Awareness of the systemic threats to our world comes at a cost. Often, that cost includes feelings of isolation, existential dread, depression, shock, and other uncomfortable realities. But these emotions do not define the final stage of our journeys. This week we read from listener emails, each describing a different point along the path of coming to terms with uncomfortable truths, and from these we learn that there is a way to move forward. Through confronting the denial that our society wants us to consume, pushing past hopelessness, and expressing our grief, we can begin to reconnect with other humans, build communities, "prep" for the future, and build a better world together.

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  • 08:38 Denial
  • 14:32 Hopelessness
  • 20:40 Grief
  • 34:27 Preparing
  • 49:32 What can we do?

(This transcript is machine translated, we'll edit it to be perfect soon!)

David Torcivia:

[0:05] I'm David Torcivia.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:06] Daniel Forkner.

David Torcivia:

[0:08] And this is Ashes Ashes a show about systemic issues, cracks in civilization, collapse of the environment, and if we're unlucky, the end of the world.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:18] But if we learn from all of this, maybe we can stop that. The world might be broken, but it doesn't have to be.

[0:32] Hi guys are recent listener up the podcast. I was drawn to it because I've always been interested in the systems of society and recently how they're failing this probably isn't too great for my mental health been dealing with the Good Ol existential dread about impending collapse. But personally I'd rather know than not know I wanted to ask one thing though, do you guys bring this up with family and friends I'm having difficulty telling my own spouse because I don't want to just dump this on them. It's like oh yeah I've been a bit quiet lately but don't worry I'm just thinking about everything that's going to go tits up in the next few decades. It makes me sound nuts and this in turn just makes me internalized all this stuff more which I'm sure isn't good how do you talk to Ordinary People about this it all feels so isolating.

David Torcivia:

[1:22] I'm a law and business student and have never really known what to do with my life so I just kind of went along with the flow. At times I be concerned about certain things in life or the world but I've always been surrounded by people who just shrug and say you shouldn't care too much just focus on the here and now or what's it matters not what you can do anything about it. But something about the Lavish Way of Life we struggle to either obtain or sustained while. Your head in the sand when confronted with a problem just really rubbed me the wrong way. When do University teachers in the required reading research papers dismiss every sort of corporate responsibility as a waste of stockholder value. I recommend doing the bare minimum to prevent public outrage when your housemates ultimate goal is retiring at 40 and owning a Ferrari and when everyone in your direct surroundings writes off every alarm in piece of news as, doesn't affect us so it doesn't matter and closed any kind of activist group a bunch of crazy folks. Frustrating don't feel very wrong and messed up to me I'm sure you guys know the feeling the loneliness of feeling like the world's gone mad and nobody cares about it.

[2:30] For a long time I struggled with this disconnect between my surroundings and what was apparently actually going on in the world, but I couldn't muster the courage to truly seek out people who did care about something else than their immediate surroundings that's around the time I found out about your podcast some comments on Reddit recommended it. I can honestly say that you guys helped to make a pretty big change in my life to hear people not just care about the title issues but carefully dissect and Tackle difficult topics one at a time it really helped me gain a more acute awareness of the world we live in, since I started listening to your podcast I've done my best to seek out books documentaries and academic Works to talk about the issues we are facing, and what we could do to improve our future world. Have you enjoyed the political Youth Organization whose goals and vision are geared towards a sustainable future and internet down many other people who've gone through a similar kind of mental process that I have. And who are genuinely concerned about our planet and its inhabitants so like to thank you guys for what you've done for the work you continue to do, I hope you'll continue making ashes ashes for a long time to come seven real positive impact on people's lives you've helped motivate me to dedicate my life not to some big notion of success, but you a better world for all of us no matter how small the change I can personally make.

Daniel Forkner:

[3:46] Those were two emails that we received recently almost died within days of each other David and both of these emails I can relate to David. You know the first one talking about feeling isolated not knowing how to discuss these things with the people around them this is something I've gone through in the past before we started this podcast, and then the email from the second person saying yeah I was feeling isolated I felt like I was crazy all these people around me no one seemed to care or know about these things and I'm reading and learning about, but then this person decided to reach out to those around them read more books interact with more people join an organization right and, the more I read stories like this in the more I reflect on my own life, it seems that almost everyone who has to come to terms with the the type of things that we talked about on this podcast of climate catastrophe of environmental destruction of the economic exploitation the goes on in almost every aspect of Our Lives, it seems that there is a very common emotional and psychological response that just about everyone experiences the initial shock, Denial in some cases the isolation the depression the existential dread. Followed by perhaps a greater awareness of these things coming to peace with him and then learning how to connect with others and then finally you know as that second email points out making a change in one's own life.

[5:13] So that brings us to the topic of today's episode David.

David Torcivia:

[5:17] Business episode that we've been putting off for a while, because it's such a big topic to tackle but it's something that is so incredibly important when we're reaching all these other depressing difficult to swallow things that we discussed on this show. And when you come to terms with the state that the world is in that the collapse that were rapidly heading towards or find ourselves already in in some areas and some places it's a lot to handle and we all go through this the sort of grief, process that is what a grieving evolved you have to come to terms with the fact that you know people have been saying the world's going to end 4.

[5:54] Thousands of years at this point but this time might be different and that's a lot to deal with especially in a world that is alienating and, confusing and lonely as as we have today and that's just on the individual level coming out to other people talking about this. Being that depressing person who's always going on about what, did you hear about the floods here where the fact that all these animals are dead it's it's even more I complaining then we already fine and in for a lot of people as they come to terms with this it it becomes an almost of a coming out process where like you see that first email that you read Daniel people aren't sure how to approach other people about this how to talk about it I know in my personal life is affected relationships when I'm going on and on about these depressing things and people don't have the bad with or emotional capacity or at the moment cuz they're dealing with their own personal issues that we all have to take on the Sorrows of the world that I am Conway spouting out. I've been in this class Community for over 10 years at this point and over that time I've come to terms with this stuff I'm going to take my stages of grieving and reached I think that final acceptance level and I'm doing what I can but, it's a long slow process and lots of people who encounter the show or people that you might encounter as you explain things from the show are somewhere in that processing and understanding that and knowing how to talk to them and help them is a very important arguing with collapse and that's we're trying to address for today.

