Debating “Facts” While Easter Island Dies

The people of Easter Island built statues while their ecosystem collapsed around them.

The Earth is an Easter Island now. Those who know the history of this remote place will get what I am talking about. Simply look around you this week as millions of people gawk, argue, discuss and debate the acts of President Trump — each conversation caught up in a sea of distractions while the entire system moves farther along in a slow procession of collapse.

We may never know what the last Easter Islanders debated. Their population was a ghostly shadow of its former self when European explorers touched down on its shores after the felling of its final trees. What we can say with confidence is that any attempts to stave off collapse were too little done too late.

The same can be said about the largess of the United States in the year 2017 and those who benefit from the global economy at the planetary scale. Far too many are plugged into their mobile devices, sharing the latest joke about the absurdities of politics (insert ideology of choice here →X) and feeling some combination of self-righteousness, guilt, dismay, and despair. What we don’t feel is hopeful. There is little to give us cause to think that we can be empowered to transform this broken world. And so we ride it out like passengers on the Titanic knowing full well that our ship is sinking below the crashing waves of our own icy northern ocean.

The debate about “fake news” and “alternative facts” has this air about it. Why do those who believe the bullshit feel so righteous when their pompous narcissist takes the reins of power? And why is it that those who see through this bullshit also feel righteous as they mock and ridicule the stupidity of their perceived opponents (those who voted for that guy)? None of this is grounded in reality. Discernment of facts has no place in a world lacking in discernible action. The climate doomsday has already happened without anyone knowing it. What other thresholds of systemic collapse have already been crossed without any perceivable effect at present?

Now is the time for being connected with reality. Those of us who are working from a place of empowerment are doing so because we sit in the discomfort of knowing how bad things really are. We have trained our bodies with stress testing to be able to stand firm in the pain of a dying world. And we have trained our minds to make sense of systemic root causes so that we can see the changes emerging as they come.

And yet all of us alive today are left watching as this new incarnation of Rome burns around us. Our own Easter Island is the planet Earth itself. Global ecocide is now upon us and the biosphere is unraveling — topsoil losses, acidifying oceans, mass extinction… and the social unrest of human societies going through the death throes of late-stage capitalism with all the inequality, wealth hoarding, and political corruption that comes with it.

Those who are caught up in the distractions of politics today are building their own “big headed” statues. The Easter Islanders carved theirs out of stone and dug it from the fertile soils of their tropical island. We build ours on digital soil and carve them from our own stubborn rocks of self-righteousness — asserting boldly that MY statue is better than yours.

Yet all who do this are merely perpetuating the ego worship of their own false gods. They do not see what is real as they shadow box with demons in their own heads.

Let those of us who see this feel into our deep authenticity. Know that it is air we breathe and there is soil and rock somewhere beneath our feet. We may ourselves get caught up in the worship of false idols from time to time — but that will not be acceptable in this unique period of planetary crisis. Our “facts” that make us feel like we won the debate will not save us in the end. Security blankets do not protect against the flames of a building as it burns. Only by stepping through the crucible of humility and grief will we be empowered to take meaningful actions.

The world needs us awake to what is happening now. Luckily, the seeds of awakening are all around us. It may be painful to be aware of so much suffering in the world. Yet it is this capacity for feeling with raw authenticity that will be vital for getting us through to the other side of societal and ecological collapse.

There were a few Easter Islanders still alive after the fall of their society. And there will be many survivors for this one too. The future of humanity needs stalwart bodies with open hearts and minds to care enough about the generations yet to come, human and otherwise. So let us take up this spiritual work of loving a world as it dies and simultaneously loving a world going through the painful process of being born.

If you also see this pattern… feel it as an aching in your soul… know that you are not alone. I feel it too. We both see it. And the world is better for having us awake to bear witness to it. For it will be those who saw it coming that were best prepared to compost the dying old world and plant seeds for the new one soon to follow afterwards.

Onward, fellow humans.


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