I get questions about the disaster predictions. People are confused because they have been told the end is coming and yet their daily lives have been largely unaffected, unless of course, you consider the storms on the East coast, the tenuous economy, school massacres and the completely dysfunctional political system.
Most people anticipate a cataclysm, and although that may happen, it would only be the final blow. It would be the period, as it were, at the end of the sentence. A society dies by a thousand cuts, a loss here, another there, little deaths every day. When the building finally collapses, it is because the termites have been gnawing at the rotten timbers for years.
First of all, the world isn’t going to end. The Maya never predicted that. This year does represent the end of the 13th Baktun, a 395 year period of the Mayan cycle, but The Mayan calendar does not stop there, it runs though the 17th Baktun, which means we have at least 1,580 more years to go. BUT, what is significant is that the ends of Baktuns are always marked by considerable upheaval.
We have pushed the old social and political systems based in power, greed, privilege, manipulation, hierarchical paternalism, the abuse of nature, dishonesty and secrecy, beyond their natural limits. The social institutions based on those archaic concepts are going to have to undergo significant revitalization if not outright dissolution. And that means that our way of living in the world is going to have to change as well. And if you look around, you will see that this is already happening. Today, every social institution based in those old precepts is undergoing severe, and I will predict fatal, stress.
Consider the great driving engine of Western civilization – capitalism. Based on self-serving greed, manipulation and power, no other social institution stands in starker conflict with the core spiritual teachings of every major religion. It is difficult to envision a system surviving that no longer serves the interests of its own people and is also engaged in a life or death struggle with the world’s 2 billion Muslims (23% of the world’s population).
Before I go on, I need to make one thing clear. Corporate people are not bad people. It is just that they become trapped by the system. Example: Let’s say you are the product manager for Fruit Loops at Kellogg’s. You’re not a bad person, you want to advance your career, send your kids to college and provide a good home for your family. One thing will do that – selling lots and lots of Fruit Loops. Sadly, because of the system, nothing else matters.
You know that kids will eat a lot more Fruit Loops if you load them with sugar and mini-marshmallows. This creates an inherent conflict between the future of your career and your family, versus the tooth decay and eventual diabetes of millions of kids. Guess who looses? You will rationalize the decisions you make. This happens in every institution.
That’s an overly simplistic example, but when you peel away all the smoke and haze, that’s what it comes down to, whether you work at Kellog’s, Shell Oil or Martin Marietta. If I worked at Lockheed, I would be “defending freedom,” not killing innocent women and children with my drones and missiles. “Collateral damage” is the unfortunate consequence of war. Here at home, without Exxon Mobil, the transportation system could collapse and of course, air pollution is the price we pay for an effective transportation system. And so it goes, from shareholders to CEO’s to workers in the field, everyone rationalizing their decisions.
Wall Street is a special case. Greed and unprecedented narcissism are nurtured there. Wall Street came within a hair’s breath of taking down the entire global financial system a few years ago, from which the global economy has never recovered. Today, several national economies teeter on the brink of collapse like dominoes, waiting for the push that will bring the entire global economic system down.
Let’s move our attention to another social institution, the tradition-bound military. While sucking up an unconscionable portion of the nation’s wealth, the military has shown itself to be incapable of dealing with modern conflicts, ever since its dismal failure to address the problem in Viet Nam. The recent debacles in both Iraq and Afghanistan are only the military’s most recent failures. The incredible vulnerability of multi-million dollar military systems to homemade IED’s and Mujahideen with $100 AK-47′s speaks volumes to the failure of the tradition-bound military mind. I find it amusing that as the Afghans take over former U.S. bases, they are transporting their supplies on mules rather than using expensive and vulnerable helicopters as the Americans did. It’s a question of attitude.
One new twist to the military situation is that the devastating emotional damage soldiers experience in combat is being brought for the first time, into widespread awareness. Twice as many combat veterans have committed suicide as were killed in combat. Public awareness of the incredible emotional damage soldiers suffer will make it much more difficult for politicians to be as free with military intervention as they have been in the past. Fortunately, all over the globe, people are turning to negotiation to resolve their disagreements instead of force, limiting the need for traditional military intervention.
