33. Crisis? What Crisis?
There exist so many potential causes of large-scale disaster that it would demand whole libraries to contain it. However, here we can sum up already-known themes and issues likely to surface in coming decades (in no order of priorities):
toxic industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical and nuclear waste and general pollution (wastelands, algal blooms, food-chain penetration, deformities, water tables, oceans, longterm disposal issues);
oversized military arsenals and arms trading, redundant soldiers and fighters, proliferation of arms ownership, explosives and land-mines, military waste, war victims;
social stresses in cities (crime, alienation and social disintegration, minorities tension and intolerance, poverty-and-wealth contrasts, urban pollution) and inter-ethnic conflicts in ethnically-mixed regions;
ecological-climatic problems (species extinction, UV bombardment, climatic extremes, global warming-cooling, wind-systems and ocean currents, temperature and humidity changes, compound ecological imbalances, natural degradation, defertilisation, desertification, pests, etc);
human disasters and famines, connected with unwise land-exploitation, misgovernment, misdevelopment, population movements, ethnic insecurities and war;
governmental, authority and leadership breakdowns, decline in institutional legitimacy, unreadiness of governmental structures to deal with issues beyond their scope and power;
breakdowns of confidence and anticipation of hyper-fluctuations in financial markets, insurance, commodities, currencies, national and world economies;
demographic criticals – overpopulation, imbalanced weighting of age-structures, growth of underclasses;
social crises, change-shock, risk of mass confusion, disintegration of socially-reinforcing behaviour and ideological disarray;
migrations by the young and needy, by disaster-ridden, economic and political refugees;
conflict between the advantaged and the disadvantaged, locally and internationally;
power-struggles between competitive power-elites (intelligence services, establishments, organised crime, military-industrial interests, political factions, organised dissenters, ethnic groups and world spheres) – whether covert or publicly-visible;
erosion of law and order and growth of corruption, as much by lawmakers as by lawbreakers;
diseases arising from lifestyles (cancers, heart problems), pollution (allergies, deformities, leukemia) and stress, and symptoms of public immunity-breakdown (AIDS, Ebola, ME, TB);
technological disasters (ships, planes, computers, electronics, secret projects, power stations), including future disasters from technologies left unmonitored over time or as a result of systems-breakdown (such as nuclear installations and toxic waste);
terrorism, outbreaks of social insanity (Rwanda), civil wars (Afghanistan) or genocide (Irian Jaya);
astronomical incursions (debris, meteors, comets, solar wind, orbital perturbations) or planetary catastrophes (axial tilt/crustal displacement, tectonic turbulence, sudden sea-level change or atmospheric shift);
unhelpful or destructive ET intervention or conflict between governments and ETs, or some ETs against other ETs (though many would believe this a fantasy);
and (most predictable of all) utterly unforeseen situations.
It's a daunting list and a likely cause of sleepless nights. It is important not to be scaremongering and paranoiac, yet it is equally important to be aware of disaster-potentials – and how to respond. We know we live in a dangerous world. It pays to begin attending to issues we can attend to, so that we're in a better position to tackle emergent issues we didn't know about.
However, what happens if something entirely new takes place – something of which we have no previous knowledge or forewarning? What happens if large nations go bankrupt, causing a settlements, currency and confidence crisis of unprecedented and irreparable proportions? What happens, realistically, if there were indeed a major impact of stellar debris on Earth? What if a debilitating virus swept through humanity in two weeks? What if the Earth's crust were suddenly to heave in a multiplicity of places at once? What happens if there is a sudden unpremeditated mass-reorientation of consciousness, source unknown, which caused everyone's psychology to change overnight?
While there is no way of knowing whether such possibilities could become actuality, it is valuable at least to consider options and to make conceptual adjustments, without paranoia, to help structure research and forethought and to consider worst-case responses and precautions. We need to make an inventory of likely forms and magnitudes of disaster, to assess responses to them – and also assess helpful factors which are to our advantage. This is politically risky business, however: no government relishes entertaining it publicly – nevertheless, it has been done secretly in think-tanks and governments, within certain limited frames of reference.
A very secret ballot
Future-paranoia exists because we fear matters going out of control. To counteract periodic waves of potential social paranoia, disastrous possibilities are routinely discounted in the media and gloomsters and doomsters are belittled – after all, widespread social paranoia would itself constitute a disaster. The matter is thus left to peripheral 'extremists' or 'dreamers' to process through on behalf of society, or it is therapeutically run past the public through epic Hollywood catastrophe movies, as if to safely dispose of the possibility, which is, of course, merely fantasy. Yet disaster-archetypes continue to reside in the collective unconscious, awaiting event-prompts or apocalyptic situations to awaken them.
