Your future is here and now and is there growing in fields of grain. It is the vegetables in the gardens. It is the sun, the soil and the rain. It is the warm summer breezes and the cold winter storms. It is the moon and the stars that light up the night sky. That is you, your future you.
You are what you eat and you will be what you are going to eat including the foods you will eat and the environments in which they grow. Do you wish to be the growing grain or do you wish to be factory farmed animal? Do you wish to be organic or be heavily laden with chemicals and toxins? Do you wish to be wild, natural and free or mass-produced and genetically modified? You can and you do choose your future whether you realize it or not. You choose it everyday by following and satisfying your appetite and hunger.
What is your past?
Your past is being created now every moment. Your past is your body, your thoughts and your mind. Your past is your blood, your cells and your bones. It is your emotions, your imagination and your dreams. Your past is your art, your music and all your creations. Regardless of whether they remain only as ideas or develop into finished products they are already past and are done and have a life of their own and there is not much you can do about them other than let them come out of you.
Your past is also your children and all your offspring. Your past is what comes from you. It is what you gave birth to and now has a life of its own.
The past can’t be changed by trying to change it itself. You can change the past by changing your future; by choosing a new you. Change your future by choosing differently that which will become you. Choose a great future and you will have a great past.
But if you are not your past nor are you your future, then who are you? You are not your blood, cells and bones and you are not your emotions, thoughts and dreams. You are also not yet the grain in the fields, the vegetables in the gardens nor the sun, soil and wind. Then who are you? You are nothing but an empty void – a vacuum that seeks to be filled. You are hunger; you are your appetite. That is you.
And this you seeks to take in everything – to take in the entire universe. And when it has done so to its satisfaction then you are one with the universe and the old you will no longer exist.
The greatest “sword” or “weapon” ever invented is one which can create life and peace and make everyone happy and is perhaps the lowly kitchen knife. It is far more powerful than any weapon of mass destruction because, when used wisely, one can feed others and create health and peace without any use of military force, violence and loss of human life.
We should all be peaceful kitchen warriors and strive to feed ourselves as well as our enemies – thus turning them into our friends – if we truly seek health, peace and happiness for ourselves and others. Imagine if we measured the value of today’s leaders and candidates based on their skill with the kitchen knife and their ability to satisfy our palates, appetites and health!…
This question appeared in the Facebook group “Macrobiotics” and I have decided to publish my response is here for the benefit of all to read because it is such a basic and common question, that I thought it might be helpful to many.
First, it will be helpful to remember that there is no such thing as a “macrobiotic diet” and therefore there is nothing that is “not part” of it. Macrobiotics is instead about understanding how all things, including what we eat, relate to and influence us. As a result of this “macrobiotic” approach and understanding to life some have suggested eating habits and dietary choices for better health and prolonging life and chief among these have been standard dietary guidelines suggested by my father, Michio Kushi, which have benefitted many seeking to improve their health.
The reason why a specific food item may not be included among those guidelines is based on the overall influence and effect such a food item may have relative to becoming healthier. Honey, especially if eaten in excess, may produce unwanted results, but of course, results will vary from person to person as we are all unique. Also, we all have various options available to us when it comes to different sweeteners that range from artificial sweeteners and refined sugar to honey, maple syrup, beet sugar and grain based malts and each of these produce different effects especially when eaten in excess. What food choice is most beneficial to us, from a macrobiotic relativistic (or, if you prefer, dialectic) point of view is obviously the one that negatively effects us the least ( or positively effects us the most ) in larger quantities and over longer periods of time.
By experience, honey, if eaten in excess can cause chronic headaches as well other more serious issues overtime. It is “safer” to choose maple syrup or grain-based sweeteners over honey as their impact is less though similar. Indeed grain-based sweeteners if eaten in excess can cause , for example, swelling in the feet among other things. But as we are all different then each of us must explore and discover our own limits (“non-credo”) and observe and monitor the effects of not just what we eat, but everything which effects us.
To begin to explore, understand and play with life in this way is what we call “macrobiotics”. George Ohsawa, my father’s mentor and the man who re-introduced “macrobiotics” to the world, outlined various principles he discovered to help us better understand how all things in the universe influence us and how we influence the universe. He did so by offering the relativistic terms “yin” and “yang” among other ideas as a way to begin to understand how change and movement happens in the universe and as a way to connect seemingly disparate events and occurrences together. In this way, for example and historically speaking, Ohsawa and my father ( and others) have long promoted the importance and influence of food in our everyday lives especially in the role of health and sickness when it was commonly thought that food made little difference in one’s health at all.