Daniel Forkner:

[7:17] It's interesting you mention it as like a coming-out experience that is actually kind of exactly how how this happen to me, go on the early days of reading about climate change about reading about the the potential systemic collapse of society as we understand it I remember being very depressed at the definitely feeling very isolated and I was questioning what I was even doing in my own life I say why am I doing this work you know this doesn't really make sense and there was a point where, kind of in my my feeling of desperate isolation I reached out to someone in my family and said hey I need to talk to you and tell you what's going on, and I actually broke down in and was crying a little bit so you know I don't know how to deal with this in, it went on and on and I look back at that now with a little bit you know feeling like wow you know why was I so dramatic and, you forget when you're coming to terms with these things for the very first time it's it's extremely difficult and now that I have come to terms with that I've had to learn to be more sensitive with people around me because there was a time where it became more familiar to me and I would try to talk to my friends about these things and I became known as like the Doom and Gloom guy right in this really rubbed me the wrong way like I'm not a doom-and-gloom guy I'm just pointing out I'm just pointing out sea level rise what's the big deal you know you know how are we going to know change if we don't know these issues but I've had to learn the people who are hearing these things for the first time don't have the they're not acquit. To to deal with it and I think there's a reason that we're not equipped to deal with it and that's because in our society there's a lot of denial about these systems right David.

[8:47] So let's talk about denial for a moment and why we are so unequipped to even admit that these problems are happening right let alone deal with it in an emotionally healthy way. There's a 2018 paper titled deep adaptation a map for navigating climate tragedy written by Jim Bendell and he attempts to put the inevitable social collapse in the context of academic research. But what he writes about is very relevant to our own lives and according to bend out the academic literature, is largely silent on the possibility that we are headed towards collapse your rights quote. A Professionals in the sustainability field discussed the possibility. But it is too late to avert an environmental catastrophe and the implications for their work. A quick literature review revealed that my fellow professionals have not been publishing work that explores or starts from that perspective and quote, so in other words very little if no research at all stars from the premise that the collapse of society is inevitable rather those papers in the field of sustainability that do Focus, on how we might adapt to climate change make the assumption that Society will continue largely the same as it has been but with some new way of.

[10:12] Micro incremental fixes right. And a big reason so many of us I think our unequip or these issues is because the models our society is formed through are largely in denial. With a very professionals whose entire lies are devoted to research understanding and predicting change and offering Solutions. When they still cling to the idea that catastrophe is avoidable through business-as-usual technological tinkering and you know maybe voting and some new politicians. Is it any wonder that we as just normal everyday people feel like we are The Crazy Ones for being afraid. We feel crazy because those with the institutional media and governmental power keep telling us that everything is fine while we look around us and see that things are very much not fine.

David Torcivia:

[11:03] And this did not was not just an accident in fact a handful of scientists themselves the ones on the Forefront of climate research, it was unethical to share the realities of their findings here's another quote from the deep adaptation paper. The reaction of some environmentalist to a 2017 article predicting climate catastrophe did not focus on the accuracy of descriptions or what might be done to reduce some of the worst effects that were identified in the article, instead they focus on whether such ideas should be communicated to the General Public. Climate scientist Michael Mann warned against presenting the problem is unsolvable and feeling a sense of Doom inevitability and hopelessness environmental journalist Alex Stephen tweet about dropping the dire truth on unsupported readers does not produce action but fear. In a blog post Daniel aldana Cohen in a system sociology Professor working outside of politics called the peace climate disaster porn. Three actions reflect what some people have said to me in professional environmental Circle the argument made is that to discuss the likelihood and nature of social collapse due to climate change is he responsible because of my trigger hopelessness among the general public. I was started. Restrict our own exploration of reality and since our own since making due to our ideas about how our conclusions might come across to others.

[12:23] And that's a lot to digest there in that quote, maybe this is why we get so much stuff that's always thinks faster than expected more quickly than scientists predicted, because they're always self-censoring their papers to be less extreme but obviously we're here on ashes ashes wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that you should sensor this information that the people can't handle the truth which by the way is enormously patronizing and disrespectful, it's very likely what do scientists mean when they say they don't want to alarm the public that they actually are just trying to not alarm themselves maybe they are the ones who are afraid to live in a world where we must confront the realities of our future and work towards something better maybe those scientists are free to give me a blood trees in their own lives they have learned to take for granted we are all stakeholders in this world in the fact that there is a privileged few sitting in there little Ivy Towers saying.

[13:15] The Peasants down there aren't ready for this bad information. It's so disrespectful to all of us because ultimately is all of our world is not just the academic tour lying to us about how bad the situation is and maybe we've been honest about this 2030 years ago we could have done something we could have kicked in the change that we so desperately needed but not because the keeps censoring themselves limiting the results making them more palatable not only do us with politicians to business owners that we are in a place, we're the only options are drastic there is no slow down production of carbon of of energy generation anymore there are only traumatic options available to us if we want to, keep a little to sell one and a half point of no returns in the past that we just keep up, and now we realistically we were looking at 3 at 4 at 5 at 7 and this is because all this information has been censored and we have been denied the time in the sense of urgency to do something about it.

[14:14] Sorry Mike DoubleTree weather.

Daniel Forkner:

[14:16] But I was just thinking this is always our problem did we try to like it like this is supposed to be an episode on how people can cope with this reality but.

David Torcivia:

[14:24] And here I am just like rambling like a preacher.

Daniel Forkner:

[14:28] But we will we will get to it we promised we just got to get through this first initial hump here I do want to come back though.

[14:44] Will have no motivation to work towards Solutions this is actually pretty common according to ride or Catherine norlock to spare only sabotages a collective and productive response to climate change, in her words we should quote resist the temptation to single out groups of people as responsible for climate change and instead forgive those we think are guilty of environmental harm in order to maximize our ability to work together. In quotient.

David Torcivia:

[15:11] It sounds like someone really guilty what they would say.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:14] Everybody listen up I have an idea now.