Catastrophe-awareness surfaces in the public domain whenever the force of events breaks through the blanket of public disinterest – as was the case during the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. Faced with the news of this, the collective unconscious worldwide rumbled and quaked severely for several long days. People were wondering whether this was the beginning of The End. Great relief dawned when eventually it was announced that the crisis was more or less under control – this gave permission to the public collective ego to restore normality, and within months the dread and fear was forgotten and buried – everyone went back to normal.
Nevertheless, this was a serious wobble of collective composure and a sign of things to come. Similar rumbles took place as the Gulf War built up in 1990: the public had believed that large-scale war was somehow finished when the Iron Curtain fell. Smaller news items nibble away at underlying confidence like woodworm, quietly, secretly, until, at some point, the strength of known structures collapses. It is this slow mass-psychological erosion which is a crucial factor in our discussion on disaster, since it is our perception of events which makes the crucial difference to our actions.
While it is important neither to ignore disaster-possibilities nor to talk them up into hopelessly fear-inducing cataclysms, it is very important to look into the deeper choices offered by potential disasters. The primary choice is this: do we protect ourselves against potential hurt and loss, fighting off all threats, or do we cooperate and hold together with others in the face of adversity?
This is both a personal and a collective question, affecting everybody. It is a fundamental trust question and an area of power for humanity: we might or might not be able to affect events, but we can affect our responses to events. It is on this question that humanity will make or break itself.
The problem with the self-protection option is that, whatever security is derived from preparing for and arming against the worst, it is still impossible to forecast exactly what to prepare for, when and how it might happen and what to do. Many who 'went back to nature' in the 1970s in anticipation of urban collapse now find themselves again involved with city-life, computers and busy lifestyles – even if, as a result of their countryside or wilderness years, they have landed up making nature documentaries, running ethical businesses dreamed up over a log fire or simply making up for time spent not racing rats! The dropping-out ethic of the 1960s-70s was not necessarily incorrect: at the time it could not be foreseen that 'the system' would find renewed vigour in the 1980s, creating an amphetamine-like second-wind stimulus of techno-economic growth, consumerism and ever-subtler social control – even though the 1970s constituted quite a shaky, uncertain decade.
In the 1990s, right-wing Christian survivalists of the American Midwest similarly anticipated threats from Big Brother or from masses of marauding poor or black urbanites, almost wishing to precipitate the anticipated circumstances to prove themselves correct. Their hypothesis was not entirely incorrect, yet their interpretation of state of the 'New World Order' and how to respond to it ranged between extremist and cranky: shooting at all threats to one's survival while avidly quoting the Bible is unlikely to yield fruitful longterm benefits. This was a lonely, tragic option in which, in the end, there would be no winners. So, looking after one's own personal, family and local interests by pulling up the drawbridges doesn't necessarily pay off, even though it might stave off some dangers.
What about the other option: holding together? The problem here is that, without instituting a mass social-education process which would lay sound foundations for cooperation and conflict-resolution, this matter is left entirely open. This is a humanistic civil defence issue of enormous and holistic proportions: it concerns building up, in a mass-psychological context, a condition of basic mutual trust in society, toward change and the unknown. Fruitful social solidarity demands an emotional-spiritual shift in which insecurity and suspicion are transformed into faith, sharing and adaptability.
Such a shift would entail an enormous programme of social process and therapy – it would demand a level-shift of unprecedented proportions. Jesus didn't manage it during his lifetime, and the European Reformation was peanuts compared to this. One consequence of such a transformation would be the undermining of the very institutions which might organise it – media, religious, governmental, educational and public health bodies – not to mention the whole of society. This presents us with the unlikely scenario of institutions and authorities undergoing a thorough change of heart, motive and form, in order to set in motion a wider social process.
There is a second alternative, engaging a more grassroots-oriented process involving influential new social-spiritual movements and shared collective insight. This involves a momentous plunge into the unknown, yet such a bottom-upwards approach would certainly draw in the genius and capabilities of larger numbers of people.
One likely consequence of such an approach would be an undermining of the role of traditional social authorities, since they would generally be regarded as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Even if authorities underwent a dramatic responsive change, there would be credibility problems inasmuch as governments and other institutions have, in recent times, engaged ever-increasingly in appearances as a substitute for realities. Also, such authorities are organised on an authoritarian, hierarchical basis which is designed for centralised control, not for devolved social facilitation.
