No 2326 Posted by fw, July 2, 2018
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“I teach these things to 19-year-olds, and they get sad. But, they have the community of other students around them. It’s my belief that if you research this and if you become ‘woke’ to the things that I’ve talked about tonight, this is our world, and it is not only okay but probably a little mandatory to carry a little grief around with you. … So then you need to take a break and play …. But then you come back to it, as much as you can. We’re going to need people to engage in this. … My biggest fear — it’s that people aren’t going to care. … And if we don’t care, then we’re really in trouble.” —Nate Hagens
In the previous post, Pt. 43, continuum 42, Dr. Hagens suggested that how you react to narratives like his – about coming environmental threats – will likely depend on your starting viewpoint. If this story is new, then feelings of despair are understandable. If, on the other hand, you’ve been thinking about these issues for some time, you may have already built a fortress of hope.
In this post, Pt. 44, continuum 43, the final in the long series of continuums, Hagens contends that it’s acceptable, even appropriate, to grieve about our perilous environmental situation. Accompanying our grief, perhaps, will be [a mix] of resolve, anger and creativity to direct towards future related goals. While holding the grief, we have to find time to refresh what brings joy to our life. The worst thing we could do is to do nothing, to not care.
Below is the embedded video of Hagens’ 60-minute address, followed by an 18-minute Q&A session. My transcript of Pt. 44, continuum 43, runs from 55:42 to 58:04.
Alternatively, a video of Hagens’ talk, along with a “loosely related” essay on the talk, are available by clicking on the following linked title. This version, published by Resilience.org, also includes excellent readers’ comments, including responses by Hagens.
TRANSCRIPT (from 55:42 to 58:04)
[THE INDIVIDUAL] –
55:42 — [Continuum 43: Grief vs Joy] I teach these things to 19-year-olds, and they get sad. But, they have the community of other students around them. It’s my belief that if you research this and if you become ‘woke’ to the things that I’ve talked about tonight, this is our world, and it is not only okay but probably a little mandatory to carry a little grief around with you. This is an amazing and risky time to be alive, but the world is not fully broken yet. We have to be awake and feel a little bit of this for us to do something.
56:21 – But you also have to have a “barbell strategy”*. You have to feel a little sad, which maybe will cause you to be a little pissed off and to go out and do something, to work on these issues. Working on these issues, thinking about these issues is a little bit toxic. So then you need to take a break and play with golden retrievers, or read a sci-fi book, or watch some new Netflix show, or have a pizza, or go play music with your friends, or do something totally different than this stuff. But then you come back to it, as much as you can. We’re going to need people to engage in this. Feeling a little grief is totally sane. [*barbell strategy – an investment strategy where you invest equivalent amounts in short-term and long-term bonds, creating the shape that gives the strategy its name].
“If we don’t care, then we’re really in trouble.”
57:03 – This is the 48th anniversary of the first Earth Day when millions of people took to the streets to support Earth. I think, though, the Hippy Generation just got burnt out. My biggest fear is not that we’re going to have a little bit less energy, or that we’re going to have fewer species because of the size of the human endeavor, but it’s that people aren’t going to care.
57:35 – And if we don’t care, then we’re really in trouble. So I really exhort you all to share with each other – that’s the single biggest thing I can tell you to do. Find a group of friends and colleagues to talk about these things. The mere talking about them helps reduce our cortisol, our stress hormones. Then you’re going to come across a plan. And if no plan, you’re going to react to something that comes. And all that is going to be necessary.
[Resilience.org Supplement] — Grief vs Joy – We like happy, carefree stories with wonder and imagination, well, because it’s comforting and nice to be happy and carefree. Part of us knows that things aren’t right, and we strive to deny that fear in things that cocoon us in comfort. Alas, the stage of our current world, approaching social limits to growth, while squeezing out the natural world a species at a time does not lend itself to a happy and carefree demeanor. It is acceptable – and even appropriate – to carry with us some grief and dissonance about our situation – because it is a perilous one. Accompanying this grief, perhaps will be [a mix] of resolve, anger and creativity to direct towards future related goals. But we also need balance. While holding the grief, we have to find time to refresh the white snow in the paths in our minds, with, variously: music, Netflix, beer, golden retriever puppies, night skies, old growth forests, and deep friendships. It is a wonderful and perilous time to be alive. Let’s not forget the ‘wonderful’ parts.
END OF CONTINUUMS
About Dr. Nathan John Hagens – Hagens, 51, worked on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers for 10 years before closing his own hedge fund in 2003 to develop a systems synthesis approach to the human predicament. At present, Dr. Hagens is a professor at the University of Minnesota where he teaches a systems synthesis Honors seminar called Reality 101, A Survey of Human Predicament. The readings and lectures cover literature in systems ecology, energy and natural resources, thermodynamics, history, anthropology, human behavior, neuroscience, environmental science, sociology, economics, globalization/trade, and finance/debt with an overarching goal to give students a general understanding of how our human ecosystem functions as a whole.
Visit Nate Hagens’ personal website at The Monkey Trap.
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