What A Way To Go by Timothy S. Bennett

Clinton Callahan
NEXT CULTURE
Published in
6 min readNov 22, 2023

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(Excerpted from the documentary What A Way To Go: life at the end of empire, written and directed by Timothy Scott Bennett, 2007, author of All Of The Above, and Rumi’s Field)

All Of The Above by Timothy Scott Bennett

Modern culture is a system that selects for short-term power rather than for compassion, sanity, or long-term survival. I think we humans are much more than we’ve ever been allowed to believe. Humans have a history of living more connected with the natural world, with the planet. Much more sustainable. Much more spiritual. Much more communal.

As modern culture starts to shift and change and disintegrate and collapse, there’s the opportunity, in fact, to come back to ourselves. To grow up, fundamentally, as people and as a culture.

We’re in a time of initiation, folks. A mass initiation at the level of culture itself. A vision quest for the collective mind. This culture’s arrogance, its adolescent sense of invincibility and entitlement, is being sloughed off to make room for a more mature sense of interdependence with, and responsibility to, the community of life.

This is the work of initiation. Stepping into this cultural maturity, we will take our rightful place in the community of life. And we will fall back in love with the world. We can do this. But only if we choose to. Only if we lay down our weapons in our insane war against the world. Only if we surrender control and move back into relationship.

You want unlimited growth? You can have it. All you’ve ever wished for and more. Growth in relationship and experience. Growth in self-awareness and spirit and love and community and connection. Growth in purpose and meaning. Growth in vision.

What is your Nonmaterial Value that you can provide to your village? What if you practice enough to become absurdly effective at delivering your Nonmaterial Value? https://nonmaterialvalue.mystrikingly.com

When we step back into the community of life, we will find out immediately what has always been true: all of life is on our side.

I think we need to look at what is it we want and see if civilization as we’ve created it is giving us that. And if it’s not, what could give us that?

What does it mean to dismantle civilization? What it means is depriving the rich of the ability to steal from the poor and to destroy the world. I can’t give a better definition than that.

There’s no real reason why the entire country of the United States couldn’t face reality. You just have to drop the idea of capitalism. You have to drop the idea of corporations running things. You have to drop the idea of economic growth. It could be done.

There was a great tradition among the Cheyenne dog soldiers called ‘the picket pin and the stake’. They would get a tanned rope, called a ‘dog rope’, and a picket pin, that’s used to stake horses to the ground. They would tie the ‘dog rope’ to their sash and to their ‘picket pin’. And then in battle, they would drive their picket pin into the ground as a mark of resolve. Because once it’s driven, you can’t leave until either you’re dead, or you’re relieved by another dog soldier, or the battle’s over and everyone is safe.

The question I am asking is, at what point will you drive in your picket pin? Where will you stake yourself out and say, “I’m not going to retreat any more”?

Your descendants are watching you. How will you be?

It’s time to be thoughtful, coming together to learn about the world as it really is. Reading between the lies. Doing the math. Studying the world situation. There will be a quiz. A paradigm shift will require that we question our deepest and most fundamental assumptions. And that will require that we take our current worldview gently in our arms and hold it while it breathes its last breath. Step into a new story. Walk away from the pyramids. Get out of the crumbling building. Break out of prison. Choose your favorite metaphor. Choose your own adventure. But choose.

What is the energetic procedure of Taking A Stand? What if you do not know? How could you ever Take A Stand if you have not developed the skills for doing so? What would happen you practice enough to become absurdly effective at Taking a Conscious Stand? https://takeastand.mystrikingly.com

It’s time to be truthful. Millions of sensual pulsing animal bodies are now living trapped and used and starved in cities and cubicles and sweatshops and food courts and traffic jams and suburbs and public-school classrooms. People who are not rich and white already know this. What would happen if we let ourselves feel our feelings about all of this?

The entire community of life on this planet is now being threatened. Where do we stick our picket pins? Where do we take a stand? When do we find the courage to let ourselves feel what’s going on? Our feelings are the swiftest path back to our forgotten selves. It’s time to be open and humble.

There are huge forces at work in the world, both seen and unseen. It’s time to ask for help. Ask the ancestors. Ask the gods. Ask your God. Go outside and lie down on the Earth and ask the land, and the sky, and the life of this place. And then listen for a response. Listen to the voices of soil and stone, wind and water, the voices of cirrus clouds and chickadees, of red squirrels and wood beetles and Russian olives and hickories. The world will tell us what it knows, if only we will be still. And listen.

And then speak. It’s time to show up in our own lives and tell the truth. It’s time to talk about the world situation with everyone we see. We’re all in this together. What a relief it’ll be, to discover that we are not alone.

It’s time to act with great intention. There is work aplenty to do in this weary world, and plenty of people engaged in that work. Find those people. Join in. Save rivers and stop bulldozers and stand up at city council meetings to tell your truth. Share your skills. Evolve local communities. Move from agriculture to permaculture and grow your own food. Learn about medicinal herbs. Build a local community to serve the world and preserve the life of a piece of land. Or set sail in the wider world, interrupting the destruction, healing the wounds, crafting connections and changing minds. As Derrick Jensen says, “We need it all.” [Archiarchy needs it all.] Find your work, and do it. It’s time. We can do far, far better than capitalist patriarchal empire.

Inner Navigating your Feelings and Emotions is not taught in modern culture. Learning to Consciously Feel is (r)evolutionary. It changes your life. When you are ready to tap into archetypal levels of clarity and energy as your own personal resources, your next step may be reading the book Conscious Feelings by Clinton Callahan, with a stunningly-fierce forward and a worldview-changing afterword, both written by Timothy Scott Bennett. https://consciousfeelings.mystrikingly.com

Perhaps we can come together and decide to dismantle, joyfully and with conscious intent, the rusty and dangerous old swing-set of a culture that no longer serves us. This may seem an impossible task. But if the alternative is extinction, then we have nothing to lose. We humans once knew how to live on this planet. A few still do. And that’s the good news. It can be done.

I do not know if I will survive the crash of industrial civilization or the impacts of the climate change that that civilization has unleashed. But I do know this: I have a choice. We have a choice. I can meet it with a burger in my hand, a French fry in my mouth, and a cold drink spilling onto my jeans. Or I can meet it with consciousness, integrity, and the sense of purpose that is my birthright. I can meet it on the far side of initiation, a mature and related member of the community of life, standing tall, doing my best to protect and serve this Earth that I love.

This is the course I have chosen. This is where I stake my ‘picket pin’. I will show up and I will tell my truth. But it’s hard to sail alone when the seas rage so fiercely. If you sail with me, we shall both be made stronger. And when others join us, then our crew will be made strong indeed. Together, we will set forth, to find that new land.

What a way to go. . .

Timothy Scott Bennett has published his full documentary online for free viewing at YouTube. Donations to help cover his costs are gladly accepted through https://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/what-a-way-to-go-life-at-the-end-of-empire/. Please watch this film with friends, not alone, being sure to reserve a half-hour afterwards to discuss and integrate this crucial information.

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Clinton Callahan
NEXT CULTURE

Originator of possibilitymanagement.org trainings, author of No Reason and Conscious Feelings, possibilitator, fun-raiser, memetic engineer. clintoncallahan.org