Crisis and Community…

A talented professor of mine likes to say that crisis and complexity lead to a centralization of authority.  Given recent pieces of legislation and policy including the Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, and the National Defense Resources Preparedness order, it certainly looks like he is on to something.  And given our societal infatuation with the war on terror which now extends irrefutably into our homeland, the recent fears of cyber attacks and the possibility of all out cyber-warfare between ourselves and foreign nations, organizations, and various actors within our own country, and our constant rhetoric of the evils of nuclear proliferation I have to say that we seem to be moving decidedly in the direction of almost unprecedented centralization of governmental authority and control…at least should we continue to make the choice to live in times of unending crisis…

Yet crisis also allows us to see our greater power to build real human community.  It grants us a profound opportunity to come together, shed our differences, and rally around our shared human identity.  In times of crisis, we look for neither personal wealth nor recognition.  We selflessly donate our time, talent, and treasure.  We finally get to know our neighbors and build, if even for short while, a picture of the true potential of our society and our civilization.

But crisis, despite its potential to bring us together, does not lend itself to greater thought and the ability to deal with real complexity.  While it can lead to a profound shift in human paradigms, those changes do not always impact us for the betterment of our civilization.  Back in the year 2000, the Project for a New American Century stated that the emergence of a new American security paradigm would require a cataclysmic event, like a second Pearl Harbor.  A year later, they had their second Pearl Harbor.  And ten years after that we have our fully entrenched and effective national security state with all the business and infrastructure that comes with it.  And yet we are ultimately far less secure and much less free then when we started the process…

As we begin to look at our future and realize the many obstacles standing in the way of a great and sustainable human civilization, our challenge is to build our communities before the onset of the coming crises.  We need to find the ability to look further into our future beyond our narrow election, economic, and network news cycles.  We need to see and confront our problems ahead of time and not wait for them to come around to bite us in the ass leaving us unprepared and unable to respond.  We need to get to know our neighbors and our communities before our collective existence is actually threatened.  And we need to build our sense of real education and communal discourse sharing our greatest dreams and our darkest fears about what our society might become before emerging realities catch up with us…

Unfortunately at this time, I fear we are nowhere close to that level of global or local community despite the few intelligent and forward thinking people and organizations emerging to look into our scary and intimidating future and come up with real and operational solutions.  The simple fact is that most of us just still haven’t woken up to our emerging realities.  We focus on the narrow, simple-minded “issues” of the day like whether white people or black people are more prolific killers in America (Sorry, the answer is black people, but it has nothing to do with the skin color), which strikingly similar political party will lead us magically to economic salvation, and which celebrity makes the best role model for our children based mostly on their random political rallies and bedroom exploits.  We are stuck questioning the Constitutionality of health care for all Americans while neglecting the Constitutionality of our government’s “right” to detain American citizens indefinitely without trial (NDAA 2012) or draft our workers into slave labor regardless of the presence or absence or a real national emergency (NDRP).  We focus on the morality of giving our women access to contraception and control over their own bodies while forgetting about their continued inequality of opportunity in our society or the simple fact that the pie is shrinking for all of us as the unstoppable force of perpetual economic growth meets the immovable object of physical limits to our planet’s resources.  And we still look at the map of the Middle East based on narrow and meaningless buzzwords like “terrorism,” “freedom,” and “democracy” while omitting shrinking and increasingly dear petroleum reserves which have been the engine of our economy and its geopolitics for the better part of three generations, long before we ever gave a damn about foreign elections…

If we are to be capable of dealing with the real challenges of our civilization—things like Peak Oil, fresh water reserves, limits to food production, the carrying capacity of our planet, climate change and pollution, and major violent conflict—in any meaningful way, we need to start coming together to build the systems and structures of our local, national, regional, and global communities.  We need to find renewed community within our chosen professions and transcend those boundaries into a sense of mutual discourse and cooperation where our talents and ideas meet those of our brothers and sisters with vastly different life experiences and skills.  And we need to focus all of this energy, time, and resources toward the betterment of mankind and the sustainable future our children truly deserve.  From community comes discourse.  And through discourse and the use our collectively free minds we can, and will, find real solutions to all of our problems…

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a son.  Well if that is the case, then it takes and entire community and a society to raise a man.  And it will take a lot of strong and capable men, and women, to build the first human civilization in our time.  Here’s to the power of our communities…The future is likely to reflect neither our greatest dreams nor our darkest fears, but it will be a product of the decisions we make in this time…Build the community now, and soon we will all grow, overcome, and thrive together…



2 APR 2012, 1200(L), Sharana, Paktika, Afghanistan


About briangdonnelly

I'm pretty much a random traveler and free thinker. Right now I live and work with the Army in North Carolina. I grew up in Missouri but am from the northeast US and have traveled a lot with the Army and life in general so I can't say I really have a "home" except where I chose to catch a few hours or rack each day. Overall, life is pretty awesome and I'm looking forward to changing the world. Hit me up if you care... Peace, Brian
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