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Fasting

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riverc0il
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MadArchitect wrote:In response to rivercoil's points, I suppose one question that might be worth raising is, how gradual a shift can we make without incurring disastrous results?
Exactly. A great question. No one has the answer at this point. Certainly there are those that would prefer no change at all or assume a gradual change that does not accomplish anything. But we need to measure the consequences of what could be done with the consequences of doing nothing or very little. My point is you can't prevent a train wreck by switching tracks when the locomotive is powered at full speed. Where is the happy medium? That is what the discussion should be about.

In regards to solar and wind issues that Indie addresses, if it would be so easy then why isn't it already being done? Problem with these renewable sources of energy is they are very labor, energy, and financially intensive to build and maintain so the cost/benefit must also take into consideration those aspects of building and maintaining the units. Cost effectiveness is currently driving the economics of energy as well which has prevented many of these low energy turn per buck measures from becoming standard. As fossil fuel prices increase, these alternatives will look a lot more promising but right now fossil fuels are too cheap and easily turned over for the majority of consumers to demand alternatives. Economics is going to drive the going green movement for better or worse.
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indie
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riverc0il wrote:In regards to solar and wind issues that Indie addresses, if it would be so easy then why isn't it already being done? Problem with these renewable sources of energy is they are very labor, energy, and financially intensive to build and maintain so the cost/benefit must also take into consideration those aspects of building and maintaining the units.
More FUD. The only reason I can see is the people in power are not done cashing in on the fossil fuels. They won't be finished until the oil runs out, or war over the fuels smashes the infrastructure enough that they can't provide, or we become so poisoned that the demand for energy crashes. Of course they want you to believe that alternatives are expensive, impractical, inefficient. It competes with their extortion. It's pure BS though.

It's so easy for them to get the populous to propagate their ideas. We're used to coal and oil, why change? Why trade any of the false sense of security we have for something that might not be as efficient?

Because it is killing us.
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irishrose: In this case wouldn't it be combining the political and physical? Denying one's self food is a physical act, after all. Or am I mistaken?Not having ever recognized what the hell a spirit is, I might be speaking out of turn. Can you feed a spirit food?

I think youre right that the physical and the political are certainly combined in such an act, bringing politics into the most basic of every day deeds- and out of the theoretical realm of ideas and principles. Rather, it is embodying one's principles and ideals in everyday deeds. Perhaps this is a clue to what is meant by spirituality? As far as the folk participating in this fast, I suppose what they mean by spirituality is hardly monolithic or uniform: and is surely shaped by the religious traditions to which they belong. What seems to be consistent amidst their diversity is a commitment to addressing a grievous wrong, confronting gross injustice, and challenging destructive patterns of behavior in non-violent ways. Tied to this seems to be a hope that others will be motivated by their fasting to change their behaviors, wake up to the impending disaster soon to engulf us all, radically redirect public policy, and lend their bodies to a non-violent solution that will turn the tide of biospheric catastrophe. I think the need to define what spirituality means is replaced by a desire to roll up one's sleeves, step away from the trough, and engage a civilization on the brink of disaster.

irishrose: The irrationality might come from the individual's debilitating impotence during such movements. (i.e. I can't control the powers-that-be, but I can control what I put into my body, and I will let that be a statement.)

I think this misses the point of what it means to step out of a system of manic consumption: it is not only about controlling what goes into one's body (which I think is no small victory) but disengaging from a abusive relationship that involves the ingesting of poisons and propaganda- dangerous foods and debilitating messages. The true impotence involves status quo dietary habits with all of their linkages to fossil fuel economics and anti-democratic globalization. The fast involves a ceasing of eating and believing: two things that keep too many of us profoundly indifferent and embarrasingly obese in a world of starvation.

irishrose: The hunger strikes were also, arguably, effective in both the suffrage movement and during The Troubles in Ireland. In fact, as of the beginning of this year there were new hunger-strikers at Guatanamo being force fed, as I recall.

What is it that made these hunger strikes (in very diverse places and times) effective? Any idea how notions of spirituality or religious motivation played into these deeds?

MA: It's also been claimed that fasting can be applied as a method of decontaminating the body, training yourself to think independently of your belly, and sharpening your own sense of self-discipline -- not, I would think, inconsiderable benefits.

