“People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn’t. We threw away things people kill each other for now.” Denzel Washington as Eli in The Book of Eil

Why are post-apocalyptic films so resonant? Why do they speak to us as though they are relevant? Is it because they talk about something that will happen?

Or is it because they are talking about something that has happened, and in fact is happening now?

Appearances aren’t what they seem. What Denzel is describing isn’t just something that happens before a apocalypse, something that creates it, it itself is he apocalypse. Instead he is describing an apocalyptic world! The Buddha was right, the action that creates the karma is the karma itself.

Let’s face it, whilst there are lots of nasty happenings in the world can we really believe that everything is right in the wealthier countries? We’re in the midst of an apocalypse right now, but some countries can hide it better than others. But how long can we hide it?

Ok ok ok, maybe saying “apocalypse” may be a bit of an exaggeration. And by that I mean I don’t expect the Four Horsemen to materialize and cause havoc, the anti-Christ to wage war or the Kingdom of God to miraculously descend on Earth after all the bad things have happened. Or that the Earth suddenly stop existing, like it really is the “end of the world”.

But there is something not quite right. And apocalypse seems to be a frighteningly relevant word even if not particularily accurate.

I look at our “wealth” and have a feeling that something isn’t quite right, that it’s all a lot of a show and no substance, that the foundation is all a bit, well, flimsy to say the least. A look at the facts about peak oil shows just how flimsy. We have built a stone castle of cardboard foundations!

What are the essentials for living a fulfilling and healthy life that don’t include “lots of stuff”?

How can we dig down through the foundations of our society and find the bedrock that we really need?

Can we do it before this Great Edifice collapses on us?

And what is it that we really need to build and develop?

One thing’s for sure, some films get you thinking and questioning… and if more people do that we are en route to a better world.

The quote above hints at something, and that is the values we hold, the values that lead us to use or misuse the world around us… and each other.

We build our world by our values. What values are we building with?

“If life on Earth were suddenly to cease, all the hundred-plus elements that make up the surface, oceans, and atmosphere would react until no more reactions were possible, and a state close to chemical equilibrium was reached. The planet would become a hot, waterless, and inhospitable place.” James Lovelock

One thing that I often use for tag in my blog is the word Gaia. This is a loaded word so it’s best to really be clear in the way I use it. I don’t mean a conscious entity that is embodied in the Earth itself that so many people associate with Gaia. Rather I think of the scientific idea that was first set out by James Lovelock in his Gaia Hypothesis and later explored in the Earth System Sciences.

Let’s start with an experiment. Find a small object, say a penny, and hold it between your fingers above the ground. It is now in an energy rich state. Now drop that penny and watch it fall to the ground where it bounces, rolls, flips and/or slides to the ground and finally stops any movement. It is now in an energy poor state, no more energy is able to be extracted from it, unless the floor develops a hole where the penny can continue falling.

Here’s another image of energy rich and energy poor. Think of a car; the fuel that goes into it and the exhaust fumes that come out of it. The fuel is energy rich, ready to be transformed into kinetic energy. The exhaust fumes are energy poor, no more energy is able to be extracted for the car’s movement.

James Lovelock once worked with NASA to investigate if there was life on Mars. At some point he came up with the idea that perhaps the atmosphere of Mars could show signs of life by virtue of interacting with it. Mars’ atmosphere is energy poor, with chemicals comparable to a car’s exhaust fumes, whilst the Earth’s atmosphere has an energy rich chemistry. If the Earth had not developed lifeforms it would have fallen (like the penny) to the same fate as Mars, a dead, lifeless rock incapable of supporting or even developing life.

Somehow the collective action of life on Earth stops entropy from make the Earth irreversibly lifeless and keeps it inhabitable. Free energy from the Sun’s own entropic decay is “collected” by life through photosynthesis. This energy is exchanged with the environment, like the atmosphere, and with other organisms, where it takes on energy rich qualities in a balancing way that means that life can live on the Earth.

In a way it’s like having a system of organisms attached to your exhaust fumes that aborb those chemicals and, using the Sun’s energy, turn them into energy rich fuel that goes back into the car to power it, or another system of organisms that use the Sun’s energy to keep that penny in the air to stop it from falling to the ground, with the added bonus that by doing so it makes the existence of life possible.

