It’s worth a look.

  2. Phillip says:

    thanks for sharing your thoughts…i could write a long summary of my own awakening and struggle but i think ultimately your conclusion is the same that most will arrive at….it was for me…..facilitating the process of disassembling seems to be the best course of action…i have learned that it requires questioning almost every decision i make in the course of a given day….a half century of “mother culture” whispering in my ear makes for some very entrenched behavorial patterns….finding and expanding my network of friends who have reached a similar frame of mind is extremely helpful…once i fully embraced the idea that west civ is completely unsustainable much less regenerative i found that attempting to carry on conversations in the course of my “normal” daily activities to be very difficult…i am not angry just a bit overwhelmed at times…i try to maintain my focus, continue to think small and constantly evaluate what i will do in this moment that will facilitate the disassembling…i look forward to your thoughts in 2011

  3. elitrope says:

    Thanks for your comment Phillip. It sounds like we’ve arrived at a similar place. I’m glad to know there are others out there who feel this way, because as you mentioned, I also find it challenging to carry on deeper conversations with humans who are intent on maintaining the status quo.

    I have a friend who made a witty analogy along the lines of making lemonade out of lemons. She said, they keep giving us shit (speaking specifically of physical abuse to humans and the environment) and we can take it and make compost. In turn the compost will feed the mycorrhiza that will grow the mycelia that will undermine the foundation of the hierarchal and destructive systems of Industrial Civilization. I like to hold that in my thoughts and actions.

  4. bill says:

    Hey finally checking out your blog, great i love your thoughts. Many of us semi-conscious ones are having similar thoughts. Unfortunately the number of humans that are making serious life changes are a very, very small minority, Solman17 you are doing much better than i or anyone i know, thank you. Humans never had to think about sustainability until there were so many of us, i feel controlling human population is the key to slowing the bus before she goes off the cliff. The human population must be reduced, we have passed to many critical points for major life changes to have the impact required to stop massive environmental degradation. It’s time for hard choices: stop tax credits for having kids, encourage people not to have kids, limits on the number of kids a family can have. This somehow must be a worldwide effort, the governments must allow scientist to provide accurate information on every issue affecting the planet and this information debated and dominate the media. If humans are provided with the truth and a means to save the planet i feel they could support the difficult choices we must make. It’s time for Crisis mode! Yes children are beautiful i have one but when i examine the amount of resources required for my daughter i’m not sure living naked, carless in the woods is enough, although that would be my selection from your life’s options. Be Love, bill

    • elitrope says:

      Bill, Thanks so much for your comment and glad you found my blog! I concur that I would also prefer to be re-wilded or un-civilized. You’re also doing great work, bringing humans into a place of light and caretaking a piece of nature.

      I also agree that I believe more people would feel compelled to act in the earth’s and their own best interest, if they were only granted the truth. Then there are the mass of deniers and the system that keeps us/them in denial.

      • bill says:

        Check out this months issue of Rolling Stone, the article on the people responsible for misleading the real story on climate change. bill

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