Wednesday, April 7, 2010


It's ugly when an addict spirals out of control. I should know; I've experienced it enough times. I believe that as civilization spirals out of control many of the same events, mental processes and responses that have been seen and used with addiction will be useful in deciding on responses to collapse. The two situations seem not just similar; they seem identical.

While my own denial still pops its sandy head, I do believe civilization is going to collapse. I think it's collapsing right now as I sit in a newly thawed city park where it looks more like fall than spring. The early frost last year caught the trees still dressed in brown leaves. The new green shoots haven't changed the skirt to its seasonal green yet and I keep losing track of the seasons. Is it fall 2009? Spring 2010? Oops, did I just fall back in time? It's with a great sigh of relief that I realize it is indeed spring. 2010. Somehow I lived through 2009, have pulled through another personal spiral and am on the road to health. As my senses and sanity return, I realize that society is just beginning its awareness of descent and I understand from my personal experience how ill-prepared we are to deal with it.

When a human being spirals out of control with an addiction a variety of likely events takes place. Since drug abuse is happening, the ability to cope is markedly lessened, there is a higher incidence of illness and accidents, an increased likelihood of lost jobs and relationships, mental problems are born or exacerbated and probably worst of all, a spiritual emptiness envelopes the addicts entire world. All the while, the addict is trying to maintain some semblence of normalcy and will be mired in a great deal of denial which tends to come and go depending on outside circumstances and inner acceptance or resistance. Or sometimes they're not in denial. Sometimes they're just too despairing to do anything but keep playing their assigned role until the inevitable crash happens.

After the crash, if one is lucky, one gets to see what pieces are left to pick up and which ones are gone forever. One has to decide which ones to pick up first and what to do with them. While one is doing that, one has to deal with the pain which inevitably sets in, the self-recriminations and guilt, the sure knowledge that so much more has been hurt than oneself, so many more than oneself. The fear that one may do it again. Immense courage is called for to take those halting first steps toward recovery. Even more is called for as it begins to dawn on one how tenuous it all is, how easily it could all break down, the possible consequences if that happens.

The signs of civilization's sprial are everywhere. I think when we look back at this time, we will wonder how anyone could have possibly missed them. The problem is that we're all so used to the signs, we take them for granted, we don't see them as signs - we see them as normal. We've become so numb to the reality of the world in which we live that our vision is affected, not to mention our cognitive ability. We've been trained to run our rat race well and attempting to slow down or stop running causes intense anxiety. However, as more and more people are affected daily by the consequences of society's loss of control, there will be no choice but to stop, no choice but to deal with the ramifications and no choice but to respond.

Since so many of us are still in an extreme phase of denial, here are some of the signs: homes being foreclosed in record numbers, skyrocketing unemployment rates and various factions of society becoming less patient with each other creating civil unrest and individuals who just want to fight. Violence lessens the anxiety for a time; any action lessens the anxiety for a time. Do I really need to go into all the illnesses affecting our environment? Dead-zones the size of Texas in the oceans, disappearing species, unusually destructive weather patterns, masses of land that will no longer bear fruit. All of these point to one big thing: less food and water for all. The human species, like all species, is designed to adapt and survive and on some level all of us feel, even if we can't yet admit it, the writing on the wall.

When one lives with addiction, one becomes comfortable with riding the unknown, with knowing that one's choices will go only so far to provide healing, realizing the rest must come from that ineffable realm known as grace, where human choice meets divine intention. To get there, we must either be forced or led out of our own denial, our own culpability, our own delusions. With vast experience on the matter, you can take it from me: being led is preferable to being forced. But being led requires willingness.

What do you think the signs of society coming out of denial might look like? I'm going to talk about that next time and your comments always help me put my thoughts into something like coherence. Denial-buster: read the ingredients on food labels, look them up, see what they do.


Anonymous said...

I think some signs of coming out of denial include more people choosing voluntary simplicity, frugality, back to the land, back to basics, living off the grid, eating less meat, reading labels, voting with their wallets and thereby influencing more stores to provide stickers that tell consumers the impact on the earth each product has had (with no part of the cycle ignored)...

miss*R said...

those labels on food are very frightening.. as is what is being done to our food via chemical sprays etc.. and let us not mention GM food

Susan said...

Hi Ang, it's Susan from the LSR email list. Thanks for the really interesting analogy between addiction and civilization. Seems to me one sign the society's coming out of denial would be acknowledgment of how much of the country's prosperity has been based on slavery and land theft--and payment of reparations for both.