Being sustainable now will be the difference of who survives and dies in future.
Besieged by snow and wind for weeks, a great storm sent a 1,200-year-old oak tree crashing to the ground. The Pontfadog Oak growing in Wrexham in Wales was one of the oldest trees in Britain, a meeting point of the ancient Welsh armies who fought the English, recorded as far back as the Viking Age of 802. This tree, which had been a source of shelter, meetings, feed for animals and fencing for the community was cut down by entropy.
The Pontfadog Oak could be a metaphor for what human civilisation is now facing. If the oak tree is human civilisation, then the storm that brought it down is entropy. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is behind the idea of if you take too much energy out of an energy system, and damage its ability to renew itself, then entropy is the result. An energy system that loses too much energy without replacement collapses to an ever increasing simplicity through disorder. Social, political, economic and environmental systems are like the Pontfadog Oak, all energy systems that will crash to the ground when entropy reaches a certain tipping point.
By degrees the Pontfadog Oak had been weakening due to the siege of climate change conditions, then the tipping point emerged without warning that smashed the tree to the ground. Plenty of warnings had been made that the tree needed support from its stewards and stakeholders, but nobody wanted to give the tree the love and attention it needed, so it died. Everyone now misses the tree they neglected and took for granted.
It no longer matters what is responsible for climate change, it is too late to do anything about it. Any historian or anthropologist would be aware climate change has been behind the evolution of humanity, it killed the Neanderthal and pushed our present human species to the technological progress it now has. Climate change has always been the game changer, unsustainable human waste, greed and inefficiency will be laid bare as climate change wipes out food, water and energy sources in a world of seven billion people.
Whilst I try to be the optimist, I am the realist. Like the Pontfadog Oak the decision makers and citizens of this world will carry on in their unsustainable ways, they will be negligent and blind to the obvious, then the energy systems that are already crumbling will collapse. Large numbers of people will no longer have access to the basic essentials of life, they will use the only options open to them, they will begin to move and fight.
In nature some plants depend upon wildfires destroying wood and grassland, destruction that triggers new growth. For a better future the human race is going to face a period of anarchy and violence of a magnitude that will seem horrific. The human race is going to have to experience a good kicking to experience a paradigm shift of the type needed to survive. For those of you like me who are on the ball, making sustainable choices now which benefit principally you, your family and the community assists you in surviving what will be a challenging and dark time ahead.
There is a close relationship between climate change and the ages of humanity.
Various traditions break human history into four ages, with climate change evident causing each age to end. Hesiod living in circa 750 BCE in Greece lists five ages, Ovid a Roman in the closing decades from 43 BCE listed four ages.
Hesiod describes a utopia akin to the Australian Aborigine version of the Dreamtime, he calls the Golden Age. It describes a time when humanity was carefree in an age of plenty, nomadic hunter-gatherers when the earth swarmed with herds of animals that the hunters obtained all they needed from. The Golden Age was ended by the Younger Dryas, a sudden big freeze that hit inside ten years, lasting 70 years, which coincided with the extinction of scores of animal and plant species, including those that had been around in North America for millions of years, mammoth, dire wolves, sabre toothed cats, and other megafauna.
With food less plentiful the Younger Dryas caused humanity to start farming, starting the Neolithic, the beginnings of civilisation. Hesiod calls this the Silver Age, which is marked by a continuation of the belief in animism and the rule by matriarchy. The melting ice of the last ice age caused sea levels to rise by hundreds of metres giving rise to the world-wide flood myths, it caused widespread conflict as people were forced to move.
For defence people banded together into cities, the chaos gave rise to an explosion of technology, writing was invented, so was organised religion. Gods such as Zeus replaced the honouring of nature spirits. Patriarchy replaced matriarchy, women rapidly falling to servitude. Bronze replaced stone, so began the Bronze Age.
Both Hesiod and Ovid comment that the Bronze Age is the age of war. People live in cloth of bronze and houses of bronze said Hesiod, these people never ate bread, a reference to the mentality of obtaining food through war rather than honest farming.
