Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Walking Away

The world is in a mess, yet what is offered to us--at least the priviledged ones in developed countries--is a garden of consumer delights. Maybe the TVs and junk food and luxury items from around the world and computers and McMansions and SUVs, etc, etc, etc, will distract us from noticing all the pain and suffering around us, as well as the fact that we are making the earth unlivable and we are running out of the fossil fuels that make it all possible. (See What We Need and Don't Need, 9/4/08, as well as Peak Everything, 7/20/08.)

But even those who notice feel caught by this society. What else can we do? We can organize protests, we can try to fix the worst of the stuff, we can try to destroy this oppressive society, we can try to create a revolution.

Or another possibility is that we could just walk away from all this. I have seen this suggested by John Michael Greer (see A Magical Way of Thinking, 8/3/08, and The Archdruid Report, 8/5/08), by Daniel Quinn (see Beyond Civilization, 1/3/11), and by David Korten (I hope in the future to write a post on his book, The Great Turning). Just don't participate in this society. Create something new, something to replace it, something that doesn't use as many resources and something that doesn't exploit people. Something small and local. Something simple, egalitarian, communal, and sustainable. (See Interconnections, 10/8/08.)

Walk away from all we don't like about this society. Walk away from corporate capitalism, patriarchy, white privilege, and that garden of consumer delights. Walk toward a new world--not knowing exactly what it will be like but believing we can create it. Walk away, deciding we want a world that works for everyone, and that's what we are walking toward.

Ursula Le Guin wrote a short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas", in which she imagined an urban paradise, which she called a 'city of happiness', where all seems wonderful, utopian--but the happiness is maintained by torturing one small child in a basement somewhere, and every inhabitant of the city learns of this as they come of age. Most, somehow, rationalize this as important for the well-being of everyone else, but the story ends by focusing on the few who can't. Some of these just get up and walk out Omelas, this 'city of happiness.'

Quote of the Day: "They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas." - Ursula K. Le Guin


Austan said...

Fantastic post Moony! So right.

MoonRaven said...

Thank you.