This afternoon, I referred to a specific memory of a Friday when I was five or six years old. I thought about telling the story tonight, but I don’t think I can or should. The upshot of it is that my parents, who I know loved me and who I loved deeply, infected me with their depression. I want to make it clear that this is my personal experience and not a professional description of the illness.
I think many people blame loved ones for the behaviors that they express as a consequence of their parents’ behavior. With my parents, that included alcoholism and other self-sabotaging behaviors. From a very young age, I was sensitive to their emotional states. I heard ideas, plans, dreams — ones that they actually had opportunities to act on. I watched them pass on the possibilities. I sensed the creeping resignation and the deepening depression.
Did I think all this when I was little? Obviously not, but as I said, I knew things weren’t right. I watched my dad come home from work and sit listlessly for hours with a book open, usually a western, the television on — which he really didn’t like but since we had a living room and a kitchen as living areas, he had no choice. The stuff I heard him talk about when he was younger, the ideas for businesses, inventions, just died. In like manner, my mom sat at the kitchen/dining table — just a junk heap of random papers mostly — and play solitaire endlessly. Until they both would start drinking and all associated with that.
That infected me, and my sister, too, for that matter. We responded differently to it, but we were both exposed. Here’s the thing: I know my parents must have been deeply hurt at some point to live as they did, to not have any emotional means to pursue their dreams, to act, to do something. What I was affected, infected by was not alcoholism, per se, but rather their depression that resulted from some unknown, deep-seated hurt.
Here’s another thing: I know actions can be taken based on beliefs that can be changed to make myself immune to the disease. I don’t reject it or deny it. I simply need to do the work of facing the hurt, the pain, recognizing what my behaviors are that result from that, determining how I want to think differently, and then do something. Doing something is always the best, especially when it derives from cognitive change based on seeing and acknowledging cognitive dissonance.
It still affects me, and today has not been an easy day, nor is tonight an easy night. I have chosen, though, to not give up on my Heart purpose, that which I have set for myself, created for myself. And I will tell you this, anyone who happens to actually read these words, following my Heart has been costly in one way, and I do not know how long that will last.
I determined to write, am a writer, but I have to be realistic and classify myself as a hobbyist. I don’t want that to be the characterization; however, part of the infection of depression that Ego uses so effectively is the major hit to self-confidence that occurs on days like today. I am hopeful to have one small book up for sale in a few weeks. The negative thoughts about selling only ten books, about admitting failure and defeat, about resigning to some existence of minimal meaning flood me as Ego plays on my soul and mind. My Heart, though, will not let me dwell there.
The proof is I write this. I wanted to address two updates about the theme of environmentalism I have discussed this week, but today happened. I hope to do that tomorrow, because the two articles I saw are not serendipity. They apply directly to my articles.
So, I will close this evening, hoping that if you have read this far, you will send blessing my way.
Blessings to you, my friend.
Someone might ask me, “Mike, what are you writing about this evening? More environmental issues and concepts?” I would answer that I am, indeed; I’m writing about genetic engineering.
“How in the hell are you going to link genetic engineering to Ego and Heart, metaphysical considerations? Surely, you can’t. If you do, you’re stretching it to a new level of disbelief, even worse than all the other stupid shit you’ve written about!”
I would tell them that I have never been more serious, and if they think that all the topics I have covered over the last seventeen months, every single day, has been stretching the spiritual composition of humanity, then they better read tonight’s post carefully, even though I will still have to write rather quickly with scant revision and editing. I use Barbara Kingsolver’s collection of essays, Small Wonder, as my primary source tonight, focusing exclusively on the essay “A Fist in the Eye of God.”
The essence of my thoughts is this: Ego-arrogance of mega-corporations in league with governments at local, state, and national/international levels to engineer the essence of life for the motive of profit poses threats of epic proportions to humanity. Opposing this position, Heart-energy recognizes what is being done and how the genetic manipulation of life traits of Nature creates “unforeseen consequences.” Dangerous ones. My preference here is each of you would purchase and read Ms. Kingsolver’s book and this chapter, but I will do my best to represent her ideas and apply them.
