A Reminder from the Pandemic: Service Remains Worthwhile

“When asked why we are here, the inimitable American author Kurt Vonnegut frequently quoted his son Mark and also his uncle. The former individual, between stints in a psych ward and Harvard Medical School—and apparently those were two different facilities—Mark Vonnegut answered, ‘We are here to help each other through this, whatever this is.’ According to Kurt Vonnegut, his uncle said, ‘We are here to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.’”—Dr. Guy McPherson & Pauline Panagiotou Schneider

Going Dark

Guy McPhersonPauline Schneider, Weekly Hubris.
By Dr. Guy McPherson & Pauline Panagiotou Schneider

Kurt & Mark Vonnegut.

Kurt & Mark Vonnegut.

“Short time here, long time gone. The reason to try to be good, smart, kind, and on the side of angels is because it’s more fun and because there really aren’t any angels.”―Dr. Mark Vonegut, from Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness But More So

“I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better. I fully expected that by the time I was twenty-one, some scientist, maybe my brother, would have taken a color photograph of God Almighty—and sold it to Popular Mechanics magazine. Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable. What actually happened when I was twenty-one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima.”—Kurt Vonnegut, from Bennington College Address (1970)

MAITLAND Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—15 July 2020—How shall we act? After all: Earth is in the midst of abrupt, irreversible climate change; Earth is in the midst of a Mass Extinction Event, ongoing for a decade; Earth is in the midst of a pandemic that threatens to destroy all life on Earth. It seems likely that humans will soon join the many organisms already driven to extinction. 

Shall we abandon our educational efforts? Shall we act like the retirees we are by hanging out by the pool much of each day? These questions lead to the ultimate question many of us ask ourselves on a frequent basis. Why are we here? We have addressed this question previously in this space, concluding that the response depends upon the scale of the question: the species known as Homo sapiens clearly has a different mission than each of us, individually.

When asked why we are here, the inimitable American author Kurt Vonnegut frequently quoted his son Dr. Mark Vonnegut and also his uncle. Vonnegut’s son, between stints in a Vancouver psych ward and the Harvard Medical School, said, “We are here to help each other through this, whatever this is.” According to Kurt Vonnegut, his uncle stated, “We are here to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

We agree with both of Kurt Vonnegut’s sources. Committed as we are to a life of service, we strongly support the perspective expressed so eloquently by Mark Vonnegut. At least for us, any other life is pointless. If we cannot serve humans and the rest of the living planet, then our lives have little purpose.

As minor examples of our commitment to service, we post frequent videos. Guy’s morning missives address the absurdity of the US stock markets as they open each weekday. His PhD minor in economics, combined with his understanding of the aerosol masking effect, puts him in a knowledgeable position with respect to the stock markets and the daily news. For example, the novel “coronavirus nearly broke the financial markets” on 16 March 2020. Had such a crash led to capitulation by traders, as it surely will in the future, then the resulting reduction in industrial activity would have triggered loss of habitat for humans on Earth.

Pauline’s daily videos focus on SARS-CoV-2, a product of the novel coronavirus with which she is apparently infected. She lends her personal, artist-inspired touch to our ongoing, existential crises even as knowledge of the virus and its impacts continues to expand. Her short commentaries attempt to impress upon people the importance of embodying compassion for one another through the simple act of wearing masks. In addition, these videos point out the connections between our commitment to compassion and anti-racism movements such as Black Lives Matter.

Recognizing that all is impermanent and still finding meaning in an amoral, meaningless universe have been guides along our path to a life replete with simple pleasures. Introspection has been pivotal at every turn.

Professor Howard Gardner. (Photo: Metode.org[https://metode.org/issues/entrevista-revistes/howard-gardner-2.html].)

Professor Howard Gardner. (Photo: Metode.org.)