That is a very simplistic explanation leaving out many details, which doesn’t do the theory any justice at all. I could talk about homeostasis, chemical equlibrium, disequilibrium, Daisyworld, the albedo effect, glacials, interglacials, the Milankovich effect, global warming, climate change, greenhouse gases,  defining life, neo-darwin evolution, Gaian evolution and other facts and theories that James Lovelock has woven together to create a compelling picture of the Earth’s life. All I want to do is introduce one aspect of it from which other aspects can be explored. My reference for this is James Lovelock’s Healing Gaia, though there’s plenty of other books about it, and lots of information on the internet. Just do a search of any of the terms I used above.

Gaia theory as a whole is just scientific theory, yet it is gaining credibility all the time, especially within Earth Systems Sciences. Parts of it have been proved and parts of it have yet to be proved.  So far it is the best image we have of the Earth as a self-sustaining system, an image that is being confirmed, modified and updated all the time by scientific research. But from this theory we can grasp a feeling of the world around us and how we fit in with it. Personally I have no doubts that Gaia Theory has something to it, that somehow the Earth is alive in some sense, that somehow it is an interdependent system and that there definately are consequences to our actions within it.

“When… Arthur loses the power to give, his court disintegrates and his kingdom hangs in the balance. Only the restoration of his ability to give makes him leader of the community again.”

“The kingdom of the Grail, for example, becomes the Gaste Pays, a barren wasteland, when the Fisher-King was wounded for transgressing a geis and could no longer govern properly.” Jean Markale King of the Celts: Arthurian Legends and Celtic Tradition

I have something brewing in my head, a stew of ideas; of Celtic Sovereignty, kingship and kings’ sacred marriages to the Goddess of the Land; of healthy kings, wounded kings, fisher kings and Grail Quests; of suffering people, suffering landscapes and abused Sovereignty; of Arthurian legends, Dragons, Knights in Shining Armour, Maidens in distress, yet also of Empowered Maiden-Warriors fed up of waiting for glorified tin-cans. Awen, the Spirit of Inspiration, shines forth from the cauldron and a vision is formed. Please enjoy.

Long ago, in the land of my ancestors, there once was a King who’d achieved the Quest of the Source of All Rivers, passed the test of the Servants of the Goddess, and partaken of the Spring Waters, endowing him with the powers of Kingship and Sovereignty. He was a very powerful, ambitious and clever King, bringing great fortunes to his People and the Land but he had little wisdom to bring balance with it. Though he and his People revelled in the glory of his reign, neither he nor his People saw where all of this success was heading or the great troubles that would arise from it.

One day, a bright sunny day, the King and his band of faithful Warriors were out on an excursion, expanding the boundaries of the kingdom and its wealth. They encountered at the foot of some mountains a wild forest, and so, eager to investigate, they cut a path through it, chopping many trees down until they reached the foot of the mountain. There they found a cave, which one by one they all entered, led by the King.

Inside it was so vast they could not see the walls or ceiling, but even if it was smaller they would not have noticed the walls or ceiling for it was filled with many treasures, enchanting the eyes of the King and of the men. They went outside, drunk with excitement and greed for what they had found. They went back to their People and told them about the treasures and organised a way to take them and make the People rich!

So it was done, they went and cut down more trees to make way for the many carts and carriages that would take away the riches and inside the cave it was alive with people inspecting the glittering pieces, and people filling sacks up and lugging them away. But no one had noticed the dark presence inside, though it certainly noticed them. It was a Dragon, black as coal, that had been sleeping there for so long that the People only remembered Her in their ancient legends, and even then in vague foggy references that no one quite believed, or even understood.

The Dragon had finally awakened, and She was not happy. Her mouth began to smoke and filled the cave, suffocating all those who were inside. The smoke poured out of the cave and formed a great pillar where once there had been a mountain. The King fell out from the cave, coughing and spluttering, into the arms of his Warriors. The King died, but before he died the King warned his People to stop what they were doing for it meant great catastrophe to them and to the Land. Few heard him, for they were enchanted by the treasures or panicking over the Dragon.  And even those that did deluded themselves into thinking that maybe, just maybe, the King could be brought back to life and restore the Kingdom. But they did not know the source of his power or had forgotten it.