I appreciate how Kingsolver, an accomplished biologist, makes it clear that no scientist is impartial and objective in designing and interpreting experiments. They can be in conducting them, but the Ego and Heart dynamics cannot be set aside: “Ethics can’t influence the outcome of an experiment, but they can sever as a useful adjunct to the questions that get asked in the first place….Social norms and judgments regarding gender, race, the common good, cooperation, competition, material gain, and countless other issues reside in every action of the human mind, so they were hovering somewhere in the vicinity of any experiment ever conducted by a human” (107). And such thoughts are energized by Heart or Ego, because those are inherent to humans. It’s okay if you want to deny that or believe and present a theory in antithesis to that, but some way, somehow, the same duality will exist and impact the way we make decisions.
To trust scientists dependent on mega-corporations for salaries and funding stretches my credulity, but more than that, worse than that, is many people believe the conclusions they draw. Governments under the influence of their lobbyists set policy that has faulty applications based on greed, power, and control. Ultimately, Kingsolver says, “Where genetic engineering is concerned, I would rather have ethics than profitability driving the program” (108). Or, as I would put it, I would rather have Heart-energy powering the minds and souls of the decision-makers.
Kingsolver offers wonderful, succinct analyses and examples of genetic engineering and the unknown possible negative consequences as well as the already proven negative consequences. For example, the use of a strain of corn genetically engineered to have the pesticide Bacillus thurengensis, a germ that actually destroys caterpillars when they eat just a smidgen of the corn, sounds good. But there is no control over the pollen that spreads from that corn, which means butterflies and many other pollinating organisms ingest that unnaturally introduced bacteria and their species are then threatened. Not acceptable. One thing I have said many times over is Ego-based decisions as regards the environment does not take destruction into account — only Ego concerns like control, wealth, and power.
I could go through the whole essay by topic, but I will not do that. It’s her essay. I will mention, though, the shallow, Ego-rationalizations of some folks that farmers have been genetically engineering for thousands of years. No, no they haven’t: “The farmers who select their best sheep or grains to mother the next year’s crop are working with the evolutionary force of selection, pushing it in the direction of their choosing. Anything produced in this way will still work within its natural evolutionary context of variability, predators, disease resistance, and so forth. But tampering with genes outside of the checks and balances you might call the rules of God’s laboratory is an entirely different process” (103). She further says, “Genetic engineering is the antithesis of variability” (101), i.e., it destroys the natural process, does the exact opposite of it — for profit. Playing at God with none of the expertise of knowing how to make it all work together — Ego-impulse.
The removal of natural variation isn’t happenstance. It’s purposeful. It’s for profit and control. It’s pure Ego-generated destruction of Nature. You know, that Nature referred to in the Declaration of Independence, whose laws should not be violated? The reason for seed banks around the world is to ensure biodiversity, because the mega-corporation products, “[e]ngineered genes [that] don’t play by the rules that have organized life…” (104), would doom life if left to their bottom line profit thinking. The seed banks seek to preserve the laws of Nature — biodiversity.
Do you doubt that the agricultural corporations operate solely based on profit? Are you aware that the leading corporation engineered a “‘terminator technology,’ which causes plants to kill their own embryos so no viable seeds will survive for a farmer to replant in the next generation” (105)? Why would that be? Hmmm? Ego-energy, pure and unvarnished. It’s the reason most other nations have banned “engineered foods or seeds from the United States” (105).
I see the workings of Ego and Heart in very direct conflict here. Kingsolver makes the point that while religion should not be taught in the public school classroom in a way that subverts or obscures true science, scientists, once trained, should hold nature and natural processes as sacred. Upon holding in her hand one of the terminator seeds, she says, “I glimpsed the malevolence that can lie in the heart of a profiteering enterprise” (108). I would say lie in the Ego of such people who run these corporations.
I will end with a Heart sentiment Barbara Kingsolver expresses so eloquently: “I’m a scientist who thinks it wise to enter the doors of creation not with a lion tamer’s whip and chair, but with the reverence humankind has traditionally summoned for entering places of worship…a sacred grove, as ancient as time” (108). That is Heart-energy, my friends, energy that values the essence of some spiritual connection and principle operating in all of life, in every molecule, every atom.
The difference between the two is this: Those choosing to live via Ego play at being God, believe that the ends justify the means, think short term and disregard destruction. Those living Heart, though, realize they are a little part of God, Spirit, and everything else here is, too, and we know we draw the line at destruction for the sake of control, manipulation, wealth, and power.
