Why is humanity intent on pulling the plug on our life support machine? Is it because we’re too busy? Busy being consumers, customers, and spectators? Too busy to put the brakes on a destructive, unsustainable way of life? What’s holding us back? And what can we do about it?
Keith Farnish, author of Time’s Up! An Uncivilized Solution to a Global Crisis, shows us how to recognize the systems that are disconnecting us from each other, from other life forms, and from the Earth. In this review, Carolyn Baker takes a look at Keith’s book and finds hope in hopelessness.
I live in Boulder, Colorado where the buzz among eco-activists who attended a recent lecture by Vandana Shiva is her chilling statement that if the human species continues on its present destructive trajectory, it has no more than 100 years of life on this planet. At about the same time this bomb was dropped on Shiva’s audience, Keith Farnish’s amazing book Time’s Up: An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisis arrived in my mailbox for review which was about the same time that Keith reviewed my book, Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse. I visit my local movie theater and see trailers for the next series of post-apocalyptic movies such as “2012” and “The Road”. Five years ago the notion of “endings” was not reverberating in the collective unconscious with the fever pitch we’re witnessing today. What’s up? Quite simply: Time is up.
I would say that the real crux of Time’s Up is the challenge of how to keep the human race from continuing to commit suicide. The first 82 pages of the book are devoted to a painstaking explanation of the inextricable connection between humans and all other life forms. The fundamental reality of the connection is that “nothing is so dependent upon other forms of life as humans, the ultimate consumers.” Likewise, “everything we do has the potential to disrupt something, knock if off balance as we negotiate the finest of lines; yet that line we are repeatedly stepping over.”
Anyone who argues that humans have nothing to do with climate change needs to read these 82 pages because they unequivocally silence that illusion.
Central to Farnish’s book is the premise that everything hinges on connection—the human species’ connection with everything else. Unfortunately, it is something we must be taught—something that must be explained in words, but something that indigenous peoples know instinctively and need not spend years thinking about.
“It is nothing great and mysterious”, says Farnish, “it is simply the necessary instinct that ensures we do not damage the ability of the natural environment to keep us alive. Failure to connect is the reason humanity is pulling the plug on its life-support machine.”
Unlike the indigenous person, “the majority of people in the industrial West who identify most strongly with a hyper-consuming way of life, learning how to reconnect out of necessity is a struggle: most of us have never experienced anything but the disconnected lives we inhabit.” However, Farnish reassures us, “we have always been connected, we just need to recognize how natural and comfortable it is to be this way.”
Farnish reassuringly holds our hand while he helps us take baby steps toward understanding the essence of connection. He leads us into some very personal experiential, contemplative exercises that engage the right brain and allow us to feel connection rather than simply thinking about it.
Civilization, Farnish says, has put us in a “constant state of sensory deprivation; kept in that state in order that we can be willing participants of Industrial Civilization. If we connect with the real world permanently, then the spell will be broken: we will no longer be ‘viewers’, ‘customers’, ‘consumers’, ‘voters’, ‘citizens’; we will just be us.”