Predicaments and Problems
(This is the first of two posts, on the basic concepts of Green Wizardry)
There WILL be Homework.
While much of what you will learn here, as you read through the tutorials and blog posts, interact and exchange ideas with others on the Forums, is going to be practical and useful to you in your day to day Life in a World Made Harsh, I hope that is not ALL you take away from this site.
There is a more important lesson you need to learn here.
The fundamental core of Green Wizardry, is not just skills that help you grow plants and make things. It is teaching you to look at the World around you with a new and different perspective. A greener one of course, one that understands our place in the great system of Life on our planet. That gets us back to working "with" Nature, rather than trying to conquer it. It understands there are limits that we all must accept and work within if we are to live here as things get difficult.
The real "lesson" is in changing the way YOU view the World.
There will be more lessons to come but the first lesson in that new perspective is learning the difference between a "Problem" and a "Predicament".
"All labels are arbitrary."
Let me step back for a moment and explain something critical and vastly important to your education.
That I point to a bush in my garden and call it a tomato plant is just as arbitrary a label as you calling it "red fruity thing plant". Neither is "THE TRUTH". They are simply terms that we each use to describe a thing. The importance of a label is when you and I decide to agree on using the same label. It is then we have a common framework with which to explore and discuss further concepts.
Never mistake a label for the real thing.
Since the dawn of Science, it seems like more and more, especially this last century, the people who label things seem to think the label is the important half of of the couple. That by giving a thing a label, it must therefore be the label.
A good example is Light.
Anyone who has throw a pebble into a pond knows the result is a disturbance in the water that we call a "Wave". Its that up and down motion the fluid does. Waves when they hit certain situations, display certain characteristics. A slit in the wall of a dock, will create a certain pattern in the water behind it much different than the original wave that strikes it. Two slits an entirely different pattern. These patterns make a certain effect on a second wall set a bit back from the first.
Now the pebble, or a stream of pebbles, if fired at a similar set of openings in a such a wall, will result in a specific and completely different pattern on that second wall.
If I have an object that I wish to know its properties, I can set up an experiment with a similar slit arrangement. Aiming a stream of objects at that slit and observing the pattern on the second wall will tell me if the object is a particle or a wave.
Modern thought is that you can't be both. Objects must be either a wave or a particle.
Sometimes Light is a particle, and sometimes it exhibits the property of a wave. Its a "wavicle"...lol, something that Science says can't be.
Science has made the mistake of thinking the "Label" is the Thing, not the other way around. Sometimes an object is the label, other times its not. You are foolish if you think just because we give something a name or label, it must BE that label. Nature has a way of slapping us up the back side of our heads to remind of us of that if we are observant.
You should always remember then that the labels we use in your education to becoming a Green Wizard are arbitrary yet important. They give us a common frame of reference with which to discuss what we will need to learn and to do in the coming years. When someone pops in and says, "Wait that's not what the word means!" just know I'll smile and answer "It means that to us." That's critically important, that we agree on the definition of some terms. Else we will just shout our disagreement until the lights go out and we all starve.
That concept understood, lets get back to the lesson, shall we?
Predicaments and Problems
For most people, the two words mean the same thing. The word "predicament" though is usually thought of as a quaint, out of date term for a "problem". For Green Wizards there is a more subtle difference.
John Michael Greer laid out the difference in this August 31st, 2006 Archdruid Report post. As he puts it:
"The difference is that a problem calls for a solution; the only question is whether one can be found and made to work, and once this is done, the problem is solved. A predicament, by contrast, has no solution. Faced with a predicament, people come up with responses. Those responses may succeed, they may fail, or they may fall somewhere in between, but none of them “solves” the predicament, in the sense that none of them makes it go away."
Much of what you and I will face in a World Made Harsh are "predicaments", that is situations that have no solution and have to just be lived with.
The little things will be problems and we can find solutions to them, but the big picture items like climate change, resource depletion, financial and economic instability, food production problems and over population have gone on so long, with little in the way of addressing them that they have grown to the point that there are NO solutions. By now we have only two options, to learn how to use our scant finite resources to mitigate their effects and survive, OR do nothing and when that bites us in the ass, Die. Cold, hungry and probably all alone, its a ugly death I would not wish on anyone.
Where we run into trouble is thinking a predicament as a problem.
A rhinoceros on a tightrope could be a problem, two on the same tightrope is whole 'nother story, lol.
When a Problem becomes a Predicament.
Take "global warming", which was a bad choice of names. It let deniers latch onto any lapse of warming as proof it wasn't happening. I prefer the term "climate weirding", since in fact the moderate and temperate climate we hairless apes have enjoyed these past few thousand years is about to open up a flood gate of extremes on both ends of the spectrum, from heat waves in the Summer to frigid spikes during the Winter. We have dumped so much carbon into the atmosphere that the climate our grand children know will be all but unrecognizable to you and I.
Could we come up with a solution that addresses this? Sure in your wildest dreams.
Like that is ever going to happen...LOL.
See where climate activists get it wrong is thinking "climate weirding" is a problem with solutions, and not a predicament to just be learned how to deal with. We are way past the point of solutions.
Least you think this all defeatists talk, understand as a Green Wizard you must learn how to "triage". Its a medical term, from the battle field. It means learning to separate those who can be saved from those who can't, and devoting scarce resources to save the first and letting the second die as peacefully as they can. It is a harsh and brutal lesson that is sure. Put a X on his forehead and move on. Nurses will be by soon with a shot of morphine.
We will get drunk later and remember the Dead. For now focus on the Living.
There will be times in days to come, in a World Made Harsh, that your choice will be a bad response and an even badder response. Hopefully we can give you the skill set and knowledge to tell the difference and to pick the one that does the least amount of harm and produces the best results.
I never promised that everything about learning Green Wizardry would be pleasant. Just necessary...
You can go off to other sites that promise you can buy your way out of this, or that Science is going to solve all our problem. Why not visit ToothFairy.com too. It will get you the same result. You can learn the lessons of Green Wizardry or faces a future made harsh and cruel with nothing but what is in your hands. Are you ready for that now?
You have a simple choice. Learn or Die...
It will save the lives of those you love too.
Ever chopped the head off a live chicken?
I haven't. The act makes me nervous. I respect Life and don't try to cause harm, yet soon I'll have to learn how to do just that. End another creature's Life so mine might benefit. Hopefully as humanly as I can. See I want to continue to eat. Me or the chicken, I know who I side with. That at least is a problem with a solution. I'll learn to get over it.
Unfortunately for you and I, the Future is going to be full of Predicaments with no solutions...
Original August 31st, 2006 Archdruid Report post on Predicaments and Problems.
On a New Kind of Science December 18th ADR post
(©: "two rhinos walking on rope" by Sergey Nivens)