Yet it is nevertheless possible for governments of coming times to be accurately attuned to the public spirit and the zeitgeist – and even to dramatically increase their legitimacy by demonstrating an integrity and wholesome understanding of a new kind not usually identified with politicians or public figureheads. We shall discuss this matter at greater length when we investigate apocalypse. However, we shall leave this question with the observation that, without entering into a global mass-training and re-education process initiatated by institutions, such a synergistic social shift would need to arise unrehearsed and ad lib, through an insightful mass combustion-process.
The way things look today, such a spontaneous and perhaps chaotic bushfire-effect is more likely than any intentionally legislated and orderly social process. The big question is: will institutions and authorities possess the presence of mind and attunement needed for them to become able facilitators and coordinators of social transformation?
The possibility of catastrophe does have a spiritually-sharpening effect on humanity. Since we have a historic habit of acting only when forced to act, we are perhaps unwittingly preparing ourselves for such a sharpening encounter with hard reality. By leaving things until the last moment, such force of circumstance would indeed come! The big question here would be: would it be too late?
An underlying awareness of the true situation before us today is now indeed present amongst a significant proportion of humanity, yet this awareness is dormant, waiting for permission to emerge into the public domain – and it most probably needs activating. People do not think much about the possibility of catastrophe, yet society is nevertheless underlyingly expectant and susceptible – this is periodically exposed in connection with stirring or poignant world events, moving such awareness an inch closer to the surface each time it happens. Future-anticipation ferments deep down in the world psyche, waiting to pounce during a potent moment of disarray or unpreparedness.
While collective behaviour is programmed to screen out such deeper archetypal feelings, event-intensity periodically tips it over a critical threshold. Our modern advanced avoidance techniques – steered particularly by the mass media – while delaying activation of deeper energies and insights, are nevertheless compensated and counterbalanced by a secret truth-process going on down there in the collective unconscious. The larger the avoidance, the bigger and fuller the can of worms festering and wriggling deep down, growing toward overflow.
To counteract mainstream avoidance, minority groups or localised places – Bosnians, AIDS-sufferers, single parents, Vietnamese boat-people, Tibetans, Bangladesh, Beirut or black people – tend unconsciously to take on the burden of the world's wider concerns, carrying the weight of denied reality on behalf of others. They handle purgatory and limbo to relieve others of their own purgatories and limbos. They deserve support for the unconscious service they render for the more safe and privileged members of humanity. This isn't a conscious choice such victims take on, yet the world psyche, in order to let off pressure, does ventilate its horrors and hardships through the people and places with the weakest defences.
Concerned citizens also contribute to the psychic compensation-process of relieving majority avoidance. They do this by organising campaigns, welfare and aid programmes and support groups, or by taking on issues personally. It was this element of collective psychic wholeness which the death of Princess Diana in 1997 raised for millions of people: their grief was not solely for her sudden death – it was grief for the undernourished and unrecognised saintliness and need-to-be-needed within themselves.
Such charitable and committed activity has the temporary effect of limiting the impact of the modern ills on the world's victims and the pressure of conscience of the wider population, yet it also has a longterm effect of building up cells of experience and knowledge which themselves seed wider outcomes in the course of time. In the cynical 20th century, we under-acknowledged the genuine victims who carry more than their fair share of others' burdens and the relatively selfless people who dedicate their lives to remedying humanity's many ills. Human history would be very different were it not for such people. They have provided a thread of pressure-relief spanning the centuries.
The social mainstream tends to utter plaudits of support to such people though, in truth, it seeks to contain or even suppress such concern groups. Compassion and solidarity are subversive to the current world order, and cannot be allowed to become the prevalent global ethic. Yet, in the fullness of time, circumstances inevitably militate against all forms of repression. Repression is, after all, a disconnection from and denial of reality. Reality has a way of correcting this by perpetrating crises.
What were once suppressed ideas – powered flight, a round world orbiting the Sun, women's or gay rights, remote electronic communication or freedom of speech – have eventually become mainstream realities. The same will likely be the case in future for free-energy technologies, alter-native ecological methods and social structures, close encounters and diplomatic relations with with ETs and other major areas of knowledge and reality now unavailable to the general public. This is a prevalent process in history: what is hidden sooner or later becomes revealed.
Disaster is both an outer, objective global process and an inner, subjective personal and transpersonal process – they interlock. Pollution in the world is the result of pollution in the human psyche. World disaster is caused by a chronic disaster going on in the hearts and minds of the majority of humanity. We know not what we do. Yet, underneath, we do know what we are doing. We are approaching a point in time where an enormous choice stands before us.