jusummerhayes

Paying attention

South Brent, Devon, England (South Brent Tor in the background: taken 10 December 2020)
South Brent, Devon, England (South Brent Tor in the background: taken 10 December 2020)

What exactly, in these Anthropocentric days, are we supposed to lend our attention to?

Everything qua humans.

What do I mean?

Speaking personally, and it's something that's been hounding my days for a very long time — too long, really, to make sense of — it's to pay attention to the world we've created?

Why?

Well, if you don't, perhaps not during your lifetime but certainly in the one to follow, there won't be much, if anything, left to support us.

If you don't believe me, check out these various reports:

Loss of species;

Earth overshoot; and

The canary in the coalmine, Climate Change.

Are you worried?

I am. In fact, it's the only thing that's on my mind right now that and Covid19 but perhaps not for the reasons you might think. 

You see, I'm still trying to unravel the fact that something so out of sight (not to everyone), so seemingly innocuous in its original host population and originally localised could have wreaked such havoc against, apparently, the Crown of Creation! Just think about it. If someone had said to you a decade or so ago that in 2020 we'd see many parts of the world closed down, millions of deaths and an economic system brought to its knees in a mere 12/13 years since the Banks screwed things up, well, speaking personally, I'd have been hard-pressed to accept all or any of the foregoing. 

But here we are, trying to make the best of a very bad situation

Back to paying attention.

If the world's precarious situation isn't the first order of the day, then what is? Feeding yourself, staying out of harm's way and dealing with the loss of connection? To me, they're priority #1 — and I say that as a husband, father and friend — but then again, I'm also concerned that allowing for the success of the various vaccines and their fair and proper distribution, it won't be long before we'll all be gasping for our old lives. 

Now, on a familial and work level, I sort of get it but I think, and I hope I'm not alone, that Covid19 is a sign of great portent and we're diminished as humans if we don't listen to what it and its causative effects are trying to tell us. I don't want to speculate how our lives might change but if they don't, then a further transmission of a new Coronavirus won't be the only thing we'll have to cope with in the decades to come.

But actually, the thing we need pay attention to most of all is our fear. (The link, if you're interested, will take you to an interview with Charles Bowden, recorded two years before he died; he deals with the fear thing brilliantly.)

Why?

Well, in short, and I'll develop this theme in further posts, it's driving or has driven our previous actions and behaviour that's landed us in such hot water. You see, once we swallowed the Koolaid of consumerism (amongst many other 20th century things) we lost touch with so much of what made us human, and now we're afraid that if we lose what we've got — even if it's pretty sh*t — we won't be able to survive. I don't mean to live off of the streets. No, I mean, how we might disavow our interest, fascination and addiction to living a hyper-individualistic life, our obsession with work and come back together in a village-minded way. 

Don't worry, I realise this ain't going to happen — it's too late — but perhaps we need to look into our souls and ask ourselves whether it's fear that's holding us back from making any or any substantial changes in our lives that might fix or ameliorate the devastation to the planet. I certainly feel that fear is an overriding almost unbending force. In fact, what I now see is that so much of my judgment has been clouded and corrupted and instead of bringing meaning to my life, I've been swallowed up by the system and then tried to find meaning within in, which has proved an impossibility. 

Oh, and then there's capital, money and the neoliberal project on which I'll have more to say too. Perhaps we've not paid enough attention to any of these erstwhile subjects but the people at the top sure have — and look where that's got them. They've got very, very rich at the expense of us but more especially a diminished planet. 

Like I say, I'll come back to the topic of fear but for now, all I'm inviting, as is my question-seeking way, is what are we truly paying attention to?

Until tomorrow.

Take care.

— JS


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