Sunday, January 31, 2010

How to deal with failure

Some great stuff out there on the web: Ran Prieur has posted this link to an article, The Misanthrope’s Guide to the End of the World by Venkat who writes a blog called There are some natural born thinkers out there who can riff on the subject of their choice in a very entertaining fashion: another is Anatoly Karlin who writes Sublime Oblivion which I've linked to on my link list. Anatoly has a great post on TEOTWAWKI too: The Final Gambit: Geoengineering.

But while it's good after-dinner fun to plunge into these heady spaces with a friend or two and some glasses of red, this is all about the world we are actually going to wake up to in the morning. Now it may be, gentle readers, that you are living lives in which you are wonderfully happy and in which you have control over your direction, your finances and the well-being of yourself and your Significant Others. Well if that is so, good on you. But we are talking about the business of failure here — the failure of an entire civilisation — and while failure may be an abstraction in an argument or discussion, in real life it acts through the lives of individuals — like us.

It's never so clear cut when it happens in our lives. It's harder to separate out the bit that's the failure of civilisation from our own weak character when we fail at the job interview/running a profitable small business/attempting to stop our kid joining the Moonies.

So this is the way the end of our civilisation will be seen by us, as a personal problem. We personally will have been too lazy, too materialistic, too non-materialistic, too far from God…and those who rule the media will ram the message home! People like Rupert Murdoch, Dark Lord of News Limited and friend of the downtrodden. And what about the young people? Why aren't they working & studying harder/giving more/being more optimistic/more politically active? For goodness sake — look at what the government is spending, just in our little town of Foster, on facilities for them! Millions! A new secondary school (which to me looks poorly designed and hopeless, energy-wise), a big new building at the primary school (did they need it? I don't think so, but as long as builder's labourers have the money to put a deposit down on a Ford or Holden V-8 ute, perhaps the empire can be maintained…). Meanwhile in Psychology Today, an article entitled The Dramatic Rise of Anxiety and Depression in Children and Adolescents: Is It Connected to the Decline in Play and Rise in Schooling? is published. Hmm.

I think it's time to stop trusting in the Powerful View ("What's best for them is best for you!"). Start a transition group in your area and see what fellow-creatures come out of the woodwork. Good luck!

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