Transition Ireland and Northern Ireland

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Time for Anger, if we are to have any hope

“Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage. Anger that things are the way they are. Courage to make them the way they ought to be.”
Saint Augustine

Just after wading through some more ecotopian nonsense, do people not understand how grim an economic situation we have bequeathed to ourselves. . I really no longer can understand how society keeps being positive and hopeful, irrespective of how grim the news is. Our disney induced believe in happy endings really is all encompassing even the most intelligent people seem to believe that we have a safety net. At what stage do people start to accept how totally messed up the system is and seek to really change it.

My own understanding of hope is probably best summed up by the quote above from Augustine of Hippo. What do others think.

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Comment by Michael Layden on August 27, 2009 at 21:25
Hi Roger, it is amazing how much more conscious of money and waste the older generation are. Here I think the majority of people would just walk by and think isn't it nice that they are beautifying the street and have no concept of how much money was being spent.
I think that is why something as Nama will probably go through, i.e that we are too passive to protest. The financial serfdom it will bequeath will make transition much more difficult.
Comment by Andy Wilson on August 23, 2009 at 22:47
Non-attachment is a great thing for making clear decisions, however it doesn't address the issue of real and sometimes overpowering emotions: anger, despair, fear etc that are being felt in the here and now. Also, I wonder how much so called 'non-attachment' is fraudulent and is really repressed anger (or other emotions)? And what happens to these repressed emotions - they have to go somewhere! I can think of a good few people to whom this might apply.. some of them are time bombs waiting to go off (This observation is made without judgement). I don't see much sign of society suddenly developing widespread non-attachment as a response to the uncertainties of the future - more the opposite if anything as deeply held 'truths' regarding the state of the world are exposed for the shams they are. Consequently, I think there is a high likelihood that emotional and psychological problems will become more widespread. Add counselling to the rapidly growing list of useful post fossil fuel skills!

If I might just respond the Chris's comment on being clever: presumably many people visiting this site are happy enough to take on board the 'cleverness' of many climate scientists, environmentalists, geologists, analysts, and others, who have assessed and presented the data, and made future projections on anthropogenic global warming, fossil fuel depletion, environmental degradation, future water availability, food production potential etc. Having done that, it would be a bit pointless in not also trying to use our 'smartness' to identify some of the critical paths that will help maintain the project of civilisation.

I use the word smartness deliberately, to draw a clear distinction between smart thinking - which will lead to solutions - and cleverness for its own sake, which can lead to a whole lot of undesirable outcomes.
Comment by Chris Chapman on July 24, 2009 at 15:18
Re hope : Just for ourselves, I am reminded of the following :

"Can we rely on it that a 'turning around' will be accomplished
by enough people quickly enough to save the modern world? This
question is often asked, but whatever answer is given to it will
mislead. The answer "yes" would lead to complacency; the answer
"no" to despair. It is desirable to leave these perplexities
behind us and get down to work."
-- E.F. Schumacher

It also fits with the buddhist thing re non-attachment to outcome. I tend to the line that neither hope nor anger really help us.

It often strikes me how much energy we (including me) expend trying to be incredibly clever and to predict the future in detail, when it is obviously impossible to do so and when we already know a lot about what the right things that need doing now are.

All easier said than done stuff.
Comment by Theresa on July 18, 2009 at 22:16
Nicely put Michael. There's a lot of anger, blame, bitterness, depression and a host of other "negatives" on the horizon. Of course they all have their place. Should be fun channeling it..... a challenge and a half. That's where the insight comes in handy - I really hope I'm not wrapped up in the negatives so that my positives can help channel. I think I'm ready anyway but we can never know until it happens I suppose.
Comment by Michael Layden on July 18, 2009 at 21:49
Optimism has its place, but once people rely on it to act like a comfort blanket it becomes a liability. The problem is that once it is taken away and it will be bit by bit over the years ahead, then a person is left with nothing to shield them from the stark reality.

This is why I have given an alternative definition of hope. I think in time to come people will need something to overcome their fear and terror. I think Anger is an incredibly good way around fear.
Here is a quote about anger from Gandhi, lest you see anger as being something vicious.

Gandhi on Anger
"I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world."

I've been reading through the report of bord snip and I can see the careers and livelhoods of many I hold dear and respect being ripped asunder by a callous penny pincher. Many of the posters to TTs will be effected. Massive funding reductions specifically in SEI grant funding, the Third level colleges, Public authorities, teagasc etc will directly effect the work and plans of many in this group.

We are going to have to look a lot deeper into our experience and understanding of what we need to keep going and keep positive as our society is forced to make a transition to a low consumption world.

