Survivor, Texas Style

Don’t Mess With Texas!

Developed as an anti-litter campaign, the cry has become something of a State motto.

Sadly, elected officials and money interests have been “messing” with Texas for a very long time and the results came sliding in on icy roads, flooding in on broken water mains, and finally making it physically obvious that its citizens have been “in the dark” for a long time.

Did ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) prepare? Reliability? HAH! Did the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) prepare? Did the state government prepare when they were warned in 2011 and then again in 2013 to prepare because the power grid was doomed to fail?

TXDot (Texas Department of Transportation) had 700 plows and 200 motor graders for a state that covers an area 268,597 square miles.

It has been obvious for quite a while now that climate has changed. Stronger hurricanes. Increased flooding. The warning signs have been here for years, and not just in Texas.

It is obvious that the land and water cannot sustain the population growth, but that doesn’t daunt those who have profit to be made. Decisions are made on the basis of dollars and not upon sustainability and a long-term naural quality of life rather than a short-term artificial quality of life.

This was catastrophe with a capital C. It was about Corruption and Climate change. Don’t Mess With Nature!

This catastrophe was about money. Money invested in over-developing, over-populating, ignoring infrastructure needs, ignoring water tables, and, undoubtedly, making rich and powerful people more rich and powerful.

But it’s also about Complacency. It’s about the citizens not paying attention. It’s about ordinary people believing lies because they were comfortable lies. Why do the work necessary to think, to question, to educate yourself, to analyze?

It’s about exchanging temporary comforts for very uncomfortable results. It’s about too many people ignoring reality, and about too many people ignoring responsibility for others and for the planet.

It’s also about people becoming dependent. It’s about needing someone else to do the thinking. What do I do if the lights and heat go out. What do I do if the roads are impassable? What do I do if I don’t have water for the toilet? For drinking?

These are common sense questions, and in order for common sense to return, we as a species will need to get back in touch with the fact that we belong to nature, to all that is natural. It is a question of balance.

I speak from experience. I lived for 8 years in Colorado. For about 6 to 7 of those 8 years, I lived without running water. For 5, without electricity. It was easier to live without those modern luxuries in nature. A couple of those years were in the Gunnison National Forest, a couple were in the woods. I lived in a tipi through winter and summer. I lived in a one room log cabin. Each was a learning situation and I got better and better at the lifestyle. I created my own “Survivor, Sharon” experience.

Those years made me capable. I hauled water in two 5-gallon jugs, carrying them at a run a quarter mile uphill. I felled trees. I gathered wild food. I grew food. I lived a lifestyle that our ancestors lived. And, I relied on the goodwill of others for those things I could not do. I relied on Community.

Those years also made me so aware of what we take for granted in our modern world. Though it is not every day that I remember to give thanks for electricity and running water, when I first started using them again, I was in awe of the ability to lift a little switch up and have lights, or turn a switch and have heat. I sometimes turned the faucet on and off, on and off, just because I could. What marvels!

It is possible to still have those marvelous services using intelligent designs, preserving resources, and promoting a true quality of life, if people have the will to do so, and if they elect people who also have the will to do so.

This week, Texans were thrown into a foreseeable situation. There were warning signs from other disasters. There was about a week’s warning that this weather was coming? Who prepared? What agencies gave preventive advice? From a governmental point of view, who gave a damn?

From an independent, personal responsibility point of view, who bought or gathered wood if they had a fireplace. Who stocked up on potable water, foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking? Filled bottles and jugs with water from the tap? Who put plastic over windows? Who bought propane camp stoves and propane? Who had batteries and lanterns ready? Who had insulation strips for doors and windows? Or extra blankets? Warmer clothes?

Of course, many things were beyond the average person’s immediate control.

Generally, Texas homes are designed for letting out heat, not keeping it in. Pipes are exposed. The cars don’t have snow tires. There aren’t tire chains, salt, sand, in the trunk of the car or the bed of the truck for winter weather. Radiators are not filled with antifreeze to meet prolonged cold. People are prepared for sustained heat, not sustained cold. It was a setup for an unmitigated disaster.

Still, if this disaster doesn’t wake people up, how many disasters will it take?

Working from an old paradigm, an old belief system that doesn’t reflect the new reality, is preparing for only more catastrophies, not just here in Texas, but as we have seen elsewhere in the United States, and the world.

People, it is time to wake up. Look around. Your world has changed. If you do not change with it, you will not survive, let alone thrive.

We have a choice. We can ignore the need for change for the temporary illusion of comfort and safety, and propel ourselves and our children into peril.

Or, we can endure the temporary discomfort of change now for a permanently sustainable future. Let’s create a thriving community. Let us start now.

Photo by Inga Seliverstova from Pexels

Consensus Reality

Kurt Vonnegut in Welcome to the Monkey House wrote,

“A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.”

