New or worsening catastrophes seem to be coming at us daily. Worse things than we can imagine are yet to come. When I say “we” in most cases I mean white people since many things below are race related.
I often think of what Albert Einstein said, “problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”
There are several reasons I’ve been praying, thinking, and writing about the precarious place we are at now. We need to build alternatives to the systems of capitalism, materialism, militarism, incarceration, racism, and white supremacy. Systems rooted in stolen lands and stolen labor. Not only because they are founded on injustice, but because these systems are failing now. (See: Time for a reset)
Any chance we have to address these injustices and mitigate these dangers requires changing our mind set. Looking back over my life it seems like an endless struggle to try to change people’s mind set, with no success.
What is different now is changes are being forced upon us.
Deepening environmental chaos is one of the main drivers of change. Millions of people have lost their homes and communities because of fires and storms. Lack of water will increasingly force many to relocate. Drought will decimate food production.
Our political and social systems are breaking down with the rise of authoritarianism and the police state.
Violence is increasing dramatically in the face of these dangers. Civil discourse is often impossible. Who could have imagined violence at school board meetings? Of children being yelled at for wearing masks? School shootings? An insurrection at the US Capitol?
However much we continue to try to avoid dealing with these threats to the society we grew up in, we are being forced to deal with these changes and what they portend.
What might be some worst-case scenarios?
- Clean water becomes increasingly scarce. Many industries result in significant water pollution including runoff of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, and massive amounts of sewage from concentrated farming practices. Fossil fuel mining such as fracking and tar sands pollute vast quantities of water.
- Food insecurity will increase as drought spreads or fires destroy farmland and communities. Continued warming will decrease crop yields.
- Electricity will increasingly be interrupted or cease as energy systems and electrical grids fail or cannot meet demands, resulting in problems with
- refrigeration, heating, and air conditioning
- operation of people’s myriad electrical devices including phones and computers. Social media will disappear.
- computer systems involved in every aspect of modern life
- physical plants
- communication networks
- water sanitation and sewage systems
- coordinating purchasing and shipping
- hospital and pharmacy systems
- energy systems
- educational institutions
- air traffic and flight control
- military systems
- judicial systems, including police dispatch and legal documents.
- operation of carceral systems
- Some political systems will become increasingly authoritarian as many citizens demand protection from “others”.
- Social disorder will preclude political order.
There are other things to add to the list.
To reiterate, these systems are beginning to fail now. And will continue to do so. We will not be able to continue to avoid thinking and doing something about them.
Think about the related problems from just one of these: no functioning cell phones, tablets or computers. What might happen when there are no longer any social media platforms? How will young people who have never known a time before there were cell phones going to react?
I’ve been thinking of these things in the context of justice work. Lobbying our legislatures to support peace and justice issues will no longer be relevant (or possible). The injustices we often work on as distinct issues will be drowned out by increasing chaos.
Our work for justice should be to engage with systems that are replacing our broken ones. This would actually be returning to systems such as LANDBACK, Abolition, and Mutual Aid.
This diagram I’ve been working on shows some of the ways people are building ways to adapt as old systems collapse.
More information about LANDBACK, Abolition, and Mutual Aid can be found with the following links.