The Warriors rode away to the castle to see if they could bring the King back to life. Behind them, as they rode away, the smoke formed a wall that spread across the land, poisoning it. There were too few trees to hold the black wall back for they had all been cut down. The Land became poisoned, the crops failed and the Dragon’s hot breath melted away the ice-caps upon the mountain tops melted into water flooding the Land and destroying many people’s homes. The riches from the Dragon’s cave began turning to dust, leaving many People poor and at war with one another (though they had really been at war for quite some time). The Source of All Rivers dried up and the Servants of the Goddess withered in strength, and wailed and weeped for this great misfortune. The People suffered, the Land suffered. They needed healing.

Back at the castle the Warriors brought the King’s body and took it to the Queen’s sanctuary, where she stood guard over the Healing Chalice that the King recieved on his coronation. But upon entering the room a great horror met the eyes of the Warriors, for the Queen lay on the floor, dead, and the Healing Chalice had disapeared from its place. Court was held to decide what to do, but a further blow was struck for it was there that the People realised that the Princess, one and only daughter to the King and Queen, had disappeared, and with her the Royal Lineage. Some remembered the last words of the dead King and, taking it to heart, they set out to stop the catastrophe, though some people dispaired and could not bring themselves to do anything and others scoffed, still enchanted by the Dragon’s treasures, deluded by an ephemeral wealth.

Here is where I should tell you about a Great Quest, undertaken by only the best of the Warriors, to seek and slay the Dragon, to free the Princess, restore the Healing Chalice to its rightful place and for a new King to take the old one’s place, marry the Princess who becomes the new Queen and brings a new era of wealth and health, though this time a bit more wiser and a little less greedy. And so Happily Ever After and all that jazz.

I would that I could, but I can’t so I won’t.

This story has not really finished yet. In fact right now, the land is only just feeling the effects of the People’s greed and the King has only just left the cave, warning his People. But he will die, he has to. The old Patriarchal order has to go and make way for a new order if the land is to be restored to something like its previous state and the People freed from their suffering. But the scar will linger for some while, carried by many future generations.

Will the Dragon ever be slayed? I think not, the Dragon can never be killed for She is the raw power of the Land itself provoked into a destructive mode against the People that disturbed it and abused its generosity. There is no hope to slay this Dragon, because if we did we’d just be provoking more of the same. We can but hope that we don’t provoke Her any more than we have, so that She might once again go down to the Land and rest deep within it again. Perhaps by not cutting down any more of the Wild Forest and planting and growing more trees we could entice the Dragon back to the Land because She likes that luscious greenery and when she knows there are enough trees (and Ents?) standing guard over the Land She can rest at ease, supporting life’s energies in the continuous breaths of her peaceful dreaming sleep; the unconscious evolution of the living Earth that has been going on long before humanity appeared.

And we cannot expect a single champion to put all things right by his own efforts alone. Even the Princess, though she is trapped in the Dragon’s lair, cannot rely on a Knight in Shining Armour to save her. She is not a passive or weak victim and must prepare herself to be free, with or without the help of a hero. And her Queenship is innate, not determined by her social status or something to be supplanted by a King’s reign whilst she stands by, supporting him as a passive symbol of Sovereignty. She is empowered, she is power and has a little of the Dragon in her too. A lesson for all women.

The King is dead, long live the King; so the saying goes. But there is no new King to replace the old one. The old King was Patriarchy that supplanted the power of the Queen and led the People into imbalance within themselves and with the Land. This is what killed the Queen, the passive female supporter of the Patriarchy. The old King can no longer lead us when he has gone past his use-by-date. Replacing him with another King would  be repeating more of the same, just with new packaging.

It is the Healing Chalice we need. Where is the Healing Chalice? Where can we find it to heal all that is ill and poisoned? Can we restore the King back to life? Or the Queen? The Healing Chalice, like the Holy Grail, is spiritual. As Jesus said “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, and people will not say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Each of us has the Healing Chalice within us. It has not disappeared; it has simply become entrusted to each of us so that we can all help heal the People and the Land. It is up to each of us to engage with our own spiritual journey within, to access our own inner resources of healing and wisdom and to use that in the service of Land and People.