In 1971 Joseph Chilton Pearce, in The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, wrote of consensus reality as conditioned, uncritically examined group beliefs.  I remember my first encounter with it. It was 1962 and I was in 6th grade. Some man dressed in the typical suit, white shirt and tie of that period entered our gifted program classroom. He informed us that because the Russians had just launched the Soyuz rocket that there would be jobs for us in mathematics and engineering; and “not to worry” because we were being prepared and trained for those jobs.

He was probably mainly talking to the boys, but that didn’t occur to me while in my head I heard my own voice screaming, “But what about what I want!?” The image that spontaneously arose was that of a giant machine that ground us up and fed us into a tumbler where we were encased like sausages and expelled in perfect uniformity. (I’m fairly certain that I had never been exposed to a similar depiction in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times). 

For the masses insane behavior can pass for normalcy; and the truth is that insanity is and has been alive and well, is well-funded, advertised, promoted, and socially approved. If you can’t see the insanity, I suggest you ask yourself …..

“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?”

Ursula K. LeGuin 

Consensus reality can be developed consciously or unconsciously and at a very early age. Many who inculcate it in others do not realize that they have been subject to an insidious form of brainwashing (not unlike an hypnotic trance) passed from one generation to the next. It is not unlike an epidemic virus spread by people who do not know they are infected. It is a way to indoctrinate and control behavior, whether for good or ill, in which adherents not only refuse to consider any evidence that might cause them to question or alter their behavior, but may even have learned to block it from their perceptions.

As Hans Christian Anderson showed in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes when no one dares to say the Emperor is naked, all will make themselves believe that they don’t see what they see or see what isn’t there. Regrettably, in real life, even when someone says, “No! The Emperor is naked,” masses will hold on to their pretense. The drive to be right, the need and pressure to be part of the collective power of the group defines the perception of reality even in the face of proof and all evidence to the contrary. The individual’s innermost truths are squelched.

 Salmon Rushdie said,

“…. surrealism it seems is the new realism..”

Consensus reality can lead to totalitarianism and a conformity that controls the minds, hearts and actions of those subjected to it (think Nazi Germany). Its influence, like a pandemic, is deeply disturbing. Is it curable?

The concept of the “contrary” exists in both Taoist and Native American cultures. Legend has it that in the first millennium a Taoist, Zhang Guo Lao, considered the popular notion that we would today call “getting ahead”–becoming wealthy, powerful, gaining prestige, satisfying every desire–was not forward progress but, in spiritual terms, backward movement. He demonstrated by riding backward upon his donkey that people were moving away from their own humanity .

In the North American indigenous Lakota tradition the same kind of sacred satire was performed by the heyoka. This spiritually-appointed court jester or “fool” of the Plains made an important point by doing everything backwards—wearing clothes inside out, walking or riding his horse backwards. The role included asking the difficult questions and saying the things others were too afraid to say; and to serve as a mirror so that people in his tribe would examine their behavior and perhaps think differently.

This is a call to all people who are reading this to become contrary, to wake up from whatever hypnotic spell has you in its grasp.  Stop shouting at each other. Stop listening to the constant drumbeat of same-thought, stop dulling your senses with distractions, practice opening your perceptions the new, stop the patterns that have been planted in your minds and hearts, that are not your own.

The only basis of freedom is to be free—free to think, feel, and to act for yourself out of your own deepest sense of knowing.


Spitting into the Wind

Although I realized years ago that the world was not going to be “saved” or “perfect”, I did expect that the efforts made by me, my friends and colleagues would have a positive impact and leave a lasting legacy for the generations to come. But, with climate disasters increasing, with news of anger, hatred. disrespect and violence bombarding us, with divisions by gender, nation, ethnicity and religion increasing, has anything really been accomplished?

As I ask myself this question while the world goes spinning off in a different direction from the one I imagined—(did the poles shift and I just missed it? Did we slip into an alternate reality?)—I recall a lecture by a Waldorf mentor from decades ago. He said there would come a time that we would feel as though we are “spitting into the wind.”

The online free dictionary defines to be spitting in(to) the wind:

 To be doing something totally pointless, fruitless, or futile…
to be wasting one’s time doing something that will not or cannot come to pass.

He also encouraged us that even though we would could not see any value in our deeds that we should still keep on keeping on.

If have often told clients that affirmations and positive actions are like drops of warm water on clocks of ice. We never know whether we have feet, inches or mere millimeters to go before the ice is gone and we can see through to what is below. Just keep going, drop by drop by drop. Though right now we do not see the results, persist.

I do not resist that which seems to oppose me for resistance only gives it more power. I am focused on that thing and not on what I want to accomplish. So instead I persist.

“The best way out is always through.”
― Robert Frost