Let’s face the truth here.
Our children are broken.
Our children are dying young, by suicide or violence, living on the streets, becoming depressed and anxious, not fitting in, not coping, not having kids, not working, not creating any kind of life they want for themselves. By recognizing what the Dark Machine is doing to our children, we can stop supporting it and maybe, maybe, slow down the environmental and social destructive forces that it creates.
First, let’s stop assuming that the problems with our young are their own fault. We can see that despite therapy, billions of dollars of mind numbing medications, millions of dollars of social programs and education initiatives, life coaches, inspirational speakers-they are still slipping, and slipping fast into illness, anhedonia, disconnection, and general despair. As a counsellor I see it all the time, either the young people themselves, or their parents and grandparents talking to me. They sit across from me full of helplessness. They tell me how despite everything they do for themselves or their children and grandchildren, these young people, are still failing.
As Leonard Cohen wrote in his song “Everybody knows”:
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
There is a general sense of foreboding with most sensitive people I know. They recognize at some level that we are on a precipice of disaster, and no one seems to be able to stop it. There is no honourable war to fight now; the wars for goodness and justice are over because we all lost. You only fight if you know who to hold accountable. In the past, sociopathic leaders and socio political groups with ill intent towards humanity and Gaia were visible. They dressed up so we could see them, proclaimed themselves openly as leaders. Now the true leaders of the Dark Machine hide. We know they are the top 1-10% of income earners, sometimes we can find their faces on the internet, but we can’t meet with them, vote for them or have any influence on their policies. Through their manipulations using technology, political structures and cultural control, we are forced to be obedient to their hungry ghosts of power and control. Or, if we willing to make the sacrifices, we can be quietly or openly defiant. Or, we can choose to try to ignore the crisis and hide in triviality and homocentric activities and world spaces. Which one do you choose?
Usually we start by blaming the victims. We ask them to change themselves as individuals-change their brain chemistry, or their beliefs and cognitive errors, or their goals or work habits. Usually we start with the individual and work out to bigger circles of influence-individual, family, social, community and then global. But I propose a different approach. Let’s start with the big picture first, with the global perspective-with Gaia Grief.
Expecting young people to make all the changes doesn’t work. I know many who although are good people with earth honouring values, are completely spent with surviving. With the erosion of labour laws, worker collective rights and protection from political corruption, they struggle with long hours of low paid work and relatively high cost of living. Our economic inequalities are returning to pre WWI standards. The typical young person, especially if they have a family, haven’t the energy or time left over for self-reflection, or motivation to change. They are immobilized by the enormity of the situation, overcome by their own emotional responses of anxiety, depression and disconnection. Often their despair makes them unable to think clearly, act or change. Some young people I counsel, cannot rise out their beds in the morning, especially on the week end when they don’t have to go to work. They slide into hopelessness, dark and despairing thoughts. They hope only to survive another day, that day, if they can get by without killing themselves. And many do suicide, every single day.
Let’s take the simplest, most elegant analysis here. If our young people appear to be broken, then they are and they probably have good reason to be. We have handed over a broken world to them, and at some level they know there is no going back with the environmental destruction we have wrought upon Gaia.
There is much to be depressed about, as the media is constantly reminding us. The National Geographic estimates that one in four mammals is at risk for extension in the next few decades.
Mass die-offs are individual events that kill at least a billion animals, wipe out over 90 percent of a population, or destroy 700 million tons—the equivalent weight of roughly 1,900 Empire State Buildings—worth of animals.
And according to new research, such die-offs are on the rise.
Downloaded from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/1/150113-mass-die-off-disease-animals-environment-science/
In recent decades numerous studies have predicted that habitat destruction will doom some 20 to 50 percent of Earth's species within 50 years. Downloaded from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/5/110518-species-extinctions-habitats-science-animals/
Downloaded from https://www.wanttoknow.info/massanimaldeathsnewsarticles
Just as an example of our studied ignorance- when I was researching the rate of die off and extinction rates, I noticed that the direr of predictions had been expunged from the National Geographic website.
I remember as a young woman in my twenties and thirties watching clouds of shore birds rise up from the Gulf Island waters, huge flocks of swallows returning from their southern retreats, butterflies and moths so abundant that as I walked through my grandparents fields that I could catch them with my hands if I wanted to. Those large collections of animals are all gone now. If I see 2-3 shore birds along the beach, I think that’s a good sighting. If I see two butterflies in my garden I stand transfixed by their presence. I never see swallows any more where I live, the owls have gone, so have the bats and night hawks and the gorgeous lute like call of the Swainson’s thrust. Is no one noticing this tragic and brutal die off? Am I the only one with memory cells left? I met dog walkers along the river where I hike and they comment on several birds they have seen. I look at them sadly and tell them, there was a time this delta had huge flocks of birds, they gathered and flew around in huge cloud like formations which darken the sky.
As Terrance McKenna once said Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet.
(Downlo9aded from https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/9243.Terence_McKenna)
Is that what is happening? Are we all just so deep in denial that we have forgotten to look at the truth?
Let’s be frank here, the problem of our broken children isn’t only a problem of brain chemistry, early childhood trauma or ancestral trauma, wrong thinking, poor parenting or lack of discipline. This is much deeper and more profound than these simplistic answers. The proof of my theory is this-just ask any young depressed, anxious or addicted young person how they feel, really feel deep down. Then ask if they have any good reason for these negative feelings- and often they will tell you they had good childhoods, happy family and parents, their basic needs were taken care of, but somehow they are uneasy in a way that we as humans have not seen before in our young.
