Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Timing is everything....

I recently met a remarkable person for the second time. John Howe is a retired engineer who lives with his wife, Deb, on a back road not far from here. I first met him a few years ago because I was out wandering with a camera and the field above the Howe's farm affords a stunning view. But, this chance meeting occurred at a cocktail party (yes, we have those here in the backwoods of Maine) the evening before a wedding.

As John and I talked, it became clear that he has a deep interest in not merely the affairs of the world, but in tracking such things as climate change, population growth, peak oil, and he is also working on various projects involving zero impact living. It is readily apparent to all who know John that he's Mensa bright, especially so in the realm of the left hemisphere and in the use of math and logic to investigate solutions to problems. He retired to a simple rural life-style after getting patents on such things as the first metal-composite ski (the famous Head 360), and was in on the beginning of carbon-fiber tennis racquet development. Now he works on things like solar tractors and cars. He's developed a 'threshing machine' that a person can use to separate grains from chaff on an individual opposed to the industrial approach of agri-business.

John's approach to most problems is pretty much what any engineer would do: he crunches the numbers in an attempt to define the problem in quantifiable terms. This allows the various aspects of it to be understood better in relation to all the other elements. And, John, having been mystified by such questions as: "Why are we motoring off into the future as if we'll never run out of oil?" has crunched the numbers revealing how fast our global population is growing, how fast we are increasing the demand for oil, how food production is evolving in relation to the demands that are now and will be placed on it. He's very good at concretizing a set of problems that most of us simply look at and shake our heads. By translating such overwhelming numbers into understandable form, he has arrived at some conclusions--I suppose 'hypotheses' would be a better term--that are alarming.

At one point in our conversation, he looked at me with a sense of resignation and said, "I used to think it didn't matter what would happen...because I would be dead." He's 76 now (but he runs UP mountains for the fun of it) "But, now I know that I will be here.....because, we're right on the tipping point." And he just looked at me.

I might have found his conclusion more alarming except for the fact that my intuition has been telling me the same thing in as many ways as I can hear it. Everywhere I look, everything I read or see on t-v, seems to be conveying the same message: all the elements are in place for a collision with reality. People who have hope that things will come around, just sort of shape-up and return to what we had.....are about to be slapped rudely with a reality check. Our society is on the verge of sweeping and dramatic changes.

What form they will take remains a matter of conjecture. But, there are so many different factors coming to full maturity and effect, that anybody looking at it all from a reasonably objective overview must now acknowledge at least a sense of dread about the future. I delivered a sermon this past Sunday to the local Unitarian church....a wonderful congregation who is adventurous enough that they've had me come back multiple times. The nature of my sermon was essentially the same as what I am saying here, with the added dimension that seeking to create an active community of souls who are preparing is just a very timely and good idea right now.

I had wondered how this message would be received. Would I be seen as a kind of 'Chicken Little' bringer of doom, as inappropriately alarmist on some level. As it turned out, these good people were not only in complete agreement with my message, some of them were way ahead of me. It is now readily apparent to people across the various elements of our society that something is beginning to happen and that we need to prepare ourselves, both mentally and physically. Community, in the sense of a group that depends on each other, dedicated to the principle that we're all in the same life-boat going to be central and vitally important.

So, you might want to look around your own locale for others who are also concerned, if not alarmed, and begin taking steps to organize an intelligent and compassionate response to what is looming on the horizon. Google: "Transition Communities" or "Transition Handbook" and see what is going on with that concept. Wiki has a section on it and it seems to be a much more enlightened response than all the people who are becoming so-called 'Preppers'. Survivalists have been around for decades; most of them are isolationists who have heavily armed themselves and are prepared to kill YOU....or anybody who interferes with their feeling that what is coming is going to be the great winnowing of the 'fittest', which in their minds translates into the most willing to commit violence.

'Community' is the key.