David Torcivia:

[15:18] No one is to blame here.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:20] No one is to blame right my fossil fuel company look we don't need to point blame let's work together here come on everybody.

David Torcivia:

[15:27] Where the Exxon Mobil solution for climate change there is no no blaming for climate change so it's all Kumbaya and get going.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:36] And I think this idea that helplessness paralyzes people kind of flies in the face of the human spirit I didn't go into much detail about my own experience earlier but. It was Despair and hopelessness and that isolation I felt that caused me to break down in front of someone in my family and it's also what motivated me to switch gears and seek out more meaningful were right it just took time. It is another perspective I want people to consider which is don't we want people to feel hopeless about our current system.

[16:09] That's because David much of our world today is inconceivably dumb as we discussed an episode 63 busy work. Perhaps half the entire population is engaged in work they consider pointless they clock in at jobs for 8 hours a day to do mindless work. Did they consider to have no value to society, and through which they gained no useful skills also they can collect a meager sum of dollars would barely add up to their rent and debt payments. Why should people feel hopeful that this system is going to continue indefinitely. Why would we even want that if that system is threatened then why not acknowledge it so we can put our hope in something better. In fact there's someone named Tommy Lynch who wrote an article in 2017 called why hope is dangerous when it comes to climate change and according to him being hopeful it is more than useless it can itself be destroyed.

David Torcivia:

[17:08] I'm going to read that quote from Tommy Lynch in just a second, but I really don't want to get started on Hope in the climate change world and in just a ridiculous mistakes and then traps that people get caught because of it and D class Community deduction award for the college hopium because the hope is used to make the masses not actually want to do any any change and so they put their, their Hope on the fact that technology or figures like Elon Musk will come in and save the day and instead of just getting taken to the cleaners in that process the problem gets made worse and then here we are but let me let me read the school from Tommy Lynch.

[17:47] There are risks to embracing pessimism in fear they are necessary aspect of confronting our situation. Hoping that science will provide a solution is its own kind of surrender relieving the pressure of confronting the ways of life that have given rise to climate change in the first place, The Hope also downplayed the fact that such Solutions likely will until living in a world marked by pain and suffering directly and indirectly caused but what we have done to Nature, hoping that science will provide a solution is its own kind of surrender, relieving the pressure confronting the ways of life that has given rise to climate change in the first place is Hope also downplayed the fact that such Solutions likely will entail living in a world marked by pain and suffering directly and indirectly cause but what we have done to Nature these demands that we hope against all evidence are examples of what Lauren Berlant calls cruel optimism, Berlin describes the way people hope for something that is impossible or Fantastical what makes this cruel rather than just tragic is that the hope is itself part of the problem. Think of the way that dreams of success and wealth function in American society, low-paid employees in precarious positions are told the determination hard work will result in Greater opportunities and Economic Security. In actuality class Mobility is very limited the Optimus Messi heart of the American dream is cruel workers invest in a dream, that actually leaves them more open to exploitation rather than challenging The Wider economic system.

[19:17] To continue on what I was saying before Daniel in the context of climate change hoax. Can be viciously cruel and that those who are more affluent will an average experience the consequences of climate change later than those who are part of the explode in vulnerable classes and of course in a much lesser degree hoping some technological fix while we happily go about our lives is cruel it'll prevent this from confronting the exploitative systems which created this problem in the first place and which have been and continue to destroy the lies of poor and vulnerable people all around the world people are suffering right now. All over this planet because of the hope that we have. 10 or 20 or 30 years down the line some magic technology will be invented that will save the day and prevent a climate catastrophes that are already occurring all around the world from affecting us here in these wealthy developed nations in a way that we don't ever have to change the way that we live or interact or exploit the world and that is cruel not only do the people around the world were suffering of this moment not only to the thousands or millions of species of animals that will be extinct because of this choice but also to our future Generations will have to pay the price of a death of extracting from this exploitation of the Earth the life that lives upon it and the suffering that we that we use to maintain the standard of living.

Daniel Forkner:

[20:41] But let's talk a little bit about how how we cannot cope with this David there's. There's an anthology titled rebellious morning the collective work of grief. By Cindy milstein which I recommend to anyone who is struggling with anger sadness grief dread or any other complex emotion.

[21:06] At what are the systemic Injustice has of our world sounds like something you might want to read David.

David Torcivia:

[21:12] Yeah probably healthy.

Daniel Forkner:

[21:14] But it's a collection of stories from people learning to live with this pain. Stories from the parents of the 43 students who are kidnapped and disappeared from a school in Mexico, in 2014 or stories from a Japanese woman on how communities in Japan are learning to live after the destruction. That is continually right by the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown these stories offer examples of ways to move forward in the face of large-scale pain. And climate change promises to deliver a lot of pain to this world Cindy milstein rights quote.

[21:55] I come to the send thology through my own pain yet it is inseparable from the pain of this world. I have traversed the worst frequently alone. This pain laid bare much cruelty some of it systemic some of it due to socialisation one of the cruelest of front though was the expectation that pain should be hidden away buried. Privatized a lie manufactured so as to mask and uphold the social order that produces our many unnecessary losses. When we instead open ourselves to the bonds of loss and pain we lesson what debilitates us we reassert life and its beauty we open ourselves to the bonds of Love expansively understood. Crucially we have a way to gather two at once grieve more qualitatively and struggle to undo the deadening and deadly structures intent, on destroying us and and she wrote that she writes that in the intro to this Anthology and I want to read just from one of these stories. Written by activist and artist Benji heart riding about their experience as a black person in America. To help maybe give us some guidance on another way forward then this hiding of our pain and I put this quote together from different parts of their story so it's not contiguous but I think it all fits together.

