The renowned Archdruid won’t be with us for a few weeks (taking a well-deserved vacation away from writing his weekly missive). It is up to us to step up to the plate and write some good commentary on the world as we see it, and hopefully, to engage in some thoughtful debate with each other while the magic of the Internet still exists in its present form. And of course, translate this into some action!
What would we do without the Archdruid’s weekly musings (or any of the others we read on a regular basis)? There’s a small community of like-minded folks (and those who follow related columnists), and it is a medium comfort to know that smart minds such as his exist, and can rally a group to think and act in ways that are contrary to our crazy default culture.
In the bigger picture, his temporary but thankfully short absence should remind us that every one of us does have a limited time here on this earth to do the things that we do. What might be a limited absence could very well likely turn into a more permanent one. Although we never want to wake up to find an unexpected message from any one of our favorite authors’ agents or their significant others that “Commenter X passed away inadvertently, and their musings will no longer be with us,” that possibility will always exist. My own wish is that the folks on my blog roll exist as contributing voices to the Peak Everything discussion for a long time, even though that commentary might be in some far more retrotopian media such as radio, mimeograph, or broad sheet, as we continue our stairstep decline into our bumpy future.
The concept that ‘we all go’ (and that applies to everything, from nations, to houses, to computers, to people, from presidents to paupers) is sometimes a difficult one to accept, especially in a world and society where the natural order of things appears to be something humans can change. Even in a world where such corporate behemoths (Google, Apple, and Berkshire Hathaway), countries (the United States of America, the United Kingdom), or buildings that have lasted for centuries exist, (which might outlive a human lifespan), such things do end. Sometimes with a bang, and sometimes with a whimper – but they do end.
Personally, this begins to become more readily apparent when you get older. Friends and parents succumb to age and illness, and your own body starts to show signs of wear and tear. It isn’t pretty, but it is reality, and coming to grips with it is generally referred to as a ‘non-trivial task’. Many still fight this process with every bit of energy they can. Madison Avenue’s stock in trade is that we can all be forever young, and live perfectly in a Hollywood reality.
For those of us in the Peak Everything world, this reality is glaringly obvious, since we realize that the current set of living arrangements/worldview of infinite growth simply cannot continue on a finite planet. We are also a bit more cognizant that there is a time and a season to all things, as many of us try and be a bit less a part of the industrial society that surrounds us. Even something as simple as a commute to work via public transport or bicycle is different through the seasons, as opposed to a drive from an air-conditioned or heated house, car, to office; working on projects that can be disconnected from the seasons and weather. If you are ‘peak aware’, you are far more aware of these actualities, and hopefully, are trying, in whatever way you can, to live a ‘life of excellence’ and to use your powers for good, in spite of a system that tells you to do the exact opposite.
What then? As the title of this essay states simply, “We all go,” so what then? There’s a phrase that pops up in my correspondence with people who strike me as doing good, yeoman-like (and most of the time, better) work in this crazy world; Keep doing what you do. If you get an email or comment from me that has that tag line, it is one way for me to tell you that, “Yeah, it’s a hard slog some days, and although yes, you will die, what you are doing is important, even though it may not be recognized quite at the moment.” The longer version of this is summed up in a good commentary that I came across one day by author Albert Jay Nock:
In the year of Uzziahs death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. “Tell them what a worthless lot they are,” He said. “Tell them what is wrong, and why, and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don’t mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them. I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you,” He added, “that it won’t do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you, and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life.”
Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job — in fact, he had asked for it — but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it?
“Ah,” the Lord said, “you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and buildup a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it.” . . .
At one point, yeah, you will cease to exist (and, to paraphrase from Monty Python,”kick the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and join the choir invisible”) You may go, but your work, and how it has affected others is important. Like the Archdruid, it is good to take a vacation once in a bit, and yes, recharge your batteries. But fight the good fight, and keep doing what you do.
Questions, as always (can’t have an essay without questions):
- Does the reality of your passing help or hinder your worldview?
- How do you keep going, in the face of a crazy culture?
- What sort of things keep you energized?
- How do you encourage others, and keep them going?