Blessings as you consider sacred things!
(All quotes: Kingsolver, Barbara. Small wonder. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002. Print.)
Last night, I quoted Thoreau in reference to the relationship of our manipulation of nature for comfort or convenience, manipulation that results in destruction: “What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” It’s wrong. Let me say it clearly. To pollute and destroy ecosystems, species, water in an irreparable, unsustainable way is wrong. It’s wrong logically, as Thoreau points out.
However, I also quoted William Wordsworth last night: “The World Is Too Much with Us”: “Getting and spending we lay waste our powers; — / Little we see in Nature that is ours;…” What is this forsaking of Nature associated with? “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” In the context of the Industrial Revolution, Wordsworth, with whom I assent totally in this sentiment, asserts that forsaking and destruction of Nature is morally wrong because it involves giving away Heart, the compass that aligns us with Spirit.
Between Thoreau and Wordsworth, the error of destroying nature is illogical and immoral. And thankfully, it has become increasingly illegal. This current political administration and the prevailing power of the dominant political party right now has taken strides to overturn the illegality of polluting and destroying the environment of America, which, by the way, affects the rest of the world, this Earth.
Let me make my stance clear, one that harmonizes with many, thankfully, including the Water Protectors of the Sioux and other Indigenous People this past year, the lady I mentioned last night, Severn Cullis-Suzuki, the young man Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, who I referred to this morning, and Rachel Carson in Silent Spring. The list could continue.
My position? For Trump or anyone else to overturn legislation in various forms such as the Clean Water Rule for purposes that include politics, the economy, and representing some narrow-minded, relatively thoughtless people, is logically, morally, and governmentally wrong. To use the excuse that farmers needed freedom from over-regulation by the government, like Missouri’s governor, Eric Greitens, showboated about today, as well as one of the senators, Roy Blunt, shows their determination to put personal power and control over respect for the environment that everyone needs, whether they know it or not. Such people are not fit to serve in politics, and they most assuredly do not represent the good of the people.
I am encouraged by younger people like Severn and Xiuhtezcatl. Xiuhtezcatl has actually sued the United States government for their failure to preserve the environment for future generations. A judge allowed the lawsuit to proceed. It’s not spurious. It’s Heart-inspired. Xiuhtezcatl has, at seventeen years old, besides speaking all over the world, been responsible for a five-year moratorium on fracking in the Colorado county where he lives. I love the point he makes that all of us, whether Native Americans, First People or not, are Indigenous to the Earth. Disrespect and destruction of the Earth are short-sighted, Ego-energized displays of selfish, shallow stupidity.
And yes, I’ve heard the arguments for jobs, the economy, and the science produced by some scientists for their own power, notoriety, and personal gain that practices like fracking and drilling oil off-shore, and many others — especially agricultural — are not a threat. Or the assertions that humans do not significantly contribute to global warming and other adverse effects on Earth. If you have not read Silent Spring and you are making these claims that the insecticides, pesticides, livestock production to sate a gluttonous appetite, and a thousand other possibilities, you are hampered by willful ignorance and blindness. Get a clue.
Yes, I feel anger at those who so glibly dismiss strong environmental activists by making some bogus patriotic-sounding claims about making America great and giving the people what they want and power back to the states. Seeing the governor of Missouri with a small group of smiling, waving farmers and making it look like some noble service has been rendered to them by lauding Trump’s order to overturn waterway protection sickens me. It’s all Ego, all the way, with all involved.
I will draw this to a close tonight with two quotes from Rachel Carson’s seminal work Silent Spring. In reference to the logic of justifying something because of economic convenience, she says this: “How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?” Yes, how could they, indeed? Excuses about jobs and the economy and bogus patriotic principles are just stupid in the light of this.
Then, Carson also addresses the illogic of polluting and abusing Earth, with an application to government: “Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it. Thus, he undoes the built-in checks and balances by which nature holds the species within bounds.” This is why green space and natural plant species must be maintained. It’s why mega-huge corporations should not be allowed to dominate agriculture, should not be allowed to engineer seeds to the exclusion of the large variety that exist — not to mention that genetic engineering to eliminate pests and resist weather extremes has consequences beyond what we know — that system of “built-in checks and balances.” Checks and balances seem to work well in government, too, but it seems the current president would like to have complete power without any review or challenges.