Dr. King, Cesar Chavez and Gandhi all saw fasting along very similar lines. They realized, or believed, that fasting was crucial to preparing for their respective non-violent acts of civil disobedience: that the "belly" represented much more than just appetite for food- it also represented the hunger to retaliate, seek vengeance, repay violence with violence, and simply reproduce the dominator modes of violent oppression they sought to change. Fasting was one way they brought their ideals into action, moving their bodies away from the prevalent models of warfare, and toward something fundamentally different, also requiring a much different form of self-discipline and self-control.

Indie: Spirit is a catchall term for the culmination of consciousness, sentience, emotional state, etc. I think there is little argument that fasting can produce an altered state, hence it can be a spiritual tool to that end.

Welcome aboard Indie. In the context of this thread, those who are fasting (I think) recognize spirituality as the culmination of social justice, interpersonal healing, and ecological sanity. Granted, that each will come to their own unique conclusions, it seems the common ground when spirituality is concerned is a healing of bodies and reverence for the earth. Does this line up with your thinking?

Indie: This brings to mind the terms "soul food" and "food of love". I'm not being flippant, food can profoundly affect us, our moods, thoughts and feelings. So in a way... yeah, I think we can feed our spirituality (however each of us may choose to define it - if we do) with our choices in food and cooking.

I agree. Good food made with care and attention, even with love, is more than just a bundle of nutrients: it is a staple for a certain kind of lifestyle and network of relationships. Shared meals have been crucial locations for beginning, strengthening, mending, and mobilizing relationships. Likewise, rules for who sits at the table and who gets the best slice of the meat have also been fundamental in defining hierarchy and social justice. I think the Christian Eucharist has been deeply misunderstood when relegated to metaphysical hocus pocus that magically produces the body and blood f Christ. I think there is something much more down to earth and politically pragmatic when it is seen as a radical challenge to systems of table politics regarding who is welcome and who is kept out.

Likewise, I think the notions of the Jewish Sabbath or Muslim Ramadan are much more than simply enforcing ancient legislation on moral behaviors...they provide ample opportunity to step out of the dominant economic systems and live differently: a difference, I think, in relation to current climate change dangers, that can make very positive differences.

RiverCoil: There seems to be a growing fringe environmentalists movement focused on calling for things that are if not impossible then at least incompatible with current market issues, human nature, and rational plausibility. While these three things are great things to strive towards, I think it is premature to call for such drastic measures initially. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, right? So lets be realistic and call for realistic measures.

It seems every movement requires those who push the margins of what is realistic, and those who hold the borders of realism in tact. I suppose every movement requires a little of both.

There is something about your position that reminds me of Dr. King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail where he responds to his critics, and fellow Christians, who represent the White clergy in the South. They admonished him for moving too quickly, expecting too much, disregarding the nature of politics and social demands in the south, and frankly disupting the state of affairs in ways that would only hurt his cause. They asked him to wait a little longer, be patient, too pull in the reins, and to not agitate the blacks or anger the whites: integration was a noble, even Christian cause, but there is only so far one should go.

King explains in the letter how the movement took painstaking steps to remain moderate, considerate, and always seeking a way out of active civil disobedience...and being met with not only political indifference, but outright malice and deceit along the way. There was no way to wait any longer. The time for radical action was imminent. King then lists all those pioneers of the human spirit who could wait no longer: the Prophets, Jesus, Paul, Luther, Thomas Jefferson...men who would no longer be patient with the status quo and who sought ideals that were profoundly shattering to the social and political structures of their day.

And, did I mention that King fasted regularly, and that the Civil Rights movement utilized fasting as a key component to their non-violent civil disobedience?
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The Only Real Hope

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Here's an article by Bill Mckibben from the Washington Post titled, The Race Against Warming http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... inionsbox1

McKibben is the author of a prior non-fiction selection at Booktalk, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future http://www.booktalk.org/deep-economy-th ... n-f12.html He is also one of the signees on the above statement.

I think this selection from the article highlights the tension that Rivercoil articulates in his post above:
The problem lies in how one defines reality. Physics and chemistry demand swift and deep cuts in carbon emissions; political realism says to move slowly. In that fight, there's really only one choice. The tax code can be amended, but the laws of nature can't.

