toxic or just paradoxic?

Eyeless, by masterymisteryThere's a widespread belief that 2012 is the year when Something Really Big Happens, the year when Everything Changes.

There seem to be three belief-categories, which I term Unexpected Catastrophes, Expected Catastrophes, and Beings and Becomings, respectively.

1. Unexpected catastrophes

In this category are beliefs such as

  • an asteroid will strike the Earth
  • there'll be a global mega-flood (possibly caused by an asteroid striking the Earth)
  • gigantic solar flares will fry the inner planets to a crisp
  • the Earth's crust will slip, causing sudden catastrophic climate change
  • any of the above, as suggested / provoked / predicted by the Mayan calendar.

2. Expected catastrophes

In this category are beliefs such as

  • we'll reach the 'tipping point' for ecological and/or climate-related catastrophe
  • the world's financial and economic systems will collapse, and millions will starve or fight each other to death for dwindling resources
  • millions will fight each other to death anyway, for no good reason
  • global reserves of economically viable energy sources will be exhausted.

3. Beings and becomings

In this category are beliefs such as

  • humans will 'ascend' to another level of being
  • humans will have a more meaningful interaction with their higher selves
  • the final battle between good and evil will commence, or intensify
  • the secret war between extraterrestrials / non-human beings for the biological and other resources of this planet will reach a culmination.

Has there ever been as large a chunk of humanity that has held such beliefs? I'm not talking raw numbers, just proportions, percentages. I don't know the answer, but it would be interesting to do the research.

And why now, in 2012? It's 12 years too late for millennium fever (or 11, depending on how you count the year nought).

I name 2012 The Year of the Paradox.

We expect the unexpected, but we're surprised that it hurts to shoot oneself in the foot. Actually the Unexpected Catastrophes paradox is resolved relatively easily: it's rational to expect that events such as a large asteroid striking the Earth will happen (it has happened before). What's unexpected is that the event should happen now, to me, to us, this year of all years!

Likewise for crustal displacement; in fact no less a thinker than Einstein firmly believed that such displacement is entirely to be expected, is in fact inevitable.

In contrast are the category 2 events, Expected Catastrophes, which seem to be all about 'meltdown' (financial, economic, social, ecological, political, spiritual). Category 2 events are those that we know for sure are on their way or are already here: pollution, climate change, ecological collapse, global financial crises. These are events that are happening now or will shortly happen to me, to us, this year!

Why do we expect these catastrophes? Because we're bringing them upon ourselves! We're doing some serious hurt to ourselves!

And here's another paradox: We see the problems; we have the solutions; we do not use the solutions.

Energy problems? Food problems? Health problems? We know the answers. We know what to do. We could start putting the solutions into practice right now. But we don't. Why not?

Now I'm not going to get into an extended technical explanation of how to solve the problems of the world. It's a well-established fact that this planet has more than enough resources for us to solve all our problems, right now. World hunger, for example, is a food distribution problem, not a food production problem. There's plenty food for everyone. We just don't want everyone to have food. And we insist on producing and consuming food in ways and shapes that are economically and even nutritively inefficient.

Another paradox: According to some, our technical and scientific understanding of the world and how it works has never been greater, and yet IMHO we've seldom been more fearful and confused and ignorant about the world and how it works. We are beings who are becoming slaves of technology, not masters.

Which brings us to category 3, Beings and Becomings.

IMO it would be highly beneficial for us to understand ourselves a little better, to have greater insight into the nature of identity, selfhood, agency and consciousness. And encouragingly, there seems to be a growing acknowledgement of this priority: we seem to have woken up to the urgent need to know more about ourselves.

In 2012, we seem to be becoming more aware of the importance of developing a clearer picture of what it means to be a human being, what it means to be a Being, period, human or otherwise.

Category 3 beliefs are concerned with interactions between Persons in the broadest sense of persons as 'agents with intentionality'. Among such Persons are human beings, their 'higher selves'/souls, non-human beings, extra-terrestrials, gods, demons, etc.

Persons can be groups, equivalent to gestaltish persons comprising multiple component persons. The phrase 'the soul of the species' reflects this idea.

So Jesus Christ can be said to be a Person not only by virtue of being a human being, nor only by virtue of being a god*, but also by virtue of being a group-person, a gestaltish Person comprising the sum total of all the thoughts, yearnings, aspirations, beliefs and prayers of all Christians and their fellow-travellers. In other words: Jesus as the soul or higher self of all Christians.

Are there intelligent 'reptilians' among us, wreaking havoc for their own nefarious purposes?

Well, it's certainly true that for thousands of years, among our so-called leaders have been some pretty cold-blooded killers. They have committed many crimes, including starting wars, for no reason other than to further their own interests in terms of personal wealth and power. I'm not sure about the 'intelligent' part though!

Why does any of this matter? Why embark upon all this hair-splittery, why go on this nitpickerish excursion into Terminology Land? Simply to make the point that 2012 is the year of Beings and Becomings, the year of interactions between Persons, of all shapes and sizes.

Consider the following statements.

  • This year I'm getting in touch with my higher self.
  • This year I'm developing a greater understanding of my Christian/Islamic/Buddhist beliefs.
  • This year my psychotherapy is helping me understand how to resolve the conflicting needs of my ego and my id, my conscious and sub-conscious minds.
  • This year the Person known as Humanity ascends to a higher level of being.

Are not all the above statements actually to the same effect? Each statement is simply a metaphor for the next. They all mean the same thing. This is the year of Beings and Becomings; 2012 is the year of interactions between Persons.

The question is why.