Introspection, a synonym for the intrapersonal intelligence, described by educator Howard Gardner as being one of several different kinds of intelligence, is a rare skill. As with Gardner’s other categories, intrapersonal intelligence is innate but may also be improved. As Gardner skillfully points out, intrapersonal intelligence is ignored and often disparaged in K-12 indoctrination facilities. Such is the case for all except two of Gardner’s various kinds of intelligence, logical/mathematical and linguistics.

In the absence of intrapersonal intelligence, many of us are hard-pressed to ponder our purpose in a confusing and complicated world and, so, seek external validation and acceptance from a culture gone mad. This approach leads, quite unnaturally, to money being seen as the primary point of human existence (and introspection as a waste of time and cognition). Following this line of un-reasoning, many believe such postmodern palaver such as truth is personal, and proceed to the obvious and obviously ludicrous conclusion that there are as many versions of the truth as there are people. Forsaking personal responsibility is a clear next step. Dependence upon an irredeemably corrupt system is thereby strengthened.

Voila! The perfect storm of consumerism is created within a purposely dumbed-down society. The rich get richer. The rest of us become increasingly ignorant and stupid as we insanely continue to perpetuate an insane set of living arrangements. One consequence: The lies our culture told us—and still tells us—gain additional traction every day.

We are no longer playing that game. We have been describing an omnicidal culture for decades and have been actively attempting to distance ourselves from the “civilized” life. That our efforts to date have failed has not led us to abandon our question-centered approach to life. We continue to seek meanings for our lives independent of the many blinders devised by a culture from which we cannot, finally, escape.

We are passionately pursuing a life of excellence even as we rediscover and reinvent what this means for us, individually and collectively. Your own mileage may vary. Indeed, it almost certainly does, considering the personal nature of excellence, meaning, and love.

We are here to learn. We are here to describe what we have learned.

We are here to live. We are here to love.

We are here, attempting to be fully present and aware. Please join us.

Pauline Schneider, Weekly Hubris.Pauline Elli Panagiotou-Schneider is a woman of many countries; many gardens. Born in Nigeria and reared in Athens, Greece, in 1987 she settled in Westchester County, New York to bring up her three children and polish her green thumb. No one was more surprised than she when, 28 years later, she packed up her gardening tools and moved to Belize to run a 57-acre farm. Her right-hand man on the farm was Dr. Guy McPherson, who came with his own rich tool-kit of knowledge. With a degree in television and radio, a BA in Anthropology and Sociology, a Masters in special education, and certifications in the fields of social justice, gardening, and permaculture design, Schneider brings a unique perspective to any garden on any continent. Her first official documentary, “Going Dark,” features Guy McPherson, with whom she collaborated on Ms. Ladybug and Mr. Honeybee: A Love Story at the End of Time. Schneider and McPherson returned to the US in 2018 for family reasons, and she now spends her days shooting and editing videos for her and  Guy’s YouTube channels and gardening fiercely in balmy, central Florida. She is looked after by her two Yorkies.

To order Dr. McPherson’s books, click the cover images here below:

Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction by Guy R. McPherson

Paperback.

Only Love Remains: Dancing at the Edge of Extinction Kindle Edition, by Guy McPherson.

Kindle Edition.

About Guy McPherson

Dr. Guy McPherson is an internationally recognized speaker, award-winning scientist, and one of the world’s leading authorities on abrupt climate change leading to near-term human extinction. He is professor emeritus at the University of Arizona, where he taught and conducted research for 20 years. His published works include 16 books and hundreds of scholarly articles. Dr. McPherson has been featured on television and radio and in several documentary films. He is a blogger and social critic who co-hosts his own radio show, “Nature Bats Last.” Dr. McPherson speaks to general audiences across the globe, and to scientists, students, educators, and not-for-profit and business leaders who seek their best available options when confronting Earth’s cataclysmic changes. Visit McPherson's Author Page at amazon.com.
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3 Responses to A Reminder from the Pandemic: Service Remains Worthwhile

  1. Joanne McCarthy says:

    Dear Guy and Pauline,

    Thank you for all the work that you both do. I’ve been watching your videos since 2016. Started around….the events of Standing Rock. I see what you have to say as related to that journey that many people have taken.