[23:25] As the direct recipients of State violence in all its forms police killings mass incarceration school closings and budget cuts, many of us are able to get up in the morning and do our daily lives because we don't examine our oppression head-on at least not consistently. We understand and have even been taught that we cannot allow ourselves to feel the constant rage and pain we deserve to feel. It's unsustainable and much of our communities conventional wisdom tells us it is not affect. It's depressing to realize that there is an entire network designed to harm us and shield those who do harm. It is demoralizing to comprehend how formidable the giant of Empire is and then my sadness is compounded with guilt. I am guilty for being sad. Sadness feels weak I know in my head that the point of Talking Heads propaganda the point of State murder police acquittals harassment and imprisonment is demoralizing. I feel guilty for being demoralized I should be angry I should be fiery with unquenchable passion. I should be as Relentless as the state if I am sad the state has one if I am sad the fight is over.

[24:43] The most intense violence which we are seeing ramp-up be intentional Erasure of History the use of militaristic force and solitary confinement the reneging of basic right and multi-fold acts of assault and abuse, will never stop our communities from feeling it will never end our love for our own lives for the lives of our ancestors, and our children it will never dissuade us from fighting back pretending I am not sad hiding my pain will not make me stronger. In fact suppressing my true self ignoring the fear and rage that surround law, is exactly what in the long run will weaken me when we talked of self-care self-defense and self-preservation we need to talk not about overcoming our feelings of grief but allowing them making room for them. We need to talk about movement-building that allows us to feel in all the different ways that may come and does not expect us to erase or bottle up our sadness in the name of organizing leadership or action. Let grief be part of the movement building process for which we allow hallowed space and let it build within us the compassion wisdom and rage that Propel us into new battles.

[26:04] What the quote means to me David is there power in allowing our emotions to be felt. Yesterday you know the thought that climate catastrophe might you know render parts of our country uninhabitable, it may drive internal refugees the external climate destruction outside of our country is going to drive refugees into our country's you know the Food Systems of prop up modern civilization, may start to fail leaving us wondering where our next meal will come from yes this may happen in that that's all it is is it terrifying. But we should engage with that we should allow these emotions to play out we should feel angry at the forces that are making that happen we should feel indignant at the at the media and the the government's the Telus. That they're working on Solutions when in fact they're not. And through feeling that we can build communities we can build connections to others we can start to bridge the gaps between, the isolation that so many of us have been pushed into and that's what's going to give us strength and we're going to talk later in the show about some practical things we can do from things we can learn from the prepper Community but also, practical ways to build community so that when these destructive forces into our lives we had the ability to work around them, and maybe even move past them maybe even thrive.

David Torcivia:

[27:28] I have to laugh this for one second and I thought that government is doing anything at least here in the United States if you just saw that press release the US has put out. How important is that we export. Gas and natural gas around the world going so far as to call the gas itself molecules of freedom.

Daniel Forkner:

[27:46] Yes I did see that.

David Torcivia:

[27:50] So I don't know how we're getting from that and as ridiculous and onion like as it is and as much as I laugh on it it really should instead of making us Giggle and look how stupid these people are we should be angry that there. They consider us so dumb that wish we would be tricked by the fact that gas is actually a molecule of freedom I mean Jesus. I don't want to get too far away on that discussion we have such eloquent writing hear others another quote from Jim Bendel in the Deep adaptation paper that think is irrelevant and I'd like to read. The implication is for you to take a time to step back, to consider what if analysis in these pages is true to allow yourself to grieve and to overcome enough of the typical fears we all have, to find meaning in new ways of being and acting. That may be in the field of Academia or management or could be in some other field that this realization leads you to and as soon as I quote I mean this is sort of what happened to you, Daniel listi meditation paper wasn't out yet what what you were going through all this stuff up because I've been pestering you with it for years.

[28:57] I mean you did swear to come to terms with that you did grieve and and you changed your field you're looking at other things you're working now and nonprofits you're trying to get into a cultural stuff at the moment, anybody has some sweet farm jobs up in Massachusetts let Daniel know.

[29:14] But this was at like a radical change that was motivated through the fact that you realizing that your current way of life is unsustainable on this is something that we all have to come to terms with, even those of us who were very aware and end or trying to live the most conscious life that we can you know you change out your light bulbs you drive last used maybe sell your car you try not to fly you ride a bike a lot all these things we do that we're told to do to take Auntie Mast Global responsibility climate change as an individual and then it's some point it clicks to us that way this is not enough these little changes and I'm making we know the other helping but if we want to really make a dent in this if we want to reverse these Trends then we have to have a larger cultural, societal shifting changes in the way that we live, and so much of our society is built around work around how we interact with each other that if we want to kick off that jumped and it really has to start there. And that's what these papers are encouraging that's what you found that, it is it is an option for you and I realize not everybody can do this not all of us have the luxury of you know Daniel you're like a young childless person who doesn't own a house you're relatively free in the fact you can travel where do you need to, you don't have a family that you need to support so you're in a place of fluids that allows you to just really flipped the script very quickly.

[30:35] But the fact of the matter is is the security of our position that everybody finds themselves in where you know I have to make sure that I can put food on the table that I need to be able to pay my mortgage that I need to make sure that I have a roof over my head this, security that aren't Hannah me is built on that the exploitation of the West is built upon is the banality of evil that we find ourselves in because through the exploitation the fact that each and every one of us is forced to do these things that we maybe don't want to or if we don't agree with and know that you know I'm not working in a field that's helpful I'm hurting but that's okay because I know it's only a little bit that I'm not making it a difference and I still need to provide for myself that's what allows these little things to add up into big bits of evil nobody's out there will most people aren't out there at least you know trying to burn down the world, but all of our Collective actions absolutely unfortunately do, but it's not entirely our fault but yeah you know some of us can go off the grid and live these like pure hermetic lies but, most of us don't have that option but were forced into this because what what is the alternate start for homeless.

[31:48] This is what we say when we when we're talking about the fact that we need societal ships that we need to totally redo how we address every aspect of our culture because the way it's set up right now is we're primed to be exploited and that exploitation so often leads, two evil it leads to climate destruction that leads exploitation of the natural systems around our world as well as the people who depend upon them.