If you care about the environment, the world, this Earth, here are some actions that can lead to further actions: listen to the YouTube videos of Severn Cullis-Suzuki and Xiuhltezcatl Martinez (easy to do); read Silent Spring (a bit more challenging). See what your Heart does with this input.
Romantic writers and thinkers valued the imagination. They questioned authority and especially looked to nature and children for models reflecting the inner person. In philosophy and expression, the Romantics and Transcendentalists had some overlap, the most significant commonalities being focus on the inner person, the significance of nature, and the disenchantment with the status quo of a society steeped in a growing, greedy, grasping materialism.
Isn’t that interesting? Not the way I presented it, but I have a point, really, I do! Society in the early to mid 19th century operated much the way it does now. The masses desired wealth, power, comfort. The technology and circumstances were quite different; however, the energy of Ego-powered humanity was not. And one major issue prevalent then and now is the disregard of children, our youth.
I know what many people so glibly spout about how spoiled kids are now. All of those sorts of generalized conclusions don’t mean a lot when the situation today is examined closely, but I’m not doing a sociological study here tonight. I want to refer to a video I saw — have seen it before — over the weekend and shared.
It’s of a 12 year old girl, Severn Suzuki, who in 1992 spoke to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. She pleads with the representatives there that they had the power to make a difference in our world of nature, which we are vitally connected to, without which we cannot live.
If enough ecosystems are destroyed and enough species are annihilated, Nature will shut down, at least as we know it and require it. (Rachel Carson didn’t write Silent Spring for nothing.) Young Severn understood what was at stake. In fact, she understood it enough to call the bullshit of the excuses of the sort of greedy society I referred to. Severn is known as “The Girl Who Silenced the World for Five Minutes” for that 1992 speech. She is one who from a young age heard her Heart, followed it, and created her purpose. She has degrees from Yale in ecology and evolutionary biology. She is now an accomplished woman with too many projects and credits to list here. In 1992, she pled with adults of influence who could make a difference; today, she is an adult making a difference.
The difference is in recognizing Ego-drive destroys if left unchecked by Heart. Heart-energy must be recognized, acknowledged, sought, and lived, like those Romantics of the 19th century. Wm. Wordsworth and other British Romantics reacted to the rationalizations of greed produced by the Enlightenment that led to the abuse of children in horrific ways.
That was associated with and spilled over into the destruction of Nature, which Wordsworth writes of in his sonnet “The World Is Too Much with Us”: “Getting and spending we lay waste our powers; — / Little we see in Nature that is ours;…” What is this forsaking of Nature associated with? “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” Yielding to greedy Ego, which has been rationalized as being “good” for the masses — jobs, ease, a healthy economy, alleviation of suffering — only destroys because the inner person is ignored, Heart pleadings falling on souls and minds deafened by Ego. And twelve year old Severn Cullis-Suzuki knew it; she responded to her Heart, a child calling to task Ego-soaked adults who for their Ego agendas ignore Heart.
The disgraceful, despicable policies of the current administration in American government need to be made to listen to this five-minute video for maybe a month continuously, but you know what, it wouldn’t do a damn bit of good. When people turn from Heart with Ego-rationalizations, they believe their own lies, and to me, that makes them dangerous to the nth degree, dangerous because they are stupid people with power.
And I was attracted to this video because of all that is going on now in America and because of the truths I believe about Ego and Heart. When Heart-light shines and levels itself at Ego, it cuts right through all that dark, ranting bullshit about jobs and the economy to illuminate the shallowness of perpetrators who destroy Nature and consequently us.
More tomorrow, but for tonight, I need to take a breath, look at some stars, feel the wind, hear some birds, and give thanks — while I can. By the way, Severn is a hopeful environmental activist today, and really, I am hopeful, too, or I wouldn’t be writing to expose this. I believe many people are on the fence, at a tipping point in terms of these issues. The environment needs to be preserved for future generations, for all of us.
One of the great Transcendentalists, Henry David Thoreau, said, “What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” He wrote in the early to mid 19th century. He saw with his Heart. His wisdom along with Severn’s presents clarity: Nature must be preserved first. The rest of the bullshit can be figured out second.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!