Selected Correspondence Vineeto
Animism and Environmentalism
VINEETO: However, here is a piece of information whose black humour really tickled me, considering the general fashion to believe that life in ‘the good old days’ was far better than the safety and comfort of today and that the materialism of technological progress per se is the cause of all evil –
So much for the ‘good old days’.
GARY: Prehistoric societies were intensely violent, from what I can determine through my reading of articles and watching of TV programs. It is interesting to see that many of the mummified remains of people from long ago were victims of violence. Like Ötzi, the man discovered in the ice on the Italian side of the Alps, he was found to have an arrow point embedded in his back that they had previously overlooked in their autopsy of him after he was first discovered. Then too, many mummies were victims of ritual, religious sacrifices. The long, dreary history of sieges warfare, religious wars, persecutions, pogroms, revolutions, etc, etc, I should think would be enough to point to the terror and fright of living in a long-ago societies, notwithstanding the lack of proper medical facilities, the incidence of disease and pestilence, etc.
VINEETO: We do indeed have a lifestyle today that far exceeds the so-called luxury of the old kings and queens, not to mention our vastly increased life-expectancy, overall health and safety. Nevertheless, most human beings turn for salvation to ancient wisdom and seek solace from times gone by, when they imagine ‘life was so much better than the evil and stressful times today’. It is indeed quite hilarious that those who complain about the stressful times of today, including the nature-guru David Suzuki, would often not have survived to their thirties to be able to complain about the loss of the ‘good old days’.
GARY: I have not read Lomborg’s book and I doubt that I will. My perusal of the criticisms offered on the list made me a bit sceptical of his position, I must say.
VINEETO: When I watched nature programs in the past I always found it quite difficult to distinguish fact from fiction and sensible observations from scare-mongering, particularly when almost every nature program ends with a doomsday Litany about how much damage humans have done to ‘Mother Nature’. I began to understand that environmentalism has become the new modern-day religion, reviving old matriarchal Mother-Earth beliefs and integrating ancient tribal beliefs of worshipping Earth spirits and sacred animals. Environmentalism also blends well with the myth of the Christian-Jewish paradise before the original sin – before human beings polluted the earth by being here – as well as with the Buddhist and Hindu belief that as long as I am ‘in a body’ I am essentially impure. Because of these twisted religious beliefs many now consider the welfare of animals and trees more important than that of human beings and believe that they should faithfully serve the Earth-Goddess who is suffering from the presence of ‘evil’ human beings.
Because of the widespread prevalence of Environmentalist propaganda, I find it immensely refreshing to be presented with accountable statistics and global-wide well-researched facts in Lomborg’s book. As for the ‘criticisms offered’ – it may be relevant to consider that if you had judged actualism by the unrelenting criticism Richard’s writings received on the Mailing List B, you would not be where you are today. At least 95% of the writings on the Actual Freedom Trust website consists of actualists’ replies to ‘criticisms offered’. In other words, when someone presents facts that question people’s cherished beliefs, criticism is always ready at hand – yet the strength and ardour of the criticism usually indicates the depth of people’s beliefs and not necessarily that the statements are false. I have come across so much criticism myself for stating that it is possible to live happy and harmless that I am not surprised that Lomborg is so heavily criticised for presenting facts that verify that the world is in a far, far better shape than what the environmentalist doomsayers make us believe. Rather than being surprised he is so criticized, I am more surprised that he had the guts to challenge the fashionable spiritual beliefs of the Environmentalists with reliable verified facts.
GARY: Yet there can be no denying that life at present is much, much better, more carefree, more liberated, more abundant, at least for those of us that live in the affluent nations. For many, though, who do not have the benefit of having been born into a civilized country, life is little better than servitude. For instance, I was shocked to read a recent article on slavery in Scientific American, to discover how commonplace slavery still is in certain parts of the world. I can certainly ‘understand’ the anger of people living in poverty, disease, and distress at those more affluent and prosperous nations, including and perhaps exemplified by American culture. This is a whole topic in and of itself, I realize. So perhaps, I’ll leave it until later.
VINEETO: Life quality in the last hundred years has not only improved in the affluent nations but also in the so-called developing nations. For instance there are less people starving in the world today – despite a greatly increased population – than 30 years ago. Nevertheless, there is no question that survival in many areas of the world is still a tough business and very often it is aggravated by tribal and/or religious conflicts, corruption, poor education and poor infrastructure.
Because I live in one of the wealthy developed countries, I have had to deal with the habit of feeling guilty for being better off than two thirds of the rest of the world. My understanding of their anger was based on my inherent guilt for having enough to eat when thousands were starving and this often resulted in my being angry about the unfairness of life. Because I felt angry, I had to direct my anger at possible causes – corporations, politicians, millionaires or arms dealers. I eventually came to the realization that my guilt and righteous anger did nothing to alleviate anyone else’s situation, it only added to the already abundantly existing resentment and anger. Anger and resentment only serve to obstruct the implementation of sensible solutions to alleviating the remaining remnants of illiteracy, debilitating poverty and rampant disease.
In the process of becoming happy and harmless I learnt to have a close look at this deep-seated feeling of guilt, which I sometimes even felt as guilt for taking up space and for being here at all. I found that as long as I had an affective connection to humanity, be it a social connection or an instinctual connection, I could never feel truly happy while others were miserable. In my spiritual years I had tried to solve the problem of feeling guilty by refusing to read the papers and watch the news and thus to diminish the circle of sufferers to the people I knew – the head in the sand approach. Nevertheless there were always the poor Indian rickshaw drivers and the beggars on the streets that made it impossible to forget how much misery there is in the world.
When I took up actualism I quickly understood the principle of unilateral action in that I can only change myself, but it takes much longer to comprehend the full implications of ‘being on my own’ in this business we call living. The process of investigating my own malice and sorrow means that I also incrementally sever my emotional ties with the malicious and suffering ‘selves’ that constitute humanity. Not only is no one else responsible for my happiness, or for my feelings of anger, but also I am unable to change anyone else’s lot in life by either supporting their anger or being empathetic with their sorrow. The most caring and practical thing I can do for my fellow human beings is to show by living example that it is possible to be both happy and harmless.
Vineeto’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.