The only real hope is for decisive legislation from Congress; activists are calling for a law that commits the United States to early cuts, closes all coal-fired power plants and auctions the right to pollute so that we can raise the revenue to fund the transformation of our energy system. President Bush won't sign such a law, so it doesn't have to pass this fall; we're working to set the stage for 2009, when a new leader takes over.

It will take a movement to force that kind of change -- a movement as urgent, and one to which people are as morally committed and willing to sacrifice, as the civil rights movement was a generation ago.
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riverc0il
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The big problem here is that no one really knows what is going to happen. The argument that the "hardcore" activists need to answer is how do they know that we face Armageddon if environmental change does not happen faster than political and economic change. In other words, the "hardcore" activists are all for completely through the current economic atmosphere of this country and indeed the entire world into chaos. They see the short term harm done to millions and millions of people as needed collateral damage compared to a bigger issue that could have even bigger consequences. So.... prove it.

They can't. No more than the free market whack jobs on the other side that believe the market will react to the economic need for a greener economy and profitable solutions will naturally come about. Same question to the other whackos on the other end: prove it. They can't.

I think one of the biggest problems are the all or nothing wackos on both sides of the spectrum. Since I am very concerned about environmental issues including global warming, I think the hardcore activists do themselves and our push for more sustainable lifestyles and development a HUGE disservice by taking the "doomsday" approach. Sensible people who do not currently buy into global warming effecting them personally in another 20-30 years disregard doomsday arguments straight out. And for good reason... they say "prove in" and no one can... because they are just scenarios.

In the end, McCribbon and the other hardcore activists need to do what Al Gore and more better articulated public figures have done and play to the common man, your average person that really doesn't have much information but is willing to listen. The people on the ends of the issue have already made up their mind and these calls for action that would throw the economy into a tail spin don't play well with the people that matter. Pragmatic too much perhaps? But I don't see any other approach working without going too far one way or the other and I think THAT is more of a danger than swinging either way. Science has yet to have the final word and that is what needs to really guide us.. but science can't predict the exact timeline of the future yet, and we are fools to think we can do better than an inexact science that does not have all the answers to our questions.
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You know, I haven't got that much faith in the Common Man. He has tended to screw up quite a bit, usually because he tends to listen to all the wrong people. I am inclined to believe that real change will only occur when the bottom line is threatened. Government and business need to be made to appreciate that the destruction climate change could have on the global economy would be catastrophic. Once these groups are not providing incompatible information to the Common Man, it will be easier to get him to change his habits.
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I completely agree with Niall001. Unfortunately, the fate of the word rests in the hands of simple economics. When it becomes cheaper to do things that are more green, they will then be done. I have been advocating an economic approach to global warming and climate change issues for a while now.

While I don't have faith in the Common Man, people might as well frame the arguments to Joe Q Public because everyone else is either not listening or already part of the choir.
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Rivercoil: The big problem here is that no one really knows what is going to happen.

This is a good point. I think it translates as well towards those arguments demanding US military forces stay in Iraq to impede total chaos; or those who argue we leave immediately, to eliminate the prime source of the current chaos. No one really knows what will happen if US forces pull out immediately and entirely- or if we stay. Good arguments can be found on both sides. It seems, to me, that the US has no legitimate role in deciding if we stay- thus, we should leave.

Which brings me to legitimate arguments regarding climate change catastrophe. Sure, none can claim apodictic certainty on the matter; but some positions are more legitimate than others. I think the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community (those closest to the research and most familiar with the data regarding climate change) describe current global crises developing into drastic social and ecological catastrophes. I think the data lines up with the conclusion. I think it legitimate.

Rivercoil: The argument that the "hardcore" activists need to answer is how do they know that we face Armageddon if environmental change does not happen faster than political and economic change.

I think the argument is more simply: define and implement an economic system that is ecologically sustainable. I think there is ample evidence that shows that our current economic system cannot be sustained according to ecological necessities. I think simply highlighting the doom is no solution; just as minimizing the threat is no help. There are many alternatives and they need to be explored, experimented and replicated where proven succesful. I think Bill McKibben's Deep Economy was an excellent presententation of how local economies are built and sustained around the planet. I also think it avoided the doomsday apocalyptic you rightly reject, without whitewashing the real dangers that surround us. His book offered scores of examples of everyday people making practical changes to how they aquired food, energy, information and entertainment.

