Dependent upon many factors but inevitable, human extinction is guaranteed. This isn’t news since all species eventually go extinct. The human species is no exception. The difference however is that a portion of our species through our “civilized” living arrangement, is pushing our entire species – plus countless others – towards extinction at a furiously fast clip, almost as if working diligently to improve upon the natural life process of extinction to make it more productive and efficient.
Regardless of the process, no one here gets out of here alive. Whether or not we accept extinction isn’t the point. Death awaits us all. With that in mind I’ve created a to-do list for our species that we can begin to work on as the lights dim on humanity. This list has two purposes. The first is to get things in order so that we may exit this life with integrity and humility. (It seems we’ve lacked either of these qualities of late and it would be nice to go out with a little class). Finally, this list provides an opportunity for individuals to begin a process of accepting the truth of the situation that we are all in. These tasks will allow people to move towards the exit with grace. The end may not be pretty but how one goes through it will make all the difference in how react to our reality. Here then is humanity’s final to-do list:
We were born into a dominant cultural narrative – a narrative that places the economy over life. It’s not our fault that our species is going extinct or that we have taken down so many other species with us. However, we’re still complicit because of our continued self-imposed ignorance or denial of the consequences that our way of life delivers. We can begin to heal by not sitting around and doing nothing, but rather by actively living our lives with integrity and humility. Looking beyond the advertising and facing the horror it takes to produce a lifestyle of mass consumption is an excellent starting point. It’s difficult to forgive oneself while we deny the pain and suffering of our involvement in the process.
Accept the Truth of the Situation We are In
As I mentioned earlier, no one here gets out alive and that’s the truth. Death by any means awaits us all. This to-do list is not specific to extinction. It can be used to guide us towards a life with death in mind … any death will do. Accepting that we will eventually die is another form of absolute liberation. It opens the world up to us. We no longer feel tied down to expectations or the way things should be. Instead, all kinds of possibilities begin to appear in life. Suddenly the fixations we have fall to the wayside and what comes into focus is the gift that life is. Seeing life as a gift makes it nearly impossible to continually waste it on the drama we create between our ears or the insanity of our confusion that “making a living” is actual living.
Listen to Those You’ve Never Considered
Most of us, for most of our lives, have listened to and been influenced by those who are similar to us. Whether it be our sex, gender, race, heritage, or culture, a large part of who we are has been impacted by those we’ve lived amongst. For those of us born into a life of privilege, another layer to peel back is added. We have a belief that our way of doing things, our way of life, is in fact normal. Anything outside this normality is often met with disregard, ignorance, a lack of humility, and violence. Listening to the thoughts and experiences of those who have had to shoulder the ill effects of our privilege would allow us to regain some of the humanity we’ve lost as a consequence of such inherent entitlement. Our privilege has given us lack of meaning and stolen meaningful relationships that go well beyond our families, our gender, our race, our nationality, our culture, and our species. We can begin to embrace the whole instead of the separateness that our privilege unnaturally imposes upon us.
Begin to Move Towards the Exit of This Culture
The dominant industrial culture is psychotic. It needs to devour life to maintain itself. As colliding catastrophes (climate change, sea level rise, food shortages, water shortages, resource depletion, population overshoot, world military conflicts, massive migrations, growing poverty, an overdue pandemic, and looming nuclear disasters) emerge one must take action to maintain personal sanity and physical well being. Our food is processed, our water is polluted and poisoned, our climate is changing abruptly, our version of success is insane, and our information is pure propaganda. We must take steps to protect ourselves first before we can assist and support those we love. If we remain indentured how can we possibly see the bars and chains that imprison so many of us? Move beyond your comfort zone and you’ll be moving towards the exit of its conditional trappings.
Chase a Different Carrot
Consider alternatives when it comes to working and living. Careers are black holes and living for retirement or simply to keep our heads above water is not living at all. Stop chasing a paycheck and chase relationships, community (http://www.ic.org), moments, and beauty. Separate your desires and wants from your basic human needs. Seek out people who are living outside of the status quo. Explore alternative economies beyond the monetary sort. Visit communities that are actively pursuing agendas beyond your personal knowledge. Be willing to evolve in your thinking.
As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Begin by dropping the baggage we all tend to carry around during a large portion of our lives. A to-do list can be fun if you know with its completion life will look like something you’ve never seen before; full of genuine possibilities.
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