Daniel Forkner:

[32:11] I mean you talk about privilege like you know one thing I'm considering in Massachusetts is finding a service job like a service position in agriculture so I can kind of get my foot in the door and I think about. You know someone who has student debt right like the very fact that I could volunteer on a farm for just room and board is a privilege because, I don't have student debt and imagine someone that has $100,000 hanging over their head and said, I would love to volunteer on a farm but guess what if I don't do that I can't put food on the table and therefore that's why I work in the software industry or that's why I do this work that you don't maybe isn't meaningful or maybe even worse than that is harmful to this world.

[32:51] Because I don't have a choice that's the exploitation you're talking about but I love what and Jem Bendell said that quote you read which is we have to ask the question. No we have to ask the question what if and we have to examine this in the context of our own lives and see, we're that realization might possibly lead us because of a better world will require Community you will require systems in which, all of us can work together and there's so many ways that we can each contribute, right maybe I have the luxury to to go work on a farm but someone else who works in software maybe they can contribute to a better world by helping us set up a Creative Commons website where we can you know dispersed knowledge and information like that farm hack website that you talked about last week right I think if we each examine our own lies, with honesty we can realise number one that we're not alone, the number to that there's always a way that we can move forward towards feeling that we're making a better world possible.

David Torcivia:

[33:48] Well then let's talk about some practical ways that we can you know cope with this so we can make a better world that we can prepare for the catastrophes that are coming, I think the Practical conversation here is important because we do talk a lot of theoretical things systemic problems but this is a show that's really about coping, and coping takes both likely mention a practical form where might just be hey let's make sure that we have some extra food in case their food shortages, to the emotional aspect of will How can I, deal with the fact that I'm grieving for the world for the 7 and at whatever it is billion people on it and the countless billions of animals, that live all around us.

Daniel Forkner:

[34:27] I think we have to comment on the prepper lifestyle David.

David Torcivia:

[34:31] Full disclosure I have lots of bike I have some boxes of food and I have some like crates of water and stuff stashed in various places in my, in my apartment so I am sympathetic to it let's not like I just want to fully get that out there before we jump into this.

Daniel Forkner:

[34:51] Will they let me be clear I don't disagree with any of that in fact I think what you're doing is good I think all of us should do that you know I have some cans of dried food that probably wouldn't be enough but, there's nothing wrong with the with preparedness right but I specifically one address just one of the mentalities that frequents this prepper mindset, and we were actually sent in the mail a book by author named Joe or Tia it's called built to survive and I haven't finished reading the entire book yet but, Joe is a former military contractor who deployed to Iraq with the US Military and his experience made him realize that we here in America are not prepared for a collapse of the infrastructure that makes Modern Life possible. Insight is core fear is that the power grid in the US will be attacked by either China or Russia and because of the fragility of the power grid which we actually go in depth about in episode 13 lights out. Much of the country would lose access to electricity food water and Municipal services. And so for this reason Joe decided to build a house that could survive Off the Grid.

[36:00] Most of his book is organized by practical steps that someone can follow to do the same that is you know how to design a house with a backup generator, and solar power in mind how to ensure clean drinking water in the event the water treatment plant becomes offline what kinds of central air systems to consider and of course, how to keep everything secure. I don't have any problem with much of these practical measures if it is a good idea to take steps toward preparedness in your own life and for possible interruptions or breakdown modern services and infrastructure, but I want to just hold in for a second on this emphasis on the need for security the premise of This Book Is that in the event of a natural disaster. Or an act of war that brings down the grid life will suddenly become very dangerous and people will become violent. From the forward of this book here's Joel schools and writing.

[36:56] Social unrest will tend to move outward from the urban areas and still living at the outer edges of Suburbia buys you time to get ready as suburban areas closer to town absorb much of the pillaging. And quote.

[37:11] Is it for this reason this idea that this kind of lawlessness will encourage pillaging and violence Joe provide the roadmap for people to continue participating in their professional Urban live. By moving to the suburbs where they can commute to the city and then Retreat to the secure self-sufficient home they've built when the violence starts. He's heavy on recommendations for becoming firearm proficient for installing sensors along your property line to watch out for intruders installing your solar panels on the back of your property so your house is less conspicuous tube in a would-be Invaders, and again I want to be clear, we don't have criticisms for those who recommend preparedness and in fact many of his recommendations are good ones and yes it would not hurt us to even consider the possibility that people with malicious intent would want to disrupt our community, but the criticism here and really the main reason actually started this show in the first place David like the entire show. It has to do with you recommendations that are left out and the implication that Modern Life is only safe to the extent that police officers are present and the moment things go south, well people will just start cannibalizing each other I think these implications drive people into what we might call a bunker mentality. Write a believing that their only hope of survival is to stockpile a bunch of canned food hunker down with a bunch of guns and ammo, and prevent anyone from coming near.

David Torcivia:

[38:40] It's it's one of the you mention that that's is you know one of the Genesis moments of the show that really was. Like I mentioned earlier in the shopping in the collapse World Reading Writing for over decade at this point and so much of that conversation has always really been dominated. By these recycle hard right wing uniform military guys who are talking about like the best way to. Collect all this stuff in their house and hide it from their neighbors and have plans of how to like bug out to whatever location they are in in like, go on these fantasies about how they could kill other neighbors if they were trying to come in and take their stuff it's like this really weird for the first thing and it's would have bled a lot into the class Community as well where people weren't so much interested in what is causing the collapse or how to stop it but more so as when is it going to be here and when can I start killing people. And I don't want to like say that it's the only thing that the committee was about but there always has been a really big focus on.

[39:45] After the end of the world as we know it tail Chihuahua key I think that's how you say that, what is going to happen here when can I start doing this this. There was a lot of like feedback to people were like super into the zombie fiction imagining a playing zombie games imagine what they would do in a zombie apocalypse because that is a acceptable way to murder your neighbors is there a zombie rather than, it's a very alienated isolated down community-driven way of looking at the end of the world and it's built on all these assumptions like you mentioned any of that, like I mentioned in the forward this book that that immediately people are going to be running around like attacking each other that the world is going to be filled with cannibals and Mad Max stuff there used to be a very famous guy when the class communities are frequent his name was bhishma boy and he was always predicting that within six months global dimming was going to and we were all going to be eating each other. Cannibalizing whoever we can get our hands on. And these troops existed for so long that there was no no counter to it no focused on Warwick and what alternatives do we have how can we stop this and that was why we kicked up the shoe off. In large part to be a reasonable deep dive on the things that are leading up to collapse rather than saying this is the date this is how I prepare you know this is the best gun this is the best backpack blah blah blah blah.