Relevant only to the Greek world Hesiod adds that the Bronze Age rolls into the Heroic Age. The age of heroes is the age when Troy fell, which textual and archaeological sources pin down to 1250 BCE. Herodotus mentions the Greek heroic superman Heracles running around Greece 900 years before he was born, circa 1300 BCE. Evidently based on a historical figure Heracles seems to rapidly gain cult status. The poison arrows from the slain Hydra of Heracles was used to kill Paris in the Trojan War. Heracles a few decades before the Trojan War was serving Jason as an Argonaut in his quest for the Golden Fleece.
Greece came down with a bump when climate change in 1200 BCE caused a rapid freeze sending the people in the north of the world southwards. By land and sea the Mediterranean and the Middle East was flooded by invaders including the Sea Peoples. Empires were destroyed, cities burned, the Bronze Age fell into a dark ages it would not emerge from for hundreds of years. The trade routes in bronze collapsed, so people turned to iron for their needs, the Bronze Age ended. For locations such as Britain the Iron Age came later, as a result of another climate change event in around 750 BCE, which forced them into using hill forts, and the collapse of the use of bronze in favour of iron.
The Iron Age continues into this day marked by all our wonderful technology. This is a worse age than the Bronze Age, since war continues, but it is added with loss of ethics. Patriarchy rules, and anything female orientated in this world is despised and destroyed. I quote from Hesiod:
“Thereafter, would that I were not among the men of the fifth generation, but either had died before or been born afterwards. For now truly is a race of iron, and men never rest from labour and sorrow by day, and from perishing by night; and the gods shall lay sore trouble upon them. But, notwithstanding, even these shall have some good mingled with their evils. And Zeus will destroy this race of mortal men also when they come to have grey hair on the temples at their birth. The father will not agree with his children, nor the children with their father, nor guest with his host, nor comrade with comrade; nor will brother be dear to brother as aforetime. Men will dishonour their parents as they grow quickly old, and will carp at them, chiding them with bitter words, hard-hearted they, not knowing the fear of the gods. They will not repay their aged parents the cost their nurture, for might shall be their right: and one man will sack another’s city. There will be no favour for the man who keeps his oath or for the just or for the good; but rather men will praise the evil-doer and his violent dealing. Strength will be right and reverence will cease to be; and the wicked will hurt the worthy man, speaking false words against him, and will swear an oath upon them. Envy, foul-mouthed, delighting in evil, with scowling face, will go along with wretched men one and all. And then Aidos and Nemesis, with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods: and bitter sorrows will be left for mortal men, and there will be no help against evil.”
Humanity is in a bad situation with so many economic, social and political troubles, in a paradigm of greed, waste and inefficiency. Science predicts what happens when any system is abused so that it becomes unsustainable, it collapses into anarchy as per the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Climate change is in motion with extreme floods, storm and drought, a hand that will collapse a house of cards. The ending of the Iron Age is on the horizon, I hope the next age will be better.
Work on yourself for a prosperous life.
Back in the age of King Arthur a tyrant called Vortigern seized the British throne, he made a series of mistakes including allowing the Saxons into Romano-Britain, a people who would never leave, starting a 400-year war for control of Britain. Vortigern fled to Mount Snowdon in Wales where he attempted to build a great castle. Every time the castle was built it collapsed, Vortigern turned to a young boy called Merlin for help. Undertaking a role of pest control officer Merlin discovered Vortigern had a problem worse than termites, two fighting dragons. I am unsure what happened to the dragons, but Merlin made a lot of prophecies and resolved the problem for Vortigern. Vortigern built his castle, and then died in it when his enemies burnt it to the ground. The problem with Vortigern is he tried to build a life for himself on weak foundations and unresolved issues, his troubles and fiery end was a predictable consequence.
I have attended a few church marriages of friends, and a story that is told in some of those churches stuck in my mind about those who build their house upon sand, facing wind and flood the house falls, the house built on rocks survives. I have seen over the years too many marriages of those around me collapse into ruin. Life is unforgiving, it raises trials and tribulations that will test your metal, better to work on self, to establish strong foundations before building castles.
I embrace technology slowly, it is never my master.