It is in the power of every man to be a King. It is in the power of every woman to be a Queen. The Sovereign is one who keeps the balance within their People and between People and Land, making sure that justice is maintained and that true and noble Sovereignty is kept constant. Though one person cannot lead the People without the help of the People. The People themselves must commit themselves to the restoration of Sovereignty within and without and the healing of Land and People, with or without a leader.

If the kingdom lies within then we should strive to learn to be good Kings and Queens individually and maintain the balance within ourselves, within our own psyches. And that this inner balance be balanced with the surrounding environment. With the inner balance of each individual established and that in balance with the environment, then the balance of Land and People, of Earth and Humanity, naturally follows on from there.

Each of us is a King, each of us is a Queen, each of us is a Princess, each of us is a Warrior, each of us is the People, each of us is the Land, each of us is a Dragon and each of us is a Healing Chalice. Blessings on your Quest and upon mine also.  Let us seek out and restore the balance in the ways that we can, remembering this vow wherever the journey takes us.

“Like all political activists busy with their mission, environmentalists often work from poor and short-sighted ideas about human motivation; they overlook the unreason, the perversity, the sick desire that lie at the core of the psyche. Their strategy is to shock and shame.” Theodore Roszak

 

“Every political movement has its psychological dimension. Persuading people to alter their behavior always involves probing motivations and debating values; political activism begins with asking what makes people tick. What do they want and fear and care about? How do we get and hold their attention? How much can people take- and in what order of priority? Have we overloaded them with anxiety or guilt? How do we make credible the threats we perceive? Movements that fail to think carefully about this may fail to persuade.” Theodore Roszak

 

“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Ancient Disney wisdom (th´nk ye  Meeery Popp’ns!)

 

You know how it goes, “We’re polluting and overpopulating the planet, killing species, killing each other, we’re destroying habitats, and we’re using up all of the resources. If we don’t stop this madness and change our ways we will all die and leave the planet in a poorer state than it is.”

 

And for some reason some people have difficulty accepting this… some sugar perhaps?

 

At the root of the problems, Ecopsychology tells us, is a global insanity, insidiously working through human society (ok, insidiously is my word for it). Except we can’t put it that way, because insane people, when you tell them they’re insane, ignore it, deny it or lose their last vestiges of reality, spiraling into more insanity.  What’s really a problem is that this is leveled at not just one person, or one group, but the whole of human civilization! I’d hate to be the person that’s trying to convince all of that to become more environmental and stop itself destroying itself. Oh wait, I’m… well, at least I’m not alone… I think.

 

How do you get an insane person to accept the fact they’re insane and need to do something about it? How do you get a whole species to do the same?! My head hurts.

 

The good news is that the environmental meme is getting everywhere, even through films. Once upon a time environmentalism was about stoned hippies and maverick scientists, but now we have a politician (Al Gore) on the silver screen presenting a funny cartoon frog to show how bad a situation we are in.

 

Unfortunately, because he’s a politician, his presenting the message hinders the message just as much as it helps the message. Does anyone really trust a politician? Do politicians trust other politicians? The criticisms I see about “climate change” on wordpress are usually always followed by “Al Gore,” making me think that people can’t make the difference between “climate change” and “Al Gore,” and why they’re criticizing.

 

But we are presented some credibility from Hollywood. One of their pantheon’s star deities, Leonardo DiCaprio, has also created a film to get the message across. This time creating a film that has more people presenting the problem, of different cultures, different nations, different ethnicities, different professions, different genders giving us a cozy “us” to make the message more sympathetic. And instead of saying “We’re un poco loco” (insane), he just said “We have to change the way we think,” which is a far easier pill to swallow. Suffice to say, I have seen less criticism of him than of Al Gore, simply because he’s not a politician but a handsome*, rich and famous cinematic hero to be adored and worshipped, along with anything he says.