I know this is a lengthy reply but I wrote it because the question is common in that the subject, “honey”, can be replaced with any food item (e.g. red meat, ice cream, rutabagas, brown rice – or even snakes, insects, humans, rocks, etc… O_o!) or anything else that influences our life. “Macrobiotics” is a life-long endless experiential study and is not just about food but about all life itself. I hope this was helpful.
As promised, this post is a follow-up to my last post here regarding Steve Jobs and Macrobiotics.
I never met Steve Jobs and have very little information concerning his cancer and his use of macrobiotics other than what was reported in the news, specifically on 60 Minutes in this video here, and therefore do not have enough information to comment intelligently on his particular situation. What I can do is share my overall thoughts on this topic as well as comment on the subsequent responses from other macrobiotic advocates, many of whom I personally know.
I am personally disappointed that more than one of my fellow macrobiotic colleagues have taken the negative publicity to distance and excuse themselves of any blame, responsibility and opportunity to reflect on the overall social impact of macrobiotics by suggesting that Steve Jobs did not understand or practice macrobiotics properly. It is this type of arrogance that continues to plague the macrobiotic movement and have it stagnate and descend into a fanatical cult of blind followers who do nothing but criticize the world and claim that they alone have all the answers.
Is it only those who are successful in beating cancer and other diseases the ones who practice macrobiotics correctly? If so, then by this logic renowned macrobiotic leaders and persons such as my mother, Aveline, who died of cervical cancer, my sister, Lily, Herman and Cornelia Aihara and so many others; and even macrobiotic pioneer, George Ohsawa, himself are among those failures of macrobiotics. And if they did not understand macrobiotics correctly then who are these other people to judge who is successful with macrobiotics and who is not? Who are they to judge whether someone understands it correctly and has been following the “supreme 7th level of intuitive judgement” or not?
On the other hand, let us assume that their allegations are correct – that Jobs misunderstood macrobiotics – then whose fault is it that he misunderstood macrobiotics? Certainly not Jobs himself. He is the victim. It would fall upon those that accuse him for misunderstanding to be responsible ones for not conveying macrobiotics accurately to him and to the masses. But nowhere is this admission and acceptance of responsibility publicly expressed by them. Why is this so? How did a movement with so much promise descend into such self-righteous and fanatical arrogance – censoring and blaming all that is negative about macrobiotics upon others because they do not “understand” and “practice” macrobiotics in the “right” way (like an intellectual version of a fascist dictator who dismisses and eliminates his opponents for speaking out against his rule)?
Ohsawa outlined and promoted several simple and useful mottos or principles to live by and essential to a healthy macrobiotic life including “non-credo” and “one grain, ten thousand grains.” These have been reiterated countless times by macrobiotic promoters. But often overlooked yet equally valuable is Ohsawa’s idea of “mea culpa” (Latin for “my fault” or “my responsibility”). When it is mentioned by some then it is usually done only in the context of acknowledging and taking responsibility for one’s health and life choices and by doing so, empowering one’s self to change for the better. But I believe there is a much deeper and significant meaning to “mea culpa”, (distinct from its religious connotations) which can also provide insight into the decline of the macrobiotic movement.
I believe that “mea culpa” can also define a spirit of responsibility, obligation and acknowledgement that I am not alone in the universe; that I am one with the universe; and that all my actions, including my inaction, have influence upon everything. Therefore, by my actions and my inaction, I influence and cause change in the universe and, hence, all that happens is my fault – mea culpa. To live consciously and fully with this awareness and to do one’s best to create peace and harmony is to live and embody what I call a “spirit of mea culpa”.
I am certain that Ohsawa and my parents embraced the “spirit of mea culpa” (even “mea maxima culpa”). They took it upon themselves to heal the world. Indeed, when Michio left Japan for the US in 1949 and bid farewell to his macrobiotic mentor, George Ohsawa, he promised that he would take full responsibility for the destiny of all people in the world (see video clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2WKYTfy49M ).
My parents subsequently devoted their entire lives to spread macrobiotics for the health and peace of the entire world. Their efforts helped launch the natural and organic foods movements, the alternative health industry and caused a shift in dietary awareness around the world. They lived the “spirit of mea culpa”.
Although macrobiotics continues to spread, I believe my parent’s effort to change the world reached its peak in the mid 1970s. It has since become one of many “alternative” approaches to health and diet, despite (or perhaps because of) the valiant efforts of subsequent promoters. I believe this happened, even in the face of much success, for the same reason that all movements eventually fail: hubris or arrogance – because the leaders forgot the “spirit of mea culpa”.
