“We are embedded in the natural world. We evolved as social creatures in this natural world. We require clean water to drink, or we die. We require clean air to breathe, or we die. We require food, or we die. We require love, affection, social contact in order to become our full selves. It is part of our evolutionary legacy as social creatures. Anything that helps us to understand all of this is natural: Any ritual, artifact, process, action is natural, to the degree that it reinforces our understanding of our connection with the natural world, and any ritual, artifact, process, and action is unnatural, to the degree that it does not” –Derrick Jensen
Deicide: Destruction or killing of a god.
Ecocide: Destruction of the environment.
I know you’re comfortable with the unhealthy, unsustainable system that has been erected around you without your consent. I know the corrupt system has been keeping you fat and happy with the illusion of security for most of your life. And I know it’s scary for you to admit the corrupt nature of human governance hitherto. But it is imperative that you do so.
It is imperative that you question the authority that upholds it to the nth degree. It is extremely important that you become aware of how the absolute power carried by the powers-that-be is absolutely corrupt. It is destroying the health of the planet. It is destroying your health. It is destroying the health of your children and it is indirectly destroying the health of your grandchildren. It is nothing short of mass ecocide. Like Aldo Leopold warned, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
Granted, you cannot control the system. You cannot control the powers-that-be. You cannot control other people and their actions or beliefs. But you can control yourself. You can control your reaction to corruption. You can destroy the so called “gods” that have kept you leashed to a prisoner’s lifestyle.
Whether your “god” is parochial, monetary, political, or even philosophical, “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.” Kill him metaphorically, with hard love. Look that bastard square in the eye and declare, “You do not own me. You do not decide my path. You’re a cartoon in the brain, at best. And the only thing that matters is the path, is the journey being the thing.”
And then go about proving it. Just remember: there will always be an environment your journey must go through. And in order to keep your sacred journey “the thing,” you must, at least, attempt to keep that environment healthy enough to maneuver through.
Being ecocidal is no way to travel. It is, in fact, the opposite of good travel, as it fundamentally defeats the purpose of “traveling well.” If you destroy the environment, eventually there won’t be an environment to travel through. So it most definitely goes. Like Aldo Leopold said, “The land is not a commodity that belongs to us; it’s a community to which we belong.”
There is an indirect link between deification and ecocide: deification attempts to pigeonhole everything into one basket, leaving people to cling to outdated baskets for dear life. All-too-serious in their sloth, those who deify things bolt the horizon and bar the sky, closing off cosmos and limiting the far-reaching capabilities of the human soul.
The sad tangle of their bones buckle beneath the horror of a judgmental god pressing in like cruel cancer. So they cling to things all the harder: ideas and ways-of-being. They hoard things: land and water. They stockpile at the expense of others: money and wealth. They reduce themselves to fear-filled pawns on a precarious chessboard built by unsustainable and corrupt men.
Deicide, on the other hand, opens up the universe. It shatters mental paradigms. It flattens boxes. It kicks “the doors of perception” wide open. It frees us to imagine new imaginings, and it prevents us from living fear-filled lives. Courage abounds. Love abounds. And the True God, Infinite Impermanence, reveals herself, laughing wholeheartedly –ovaries to marrow– at the “seriousness” of it all, at the existential angst, at the spiritual conundrum, at the woe-is-me quantum enigma. She whispers warningly to us, between deep belly-laughs, “Kill me! It’s the only way to prevent the cartoon in the brain from tricking you into a fixed state.”
In an age marked by rampant genocide and epidemic ecocide, we’re long-past due to renegotiate the terms of this unsustainable and untenable bargain. Like the Once-ler says to the child in The Lorax, “But now, now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear, UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
The earth crisis is a spiritual crisis. Whether you’re spiritual or not, it doesn’t matter. The fact that everything is connected trumps your lack of awareness that such is the case. As Wendell Berry said, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” As it stands, the human world is a desecrated place, a wasteland of monumental proportions.
And I know that cognitive dissonance is a cruel subconscious bitch of a puppeteer, puppeteering you around like a fearful victim of a victimizing culture. But it’s your responsibility to recondition your own preconditioning. It’s your responsibility to get the “horse” of your life back in front of the “cart” of your life. It’s your responsibility to balance yourself with your environment, lest your environment reject you, or worse, you destroy your environment. As Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote, “You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society we grew up in.”
Rejecting conscience (just another flavor of cognitive dissonance) helps eliminate the tension of emotional conflict, but it’s no excuse. Such rejection just leads to an over-simplification of your inner-life, and morality is shrunk to simply “obeying orders.” Like Louis G. Herman wrote, “In a culture where the overriding moral imperative has been narrowed to doing one’s job, earning a living, and maximizing profits, there is no sense of responsibility for one’s larger impact on society and nature. Ethics dwindles to an afterthought.”
Don’t allow your ethics, your morality, your sense of right and wrong, to dwindle to an afterthought. Make it forefront. Make it paramount. Make it an overriding principle. The best way to do that is to act out amorally, despite the immorality or morality of the times. And the most powerful amoral act, is an act of deicide.
Kill all gods! Money, The State, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, Satan, The flying Spaghetti Monster; whoever, or whatever, claims to be an authority. Cut their non-existent heads off and nail them to the wall of your imagination, then throw all the darts of your courage at them until you hit the “bull’s eye.”
Burn their non-existent bodies in the crematorium of your imagination, then use their ashes to resurrect the Phoenix of your own heroism. Let the ballyhoos and hullabaloos of fearful men sound in the hallways of your audacious courage. Let them quibble in their own self-righteousness. You have work to do. Their fear and vacillation should encourage you to be fearless and resolute in your spiritual robustness.
Topple all thrones. Kneecap all high-horses. Melt down all pedestals, especially the ones with “golden calves” on top. They only have meaning in your head anyway. Outside of your head, their meaning falls to zero. Their only “importance” lies within a social pseudo-contract that only you can decide to sign or not. Sometimes you have to decide every day whether or not to sign. Burn that goddamned contract in the fire of your courage. Nobody else can do it for you.
At the end of the day, you can lead a human to health, but you can’t make him/her healthy. Being healthy is a very real interdependent contract between you and your environment. One that you have no choice but to sign. Noncompliance itself is a signing toward an unhealthy, unsustainable mode of being in the world. Sign the contract between you and Mother Nature, between you and the interconnected universe, between you and the interdependent cosmos.
Burn the pseudo-contract handed down to you from unsustainable men claiming authority. The former contract is tenable and can lead to a healthy evolution for our species. The latter contract is untenable and can only lead to our destruction. Transform ecocide into deicide. Do it for your children. Do it for your grandchildren. Like Thomas Berry said, “We will go into the future as a single sacred community, or we will all perish in the desert.”