Don’t Say You Didn’t See It Coming

No way to delay
That trouble comin’ every day
-Frank Zappa

I can’t remember the day I became certain that our world will drastically alter during our lifetimes, that my daughter’s adulthood will take place in a possibly unrecognizable reality. I think it was about five years ago, when I began to understand the energy crisis–that there is not enough fuel on the planet to allow us to continue our way of life much longer (and even if there were, it’s not in our best interests to heat up our atmosphere any more).

Trouble is coming. Many folks would say it’s already here.

It is easy to think that things will keep on going as they have been–in fact, it seems practically impossible to alter the elements of our world that are not working. But the reality is, the world is on a radically new course, and each year will bring changes that we wouldn’t have been able to imagine just a short time ago.

I remember something a family member said, after 9/11, when they were finding envelopes filled with anthrax. “The people in authority will just fix things. They know what they’re doing. We can count on them to take care of us.” Then came the events of the last decade: endless war sold to the public under false pretenses, the failed response to Katrina, environmental devastation, the energy crisis, the reality of climate change, financial meltdown, mass unemployment and hunger. No matter how great your faith in the system, all signs are clear that something is wrong. The forces that hold “business as usual” together are unraveling.

It’s past time to wake up. Whether your politics are red, blue, or neither, it’s plain to see that the “people in authority” are, frankly, the blind leading the blind. Really, what more do they have to screw up that they haven’t already? We can no longer look up to the authorities for answers, solutions, hope. Their authority is not legitimate. They do not know how to fix the problems they’ve created. The only thing they seem to know how to do is to funnel more money into the pockets of the already rich. The important question is not, how can we get them to make things right, but: why do people continue to put their faith in authority, when those in power have squandered the people’s hope for so many years?

The simple truth is the people calling the shots full well understand how bad things have gotten, and the extraordinarily dire situation we are in, but it is not in their interest to alert the public, because if everyone collectively got the facts and compared notes, the economy would tank within days. True, a tanked economy would cause immediate hardship, which is a reality most of us are already experiencing. But there is an important point that the moneyed don’t seem to realize: the financial system is not too big to fail. Humanity can survive if Wall Street fails, but we absolutely can not survive without an intact planet. Our earth is the only thing that is “too big to fail”, and business as usual has pushed our planet to the brink.

Trouble is coming, and it’s overdue.

Our food systems, transportation systems, communication systems, our economy, and our lives are built up around a system that is falling apart. We have to wake up and realize that the old rules do not apply–we do not have the luxury of petitioning the powers that be to do our bidding and then wait while they fiddle as Rome burns. This is beyond right wing, left wing, progressive, libertarian, whatever–the situation is dire, and it is time to stop waiting for someone else to take care of our problems, or pointing the finger at other groups we think are to blame. Will it be too late when we understand that we can’t waste any more time focusing on getting the people in charge to do our bidding? We’ve played by those rules for too long.

Now, it’s our turn–it’s time to take matters into our own hands. This is beyond politics. If we want to avert disaster, we have no choice but to step up and build resilience, for our children, for our communities. Think I’m being alarmist? Understand: money in the bank is not going to save you. A 401K is not going to save you. A shotgun is not going to save you. Supporting the right candidate is not going to make everything okay. We are entering a new world where the old rules will not apply. Grab a shovel and pitch in. Working together just might save us.

Our communities need to be asking: what do we need to survive? Food, clean water, heat, shelter, friends we can count on, ingenuity, a few bikes, work we love doing, family, creativity, seeds, safe streets, love? Chances are, our ipods and Kindles are going to be much less useful than they are now. The solutions that will make a difference are going to be a lot simpler. An example: where I live in the mountains of North Carolina, we have hundreds of farms. Still, we import 95% of our food from outside the region. Soon we will not be able to cheaply import this food that we now count upon. If we want to avert mass hunger, we have to grow a lot more food locally. Many regions are even worse off than we are. That’s what we have to look at, whether we like it or not. It is going to get real, folks. Don’t be caught saying you didn’t see it coming.

The good news is, there are already thousands of people that have long realized these realities and are working on reclaiming their communities. There are answers, but they don’t depend on whether you vote Democrat or Republican, or how skillfully you can pin the blame on another group. The answers depend on how willing you and and the folks around you are to look reality in the eye and work together to build solutions.

Summer garden on Prince Edward Island

Practical, community-based direct action, not magical solutions granted from on high, will get us closer to where we need to be. And as difficult as this transition will be, it may surprise us at times to feel relieved. All of us, by necessity, will be engaged in meaningful work. We will finally be able to unplug, say goodbye to centuries of destruction, and hopefully, to witness rebirth. We’re going to get a lot closer to where our food comes from. We’ll have the opportunity to rebuild the tight-knit communities that many of our elders enjoyed.

If you’re not sure where to start: grow something this year. Start a simple garden or just plant a few seeds. Get to know more of your neighbors. Read some of the articles posted below. Build community where you’re at–not just online, but on your street. Stop depending on others to fix problems that have gotten far too out of hand. Empower yourself to take action! Together, we have the power to create change.

Further reading:

Is the World’s Oil Running Out Fast?
Why Transition?
Designing Energy Descent Pathways
Urban Farming Revolution
Life Reclaimed: An Interview with Jared Manos

Seed oil production in Haiti



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2 responses to “Don’t Say You Didn’t See It Coming

  1. Pingback: “Don’t Say You Didn’t See It Coming” « Punk Rock Permaculture E-zine

  2. Pingback: Damek.» Blog Archive » Two Only Mildly Related Things

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