As the movement became more involved in healing persons with cancer, even my father began to dismiss and blame failed cases to the lack of macrobiotic understanding on the part of the clients. While in many cases this technically may have been true, my father, in his hubris, failed to take on the deeper responsibility and self-reflective opportunities embodied by the spirit of mea culpa. Since then macrobiotic leaders, despite their wonderful and ongoing work to spread macrobiotics and while they may reflect upon and take responsibility for their own actions, they do not live or embody the spirit of mea culpa. Not only do they not take responsibility for the regrets of Steve Jobs but they will not take responsibility for the actions of their own colleagues. They do not collectively embrace the spirit of mea culpa and instead continue to blame the victims and each other.
I mourn the loss of Steve Jobs, a great man and innovative thinker, and am deeply saddened that he tried to address his health problems with macrobiotic methods alone and then later regret not having had a surgery which might have prolonged his life. It has given me pause to reflect deeply not just on his untimely and unnecessary death, but upon the premature and unnecessary deaths of everyone everywhere – past, present and future. Having committed my life to promoting macrobiotics all I can do is feel a deep responsibility and ask myself, what more could I do for them? What can I do that will help others make better choices and, hopefully, avoid premature death? I also ask myself: Why don’t macrobiotic leaders come together in the spirit of mea culpa and create a collective and ongoing effort to declare and take on the full responsibility of the destiny of humanity? Why do they not embrace negativity in the spirit of mea culpa and rejoice in the opportunity that brings for self-reflection? I do not know, but I will take full responsibility for this.
Thank you Steve Jobs, for in your death you re-awoke in me the spirit of mea culpa – mea maxima culpa.
MEA MAXIMA CULPA
I look upon the world and all its problems.
I see many who die prematurely and unnecessarily.
It is my fault. I am to blame and take full responsibility for this, mea culpa!
Because of this I choose to guard my own health; to eat a simpler diet and live closer to and in harmony with nature. I choose a macrobiotic path.
I look upon the world and all its problems.
I see the destruction of earth and the greed of man.
It is my fault. I am to blame and take full responsibility for this, mea culpa!
Because of this I choose a simple and cooperative life and take only what I need and give the rest away.
I look upon the world and all its problems.
I see wars and conflicts caused by intolerance, fear and perverted beliefs.
It is my fault. I am to blame and take full responsibility for this, mea culpa!
Because of this I choose to believe in nothing yet have faith in everyone.
I look upon the world and all its problems.
I see violence, loneliness and misery everywhere.
It is my fault. I am to blame and take full responsibility for this, mea culpa!
Because of this I choose to love my fellow humans with all my heart at all times even when they do not love me.
Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa!
Let us each take on the full weight of the world
and together, with 7 billion of us, we only need carry one 7 billionth of the weight.
It will not be enough if we take on only one 7 billionth of the worlds’ problems.
We must, each on our own, commit to taking on 100% of the weight of whole world including each others’ burdens.
Because I live and breath and share this planet with you then I am responsible for you and everyone else.
Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa!
Given the newsworthy relevance of Steve Jobs and macrobiotics, I have decided to share some excerpts of a discussion that is going on in the Facebook group, “Macrobiotics”, concerning Steve’s regret of postponing surgery and opting for a macrobiotic dietary approach to address his pancreatic cancer. I plan to write a full blog in addition to posting these excerpts. If you wish to follow these ongoing discussions please join the group, “Macrobiotics”, on Facebook. Comments have been edited and identities have been omitted.
[Facebook User 1]:
(CBS News) Apple CEO Steve Jobs refused to allow surgeons to perform what could have been life-saving surgery on his pancreatic cancer, says his biographer Walter Isaacson. In one of his deepest discussions with him, Isaacson says Jobs told him he regretted his decision to try alternative therapies and said he put off the operation because it was too invasive.
Complete coverage: Steve Jobs: 1955-2011
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Preview: Steve Jobs – 60 Minutes – CBS News
60 Minutes on CBS News: Preview: Steve Jobs – Apple CEO Steve Jobs refused to allow surgeons to perform what could have been life-saving surgery on his pancreatic cancer, says his biographer Walter Isaacson. Hear more of Isaacson’s revelations about Jobs in his first interview about his biography “S…
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[Facebook User 2]
Thank you for sharing this. I did find Steve Crofts comment “How could such a brilliant man do such a stupid thing” to be offensive. I give Mr. Jobs kudos for trying alternative healing modalities but here are times Western Medicine is an important part of healing. And lets not forget Faith.
[Phiya Kushi] ( me ):
I deeply regret the loss of Steve Jobs and others like him who may have been helped by taking a different path. But one can never know for certain the future consequences of actions never taken. A lot of people refuse surgery and some get well and some don’t. Likewise many opt for surgery and get worse while others may get better. It is highly circumstantial and individual. It isn’t a guarantee that Jobs would have been healed by surgery and conventional medicine. Certainly his symptoms may have been temporarily cut out and removed but without a total and trans-formative lifestyle change, and not one just limited to diet, his cancer would have most probably have come back.