 

So the “insane” populace of our planet is waking up, acknowledging the problems we have and even that we’re the root. You can see the environmental meme getting everywhere, adverts, films etc. It’s becoming quite an acceptable concept in general. A few days ago I even saw it in a very unlikely place; a film with Vin Diesel, Babylon A.D., where I wasn’t sure if it was about violence with a little bit of story, or a story with violence. Either way the meme “Save the planet” is there, at beginning and end. At the end Vin Diesels character says “Save the planet, one baby at a time. What a bitch.”

 

One baby at a time? One life at a time? One individual at a time? My head’s hurting again. Does anyone know any Ecopsychologist that could help me with global anxiety? Oh wait… that’d be me… Still, some of those babies will be the children of Leo Di admirers, so maybe it won’t be too hard to convince future generations.

 

So how do I break the news to you lovely gorgeous people that we could all be doomed because of our stupidity? Well I can start with complementing you, flattering your egos a bit, like a patronizing salesman. What a great big…. car you have. What a beautiful set of… kitchen implements you have. And whilst I polish your ego for you, species die, people kill each other, the fabric of civilization is tearing itself apart, and we have to do something NOW. We can’t waste time making sure egos are comfortable.

 

Okay, maybe I’m not painting a pretty picture. I may not be giving you enough “sugar” with your “medicine.” I’m not Mary Poppins. But there’s enough consciousness about global issues that I can be a bit risqué, I can ride the wave of environmental popularity and point out the shocking truth without ruffling too many egos. If your ego can’t take what I’m saying, you probably would have switched off at the beginning of this blog, so it’s not like I’m forcing it down anyone’s throat on my own blog! This is my thoughts and feelings, my opinions, and I’m just expressing myself here. The real convincing can only be done by you.

 

That’s why I don’t agree with extreme environmentalism; you know the idiots who go round evangelically pushing their ideas on people, jeopardizing any chance that other, more sensible, environmentalists have of making environmentalism credible to the wider world. Then there are environmental terrorists. Need I say more?

 

Environmentalists are stuck between a rock and a hard place (or the Devil and the deep blue sea).  On one hand there is a desperate urgency to the world’s problems that we don’t have the luxury to be gentile and politically correct, we need to act NOW. On the other hand, we have to carefully go through the sticky slimy web of human society’s various degrees of skepticism, cynicism, arrogance, ignorance, insanity, lethargy, idiocy, prejudice, misguided enthusiasm, half-hearted commitment and Machiavellian deception, which cannot be bypassed. They need to be faced and resolved one by one, step by step, individual by individual. By which time NOW may be too late…

 

Aspirin!

 

So, you, individual**, yes I’m talking to YOU. Let’s not beat around the bush any longer, this world’s in a rubbish state, caused by humans and only resolvable by each and every human on this planet. That’ll be us; me writing this, you reading this and even everyone else not present here. I’ll do my part, you do your part, we’ll collaborate where we can, spread the meme and hope the rest of the world gets it. If that doesn’t work, maybe there’s a good pro-environmentalist film showing at a cinema to go and see.

 

So, Mr Roszak, have I passed my test?

*Any criticism is spurred only by jealousy. I have no problem here, I’ve been told that I look like Leo. I can’t see it, but who am I to argue? lol.

 

**okay, there’ll be several individuals reading this, probably. Thank God for mass media.

“This is the way that people are educated about issues nowadays. This is the main avenue for learning in today’s world.” I would just hope that enough people go to see them, so the studios will be encouraged to make more films like that in the future and that there is an audience for them and they are profitable.” Leonardo DiCaprio

 

“Our world faces a true planetary emergency. I know the phrase sounds shrill, and I know it’s a challenge to the moral imagination.” Al Gore

 

“It’s not just global warming, it’s not just a loss of biodiversity, it’s not just the pollution of our oceans and the clearing of our rainforests and all these complicated systems, The [11th Hour] movie talks about the world economy, it talks about politics, it talks about personal transformation and environmental consciousness that we need to have in this generation to implement a lot of these changes that need to occur.” Leonardo DiCaprio

 

Right, so I am piecing together some things; Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and the Four Noble Truths.  This synthesis has produced what I am calling the Four Noble Films.

 

Now the Four Noble Truths are central to Buddhist thought, starting with “Life is suffering” and ending with the “Noble Eightfold Path.” But of course they aren’t just a way to resolve suffering and achieve a mystical state of being; it is a pattern that can be used to resolve any problem. Physicians use a similar pattern to diagnose an illness and prescribe a cure for it.