Where do I stand on all of this? I think it's possible a category 1 event, unexpected catastrophe, could occur in 2012, or 2013, or certainly by 200013. But it's unclear to me why it should be 2012, specifically. Unless it has something to do with the precession of the equinox, but let's not go there now.

I think category 2 events, expected catastrophes, are already happening, and will intensify in 2012 and beyond.

As for Beings and becomings, I would like the category 3 beliefs to be true, but I don't know whether they are. On the other hand, I don't know that they're false either. I think it's true that there is a growth in awareness taking place, in many individuals, and in some respects across the species as a whole. Whether that greater awareness will be enough or will happen quickly enough to prevent category 2 events or ameliorate their effects, is in my view unclear -- I'd better clean my windscreen!

It's also worth noting that generally speaking, with some exceptions, the beliefs are not mutually exclusive, at category level, or at the level of individual beliefs. In other words, if a particular belief is true, that doesn't mean the other beliefs are false. And conversely, if a particular belief is false, that doesn't mean the other beliefs are true.

And finally, please note also that generally speaking with some exceptions, the beliefs are not mutually dependent in a statistical sense. Actually, having said that, this particular issue is particularly slippery and ambiguous: many of the beliefs are mutually dependent in more and less obvious ways.

The fact that an asteroid hitting the Earth could produce a tsunami is an example of an obvious dependency (though not a mandatory one -- tsunamis can happen for reasons other than an asteroid striking the Earth).

There's a definite link / dependency between many of the category 2 beliefs, eg ecological catastrophe, and the growth of awareness (or lack of it) among members of the human species and across the species as a whole. In fact, the obvious link between all the category 2 beliefs is: Us. We are the ones who are creating the catastrophes. We're specifically, explicitly and directly hurting ourselves.

We'd better get our act together, it would seem, depending on our objectives as a species. Do we have objectives? If not, maybe we should make some.

* I'm not a Christian, and I don't think the story of Christ as told in the Bible, is literally true. I think we're all sons or daughters of god. And being a good parent, god has no favourites among zir children.


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Lily Strange said...

I guess I'm in the "something's gotta give" category. Humans have been messing up this planet for too long for Mother Nature not to strike back.

I've got some strange goings on over on the Rattling Bones Undead Musician Magazine blog, if you can stomach fanfiction mashups combined with severe hypomania!

masterymistery said...

Hi Lily, according to the schema proposed in the post, beliefs such as yours, which I share BTW, belong in category 2 -- Expected Catastrophes. And yes, I think Gaia will eventually get bored with having to keep parching herself up following our depredations, and will shrug her shoulders in disgust -- earthquakes will then ripple across the Earth, tsunamis in their train, volcanoes not far behind!
Will it be 2012 though? Or the next? Or the next. I don't know, but I think it will be soon! Thanks for your comments, Cheers, MM

Antares said...

The Orang Asli believe that durians (a football sized thorny fruit that, according to some, "tastes like heaven and smells like hell") have eyes and never drop from their tall branches onto people's heads - unless they specifically intend to teach specific people a lesson they will never forget. I'm inclined to believe that meteors and asteroids are just like durians.

Wonderful summary of the reality options available to humanity at this juncture of what Buckminster Fuller calls "scenario universe"!

mgeorge said...

A good summary. What those of a conservative bent mean by "hunger is problem of food distribution" is that the right to unristricted reproduction (and even consumption) is not to be questoned; this includes the supply of serfs. There are similar problems with other Category 2 problems. We cannot envisage tackling Category 1 until after Catergory 2.

We may continue expending many more thoughts, words, plans, projects and beliefs on what are at the core issues of insecurity and greed.

Tempest Nightingale LeTrope said...

Dahling, we're moving the Fan Fictions off of the Rattling Bones Undead Musician Magazine blog. Only for our friends, here is the link to the new blog.

masterymistery said...

Thanks Tempest, just come back from there now: cool blog!

masterymistery said...

Hi Antares, thanks for your thought provoking comment. I think you're right about the meteors and asteroids.

Of course, it wasn't my intention to negate or invalidate any set of beliefs, simply to ask the question why it is that all these themes are lining up this year, in particular.

Perhaps the simple answer is that at some level, all of the beliefs are correct. It's time. Maybe?

masterymistery said...

Hi mgeorge, thanks for your comments.

I take your point about the food distribution / production issue, and included an additional statement to help clarify.

In fact, I amended a number of the items in the various categories. I'm always surprised by the fact that no matter how many times you edit a piece of writing, you can always find stuff that needs fixing.

Per Godelian Incompleteness, Insecurity and greed form a robust negative feedback loop that can't be broken using tools provided by / available within a system designed on the basis of insecurity and greed! Or something...

Still, on the upside, it's one of the most interesting times in human history...

mgeorge said...

MM, I don't find the need or opportunity for re-editing surprising. I have been updating "Evolution of Ideas" around once a month for a few years. You can spend a lot of time on just one document if you want quality, have the patience, and have sufficient understanding of the scope for misinterpretation. This applies particularly to instructions, whether to humans or computers. In my limited xperience with programming, there is quite a bit of scope for polishing - hence the deadlines of project managers. As time passes, you can either (a) keep updating the code to syncronise it with subsequent, interacting changes elsewhere or (b) wait to be notified that it has failed.

Even a brilliant liberal writer may may have too great an opinion of what he has produced. Arundhati Roy say (proundly) that she does not review what she writes.

Martin Olson said...

Wow, brilliant, Steve! Thanks!

masterymistery said...

Thanks Martin, glad you found some value in it. Cheers, S