Daniel Forkner:

[41:09] And also is a way to provide an alternative Way Forward once that eventual collapse you know however it plays out actually does happen if an alternative that doesn't involve this bunker mentality but one that involves working together. And to be fair the author of this book he's very much about security so that you can protect his family that's all well and good in fact I did find one place where he mentions community on page 153 he writes quote. It's important to have a security plan ready to go in the event that a grid down situation continues for an extended. Chaos has taken over and law enforcement cannot be counted upon. Sensors around your property can help but keep in mind that once a threat has arrived close to your home it may be too late to avoid disaster that's why your security plan and procedure to extend well beyond your property line. Meaning it will be important to know your neighbors and to have worked out a plan with them perhaps to include neighborhood patrols and quote. And I am happy that he mentions here the need to build networks of people beyond your property line but I do feel like the emphasis is still on models around this bunker mentality you know that knowing your neighbors is useful. To the extent that you can collectively keep Outsiders out.

[42:28] I want to make a suggestion What If instead of building neighborhoods and personal bunkers that are useful at keeping people out what if we build communities. That were useful at not just absorbing newcomers and those in need but actively using them to better those communities. I would like you to consider two hypothetical situations alright hypothetical Situation Number One your city has collapsed. No trucks are bringing food to town and the water treatment plant shutdown so you and your friend you're forced to leave. And after several tough days of hunger and thirst you arrive at a former Suburban neighborhood but before you even have the chance to.

[43:14] A group of men with shotguns approached you and they say stop right there. You're not coming in here yes we may have a Year's worth supply of canned vegetables but those are for us and if you take another step forward you're dead.

[43:31] I want you want to consider that scenario and think about how you might feel that situation. Alright hypothetical situation number to same story City collapses you're hungry you're thirsty and finally you reach a neighborhood. This time you're meant by a small group of men women and children holding not shotguns but shovels. And one of them says to you oh hi there you look hungry and thirsty.

[43:58] The food team is preparing a meal for tonight which will include the tomatoes that Jim's Garden produces the potatoes that Barbers Garden grows and the eggs that are collected from the chickens that the chicken team has been taking care of you're welcome to join us. But we're Community here and everyone must pull their weight. We have a water team that's bringing in fresh water from a well about a mile away and they could use a hand or if you like we're organizing able bodies to help construct a community shelter where we hope to install bunk beds for newcomers like you. So considered that scenario and think how you might feel. The next considered which Community is most likely to be attacked which is at a a higher risk of violence. In the first one there is a bunch of surplus food being guarded. And then the second one there is a steady supply of food but only daily and only if a large number of people go to work each day to ensure that the animals Gardens and land are all taken care of. I don't know David which one do you think is more likely to be under siege.

David Torcivia:

[45:06] Will I know the first one sounds whale has fun want to sit inside eating canned soup for a year to go to get scurvy but. You make a good point there in that if somebody if you would have just a collection of food that last for a year. It's very simple for someone to come in and kill you and take your stuff but if you have a farm or something needs to be actively worked at takes a community knowledge to keep it running and producing. Is somebody might think they can come in and then kick you out or take control of his but they quickly realized that that's not the case and it's safer to be in a situation where you are important, where you presents and continued health and freedom, is an important component to the fact that the food keeps coming out and helping everybody in that. Are you sort of treat a protection not of ceramic plates or whatever but one of us dependence on the community.

Daniel Forkner:

[46:08] And then of course there's this notion that people become violent towards one another in time of Crisis and I think that's one. I think that's a promise we should also just be questioning from the onset it you know I don't think that's even true Right There Was You stories that came out after Hurricane Katrina. They came out a couple years or so after the event that countered the media portrayal of community, in Louisiana at the time of the hurricane right we saw a lot of images on TV of people looting the media love to paint these pictures of a violent young men breaking into stores, doing all these violent things but then we later found out when you actually looked at what was happening is that people were yes they were breaking into storefronts, but they were doing so that they so that they could get food and medicine and water for the people that they cared about they were doing so to protect the children if they were doing so to take care of those who were in need and in fact the violence that happened. Happened at the hands of law enforcement and other actors of the state. If that goes there's a there's an article that was published by the Atlantic called finding solidarity and disaster published in 2015. And I'll just read it let me just find maybe something quick I can read from it.

[47:28] Quote violence on the ground to turned out to be much less common than imagined, I kept hearing the word animal and I didn't see animals a woman named Denise Moore told the public radio program This American Life about her time at the Superdome, instead she saw self-organized activities by gangster guys who broke into abandoned stores although they might have looked like looters, they were salvaging fresh clothes for those who needed them. Juice for the baby's water beer for the older people food raincoat so that they could all be seen by each other. Meanwhile it was sometimes the armed agents at the state the very people who are supposed to keep the peace who violently impeded rescue. When two black families try to cross a bridge to find medical and other supplies they were met by New Orleans police officers touting guns. The cops on the bridge killed two unarmed men and injured four others all told 11 civilians were shot by police in Katrina's aftermath. Police and soldiers broke up the self organized solidarity built by people stuck in the city.

[48:35] Larry Bradshaw and Lori Beth slonski to paramedics visiting New Orleans for a conference record a group of people banding together to find food and shelter. Only to be lied to by the police who knocked down their makeshift shelters and blocked the route out of the city. We were hiding from possible criminal elements they wrote. But equally and definitely we were hiding from the police and Sheriff's with their martial law curfew and shoot to kill policies and quote. And if that is how the state will respond.

[49:09] In times of Crisis then it's then now is a time for us to start building those groups of solidarity now is the time to start building communities. Now is the time to start putting into plants okay when the food runs out what are we going to do. Can we were lying to what kind of structure can we create to take people in and to help us. Because what other choice do we have so David what can we do. What are some practical steps we can take to prepare ourselves both in the present and the future for what could be the collapse of Life as We Know It.