    I read your recent published articles, and they are pretty outstanding. You are an excellent writer. Congratulations! I am happy to see these articles in the peer reviewed sites where they belong. I hope that other “peers” will also read them. But I am thinking that maybe there will be more laymen like myself reading them, than the professional scientists. No mater. It’s good to know that people are becoming more aware of what is going on thanks to you, and Pauline. You made the present existential threats that face us very clear. You connected the dots together in a meaningful, succinct, and well thought out manner–that spoke truth. I appreciate hearing the truth, and I know that many others have been searching, waiting to hear someone speak to us like adults and not children. I was wondering what is going on for a while, because we all see the changes, but it’s mostly Guy McPherson, Derrick Jensen, now Gibbs, and Chris Hedges talking about these important truths, so we can face it.

    Some others do talk about it but they don’t go far enough with what it all means, nor do they connect the dots, as you do. So I pay attention to the information that you both bring to everyone. (Pauline is so lovely, charming and graceful and we all enjoy her delightful humor.)

    I was impressed by your article “Sustainability…” because you wrote about Pre Civ peoples and how for 300 thousand years, they managed not to murder a planet and had a lot to teach us about living on this Earth. I’ve been reading more and more about the other worldview, the non civilized world view. Oren Lyons says, there are 2 worldviews. Only 2. I am almost certain the Pre Civ world view is the same worldview that most traditional Indigenous peoples still have today more or less with locality specific differences: Everything is Alive, Everything is Sacred. We are all related, everything is connected, we must respect all of Life, we have responsibilities to all others, we are related to everything and everyone else, and share the world with all non humans in a relationship. We are no better, no more important than our four legged, winged, finned and insect, relatives and need to Learn from them, and show our thanks. One really excellent book I read is titled “Native Science….” by Gregg Cajete. Excellent. I had to get it from a library, because it’s way too expensive, very insanely marked up in price. Sometimes it’s a bit granular, but it’s excellent if one wants to understand the First worldview that all peoples had until most were forced to assimilate into Civilization. But then again, how can we, the Industrialized Civilization citizens understand that worldview if we don’t actually live it? At least at this time. But if we are to transform, that is, if we live long enough….the young people, it would be a meaningful way to live in the world. Right now, we can intellectualize what they say, but it’s very difficult to “experience” what it means, unless you connect to nature, the land, to a place, have a relationship with a place over time, grounded in the land, the knowledge, etc…we from Civilization are so immersed in our own abstractions, that we think are real and important, that we don’t experience the physical world: Nature, except in a mostly aethestically way, and that’s a totally different thing, as Cajete, and Deloria had written. That’s how we think of Nature, besides being a commodity resource. We were taught to think about Nature in an objective way (Science is what it is), analyze it, etc…but their Native Science is different. I liked how you wrote that the First Peoples had knowledge that Civilized societies should have, and could learn from.

    I wrote to my senators and told them that they with regard to Environmental concerns, they should consult with Native Americans if they were serious about changing the course we are on….to mitigate what was happening, and mostly importantly, to LIVE another way with Nature without destroying her. That they should create a commission of Native Americans, for any policy on lands, and Nature. I believe that Native Americans have a lot of knowledge, not just how to take care of land, but so much more, about how to live right with Nature—what Cajete refers to as RESONATING with the land. You see, they already know, that Western Euro-Civilization doesn’t have all the answers to why things are what they are–they knew. That Life, and existence is a LOT more “mysterious” and “wondrous” than what we abstract thinkers can even remotely understand of the Earth, the Universe and being alive—because our Western Science, views their Science, as no more than superstitious, folklore and myth. I know they are definitely on to something that is important. I hope that someday you will interview our Native American relatives, like Gregg Cajete, or Oren Lyons, and even Chase Iron Eyes of Lakota Law–who is a very good speaker, from Pine Ridge, S.D.