I personally would like to think that us transitioners will motivate ourselves, as people throught the ages have when they are faced by incredible odds. This is not by assuming that everything will turn out alright but because our love and kinship for those around us is greater than our fear. This is similar to what many generations before us have had to do.

It is also something we see around us with the incredible people who give their energy for caring for the dying in hospices, fighting for the rights of the poorest, people who go on with living after they lose a loved one etc etc. These are not environments which lend themselves to optimism and yet these are offten the most positive, cheerful people. It is often when the prop of optimism is kicked out that you really have to turn to others and get to see them at their most magnificent.

So in terms of transition towns work, I think as society gets increasingly angry we will need to chanell that anger productively. Unfortunately with houses in danger of foreclosure, jobs gone, no money for even the basics, there will be a lot more anger than optimism. We are moving beyond selling a vision, to the more practical need to help prevent collapse of our society.
Comment by Theresa on July 18, 2009 at 10:27
I have to say I think we need more optomism in the bad times. If we. as "transitioners" are devoid of optimism how are we to motivate ourselves to ease the passage or help others to? I see being at this stage of logical, mental awareness as being a priviledge, one I do want to marr with pessimism or anger. I see many advantages to recession - the long overdue wake up call being one. I'm just glad to have woken up and am inspired to be there for others as the penny drops, waiting with optimism, motivation and visions of the possibilities.
Comment by Michael Layden on July 17, 2009 at 22:33
Many thanks joe for your kind email. But unfortunately I don't seem to need any remedy for my recession obsession. I did most of my obsessing about the economic depression long before it started. Here's something we submitted back in 2006.
http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/54C78A1E-4E96-4E28-A77A-3226220DF2FC/27152/NorthwestGroup.pdf

I love solutions as you can see from this document. Many conventional "solutions" are no longer critical path solutions. Orlovs excellent slopes of dysfunction shows the problem with being too optimistic in regard to energy supply
http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2009/06/slope-of-dysfunction.html

This nice piece on green consumerism hits many of the perceived solutions
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/08

In appreciation of your piece of "wisdom" about looking at solutions rather than problems. I would ask you how did we get into this mess we're in. Was it because we had too many solutions and not enough problems. We had solutions for personal lifestyle, holiday, modern living, personal fullfillment. But unfortunatly we forgot the main problem i.e how we were going to pay for it all.

Every time I find myself getting too optimistic I wander up to a local famine grave and remind myself that truly awful things happen people when their ancestors screw up. Its a tough world out there and funds are going to be very scarce over the next few years. We do not have the luxury for cosmetic projects but need transition projects which allow communities to economically boot strap themselves.
When you are in times of plenty, optimism is a good strategy, in times of need its good to be pessimistic, you cant afford to make mistakes.
Comment by Joe on July 17, 2009 at 21:07
thought I'd share this
http://www.resurgence.org/
this magazine/community has been one of my remedies for recession obsession
plenty of thoughtful articles ancedotes and stories to give a more optimstic or forward moving perspective on the crisis
and heres another similar site http://www.gentleaction.org/
I bought the book after reading an article by the author in resurgence
also this online community has kept me informed on developments http://clipmarks.com
also I think these guys have done a great job and I hope they have continued success http://www.ideascampaign.ie/
another worthwhile piece of wisdom would be to look at solutions rather than problems
Comment by Michael Layden on July 16, 2009 at 19:30
Sorry should have been I can see us having a long term major drop in living standards
Comment by Michael Layden on July 16, 2009 at 19:25
Flesh wound one
How serious is the economic situation we're in? I can't see us having a long term major drop in Living standards. What do you think.

The report by bord snip nua is being taken seriously enough so perhaps we're finally starting to understand the seriousness of the situation. But then you hear the ESRI talking about the end of the recession (DEPRESSION !!) being in sight. Their projections are a total fall of GDP by 13.1% (love the precision) by 2011 and an unemployment rate of 16.1%

BUT, not being an economist and only having reality to work with this seems impossibly optimistic. In rough figures, our GDP was at about €200 Billion in 2007. We were borrowing over €60 Billion a year at that stage. (Something I can't understand is how was it ever considered a miracle when we were borrowing 25% of GDP and only getting 8% growth?)

Our construction sector was running at about 25% of GDP and has now virtually collapsed. It must alone be responsible for a 20% Hit
Judging from the problems in the tertiary sector with massive jobs loses in Retail, hospitality etc. We must have at least another 10% of the GDP vunerable.
And the existing cutbacks and the proposed ones will remove another 4-5% of GDP directly and who knows what indirectly.
I can't see this being limited to a 13.1% fall in GDP.
Can someone explain how we are going to replace all this economic activity?
If or GDP does fall by 30% Plus

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