That brings us to the American political system, rife with corruption at every level, arrogant with privilege and unable to respond to its public obligations. Mired by special interests, the legislative system in America is choking on its own feces. It has clearly demonstrated an almost tragic inability to effectively function. Even being generous, there is no way to see the American political system, federal or state – based in patriarchal, centralized, corruptible authority, as anything other than a massive failure. With some notable exceptions, few governments around the world are doing much better.
The Western system of education, modeled after the rigid, authoritarian, hierarchical Prussian teaching system of the 1700′s, is premised on the concept that education should be conducted by a university trained “expert” who imparts pre-approved knowledge to ignorant students. This philosophy has clearly outlived its usefulness. It has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to prepare people for the challenges of a contemporary, integrated, rapidly changing society where people need to be able to think, not just regurgitate socially accepted doctrines.
Our present personal values also present a challenge. To be blunt, Americans are spoiled. Europeans pay $8 for a gallon of gasoline and in Sweden, only 4% of the country’s trash goes to the dump. Everything else is re-used and recycled. Most Europeans don’t go to spas, they ride bicycles. They demand good public transit and refuse to accept GMO foods. Americans, bruised by an indifferent government and corporate domination, have largely become a nation of sheep. Most Americans won’t even send back a bad restaurant meal.
Flying under the radar has been the erosion of the traditional family, on which our society was built. The heterosexual, one man, one woman traditional model where mother stays at home, no longer fits a society where women have careers and run businesses. Today, non-conforming families of single parents comprise 40% of the population, (72% for Blacks). These families have different needs.
The scientific community, with a core philosophy that venerates rational thought and refuses to accept anything beyond that which can be empirically studied, views everything in the universe as a collection of independent, unrelated entities and denies the existence of anything that could be possibly construed as spiritual. That core philosophy is being rocked almost daily by new discoveries that challenge the aged, archaic assumptions that originated in the 17th century.
Traditional medicine, the step-child of the scientific community, does a wonderful job of fixing people’s broken parts, but it has become addicted to the pharmaceutical industry and absorbs an obscene portion of the nation’s wealth, partly because of physician greed, outrageously expensive technology and because physicians have to protect themselves from the legal profession. In addition, the medical community continues to resist the ideas of public medicine, preventive health care and less expensive alternative methodologies that have proven to be successful in other cultures for thousands of years.
The construction and planning of our communities and industries is dominated by a 1950′s engineering and industrial mentality that worships centralization, gigantic industrial projects and complex transportation systems that mindlessly wreak havoc on the environment. Communities are designed around the greed of developers and the private automobile, leading to strings of endless suburbs with mega shopping centers that have little regard for their impact on the infrastructure, the environment, energy, land or water use or what would actually be in the long term interests of the community. In the future, nature is going to force us to pay more attention to it than to “development.”
Agriculture, once a family-run system, has become a corporate monopoly with huge organizations that live on government welfare, consume enormous quantities of the nation’s energy and water. Modern farmers pour enormous quantities of industrial chemicals into genetically modified crops with questionable nutritional value that are laced with toxic pesticides and herbicides. It also raises animals that are loaded with hormones and antibiotics in unspeakable feed lot conditions.
Our centralized energy system is running up against the natural limits of its traditional approach. The electric industry releases millions of tons of greenhouse gasses and pollutants into the atmosphere, while one third of the energy it produces is lost over its complex interstate transmission systems. Oil drilling destroys coastlines, pollutes the oceans and sensitive wilderness and wildlife areas even without the occasional disastrous massive spill, while fracking operations create earthquakes and severely pollute the earth’s groundwater with unconscionable toxins. For a time after the tsunami, the meltdown of the Fukishima nuclear reactors put the entire city of Tokyo at risk from radiation poisoning.
There are other individual changes, simply too many to list here. Critics have predicted the end of these institutions for some time, so none of this is new, it is just that conditions are now becoming more critical. The overriding warning from the massing storm clouds on the horizon is clear: “Adapt, change and grow or resist, suffer and collapse.” How that happens will be up to us.
copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016