David Torcivia:

[49:45] Well there's a wide variety of stuff here Daniel at me we have both physical activities that we can do as well as a thinks it help and treat our mental and emotional state, I mean if you want to take the prepper approach there are a lot of good things in the community, no keep a few weeks worth of water in your house keep a few weeks worth of non-perishable food in your house or everybody in there make sure you have some cash to decide if it's it's the cashless machines go out you know all these things that are very practical and don't even have to be about collapse but could just be about local calamity, where there's a natural disaster or a the power grid goes down or something that might leave you.

[50:28] Outside of your regular way of life for a few weeks or possibly months has happened to some people who suffer from the recent hurricanes and please select Puerto Rico and the southeastern United States where life is still getting back, to the way things were at this point months or years later being prepared for a few weeks out is not a crazy thing to do it's just practical it also gives you some sort of cushion in case something traumatic happens to your family financially you will have food for a little while until you can figure things out get back on your feet, it is smart to be ready there's nothing wrong with that and it doesn't have to suffer from the president of the pepperoncinis so often gets from people who aren't prepared I don't know what's wrong with being prepared but for some reason people laugh at that, and maybe it's because some people you know are just so ridiculous with it.

[51:18] So that's a good start knowing things yourself increasing your own skills and training is another great way CPR, first aid certification, there are in the United States often times you'll find your local government probably has a disaster preparedness course where you can go and take it and you'll come away with like a hard hat and a bag of goodies and look like flashlights and stuff in it, many communities have this done by the federal government you can then become a member of this response team if you want you can be someone literally on the ground helping in these situations if they ever get to that point, at the very least you'll receive some great training I'll meet you in a major city you could look for Street Medics or action medic training they can get you caught up on on how to respond to Kingston the moment that's a great way to do it if you're more serious there's lots of volunteer EMT Services, you can get rain and ultimately get your EMT certification with something of the school and and might be useful in these types of things there are books, there are text on this that the great book where there is no doctor if you are the type of person who is anxious about going out and getting trained to this is a great book to read at home and to learn things and just has as a reference on your shelf but these are you not very practical things Daniel and they're still like very much the Lone Wolf thing.

[52:36] And I think most would be better served is finding a group of like-minded people that they can share these thoughts with that they can learn about this type of stuff, and also just, Ortiz Community bonds and relationships that are an important part of being a person and being a healthy and happy person this could be something as simple as finding a local community garden, where you can learn how to farm on a small scale and and get some tasty food out of this as well as his hang out with people who care about the Earth who care about agriculture who care about a sustainable practices that's a great way to jump into this world, like The Listener in the very beginning of this episode 2 Road asset email you can get involved in activist organizations there are so many on so many topics that.

[53:20] You can find whatever you care about a bunch of like-minded people who know me here but are willing to do something about it, and that's the type of people you want to surround yourself with I know in my activist groups I'm constantly inspired by people that I encounter for just doing so much to try to make the world better, you always seem to find more and more of their own time who have more to give. For themselves before everyone around them in and I find that personally inspiring I've made some great friends in this process and I know I have a community I can count on but also they drive me to be better and I always appreciate that fact.

[53:55] But love is still you know we we talked in the beginning about how collapse and talkin about collapse so often for people is a coming out process you can just go to someone's they hate you know the world is ending. I'm sad about this most people aren't ready for that it's too much for them and then you can share this show you can share all these articles that that we post on a very social media Accounts at the prime people get them ready for that conversation but the fact of the matter is it's a lot for people to take, and there are spaces online that are aimed at people who are looking for Community Support in the collapse world because, sometimes it helps to talk to other people who understand what you're going through. Understand and have the same will do as you do realize just how deep in the ship we are, and there's a lot of value in that you can form a small support Affinity groups we have a great Community here on our Discord we haven't formalized any sort of therapy or support. System but it might be worth talking about there's a common method now we find a group of six or seven people including yourself and everyone, it'll throw them in a group chat through them into Discord server room whatever and with six or seven people he know someone is probably always going to be online someone probably is always going to be there to talk.

[55:14] You can find these people in our claps Discord Community can fight them on the collapse of British beers is a subreddit on Reddit call the collapse support, they have a Discord that are specifically aimed at helping people make it through this process understand that there is not only a global, cost to the the actions that we have their daughter destroying our world but also an individual cost a masterly you know terms of asteroid home but in the stress and the ins iety and the the grief that we stopped for learning about this and being aware of it and and being aware of our own contribution to these problems, so finding people in that they don't necessarily all have to be class people even if you want to stay at one of these up with your with your friends so you already, talk to about maybe emotional things this is a great thing to formalize and seeing her here is our support chat here's our support.

[56:06] And you have a bad day you don't text us. And somebody will respond your suffering because you just read something awful if you saw a video of walruses falling off cliff so you heard about half the fruit bats in Australia dying in a day.

[56:21] And do you want to talk because it's sad he's watching the world burn down around us is sad.

[56:26] You know this is a place that you can go and do that and find people who understand what you're saying and and they can tell you know yet it is sad, it's okay to feel sad it's okay to feel angry at people that allowed this to happen and it's okay to take that anger and process it and then cry and yell and then punched something and then utilize that energy towards doing something, you're joining when these groups getting trained making a different telling somebody about this and bring them into this larger awareness of what's happening in the back they cannot depend on the whole p.m. that is a technological Revelations that were constantly promise that never arrived but instead need to face the fact, that if they want change if they don't want this to happen in greater and greater numbers in larger and larger magnitudes and they're going to have to change their lives. You can't change anybody's life for them they have to decide to do that but you can put that little idea in their head and let it grow and then every time that happens we get one step closer to building that better world that we really want to focus on doing in the show into building these communities that allowed that kind of change to happen in fostering a community doesn't have to just be you know like the community garden or or local place but they can be these digital, collections of people who are there for each other and communication be, a website that can be ate a group chat it can be a garden it can be a group of people who meet once a month or once a year.

[57:55] Just people coming together and and acknowledging you know that we're all humans in this that our relationship do matter.