Living a highly competitive lifestyle where, as in Jobs case, he declared “thermonuclear war” on Google for copying his iPhone and that he vowed to spend every last penny he made to destroy Google, is not really the healthiest of attitudes and lifestyles. I personally believe that such an all-consuming destructive attitude in itself, is/was a function of his illness. Would he have been willing to give that up for the sake of his health? Probably not since that was his life’s dream.
What bothers me more is that people mistakenly view macrobiotics as “an alternative” when it is embracive of all healing modalities. Macrobiotic healing emphasizes reflecting on and changing one daily life habits including what we eat and how we live, as the initial and fundamental steps to take but also considers whatever emergency medical procedures may need to be taken in serious cases (see: http://phiyakushi.com/miracles/macrobiotic-healing/ ) .
I also wonder who was guiding him macrobiotically and am wary that Jobs may not have received the best macrobiotic guidance available to him. It is unfortunate that this happened but I also believe that macrobiotic movement is deserved of such a blow from the media for its own arrogance and ego-driven competitiveness (or lack of cooperation) among its advocates. It will continue to receive such negative press until its leaders organize themselves, work together, cooperate and come to terms with each other by holding themselves and each other accountable for their successes and failures in helping others heal. Just my opinion.
[Facebook User 3]:
Beautifully said, Phiya. But wherever you have human beings, you will have some flaws. I wouldn’t put all the blame on mb teachers, tho there could always be room for improvement, I agree. Changing society is a huge challenge and will, of course, meet with much resistance, which is how I see negative press.
(To Facebook User 3), the flaws of humanity and its resistance to social change, which are always present, are not excuses to avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of one’s claims and actions. Until macrobiotic counselors come together, define and create standards and procedures and collectively submit their data for unbiased and rigorous third-party review then all the recovery anecdotes in the world won’t help the movement shake its public image as a fringe, alternative healing modality and quasi-religious oriental diet. Nothing frustrates me more than to see self interested advocates justify their own inaction with rationalizations, like the ones you mentioned, to fail to assist those with valid healing experiences unsuccessfully help suffering family members and loved ones for want or lack of evidence and social reputation. As a macrobiotic promoter I am just as culpable as the rest.
[Facebook User 4]:
To say that Steve Jobs practiced macrobiotics is pretty much meaningless on its own. Ask 50 people how they practice it and you will receive 50 different answers. Most people still understand mb to be a prescription diet, like all other diets. One-size-fits-all. When did he start, how well was he supported, how long did he practice it, how accurately did he practice it? Even if he practiced it a long time, with support, guarantees nothing. What were the underlying causes of his illness? How late into is illness did he begin? Macrobiotics has been misunderstood since its introduction into the West (even by those practice it). The principles underlying the macrobiotic philosophy will endure.
(To Facebook User 4) , The clinical type questions you ask are valid and are or should be part of any legitimate counseling practice and ongoing research and case review for all cases.. But for me the question is not whether macrobiotics will endure, for which I have no doubt it will, but rather in what manner will it endure? Will it banned and outlawed? Will it be sidelined as a passing cult of religious fanatics who follow strange esoteric dietary rules? Or will it be seen as a valid force that has improved the health and well being of all people?
Also, on the other hand and from a totally different perspective, in embracing his own mortality, living life fully and actively pursuing his dreams against all odds, I believe that Steve Jobs led more of a macrobiotic life than many I have met whom claim to do so. Nothing could be a more simpler macrobiotic messages than his advice to young graduates to “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. It echoes of the best of Ohsawa’s teachings.
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Other posts on this blog relevant to this discussion:
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October 19, 2011
6 Ledoux Terrace
South Burlington, VT 05403
It’s our world, when do we get our turn in running it?
Last Saturday, as I walked out of “World Government House” where I live and work in South Burlington, and climbed into my Accord to join the local Vermont group at the Burlington City Hall park supporting the now global “Occupy Wall Street” movement, I wondered what would be appropriate for me, a world citizen since 1948, to contribute in a meaningful way. Following Amy Goodman’s daily “Democracy Now!” reports of the same happenings in cities around the United States and the world, I was struck by the lack of positive programs brought forth by speakers and signs. Everyone knows what we are against, but what are we for?
But even more basic, who are we….together?
In my briefcase were copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, applications for registrations of world citizens, my World Government Passport and a dwindling supply of “I am a World Citizen” buttons, as giveaways, always gratefully accepted by young and old alike. Was it enough? What key element was missing? Then I had a flash of inspiration. Cities! We were all gathering in cities around the world! That’s it! I remembered that almost two decades ago the Burlington City Council unanimously adopted the Resolution declaring itself a WORLD CITY! Eureka!