Whilst the Mediterranean world was using iron metal, my Celtic ancestors of Britain continued to use bronze, switching to iron hundreds of years later. Like my Celtic ancestors I am slow at embracing new technological tools, and like them I am the master of this technology, never the slave.
Twitter was around five years before I embraced it. Facebook I tried a few years after it launched but then I dumped it as a waste of time. I missed the Blackberry craze, I still have yet to own my first smartphone. When I move into a new technology I usually walk the well worn path of others, learning from their experience, I adopt the technology and craft it into my own unique way of doing things. My first smartphone will probably be second hand and an old version, as the world stampedes to embrace the latest new gizmo, they cast off the old version which I buy at low cost.
It amazes me how miserable technology makes some people, how they feel enslaved, how they are spending the precious resources of their lives, the time, money and energy keeping up with technology and its demands. It appears technology won’t bring a simpler easier or happier life, it is only tools, and it appears the tool has become the master of the user for many.
Virtual reality is decades old. Holographic technology is exciting me, especially after I saw a dead person coming back alive to entertain the crowds. There is the holographic animated band called Hatsune Miku which commands a following that would make some musical artists envious. Lionhead produced an AI child called Milo which fell through, but raised interesting possibilities on how AI can interact with real people. AI has been worked on for 60 years, but still has yet to produce tangible results beyond a chess computer that can beat human chess grand masters.
Our human ancestors 30,000 years ago produced animated cave paintings such as that at Chauvet, to these ancestors the animals upon the walls were living spirits they could communicate with. It is fast happening that the circle is being completed when with technology the computer screen will replace the cave wall, the spirits of old will be alive inside and outside the screen as AI entities in the age of singularity. This technology I will embrace, it excites me.
Everyone can find a niche and a patron that allows their unique talent to shine.
Poetry was never my speciality, I am told I produce killer metaphors, but when I attempt poetry I flee a bloody crime scene. Wordsmith I may be, but poet I am not.
I follow a few poets on WordPress, amongst them is my favourite called Lorna Smithers. Lorna is a Celtic Bard, her work wins prizes, though alas riches earned in her pursuit won’t pay the bills of modern life. I fail to do justice to appreciating this Bard’s work for poetry requires quiet reflection and my life is a chaotic tangle of demands denying me such pleasures. My appreciation of the work of Lorna is deepened because I share her worldview thus I can understand on a deeper level the images she conveys in her work.
In my recent blog about the The Storyteller Lorna made the observation in comments how success comes only to a lucky few. Lorna is correct that a few people strike it rich, just as the author of Harry Potter did. In Colchester I belong to a creative hub swarming with illustrators, website designers and photographers all chasing a finite pool of potential customers. I disagree with Lorna that success is merely luck, in truth success comes in the same way as a spider places its web, good location means more lucky catches of juicy flies. If the location is bad, the spider moves to a better location.
Lorna belongs to a rich ancient tradition of Celtic Bards. One of the most illustrious of her Celtic ancestors was the Bard Taliesin, a historical figure richly rewarded with a place in Celtic mythology, greatest of Bards. Taliesin lived in the 6th century CE in the North of Britain. I am unable to say what the niche was that set Taliesin apart from the thousands of Bards who were his contemporaries, he is recognised then and now as one of the greatest of Celtic Bards. Not only did Taliesin find his niche he found a powerful patron in one of the greatest Celtic leaders of the age Urien.
Finding your niche sets you apart from all others. Finding your patron gives you the security and influence of patronage to shape your success. Niche and patron is a good location to a spider, you catch more lucky flies. Niche and patron establishes a name, a secure fortress of influence, prestige and market dominance. All creative people need the niche and patron, since markets, especially today are saturated with competition. Brand and uniqueness marks out the successful from the ordinary, Harry Potter from Unknown Potter.
I share an outlook in common with the artist Leonardo da Vinci, an influence I admire. da Vinci was unconventional introducing new styles against the traditions of his day. Sometimes it is hard to pin down in an artist clear boundaries of what their niche is, but it is clearly visible, though intangible. Many roads lead to Rome, but the individual road travelled is the niche that separates the traveller from others to Rome. da Vinci observed nature and people, he then conveyed the essence of what he saw into his art, something his peers did not do. da Vinci benefited by association with some of the greatest patrons of his time, association for instance with the powerful Medici family of Florence, so famous even my spell checker recognises the name!
