Friday, May 3, 2013


I believe we are living in dark times if we mean by 'light' the successful evolution of humanity.

It is true we have always faced existential threats to our existence.

We struggled to survive at all 'in the garden' through most of our existence.

We left 'the garden' using our tools. 

One of our most innovative tools - writing - documents that human populations have been plagued by greed and corruption across all of our recorded civilizations.

Our failings have been well documented in the world's religious texts.

Although we are also altruistic, loving, and appreciative, we allow our highest values to be assaulted by greed and corruption. 

We are acquisitive, vain, selfish and greedy. We excel at deceiving ourselves and one another.

Now we have reached a critical point.

Our 'tools', our technological innovations, are destroying the eco-system upon which we depend.

We have documented in our science (which uses yet more tools) multiple, recent species-extinction events and the significant degradation of our soil, water, and air by life-threatening elements (e.g., lead, mercury, radiocesium, strontium, etc) and chemicals (e.g., pesticides, herbicides - glyphosate aka Round-Up - fungicides, etc).

Despite widespread denial, we have narrated in our popular imagination (e.g., popular culture in writing, musical lyrics, and film plots) the ongoing collapse of our ecosystem and the resulting social strain.

Think for example of Lincoln Park's hit song, "What I've Done." The music video for the song makes it pretty clear that what we've done is destroy our ecosystem. See it here.

Consider the hit movie and book for young people, The Hunger Games. This post-nuclear war world is characterized by great scarcity, exploitation, and domination.

The films The Book of Eli, 9, and The Road all illustrate similar futures. Only The Road is ambiguous about the cause of humanity's fall.

Our envisioned futures in film, music and children's literature increasingly recognize our complicity in our own extinction.

Yesterday, I heard a strange song tucked in the rubble of mindless pop music beloved by children:

Radioactive by Imagine dragons. See it here
I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow but I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals
chyeaaaaah!!!! ahhh.

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoooohwhoa, whoooa, I'm radioactive, radioactive
Whoooohwhoa, whoooa, I'm radioactive, radioactive

Majia here: As the song narratives, we are laden with chemicals and radioactive elements that threaten our health and our reproductive success The data have been collected, measured, validated.

This song narrates in lyric and emotional tenor the most immediate and pressing crisis we are experiencing right now: The Fukushima crisis and the rapid deterioration of nuclear plants everywhere. 

Nuclear power is so powerfully situated in the military-industrial-complex that many social critics shy from publicly attesting to the horrors it has bestowed through its routine emissions, atomic waste, and "accidents."

Few experts are willing to speak publicly to the collective human consciousness about what has already transpired and what is occurring now.

The public has a sense, but is content with denial.
Denial prevails, but does not prevent eruptions of understanding and angst.

Not all popular culture is vacuous propaganda.

Popular culture can serve as a medium for communicating existential threats to existence to people seduced into denial.

The strong popular appeal of the song "Radioactive" means listeners are receptive to its message, just as they were receptive to Lincoln Park's "What I've Done" and "The Hunger Games."

I think we - i.e., humanity - know what we've wrecked upon the earth and ourselves. 

If only we could turn that consciousness into productive, positive transformation.





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