Importance of Natural Resources

Joe Brewer: The Ecological Crisis & Honoring The Sacred Work

LBW: Part of my struggle is that as you had
mentioned earlier regarding climate crisis in particular the ecological
crisis more or broadly but it’s um it may be too late right there is that
sense that we have definitely crossed certain thresholds and you’re still
doing the work you know you’re still trying to generate this this massive
shift and humanity’s role within the story of life on this planet how do you
I don’t even know how to ask how you like how do you feel about that but
that’s not even a really adequate question because to me it’s like what I
deal with is that I’ve kind of come into this acceptance that there’s gonna be a
massive die-off at the very least there’s going to be a radical decline of
human population as well as as we’re seeing radical decline of other
populations of other species and we may it be entering into a hot they call the
hot what they call it a hot house Earth I almost said hot state but you know into a new
normal as it were a new a new state that that we’ve had but only millions of
years ago and human beings weren’t around at all for that how do you cope with this I mean how do
you continue doing the work in the face of this information JOE BREWER: Something that’s
really helped me that is a maybe surprising is that I’ve uh I’ve
struggled with depression for all of my life including in my childhood and by
dealing with depression if you’ve ever been depressed when you’re in the
mindset of depression it’s not just like you’re feeling a little bad and you’re
gonna feel better later it paints the color of your world it is the eyes and
ears that you have it’s the body that you have so you can’t escape it when
you’re in it and so it can be very dismal the feeling of despair when one
is in depression but something that really helped me was discovering ways to
address my depression when I was young that enabled me to honor and be
responsible for things that I cared about because the worst thing about
being depressed is when you do that hurts someone that you love and now on top of
your depression you have all of this shame and guilt because you feel
terrible that you harm this thing that you love you know it’s like I said this
bad thing to my mom and I really hurt her feelings I was a total dick oh it’s
because I was dealing with anger and depression doesn’t excuse it now I feel
even worse you know so there’s this way that that the despair gets even worse
when we when we violate things that are sacred to us because we’re aware of that
even when we’re depressed it’s what I gradually came to realize was that there
were ways to preserve the sacred even when I was depressed and then when I
wasn’t depressed I had more skill skills for serving and supporting the things
that were sacred and so over time I’ve just gotten better and better at this
because of this you know accident of my history that I dealt with this
particular kind of mental anguish and yeah now as I go about the work today I
have I’ve realized just how profound it is that my wife and I chose to have a
child knowing what’s happening in the world now there are very diverse
perspectives to be had about whether people should have children right now
and there’s not a simple answer so I’m not gonna say because I have a child
that everyone should or shouldn’t whether it’s someone who chooses not to
as good or bad you know it’s there’s no simple way to deal with the ethics of
this but after we chose to have a child knowing what is coming and then feeling
the vulnerability of a newborn in her hands and then raising this child who is
not able to do things up for themselves now but also completely powerless to
choose whether they want to be alive in 2050 we made that choice not them we
chose to give birth to them that it’s given me a daily practice of doing two
things one is allowing myself the incredible joy of
being with a small child cuz small children are just amazing how inspiring
and beautiful and wonderful how fun they are how nice it is to get to be a kid
yourself when you’re playing and that’s just a good healing like break or
respite from from the work but the other thing is that I now I’m responsible to
something other than myself so even if I was really depressed and I was like
feeling suicidal and I wanted to kill myself I would think about the
consequences for my child and that would stop me and that would make me do the
hard work of serving what is sacred to me because I cannot violate it like I
won’t allow myself to and I think that this is something that maybe is a tough
pill to swallow you know it’s like medicine it doesn’t taste good but but
we need to take this medicine seriously but only when we suffer in our own pain
and hold to what is sacred to us and honor it and do the hard work even when
we don’t want you it’s the only way that some of this is going to be done and so
I might be feeling pretty inspired at the moment because things are going well
you know maybe they’re going well this week but that doesn’t going well in six
months we may not be going well tomorrow you know it’s just very difficult to
predict but this ability to continue doing the work in service to the sacred