Our brains work by association.
Recently I attacked the idea genetics had anything to do with crime. I support the ideas of John Watson the pioneer of behaviourism, who was of the opinion the genetics connection was ignorant, human behaviour is down to environmental experiences. Watson carried out a famous experiment with Baby Albert, he showed the child cute animals which the baby loved; afterwards the animals were introduced with a loud noise that upset Albert. When the cute animals were introduced without the frightening sound Albert showed a fear response towards them, Albert had been sensitised to associate frightening sounds to cute animals. The short video is here.
If a man is seen hitting a woman the reaction of society is quick to intervene, however if a man is being physically abused by a woman the majority of people ignore it thinking by association that the man deserved it.
Non-intervention to a person in need of help is sometimes called the Bystander Effect. How people perceive an individual in need of help determines their response. In this video homeless people are being harassed by three teenagers; the homeless man elicits some hesitant support from bystanders; when the teenagers are hitting the homeless man with a bat, the association of emergency increases and the bystander reaction is faster; the homeless woman being harassed by the teens results in angry, fast and aggressive bystander response, the teens could have been lynched. In this video the male and female UK actors pretend to be ill asking for help in a busy area, they are ignored. People won’t help because they think the individual is on drugs or is drunk. A man in a smart suit in the same location and behaving in the same way gets instant help, people associate such people as safe and in genuine need for assistance.
Horrific events by NATO soldiers against prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan in degrading and abusive circumstances reveals a dark side of human nature through association. A notorious experiment in the 1970′s called the Standford Prison Experiment placed an ordinary well-balanced group of students into a prisoner and prison-guard situation. The prison-guards turned sadistic, abusing and humiliating the prisoners, the experiment was abandoned after six days of the planned 14-day experiment. The prison-guards had been encouraged to see the prisoners as less than human, it brought out behaviour akin to the Lord of the Flies in the prison-guards.
The Milgram Experiment asked if the atrocities in Nazi Germany against Jews could happen in USA. Ordinary US citizens were recruited to the experiment from all walks of life, they were asked by an authority figure to shock a person they could not see with increasing voltage if they made an error in a quiz. 65% of participants went all the way to kill the victim at 450 volts. The positive aspect of the experiment is that if the participants saw people rebel 90% of them would rebel too.
Derren Brown is a British mentalist who in this video shows the power of negative suggestion. The participant is presented with a kitten in a cage, a big red button is indicated close by which they are told will kill the kitten with electricity if they press the button. The participant is told not to press the button. The participant is told they win if they don’t press the button inside two minutes. The participant presses the button, the kitten “dies”. The brain has no concept of reality, the brain considers whatever image it is presented with as real, there is no negative concept in the brain, thus the trap is people spend so much effort avoiding doing or being a thing they end up doing or becoming that thing.
Doors open to them who ask.
“Open Sesame” said Ali Baba to a door, which opened wide to him, wherein he collected treasure from a cave, as told in the story Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. This is a better lesson than the quote in a psalm I used to sing in a choir “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” The meek grow hungry and die, submissiveness wins no friends and no rewards. Ironically in the same Christian gospel by Matthew is another contradictory quote “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.”
Walking through my town of Colchester a man told me a story how he was unable to get a railway ticket home, could I give him money to pay for a ticket? It was a scam, I have seen him do this before, I told him to get lost. I looked round and the trickster told the same story to a woman, out came the purse and the man was a little richer through the asking. I thought to myself, you are kidding me, is that woman gullible? Yes! The trickster probably had hundreds of rejections, but the few opportunities that turned into money made his effort worthwhile. Regardless of the morality of his scam, asking pays out its rewards.
I hate asking people for anything, it makes me feel weak, opportunistic and any number of other negative feelings associated with asking that has been drummed into me by society. At one time everyone asked for everything they needed, as babies, they screamed and cried, the carer came running to satisfy their need, the difference between survival and death. As a child I was the submissive one who never asked, I was ignored and forgotten. The meek lose out in the game of life.