Jumping out of the car, I reentered World Government House, ran upstairs to my office and IMac, hit the “Q” button and typed: “World City Burlington.” Up flashed the Resolution of June 20, 1992 adopted by the City Council of Burlington declaring it a “World City” following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. I quickly printed up a bunch of copies and drove down to city hall for the rally. A few dozen people had gathered milling about some with signs “We are the 99%!” and “Down with Capitalism!” I went to the speaker area and said I had a short but relevant announcement to make. Given the no mike system, I simply announced to the crowd that the City of Burlington 19 years ago had already taken a major step required, if we, the people were to take back our planet from corporate control. I then read the opening paragraphs of the Resolution:
“WHEREAS the City of Burlington, Vermont, recognizes the greatly increased interdependence of the people of the world in this age of pollution, deforestation, natural resources depletion, overpopulation, and hunger; and WHEREAS, we seek to free humanity from the scourge of war, and to use the world’s resources of energy, and knowledge for the benefit of the people; and WHEREAS, we realize that the common interests of the world’s people can only be advanced through cooperative effort on a global scale, as exemplified by the recent Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro; and WHEREAS, we affirm that we can best serve our city, state and nation when we also think and act as world citizens:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL:
That the City of Burlington hereby recognizes its status as a
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the citizens of Burlington recognize their sovereign right to declare that their citizenship responsibilities extend beyond the boundaries of our city, state, and nation; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the citizens of Burlington are urged to pledge their efforts to the establishment of world peace, economic justice, and ecological security based on just world law…..”
Burlington was not the first “World City”, — that honor goes to Cahors in central France on July 7, 1949. Since that historic moment, more than 1000 cities and towns have declared themselves World Cities including Boston, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Toronto, Hiroshima, Nakasaki, Tokyo, Nivelles, and Konigswinter. See list at http://www.worldservice.org/mundcity.html. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mundialization .
As soon as I finished, I was mobbed by people reaching for handouts of the resolution.
“We are already actual citizens of planet Earth at birth.” I said to one and all. “So we have a right to claim it, and to govern it. But as long as we are kept locked behind these invisible lines called nations, we are artificially divided, and senselessly war against each other. But as soon as we recognize our common human sovereignty, and realize that we are all one, all citizens of planet Earth, we gain enormous power, the power of the
sovereignty of the whole. Only then can true justice and democracy prevail. “Thomas Jefferson and America’s founders,” I added, “argued that corporations need to be regulated for the public good. Just as good cells in the human body, vital for our growth and well being, turn cancerous when the mechanisms of regulation fail, so corporations, can become the source of our destruction, unless we find the human power to bring them into balance and proper regulation for the common good. Our only hope of bringing them into balance is for we, the people, to take responsibility for governing our world.
“It’s one thing to militate about what we don’t like,” I concluded, “war, injustice, the failing economy, devastation of our environment – and hope someone else solves it for us. But we are the leaders we’ve been waiting for! We are the sovereigns, we, the people, are the ones who create governments.”
I handed out the “I am a World Citizen” buttons. The kids especially love them. “Cool,” they would say fastening them to their coats.
“At our web site, ” I added, “you’ll learn how you can join with your fellow humans in taking back our planet, even to setting up our own World Court of Human Rights and more. You can even download its Statute and the apps for the human rights documents we issue.”
Buckminster Fuller reminded us: “If you want to change anything, don’t fight the existing reality; create a new reality and you render the existing reality obsolete….”
And Mahatma Gandhi wrote “Be the world you want,” while Renaissance man Steve Jobs had boldly suggested: “Be the future you want.”
‘Occupy Wall Street’? OK, but it’s high time for us to take the Big Leap to land on the political space beyond so-called national frontiers.
In fact, guess what, we, humanity, are already occupying it!
Garry Davis lives in Burlington, VT and became World Citizen #1 after having renounced his US Citizenship after participating in the carnage that was World War II. He has since devoted his entire life to the establishment of a World Government by and for the People of the World. You can learn more about Garry here: http://www.onefilms.com/
Read the daily news, even in a relatively mainstream newspaper, and you cannot fail to notice that an unprecedented event is unfolding in front of our very eyes; the simultaneous collapse of two of the World’s largest economies: the US and European Union.
Both appear to be teetering at the edge of a financial precipice and the great politico-bureaucratic machines that run the show – on both sides of the Atlantic – seem incapable of agreeing what economic medicine might keep this beast on the rails.
They, and we, are now learning that in a finite world no resource is infinite, least of all institutionalised financial wealth whose very existence is dependent upon interest payments made on capital lent to those who cannot sustain the levels of repayments demanded of them. In a ‘debt based’ economy (which ours is) all participants will ultimately land up losers.