    When that fellow from Canada, the therapist [Paul?] had a show about—dealing with the situation in a collective way (forgot his name), I wrote to him to suggest that he interview Native Americans to talk about these things, and never heard back. They have so much knowledge about our world, and it’s totally ignored, and made invisible to Western Society. I know they are on the right track, “leading a life that has heart, and living in the right way” despite what Empire has done to them. Their flag, the red, white, yellow and black, represents all peoples of the Earth, and of course, the Four Directions perspectives. Our country is so Racist….well, the First Worldviews that I read about has ways to deal with that, and it’s just not part of their worldview….if everything is sacred, and no one is more important or better than anyone else….it doesn’t exist, or would be considered very bad behavior and dealt with. So I don’t think that Civilizations worldview will ever, even if there was no threat to the Earth as there is, ever solve their Racism. problem without the First Worldview knowledge and living.

    Anyway, your articles were very impressive. I read the other two articles first…because I visited Sam Carana’s site, and saw the notice of crossing the 2 degree C in global average temperatures. Then I read your sustainability article and found it very impressive how you put everything into context with where we now stand, and for once, saw scientists give credit to our fellow relatives–in this case, our Early Pre Civ peoples of the First worldview. I know that you are a Scientist, and that’s a certain way of thinking, but there’s much more out there that we humans don’t know, and our relatives are really far ahead of it. I think it was Oren Lyons said, if you want to solve the Higgs Boson question at Cern, learn to speak Navaho—because they think in multi dimensions. He said otherwise, you will never solve it.

    Thank you again for keeping us informed, with humor, kindness, decency and letting us know the truth. Another thing that I found intriguing, and would like to see more focus on, is WHY won’t our leaders, the Powers that be, who have all this information about our situation (more than we have) refuse to tell us the truth? What kind of psychology is that about? Who are they protecting? It’s criminal. People want to know more about this question. That would make for a fascinating topic all by itself.

    Stay well, enjoy your River excursion you mentioned in the streaming video.
    Sincerely, Joanne McCarthy—presently from CT, and formerly Maine.

  2. Guy R McPherson says:

    Thank you, Joanne McCarthy. We appreciate your thoughtful comment.

    I strongly suspect heads of government know what I know. I was surveilled by an NSA-contracted employee beginning in 1996 on campus. I continue to be tracked. My work is undoubtedly known by these folks. I suspect that’s a primary reason I was removed from public service as the first target of the MeToo movement. Revealing the truth has costs, so those in power are protecting themselves and their bank accounts by continuing to hide the truth.

    Derrick Jensen led the way in the endeavor to remove me from public service, demonstrating exactly whose side he is on (and it’s not the side of the living planet). He was not alone, of course. He is NOT a decent human.

  3. Pauline Schneider says:

    Thank you for your very thoughtful and kind letter, Joanne. I really appreciate your idea about making Native Americans have a front and center place in deciding how this continent is divided, abused, or hopefully healed. What we see in Anthropology is that those Native American Two Ways are either nomadic or settled, and they stretch through the entire human story from the first moment we stood up straight, until today when we ride around on large tricycles because we are too obese to walk.
    If we are to have any future, and it is unlikely, we would need to study and immerse ourselves in nomadic cosmology. Native American culture essentially is nomadic cosmology. The Mbuti of the (previously known as) Congo, the Tuareg of West Africa, the Sami of Norway, the Yanomami of South America, and so many more nomadic cultures that we can learn from to reconnect to the Earth and develop better coping skills to be with each other. We have really lost our way in a world where most relationships are determined by economics rather than our humanity, compassion, empathy or the basic urge to be decent people.
    As Daniel Quinn puts it so eloquently in his book “Ishmael”, and I paraphrase indelicately, it all went to hell in a handbasket when they locked up the food.
    Storing grains was always going to be a bad idea. Today we are seeing why.
    Thank you for your lovely letter. I hope we get to see some of what you are visualizing before too long. It’s about time.
    P.S. Daniel Quinn was on the NBL radio show on August 11, 2015, if you want to listen. https://prn.fm/nature-bats-last-08-11-15/

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