Visit Colchester Castle Park and every squirrel, pigeon and duck is your very best friend; it is the animals way of asking for food; the animals of Castle Park never go hungry.
It is early days as I attempt to shake off this stigma of not asking, it is hard. A few days ago a driver let me down in picking up an urgent delivery, I had to ask someone for help, through the asking I was able to overcome this crisis. A business project required I visit every retail outlet in Colchester centre to display brochures for an art gallery, it involved me asking 1000+ people, with a 99% success rate.
Opportunities won’t come by sitting on your bum, you have to go and make them, and asking people directly is opening doors to opportunity, the worst you can obtain is no, but some opportunities open to treasure. In asking you have to prepare like the trickster for hundreds of rejections, which can be demoralising, but amongst the rejections will come the opportunities. Often through the asking unexpected opportunities arise, perhaps not the thing asked for, perhaps something better, or something else of benefit.
The following TED lecture opened my eyes to the positive “art of asking”:
I review the purpose of this blog. (Warning potentially deep philosophy ahead!)
In my town of Colchester the Celtic leader Cunobelin, the Romans considered the first king of Britain, struck an estimated one million gold coins. Upon some of these coins was the image of an ear of corn, a Celtic symbol of prosperity. In the rule of Cunobelin Colchester was the largest most well defended settlement in Britain, with a vast industry, farming, fishing and population. In the Celtic mind the mother goddess blessed Colchester with strength and abundance, symbolised in the ear of corn struck on the coin. Potentially even today, with its treasury of fertile land, abundant water and with investment in renewable energy Colchester could potentially out last any collapse of civilisation that could engulf the world.
In reviewing the purpose of my blog I asked myself what one word would describe this purpose: prosperity. I define prosperity as health, happiness and abundance. The word abundance can mean many good friends as well as wealth.
The logo I commissioned for Liberated Way over a year ago is a bridge leading to a rising sun. The sun is my symbol for prosperity, the bridge is symbolic of creativity, wisdom and liberty which lead to prosperity. Three blessings arise from the three bridges, which I hold sacred: play from creativity; experience (doing) from wisdom; and choice from liberty. The three curses that arise from doing the opposite of the bridges, and lead to the opposite of prosperity, which is a wasteland: hubris instead of creativity; ignorance instead of wisdom; control instead of liberty. Hubris and creativity are linked because they both spin-off from imagination; creativity is grounded in the earth, hubris floats in self-delusion.
The followers or readers of Liberated Way are stakeholders. The stakeholder is defined as those who benefit from, participate in, and have a say in that which they have a stake in. When I write my blog posts for Liberated Way I need to think in terms of stakeholder benefit, participation and feedback. A blog post usually has something buried into it I hope a reader benefits from, the comments provide feedback, I have yet to work out how a stakeholder can participate in Liberated Way.
I am a steward of Liberated Way. What defines the stewardship is a saying of a Celtic archetype called Bran: “let them who be chief be a bridge to their people.” The steward is a bridge, the stakeholders are the people. The steward looks after the stake in which the stakeholders have a stake in. The relationship between steward to the stake is akin to the relationship of parent to child In nature the mother and father swan take joint stewardship over the cygnets, their parenting is stewardship, which involve three roles: protection, feeding and guiding.
In Celtic philosophy the children are under the authority of the mother, to harm a child is to anger the mother and ultimately the goddess of the land with dire consequences. In all Celtic legends is the relationship between king and the land, the aspect of the masculine and the feminine, for instance in King Arthur, whose hubris caused the break between land and kingship, the fall of Camelot, the wasteland and the quest to restore the connection in the Grail Quest. The stewardship is balanced between a masculine and a female aspect. The female aspect is protection, feeding and guiding. The male aspect is defined in the fourth branch of the Mabinogion “Math, the son of Mathonwy” The male is dependent upon their mother to give them three things, otherwise they are not a man: a sword, a name and a wife. Without a sword the man is impotent and useless; without a name the man is invisible and nothing; without a wife the man is weak and a coward, since strength arises from the land, and the land is female.