We cannot know the exact timing surrounding the unhinging of a large sector of the global market place, but that some form of large scale collapse is imminent, there can be little doubt.
With this collapse will also ultimately go the entire foundation of modern day capitalism, and particularly the ‘perpetual growth’ based economic formulae that have driven this planet to the edge of ecocide and the mad growth machine perilously close to its own ultimate demise.
The vast debt based financial manipulations of the past decade already signalled that a global crisis was in the making. And attempts to solve this crisis by applying an ever tighter squeeze on the already minimal assets of the working man and woman has now reached a ‘back against the wall’ point of no return, provoking the first waves of citizen based ‘non compliance’ uprisings. We are likely to see more of these as the elite bankers and corporate despots who hold the reins of power, try to hang onto this power by exerting their repressive authority on an increasingly disenchanted populous.
The entire edifice which we were led to believe constituted the secure foundation of a modern civilisation, is now falling on its knees and the centuries old profligate ‘top down’ theft of both people and the planet is now rebounding on its perpetrators, dragging all and sundry in its turbulent wake. As a result, we are, in the next half decade, going to pass through the vortex of a huge change to our customary ways of life. A change for the better, if you don’t like the ‘take-all’ consumerist package at the helm of modern neo liberal capitalism. A change for the worse if you do.
Desperate rescue attempts will of course take place in which billions of dollars, Euros, pounds, yen and roubles will be thrown at the sinking banks, financial institutions and corporate marketing machines, in a vain attempt to resuscitate – one more time – the dying machine. But it won’t rise again because there is no crane big enough to lift it out of the grave it has dug for itself.
What will this mean to you and I?
Well, that depends on how reliant we each are on the trappings of the neoliberal consumer society.
If we are heavily reliant, we will have a long way to fall and will not have an easy landing. If we are not too trapped we will have less far to fall and may have a softer landing. However, we will all be subjected to an intense propaganda campaign as the wounded beast throws out its grasping tentacles to try to further enslave us in its accelerating demise. Beware of this. We will be heavily indoctrinated not to let go of old patterns of thought and behaviour which give a false sense of security concerning the strength of the status quo to see us through “these hard times”. We will be lent on – even by many of our friends – to tow the line and submit to the “austerity” measures dictated by our increasingly autocratic governments. Beware of this, for it is a deception. Austerity demands that hard working people continue to cut back on their meagre savings in order to enable the elite wealth mongers to maintain their seemingly impenetrable financial empires.
Crises are created by those at the sharp end of the power pyramid and have proven to be invaluable tools for the enslavement of the many. The main card in their austerity pack is the ‘fear card’. If we can be made to feel sufficiently frightened of what may lie on the other side of the collapsing financial world which is their citadel, then we will be more likely to do all that we are asked to do to avoid further rocking the boat. However, this is the road to unconditional slavery – and its what dying monsters feed upon to retain their self delusions of power.
So, if we want to avoid serfdom to the beast, we had better sit down and honestly ask ourselves here and now – before its too late – just what might lie on the other side of global economic collapse?
It will require some fortitude to look this question in the eye. It will require a deepening of our perceptions of what is actually going on around us and a willingness to research what forces stand behind extreme cyclical historical events. It will require recognition of the part that we ourselves – as well as our ancestors – have played in bringing about such crises and an awareness of the fact that they are largely a reflection of our own state of being. For the road to the great collapse is a long and pot-hole strewn one and is made up of many decades of blind adherence to false Gods.
We are all complicit – on different levels – and only by admitting this can we start to put things right.
Only when this first hurdle has been crossed will we be able to start constructing a proper platform for positive change. A platform which necessarily reintroduces us to some very simple premises concerning what steps to take to avoid being swept away, or reduced to serfdom, by the tsunami of global upheavals that are now under-way. I use the term tsunami advisedly because the way the planet has been treated over many generations of abject resource plundering, perpetual war and the toxic poisoning associated with excessive corporate greed, has resulted in a state of unprecedented geological, atmospheric and social destabilisation. A state mirrored by the current financial meltdown itself. How could it be otherwise? The two are inseparably locked into a cause and effect domino that has now reached breaking point.
Our ecology and climate cannot exist in hermetically sealed isolation from our financial activities.
The wounds we inflict upon our this Earth reverberate throughout and the repercussions return to haunt us. So, in taking our first steps of mitigation in the face of a world succumbing to both geological and financial turmoil, some very elementary questions shift into the foreground:
“Will I have the ability to procure enough food to feed myself and my family?”
“How can I be sure to have regular access to this resource?”
“How will we ensure that we have the basic security of a home, fresh water, warm clothes and enough energy to provide warmth, light and adequate cooking facilities?”
