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Positive Thinking in a Dark Age


#1

Positive Thinking in a Dark Age

Jim Tull

I recall a Buddhist parable involving a stick that appears from a distance to be a snake, causing fear to rise in the perceiver. As the perception shifts upon closer examination, the fear subsides and the relieved hiker continues down the path. Understanding and awareness have a lot to do with how we feel and how we act. As hosts to the dominant cultural mindset (our collective understanding of who we are in the universe), our minds play a critical part in both perpetuating our dominant way of life and also in shifting away from it.


#2

Jeez, so much of your essay is about finding out that what you hoped was a stick really is a deadly snake, and that there's no way to escape it. I see no point to your fatalism. Cultures evolve. Even, say, Syrian culture will continue, if mostly scattered into other cultures. And at some point the guns at home will fall silent and something will be rebuilt. Assad will never be able to rule as he and his father did. ISIS/Daesh will someday peter out as its participants notice that their apocalypse hasn't happened.

One bit you have very wrong is the assumption that "the collapse of the Soviet Union" was a step forward. Much was lost in that moment. Just from 1974 to 1988, as an interested, concerned, and increasingly trained direct observer (from undergraduate tourist to the far end of graduate-level sociological focus on that culture), I saw an alarming breakdown of true communal concern. While some enjoyed a richer material culture, the bottom of the economic system was much deeper (babushkas living in the street crossing tunnels and selling what little they had) and western-style trash blew about the streets. Instead of tepid kvass drunk from heavy glasses that were barely rinsed for the next citizen, Muscovites sucked Pepsi from cups and straws that they dropped in the gutters. Those who could afford bread could stroll into supermarkets instead of watching for opportunistic queues, and the plastic carry bags that replaced their "avoska" string bags could be discarded wherever they wished. It was all too familiar, and my heart was broken.


#3

What a great article! Jim Tull covers all the bases.He offers a blueprint for how we can live our lives in the near term while thinking about the long term. He shows how to keep our feet on the ground, while not losing sight of the beautiful sky. Perfect for the new year, and I'd say this article definitely and definitively trumps all the negative naysayers.


#4

Most excellent article Jim Tull !!!

"We have to move forward and out of where we are."
- Jim Tull

Indeed.

In my own travels I learned that not only is necessity the mother of invention, but that necessity is the only good reason for doing anything.

The Formula One race car driver Sterling Moss once said:

"I don't believe there is such a thing as courage - only compulsion and necessity." (or words to that effect)

And I like very much the central idea of Jim's article - that cultural change - leading to systemic change - is the order of the day. That there is a 'hive' tipping point somewhere up ahead - and we will change.

Just now - the "necessity" is not manifestly clear enough to effect wholesale change - hence Common Dreams - a part of the 'hive' mind - doing our bit - Robert Frost like.