In nature all motion is caused through imbalance where the inequality between two parts causes the stronger to move to balance with the weaker, thus there rises in this imbalance strife. The sword of the steward maintains the imbalance so that there is always motion through healthy strife. The name of the steward is about how that which is hidden, dark and potential becomes revealed, manifested and set in motion; a common theme in Celtic philosophy and many mythological traditions. The wife is about joining the female and male in the universe together to create something, be it a baby or a poem; seeds buried in soil grow, seeds on rock die. The male who harms women, children, land or the female aspect becomes disconnected from the source of his creativity, wisdom and liberty; he becomes sick, weak and useless, a thing to be kicked into a hole and forgotten. Prosperity comes to the steward that links the female and male together.
From this background I am working on creating something in this blog of benefit to you the reader.
You can change the world through storytelling.
In ancient times the storyteller was a highly valued member of society, on dark winter nights they entertained, but in ancient society they were a walking library of the history, laws, customs and spiritual philosophy of those people. The storyteller was the bard, poet or musician, protected by gods such as Apollo, whose every need was supplied by the society they existed in. In an oral tradition, if you needed to resolve a boundary dispute based on family inheritance you could not go to a book or the internet for your source, it was the storyteller who could tell you since they remembered the genealogy and the boundaries. It is said amongst the Celtic Druids the storyteller faced twenty years of training to remember all the stories.
People love stories, they can remember stories, and a vast amount of knowledge can be exchanged and remembered in the context of a story. The human brain is designed to remember stories, it excites the brain cells, the more concrete the better.
The successful creative artist, politician or businessman in part are successful because of the story they tell. Lots of people are plumbers, few plumbers rise above their state to be the master amongst plumbers without being able to tell a good story. Amongst the ancient Celts is an archetype called Ogmios, which I wrote about in a previous blog, the archetype of eloquence. The weak man may be no match for a stronger man in individual battle, but through eloquence, they can raise an army of one thousand men who would die for them in battle against the stronger man. Good storytellers are gifted with eloquence, storytellers and their stories are dangerous, they change history, Hitler was a storyteller.
The purpose of newspapers is to sell stories that will make them money by persuading people to buy the newspaper or to advertise in the newspaper. Being balanced, objective and factual may be an ideal but it won’t sell newspapers, idealistic newspapers go bankrupt. Good stories sell, and they are often by their nature corrupted by error, deceit and prejudice. Through the medium of story newspapers can bypass your reality checking and influence your mind in ways that you may be unaware of. Stories are an effective tool of benefit or harm depending on how you use it.
DNA provides the foundation, but what we experience, do and think determines what we become.
As a result of my interests in history, business and sustainability I study the human mind. I ask in the matter of sustainability why humanity appears blind, suicidal or stupid in its pursuit of belief or behaviour that causes misery, hardship and self-destruction. If I understand how the human mind works I may be effective in influencing change in a positive sustainable direction. I gather my information on the human mind by watching my mind closely, and how others think or behave. I read, I get feedback, I experiment, I learn through trial and error, slowly piecing together the complicated jigsaw of the human mind.
I like to read up on case studies of experiments or individual stories that might shine light on the human mind. I observe that through stroke, dementia or accident parts of the human brain is damaged, and this damage has an impact on how an individual thinks, behaves and experience themselves. What we are it appears is locked into the brain cells of our head, how they connect and communicate.
It is easy to reduce humanity to a piece of mechanical meat if one is not careful. I believe humanity has spirit, that the body, especially the brain, is no more than a receiver/transmitter of the spirit into this world; if the receiver/transmitter is damaged then the spirit won’t get through but the spirit is not impaired, only the body is. Thus I can break the human brain down into a mechanical system without impacting my spiritual philosophy.
Our DNA provides the foundation upon which our mind is built, but environment will determine what is built on the foundation. In my town of Colchester the Romans built a strong foundation, upon which a great temple was constructed to Emperor Claudius. Today something different exists at the location of what was the Temple of Claudius, a castle. The foundations of the temple remains, what is built on top of the foundations and how it is used is different from century to century: castle, jail, folly, quarry, museum and so on. Two genetically the same twins can share a common DNA foundation, but as they progress through life their inputs will determine two radically different brain structures, and thus systems of belief and behaviour between them.