“What about our friends?”
“What if our savings are not enough to buy what we need?
“What if supplies dry-up?”
All these questions will crowd into the mind once we allow ourselves to face the truth. They are very valid questions – and they have answers. However, the right answers will not be arrived at via panic or fear. They must be nurtured into existence through prioritising another medium, an approach to problem solving which draws upon our latent creativity, inventive powers and love of life. As Albert Einstein so aptly pointed out “One cannot solve an existing problem using the same mode of thinking which created it.”
Metaphorically speaking the answer to all our questions lies ‘right in our own back yards'; and metaphysically speaking we will be guided – provided we remain flexible enough to allow our old skin to fall away and a new skin to emerge in its place. The very same process which our planet is now undergoing via the tumultuous cleansing process which will ultimately throw-off the toxic burden of generations of misguided inhabitants.
So now is the time to act in mitigation against being caught on the wrong foot before the collapsing structures of the old regime force us into last minute panic based survival actions. It is now time to seek out real answers and take real steps.
Emerging amongst the detritus of failing financial institutions and the war stained ambitions of global corporate giants, is a growing awareness that we have almost completely neglected the resources we have available to us right in front of our eyes; that a global problem often has a local solution and that this solution might not involve a seemingly inevitable descent into a lowly and disagreeable struggle to survive. On the contrary, it could lead to a more honest and simple approach to life which could enrich, rather than impoverish, the spirit while redeeming a lost sense of connection with the natural world.
Should enough of us decide to pursue such a path now, we just might be able to relieve our planet of a whole extra level of suffering which is sure to be experienced unless a significant change of course is undertaken by a critical mass of humanity.
In the final analysis, there is not much choice in this matter. Once a combination of crises in the food, air, energy and water sectors reaches criticality – many are either not going to be able to afford to fulfil their customary daily needs or will not be able to access them due to transport and infrastructural blockages.
However, we are conditioned to believe that such events will probably never actually happen in Western Europe and North America. Our corporate owned western media does not want to unduly alarm paid up members of ‘consumer-soc plc.’. They don’t want too many thinking they might have to change their ways – for example by ceasing to watch TV and to stop buying from supermarkets. So, as long as we carry on consuming “the daily diet for the dumbed down” there is little or no chance of responding to the rising winds of change that are blowing across our overburdened planet. But free the mind and take a few steps out of this virtual reality world which we have so carefully constructed for ourselves – and suddenly the truth starts to make itself felt.
And just what is this truth?
It was put very nicely by Dr Fritz Schumacher, the author of Small Is Beautiful, some 40 years ago. While lecturing in North America, he was asked if a switch from fossil fuels to human scale and regional renewable energy sources would mean that we would all have to accept “a lower standard of living?”
“No” he replied “I don’t subscribe to the term ‘lower standard of living’ to describe a state in which we freely elect to move towards a life of voluntary simplicity.” A life of voluntary simplicity means a turning away from the heavy ecological footprint excesses of our 21st century consumer society and finding that we can manage well enough – or even rather better – on rather a little; provided that this ‘rather a little’ is genuinely good quality and doesn’t harm our environment, our body or our soul. An aware mind and a light ecological footprint are therefore prerequisites for life both before and ‘after the crash’ and as soon as we can get started on on them the less devastating the repercussions of this crash will be.
Rather than list the thousands of localised self sustaining group initiatives that are currently emerging in counterpoint to the tottering globalised economy, I prefer to recommend that we pay attention to what I have named “The Proximity Principle.” The Proximity Principle is perhaps best understood as a blend between a law of physics and what we once called ‘common sense’. It instructs us to think and act on the basis that where we reside (hamlet, village, town, city) is the centre of a circle – and what we need (daily necessities) fan out around that centre like spokes from the hub of a bicycle wheel. It says that we should try to access the majority of our daily needs for our physical well being and nourishment from an area as close as possible to the centre of the circle where we reside. Thus we seek to access our fresh food ‘from our own garden'; our local independent small grocer; our farmers market – or perhaps even directly from our nearest ecologically aware farmer.
Large cities present a serious challenge: some highly creative collective ‘greening’ is about the only practical life line available to citizens living in population densities of over 1 million. Very large cities like London access the great majority of their food and energy from abroad and this makes such city dwellers particularly vulnerable to the increasing oscillations of the global market place.
For such vast conurbations, the provision of food alone requires an energy intensive and complex coordinated operation which is likely to break down once secure financial backing is no longer guaranteed. Processed foods require a further energy input and long distance transportation yet more.