regardless of how we feel is the key it’s a meditation it’s a lifetime
practice honor the sacred even when you don’t feel like you can sometimes you
honor the sacred by just leaving it alone and taking care of yourself
other times you honor the sacred by actively doing something that really
causes you pain because to not do it would lead to something worse and see
like I’m not gonna give a rosy picture of how easy it is to be inspired because
one of the most important parts of this work is discernment the ability to see
the world as honestly and truthfully as possible
with all the limits of the human mind all the tendencies towards self-serving
bias we have to overcome them and see the world honestly and painfully as it
really is but also how beautiful and inspiring it
is so it’s not all bad it’s just that we have to take the good with the bad and
that requires a lot of work LBW: Yes thank you yeah that really uh that resonates
with me quite a bit that’s the bit I’ve struggled with and you know there’s a
you know the thing about social media it’s great I mean you know connect with
people that’s how we connected it but you know coming into contact with people
that are coming into this awareness of what’s happening they’re finding each
other using social media oftentimes what I see is a resignation right it’s you know it’s too late and I’m like it might be it probably is
I’m not gonna deny the science on this but like you said you know what is
sacred to you and what is worth defending and protecting and holding up
and in continuing to do the work in spite of this I I think a lot about this
and I thank you for your perspective on that JOE BREWER: Yeah another thing I would just say
to kind of wrap it up right to wrap up that part of it is that the the only way
that we behave like adults in a time like this instead of behaving
like adolescents which is what consumer marketing tells us to do to be good
consumers is to you know perpetually be selfish and pursue your own interests
pursue your needs but to put your own needs aside and help something else is
to be an adult and so in that sense when we ask ourselves what is sacred then we
are asking ourselves what must I do regardless of the outcome
which is I may feel miserably this may not work at all but is it something I still
have to do and when I think about safeguarding the future for my child who
was now alive I as a parent have to do that or else I’ve dishonored myself as a
parent I’ve dishonored my child I’ve disgraced myself and this is something
that in the modern Western world we’ve really lost which is the important of
the importance of the positive version of honor the importance of really taking
our own conscience and our own characters seriously that we may fail
ourselves a thousand times and still still find that there is a time where if
we failed one more it would be a disgrace and that is the time when we
rise above and there are lots of I mean a lot of our great literature that most
of our dramas and great literature have these turning points where someone rises
above the failures of themselves this is a key element of of tragic drama Greek
tragedy has this element and its story structure is overcoming the unavoidable
weakness so it transcends it the unavoidable weakness remains and yet
right action is still achieved and right action is achieved because it’s serving
something larger than ourselves so our personal feelings don’t keep us
from doing it but we sacrifice ourselves to do it and this is a spiritual
Epiphany it’s really a spiritual Epiphany to see
that we are capable of doing this at any time and at a time like this with what’s
happening to the planet we need more and more people who have this level of
seriousness about their actions

Reader Comments

  1. Micheal Mann is saying it's not too late to address climate change and to say it's too late is intellectually dishonest. He gives examples of humans solving big problems. Of course nothing of this scale, and we have completely failed to address peak oil, or population. When you are told not to panic, it's time run. When you are told it's not too late, it's far, far too late. When you are told it's too late and we are not going to do anything about it, prepare to die because a wait-and-see policy has been policy for 40 years.?
    The inconvenient truth, the disturbing reality, is there has never been a political path to power for someone telling people they should have a lower standard of living. It would mean chosing NEW winners and losers along the way to a lower energy, lower consumption world.

    The Charney Report 1979
    – page viii
    "The conclusions of this brief but
    intense investigation may be comforting
    to scientists but disturbing to
    policymakers. If carbon dioxide
    continues to increase, the study group
    finds no reason to doubt that climate
    changes will result and no reason to
    believe that these changes will be
    negligible. The conclusions of prior
    studies have been generally reaffirmed.
    However, the global climate system, may
    be expected to slow the course of
    observable climate change. A wait-and-
    see policy may mean waiting until it is
    too late."

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