Introduction: The Comfortably Numb

Pueblo Bonito – Chaco Canyon, NM
1100 year old Chacoan Great House

Among all species, the human mind has the unique capacity to be self aware, therefore able to consider its purpose in the web of life. Many are troubled by the pervasive indifference to environmental destruction and human heartbreak that has become common throughout a global society that establishes itself as good, but imperfect. We continue to build social structures that have increasingly little to do with the way in which our human bodies, the natural systems, and the larger universe works. We are literally living the abstract concepts of our minds, forgetting the physical connection our bodies must have with the natural world, and paying an increasingly steep price by doing so.

Consider that consumption and exclusivity are social constructs that are not seen in natural phenomenon, yet they are the engine of our global society. Cooperation, efficiency, diversity, and limits are the laws of nature, among a few others. Have you ever heard of buildings, cars, or industrial processes that produce waste that is good and healthy for the environment? Probably not. It is rare, yet it is how all other species operate. Their “waste” is food for others. Beyond that, the entire concept of “waste” is a false concept that doesn’t actually exist. It has to go somewhere, and somebody has to deal with it’s toxicity. We gladly take the clean, free oxygen, water, energy, and mineral resources that are provided by nature, but we fail to return the favor. It is a one way relationship, which is no relationship at all.

Blind enthusiasm for a flawed idea is the basis of this blog. The bulk of the global population is pursuing a life inside an artificial bubble, separated from any responsibility to nurture healthy relationships with the very ecosystems our bodies are forged from. We have become comfortably numb, continually drugging ourselves with media spectacles, unhealthy food, inconsequential political dramas, and jobs in which we work far too hard to make far too few people very wealthy. We are suffering for it.

In our specialized world, it is easy to pass responsibility to experts of other narrow disciplines. However, it is not necessary to pour through mountains of research data to open a blind eye and see that the human bubble is too separated from the larger ecosystem, and that deeper interconnections must be built by all of us. There is a profound difference between being “less bad” and entering into a deep relationship. Most of the popular movement in sustainability is about eco-efficiency and doing the same bad things with less intensity, rather than creating the meaningful change that needs to happen. Our actions must benefit ourselves and benefit the ecosystems that they sit within. This blog attempts to make visible those things that are so outragous, so undeniable, that any reasonable person can open their eyes to see the obvious threat to the human race. This blog will also, in equal proportion, feature the great people that are building the needed relationships with our larger world.  I truly appreciate your comments, so please participate.

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Comments

  1. I like your choice of blog title, mental health professionals offer things like “constant re-exposure to a distress trigger for desensitization” to produce this condition of non-reactive “comfortably numb” imperviousness in people with startle responses from PTSD, but I think many of us are starting to fear the same effect from abundance of information and graphic images of environmental devastation, war and human suffering in settings so far-flung we as information consumers feel helpless to respond. But one thing I want to delve into in reflecting on human psychology, for my own benefit and as a writer, is the way we are less aware of the same withdraw-and-neglect knee-jerk reactions in ourselves when the potential trigger is far more accessible, such as when homeless people frequent the doorways of restaurants where we ourselves eat, and we hesitate to ask ourselves how far we are willing to go to help any one of them. In that sense the dilemma is nothing new, and I suspect if we knew better how to cope with the more mundane examples that smother our willingness to act consistently or take initiative on our professed compassionate ideals, we might actually be better equipped to tackle things like the depravity of living conditions for the bottom billion as well.

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