Do we have collective amnesia about the mental health of past generations? Here is what I remember, only fifty years ago. As a child and teen, I didn’t know anyone with (the list): anxiety, depression, allergies, autism, addictions or anyone who was on any kind of psychotropic medications. NO ONE! My grandmother in her 80’s took an aspirin every day for her arthritis, that was the only person I knew who was taking meds or who had any kind of chronic illness. We assumed in those days that most people were healthy and they were. Now it is assumed that most people have something wrong with them, some illness either mental or physical. We assume they should be taking expensive meds for these disorders. Does this not seem strange to you?
I believe that those who support the Dark Machine, those with outdated beliefs, are afraid to face the reality of how they are destroying families, children, teens and young people all over the globe. Their propaganda is built around ‘family values’, by which they usually mean patriarchy, Gaia dishonouring life style and uncontrolled consumerism. So it’s in their own best interests to keep this inconsistency a secret and they do this by turning on their own victims. They accuse the 99% of being lazy, overly worried and negative, misinformed and lacking resiliency. Their solutions are more hard work, medications, and expensive therapies. Their solutions are that young people continue to keep them in their glass palaces of privilege, concern themselves with non-issues and project their anger onto the ‘evil’ Others- Arabs, Muslims, Blacks, Right Wing, Left wing, the Russians…your choice. They seek to keep us distracted with superficial homocentric entertainments such as social media, fashion and comparative self-worth images which show the 99% what they are missing. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.
I honestly think that if all anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications were banned tomorrow and everyone stopped taking them, climate change would stop. Right then, right there. There would massive revolutions, demonstrations in the street; those who are orchestrating environmental destruction would be forcibly taken from their positions of power. I’m not advocating violence; I’m just predicting that within the next couple of decades, if we have that long, we will see revolutions such have not been witnessed before in human history. Because we are a species of slow learners, it seems we have to really feel the pain deeply before we decide we must change. We have chosen frivolity over survival.
I had the good fortune of feeling what those with severe depression and anxiety must feel a few days ago. I woke up black as soot in my Soul. I hated myself, others, the world. I couldn’t hug my husband nor be courteous to the other people I met. I felt like I weighted a ton of massive, immobile black substance that couldn’t be transformed or lightened in any way. When I tried to say some positive things to myself, I didn’t believe it, even for a second.
I’m going to be OK.
Ha! How do you know? Don’t feel OK right now and we’re supposed to live in the moment-right?
So what if I feel better for a while-soon this darkness will return, because it’s real and that other positive thinking is just horse manure.
Even the thought of taking some plant medicines to lift me up a little from this funk, seemed superficial and pointless. By chance or karma, I didn’t stay in this place for long. Somehow something healthier and more enlightened in me took over and by noon I was my usually positive self. But I felt gratitude for the experience because now I know how my son who has severe depression feels every single day. Non-stop, no let-up except with alcohol and other numbing drugs.
So what can each one of us do with simple everyday actions that can at least slow these coming end times? Something simple and plain?
I think each person who is concerned about their children and coming generations, must develop their own plan and actions to address the global crises we see coming towards us. For me, its commitments to my counselling, my writing, my giving of time and experience to disadvantaged individuals and community groups, to my own personal and spiritual growth. I purposely look for joy and appreciation every day, especially towards the non-human worlds of Gaia-the mineral, plant and non-human animal worlds. Creating and doing ritual with metaphors of interconnection, growing my own organic garden where I can appreciate Gia’s beauty, growing my own personal mycelium of like-minded people, supporting each other, discussing our thoughts and observations, being kind, practicing compassion. But always, with a view of the global picture-all life, all beings, all perspectives. And always with the intent not to be overwhelmed by Gia Grief.
I create in my imagination a future for humanity which will be unbelievably free, beyond anything we can picture right now. As soon as we can learn the simple but profound lessons of interconnectiveness, then wars, hunger, social manipulation and Gaia plundering will collapse. Because everyone will understand-that is done to the Other, is done to oneself first.
Realistically I don’t want to ignore the signs of disaster, the five horsemen of the apocalypse. But I won’t be overcome by them either. I somehow still have the ability to arise every day with some light and radiance in my heart, and go forward with some hope of the future. Right action, with compassion and a view of the whole. (Star, 2007)
Now for the practical part. Here are some suggestions to put theory into practice.
· When a young person, or not so young person expresses a mental state of anxiety, depression or substance dependence, try starting the conversation with the global perspective first.
Are you worried about the state of the world? Do you think you have a good future ahead of you? What do you see in the next fifty years in terms of environmental inter dependence? Do you seriously consider that humanity has a future?
· If they have any amount of self-reflection they will probably answer that they have grave concerns about their future and the future of their children and grandchildren. Recognize those concerns, don’t minimize them. Their emotional states are probably based on real influences, in the real world. Acknowledge their pain. Acknowledge their struggles and predicament. Witness the truth of their experiences.
· Then, when and only if they are ready to move through the despair, talk to them what could possibility be positive in the present state of the world. I see massive personal growth, and recognition of inter connectedness and inter dependence. This will be the basis of the next leap up of growth and consciousness. We will recognize our Good Mother and stop abusing Her. We will see the Other is actually just a reflection of ourselves. We will understand the environment is a mirror of our Soul.
· Plan out a few things they can do today, this week, this month, this year to help this great leap up in consciousness be less brutal and destructive. Simple everyday solutions. I want to dance more. I want to develop a daily ritual that reminds me of interconnection. I want to create art that reflects the goodness of the earth.
· Let it be simple, doable and something they can start today.
Turn up with your intentions.
Work with what you have in front of you.
Star, J. (2007) The three great ways-balancing work, love and spirituality. Cowichan Bay: Long Boat Press.Star,J. (2018) Soul Catching: Finding sacred connections in our environments. Cowichan Bay: Long Boat Press.