Archive for anxiety

Meditations For Difficult Times

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 4, 2020 by jtoddring


What do you do when the world has gone insane? Well, you stay calm, and keep working for justice, peace, democracy, ecological balance, and freedom. You also have to stay well. That does not mean unthinkingly obeying irrational fascist orders. It does mean managing stress, eating well, getting exercise, sunshine and fresh air, and time in nature, as much as possible under the circumstances. Yoga, pranayama, tai chi, chi gong, saunas and meditation are extremely helpful, too. 

And sometimes, to me at least, you need to sit in a comfortable chair, preferably in a quiet place, with a cup of tea, and read a good book on philosophy or history (or both, such as Toulmin’s Cosmopolis, which I am reading now).

Then watch Terminator III. 

If we can confront our mortality, and the mortality of the world, if we can meditate on death so as to fully realize it is a reality, and not just a vicious rumour or an urban legend – and something that happens to us all, and not just to other people – then we can live without fear, and we can act without fear; we can therefore be far more clear of mind; we can be far more empowered, and far more effective; and moreover, we can more fully and truly live.

You confront your fear. Then your fear has less and less power. Then you can act from calm, clear, confidence; from peace, and not from panic, anger, or anxiety. Then the world, and our lives, become better. Not before.

In fear mode, we are pawns in a game, easily manipulated, easily deceived. In fear mode, it is the blind leading the blind, and they will all fall in a ditch, or worse.

First, face your fear. The root fear is death. Face that, and you conquer all fear. Then you can act with clarity, confidence, and peace – and act sensibly, and not foolishly.

Not before. Not before.


April 4, 2020

A sinking world, and sane responses to it

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by jtoddring

My country is sinking like a rock (for reasons of corporate oligarchy, neoliberalism, corporate rights agreements, and an addiction to oil revenues and the politics of a resource extraction-based economy, and the thorough corporate domination of the political process), though the great majority of my fellow citizens do not realize it, lost in a stupor of denial as they are (I can think of twelve countries in the Western hemisphere which are either moving in a positive direction, or at least showing some fight – and Canada is not one of them); and so too is the greater part of the world descending, and rapidly so, into a morass of injustice and ecological suicide, to say nothing of concerns for freedom, human rights and democracy, (as well as a pervasive malady, and an epidemic, of economic fundamentalism, neoliberalism and neoconservatism being the primary, and reigning, quasi-religious orthodoxies, along with other forms of ideological and even “scientific” fundamentalism, which are widespread, and far more influential today than their mirror image, which is religious fundamentalism, and an even worse epidemic of illusions of powerlessness, as well as an epidemic of apathy, denial, conformity, and undue and excessive, and frequently mad obedience to power) with only a handful of countries as the exception. How am I not to be distressed, if not anguished, and even furious, or all of the above?

All of the greatest minds and greatest spirits have echoed the same thoughts about the modern world. As David Suzuki has recently said (paraphrasing from memory), “There has never been a better time for being scared and angry….. We should get mad as hell, and then fight like hell.”

Where is the fight in us? And why should we be ashamed of being distraught with a world that is on a collision course with both tyranny and collective ecological suicide, as well as being steeped in war, violence, rampant injustice, inequality, poverty and a culture of voyeurism, vicarious living, materialism, consumerism, and a pathological aversion to the real?

As the great sociologist Erich Fromm said (again, paraphrasing from memory), “Normal only exists in relation to a profoundly abnormal norm.” “The fact that there is neurosis [or psychological strain and distress] is a good sign. It is a sign of a healthy individual, an individual that is still struggling to be fully alive, and by necessity, is struggling against a society that wishes to turn him or her into an atomaton.”

As the saying goes, “If you can keep your head when everyone around you is losing theirs – you’re not paying attention.”

Calm is good. Heart-break for the state of the world is natural. And action is vitally needed – and urgently so.

Let’s see more action, and the heart-break will fade into a memory of times past, and lessons learned.

October 7, 2015

Essential reading:

(A few among many other great books that could be included in such a list)

A Brief History of Progress – Ronald Wright

The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies – Richard Heinberg

When Technology Fails – Matt Stein

Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

A Game As Old As Empire – John Perkins

The End of America – Naomi Wolf

Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – Noam Chomsky

Year 501: The Conquest Continues – Noam Chomsky

Escape From Freedom – Erich Fromm

The Ecology of Freedom – Murray Bookchin

The Chalice and the Blade – Rianne Eisler

World As Lover, World As Self – Joanna Macy

Ancient Futures – Helena Norberg-Hodge

Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley

Roads To Freedom – Bertrand Russell

Wisdom of the Elders – David Suzuki

Walden – Henry David Thoreau

On Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau

The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude – Etienne de la Boite

Mutual Aid – Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin Was No Crackpot – Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, June, 1997

The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell

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