These neighborhood, local economies will not be sufficient to turn the tide of our current (as I see it) suicidal attachment to fossil fuels...but they will be the models for survival as the fossil fuel grid collapses- and it will. Your point is that we can't prove it. I agree we can't prove it. But we have many legitimate reasons to think it so. I don't see many legitimate reasons to think otherwise. Actually, I've yet to see any.

Rivercoil: I think one of the biggest problems are the all or nothing wackos on both sides of the spectrum.

I agree. But I don't think the selection I've offered from the first post to the essay by McKibben reflects wacko extremism. They aren't advocating blowing up bulldozers or burning down fertilizer research labs or the assasination of prominent CEOs and political leaders...on the contrary, they are arguing for legislative action within the rule of law, as well as personal lifestyle changes tied to acts of non-violent civil disobedience.

Rivercoil: The people on the ends of the issue have already made up their mind and these calls for action that would throw the economy into a tail spin don't play well with the people that matter.

I think the people that matter are already mired in an economic tail spin, and I don't think they require much persuasion to see how profoundly askew the dominant economic model is. What Gore does not address is the economics behind climate change, nor does he provide much of an alternative economic model with hope for turning the tide. Although I think he hits it right on the nose when he says, "It's hard for someone to see the truth of the matter if his job requires he not see it." What he doesn't do is highlight the variety of economic models around the US and the world where ecological concerns define the bottom line. Really, what McKibben and others like him propose is a new bottom line. I think the mass of Americans know the current bottom line destroys much more than it builds...they are simply trapped in the lie that says "there is no alternative".

Rivercoil: Science has yet to have the final word and that is what needs to really guide us.. but science can't predict the exact timeline of the future yet, and we are fools to think we can do better than an inexact science that does not have all the answers to our questions.

I think Science tells us a great deal about current climate change trajectories and we neglect this at our peril. All of our questions are not answered, no doubt, but I think there are more than enough legitimate reasons to advocate for substantial social, political and economic change.

Niall: You know, I haven't got that much faith in the Common Man. He has tended to screw up quite a bit, usually because he tends to listen to all the wrong people.

In my more pessimistic moments, I agree. We are doomed if we wait for the common man. Perhaps we are doomed no matter what. But, thankfully, history provides enough examples of people doing what it takes to create lives worth living. That's why I think books like McKibben's Deep Economy are so important: they provide many examples of everyday people making everyday changes in ways that fundamentally change the world they live in...for the better. He is hardly alone.

Niall: I am inclined to believe that real change will only occur when the bottom line is threatened. Government and business need to be made to appreciate that the destruction climate change could have on the global economy would be catastrophic.

I think this is an important part of the change equation: systematic and structural change is required. I think this is where legislation becomes so important, and laws like those advocated in the above post would do just that. Would it create chaos? As though chaos were not already alive and well and wreaking havoc across the US and the Planet. One way the population gets informed about these issues in when they come up for political debate. If these proposals get a national hearing, then all the better, even if they don't pass.

Because I think the even more important part of the change equation involves communities developing their own alternative economies, like the ones highlighted in McKibben's book. In the very least, when the power grid finally collapses of its own ineffeciency, waste, corruption and greed...then these smaller economic systems will be the only things able to survive.

Rivercoil: Unfortunately, the fate of the word rests in the hands of simple economics. When it becomes cheaper to do things that are more green, they will then be done.

Economic concerns are no doubt important, but there are many other issues besides: gender, kinship structure, ethnicity, religion, etc. I do not think we are limited to demands of cost/benefit analyses when deciding what kind of world we want to live in. Values are complex things, not simply reduced to economics. If we define certain values we deem essential, then we can also construct an economic system that will sustain them. That's the hope at least, as I see it.
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On a more optimistic note, it is nice to see that corporations are tending toward creating more Green images in response to a public that grows more and more concerned about environmental matters. The downside is that often, it's mostly lip service but it shows that enough people now care to make it an issue for the likes of Shell, Toyota and the like.
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I think the data lines up with the conclusion. I think it legitimate.
I think so too. I am not disagreeing at all and fully support the findings of the scientific community that is bringing forth evidence that things are really bad. I am merely playing devil's advocate and suggesting that arguments need not be made to convince me (I have been convinced since I was in college circa 2000) but to convince those on the fence.
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