‘Fresh local food’ however requires very little energy input and is alive with vital nutrients and vitamins that are lost in transport, packaging and days on neon lit supermarket shelves – all factors contributing to the demise of our planet Earth. And so with energy: start again from your own wood burning stove; passive and photovoltaic solar panels or small wind generator – or link into a community renewable energy scheme. Obtain your firewood from a local timber merchant or farmer/forester. Make a serious effort to wean yourself off ‘the national grid’ and the super market (hugely consumptive energy footprint) and start supporting the local traders of your community: when the chips are down and the lights have gone out – it is here where your solution lies and the relationship we build with our local community will define how well we cope down the pathway to ‘voluntary simplicity’. It is only at the local level that we can participate in the intimate trading transactions that connect the ecological farmer, forester, blacksmith, baker and transporter. Having money will not be so important when bartering and exchange once again become community led activities. Unless we are connected into the dynamic of this infrastructure, our chances of getting through coming seismic events without too much pain are very small.
By following “The Proximity Principle” we will be guided towards the most elegant economic, ecological and socially constructive solutions concerning the sane management of our daily lives.
Such an approach also has the potential to catalyse a renaissance of meaningful relationships and cast a fresh light on shared creative endeavour – in the fields, on the streets and in the home. We will discover that there really are local solutions to global problems.
August 1st 2011
Julian Rose was born in March 1947 on the Hardwick Estate in South Oxfordshire’s Chiltern Hills, the youngest of four children. On the premature death of his brother (1963) and his father a few years later, Julian suddenly found himself thrust from being the youngest sibling to becoming the heir to the thousand acre estate and baronetcy, passed down from his great grandfather.
After two generations of historical hardship, undergone in order to rescue the then mortgaged estate from bankruptcy, the estate had been left in a somewhat perilous position – presenting a significant challenge to the young protege.
Julian took a ‘hands-on’ approach to this challenge; seeing himself as fulfilling the role of a trustee of the land and it’s dwellings and as ultimately responsible for passing them on in perpetuation to future generations.
Under pressure to adopt mainstream chemically assisted agricultural methods, Julian surprised his contemporaries by commencing the conversion of the land to organic farming methods, which he set in motion in 1975, thus becoming one of the early UK organic pioneers. After witnessing the habitat destruction caused by agrichemicals, he vowed to protect the biodiversity of the land and it’s soils and to maintain an important refuge for all kinds of wildlife.
To try and make this way of farming into a financially viable proposition at a time when there were not yet any organic premiums, he decided to locally ‘direct market’ all the products of the farm himself, with no middleman. Starting a small organic dairy herd, he tended the animals and delivered their unpasteurised milk and cream to local families, probably becoming the only titled milkman in England! Later, when the government tried to ban unpasteurised milk, he led a successful high profile campaign to save it, drawing praise from the Prince of Wales and scorn from the big dairy chains. The farm went on to win national awards for its home produced cream, smoked bacon and innovative farm shop.
In the estate woodlands, Julian continued the tradition passed down to him, of maintaining a mixed variety of species and managing them according to system of commercial and conservation principles. Recently he has opened up the woods for increased public access and in support of socially and educationally disadvantaged young people seeking the therapeutic advantages of a mixed forestry environment.
Julian has ensured that a core of the estate’s cottages are let-out at non commercial ‘affordable rents’ to those who cannot compete with the high prices of the South of England, with the emphasis on maintaining a working rural community rather than on maximising profits.
Outside the estate, Julian has taken a passionate interest in supporting the revival of hard pressed rural economies, putting a high percentage of his working time into socio-economic and environmental campaigning causes, as well as founding or co-founding several non governmental organisations. In the face of climate change concerns and post peak oil pressures, he recently came up with a formula for localised food, fibre and fuel known as “The Proximity Principle.” He has served on three national Agriculture and Rural Economy committees, including for the BBC, and has been asked to provide advice to government. Julian was a board member of the Soil Association throughout the 1980’s and 90’s and is a patron of the Small Farmers Association and Natural Food Finders.
A commitment to helping those who cannot easily help themselves has most recently taken him to Poland, where he applies his energies to fighting for the retention of ecologically benign peasant farming methods with the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside, of which he is President. The Polish countryside is under intense threat from the European Union and international agribusiness corporations and genetically modified organisms.
Julian started out as an actor and stage manager. Firstly in traditional repertory theatres in the UK and then, as actor/assistant director, in an international experimental theatre company that eventually became based in Antwerp, Belgium. His experiences in the creative arts imbued him with a desire to bring into a constant and dynamic interrelationship, practical and artistic mediums of work to which he now adds spiritual and social concerns.
He is the author of many articles and has broadcast extensively over the years, recently becoming the author of the book “Changing Course for Life – Local Solutions to Global problems.” He has lived and worked in Australia, America, Belgium and Poland and has a son and a daughter, now in their mid twenties.