[58:02] That's an important part about making sure that we don't feel isolated that we don't feel alone in this because that loneliness that feeling of separation is what is so dangerous, in this claps despair if you're not in it alone I mean you're here. Send us an email we can always talk to you we can point you in the right direction come join our Discord there's a link on our website. People up to your on the on the chat will frequently come in and Dent about something awful that happened that made and people from all around the world will respond to say that's okay and helping me to here's what I did it'll be it'll get better or maybe I won't get better but. And we understand we're here for you and that's how.

Daniel Forkner:

[58:40] I think some people some people fall into the Trap of asking what's the point. When we start pondering such ideas like climate change you know destroying Life as We Know It. It's so easy to allow nihilism and thus this kind of apathy set in and we have to remember though that whatever the future will bring we have lives to live right now. There are people beside us that need us and our could use our help we have joy and happiness to experience right now regardless of what's going to happen in the future. I remember reading Viktor Frankl book Man's Search for meaning a long time ago by Viktor Frankl was a concentration camp victim in Holocaust Survivor. And in his book one of the things he wrote was along the lines of people are always asking what is the meaning of life what is my purpose.

[59:30] But we don't realize is that life is the one asking us that question. And we answer it through the way we choose to live our lives and in addition he writes about the emotional reactions of people living in concentration camps and that a no matter how bad things got. Each individual still had a choice quote we who lived in concentration camps. Can remember the men who walked through the Hutt's comforting others giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing the last of the human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances. To choose One's Own Way. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails the way in which he takes up his cross give him ample opportunity even under the most difficult circumstances to add a deeper meaning to his life. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him and this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.

[1:00:48] And quote we have a choice and in the face of existential crisis we can still choose hope we can still Choose Love. We can still find meaning and purpose and no matter how bad things get none of us are alone in this struggle.

David Torcivia:

[1:01:06] We briefly railed against hope early on this episode and the dangers that a can have I know throughout this show how much I come across as a pessimist. But I'm really not I'm I'm really truly honestly driven by hope and optimism and yes there's a realistic component that. The Earth is really fucked right now and in our culture and our society is incredibly gross and and and. Damaging and exploitative and just broken on the fundamental systemic level. But it would be easy if I was a pessimist just disable Lookout broken this is like who cares I'm just going to live my life and in the end that's it and I'll try and exploited whatever ways I can that benefit me but. In the end of the day there's nothing that can be done but that's not what I think that's not what I'm driven by I am driven by a hope that things can get better that we can build something better that this isn't the only way the world has to be run that there can be a better future that would that if we had the imagination to step outside and see you know the world wasn't always like this and it doesn't have to be like this just because that's the way it is right now and we can find that independence from the status quo, and liberate people's imagination then remind them you know things can get better the week we can't have Equitable of fair sustainable Earth, for everyone humans the developed world the developing world.

[1:02:32] The animals in an ecosystem life that we depend upon literally for everything. It absolutely is possible I can imagine in sometimes I can close my eyes and I I've try and visualize it cuz I think that's important and I can see it. And that's what drives me this is the form of Hope but I've used this hope not to say. A teen has somebody will come in and save the day they will be aliens or technologies that will fix all these problems and I can keep living in this broken world. But rather it's hope that everyone wakes up and realizes. Things don't have to be this way they can be better and that is absolutely attainable I don't know if I'll ever seen in my life I hope that I will I don't know if I will but at the very least, whatever children are being born right now who is Future are being violently stolen from them, by people who decide to use terminology like molecules of Freedom who insist that climate change is not a problem if you continue to build these exploitative systems yes this is violence being committed on to those children by those people and we should respond accordingly in the whatever self-defense that we need to but, but I hope that we realize that this doesn't have to be this way and I really think that the spirit of humans the realization that we all have in her heart that something is broken in this world.

[1:03:47] The things that give us anxiety day today that make us feel alienated and separated, and we don't necessarily have the words for because we aren't taught the correct ways to deal with our emotions or the deal with humans or especially here in the West End in America where everything's been hyper individualize and we've lost the connection that we used to have that we still have the spirit within us the Deep part of our soul, it says something's better and it's obtainable and if we just reach out and find that in each and every one of us and we can build that better world, and we're so close that bursting out I can almost feel it and every single time somebody right cyst in the show and when I share it when I hear somebody repeat something back to me that we we mention I feel like we're chipping away at that little exterior and getting closer. And in all of you could go out and spread these things not even in the context of the show but just in a vision for better Equitable future you're doing your part 2. And I guess if there's one thing that that we should take away from all of this in it and what can we do and not just in the terms of this episode but in the Grandeur larger scheme is everything it's it's that. That's how we build a better world.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:05:00] A lot to think about David.

David Torcivia:

[1:05:02] Think about it do something about it we hope you will.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:05:06] We would like to thank associate producers for this episode John Fitzgerald and Chad Peterson these are our second and third associate producers at the show and we'd also like to thank our first anonymously associate producer who is with us for the month of March and April. If you would like to know what an associate producer is or would consider being one you can find that on our patreon page at ashes ashes cast, it is always a lot of time and research goes into making these episode possible and we will never use ads to support the show so if you like it would like us to keep going, you are listener can support us by giving us a review recommending us to a friend or visiting us on that patreon page and you can also send us an email, but you can find us a contact at ashes ashes. Org share your thoughts share your stories we read them we appreciate them.

David Torcivia:

[1:06:00] Another way you can support us and we can actually help support you, is by helping us with our transcripts we have these machine-translated transcripts on our website, but we'd love to convert them into perfect human readable form we have a little bit of money that we can pay for each one of these if you're interested please send us an email at contact at ashes ashes. Org but our website is also filled with lots of other information as well as he's transcripts including a full source for every single one of our episodes more information on each show and links to all of our social media networks which typically are ashes to ashes cast there's also a link to our Discord community on their encouraged you to come out by the support that you need and be a member of what is a growing and beautiful collapse aware community next week we have another great show coming up this time turning towards the climate and the ways that we move about and we hope you'll tune in for that but until then this is ashes ashes.