 

The first step is to assess the problem or illness. In my Four Noble Films I have the first as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Here he’s saying “we have a problem, it’s called the Climate Crisis.”

 

The second step is to see where the problem comes from, the cause. Where does the problem of the Climate Crisis come from? Leonardo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour takes Al Gore’s film a bit further by saying “It’s the way we think, we need to change the way we think.” The Climate Crisis is just a symptom, and I think what was said in The 11th Hour hit the nail on the head.

 

The third and fourth step`s I haven’t come across yet and it’s be appreciated if anyone has seem them and can tell me LOL.  Well, the third step is an affirmative “we can resolve the problem.” And if there’s a film, it would show various examples of how individuals and groups of people can and have changed. The fourth step would show us how to resolve the climate change by resolving the cause. Now this doesn’t have to be a Climate Crisis based Noble Eightfold Path, there are plenty of other ways to do this, ways that can work through every level of human society.

 

To summarise the Four Noble Films;

First: An Inconveniant Truth; we have a problem, and it’s the Climate Crisis. We need to do something about it!

Second: The 11th Hour; we can change the way we live, how much energy we use, but these change the effects, not the cause. The cause is the way we think. We’re greedy, energy addicted materialists. This simply doesn’t work anymore. We need to change our mentality.

Third: Unknown; There are ways to changing thinking on individual and group levels.

Fourth: Unknown; One way is… Well, I’m working with Ecopsychology, Druidry and a Gaian worldview, and they work for me. What about you?

Anyway, I’d thoroughly recommend The 11th Hour. I was impressed by it. Even more impressed than Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth.  I’m looking out for the next films, but not worrying if they don’t appear. In fact DON’T worry if they don’t appear; our need to resolve the climate crisis does not depend on films, and if it did we might well be doomed. No, the real answer lies with us and how we respond to it. As inspirational as the films are they are not the answer, that inspiration has to channel itself through each one of us and into the world to be of any use. Their “nobility” is not who made them or what they’re saying but the effect they can produce in us to resolve this situation.

 

“You see that pale, blue dot? That’s us. Everything that has ever happened in all of human history, has happened on that pixel. All the triumphs and all the tragedies, all the wars all the famines, all the major advances… it’s our only home. And that is what is at stake, our ability to live on planet Earth, to have a future as a civilization. I believe this is a moral issue, it is your time to cease this issue, it is our time to rise again to secure our future.” Al Gore

This quote sums up Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth and not just that, it sums up the present situation on “our only home.” Humans are now going through a major transition, one from local levels to a global level. With the invention of the Internet, with satellites and advances in transportation, this world has become a remarkably smaller place, and with such an easier flow of people, international government and the internet, a global civilisation is beginning to come into being.

But we are also facing some of the biggest challenges we have ever faced, as pointed out in the movie. Contrary to what people thought in the past, the Earth, “our only home,” does not have unlimited resources that we can use as much as we want, and also, the Earth is not somewhere where we can throw our industrial waste without consequence.

The facts and figures in this movie are impressive, they’re not just entertaining special effects or a catchy storylines like in other movies, they have very real and serious implications for how we behave within the confines of Earth. It is, as Al Gore said “a moral issue,” but it isn’t new. Since the 70s, if not longer, science has been telling us to be careful of our planet because it isn’t a system that’ll support us no matter what we do to it. Movements have arisen in response, to be aware of being in balance with nature, but still it hasn’t become mainstream, being supported largely by specialist scientists and movements on the “fringes” of society.

But this is changing. Look at the daily newspaper and you have news about the environment. Look at the internet and you’ll find a HUGE amount of environmental websites. You can even go to a cinema to watch Al Gore telling us about the “Climate Crisis.” These media are the mythology of our age. Mythology is information about the state of the world we are living in and how we view it aswell, in some ways it gives us our morality.

If mainstream society’s mythology changes, then so can the direction that society takes and with the work of people like Al Gore, things look brighter. Environmentalism is becoming more mainstream, more people are aware that we don’t just live in a human world but also an ecological one, one that sustains us, as long as we look after it.

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