The guy interviewed on NPR this day said that once our “credit crunch” is resolved in America, people will race out and buy homes. He’s wrong, as are economists who believe this. Rapidly increasing numbers of consumers are finding themselves irreparably strapped financially — and market profits dominoes have already begun to fall. But this will be no cookie cutter Depression. It’s all new.
by Donald Croft Brickner
Scary, scary — the times appear as if they’re going to painfully harpoon us with a knife, then carve us up into teensy bits (the purported Godless, random universe wants us to squirm and scream), and then, you know — chew us up, and swallow.
End Times appear to be far more likely than any of us ever imagined, or cared to.
But none of that is going to prove to be (entirely) true. What we’re experiencing at this moment in time has never happened before in human history — even though some of its elements periodically are sure to look familiar.
What follows next is not yet fully set in stone, but ought to be considered probable.
* * * * *
The first of three phases of The Great Leveling, already here now in its ugly early stages — where just about everybody, but everybody, here in the States will spiral downward to land (or crash) on a similar figurative flattened plane — is very apt to prove to be the most painful of the three. This is hitting bottom — which, once the smoke clears, could very well turn out to be a good thing. Probably, it will be.
Phase 2 will be waking up after hitting bottom, which most of us are going to do. Forget about The Rapture or some convenient meteor hit blotting out our sun. There will be no bailing out for us during this period — short of suicide, which is highly ill advised. That’s not a morality statement. Little of this event is about morality.
Still, once it’s all over, not one existing ideology today is assured of remaining completely intact — our psychological conversion will have been that far-reaching.
* * * * *
Keep in mind, too, that no matter what happens in our respective lives, we’ll all survive physical death whenever that occurs, and under whatever circumstances.
That’s the first Critical Truth that should be fully delineated and embraced by us.
In fact, it’s maybe the core issue behind our having invoked The Great Leveling.
Once we’re convinced we’ll outlive our dead bodies, all of our philosophical and religious treatises will either have to be reconsidered, or completely discarded.
* * * * *
Among the addicted (which have now overrun and overcome our entire planet), not everyone is going to bounce back, or recover, from these various calamities.
Still, the vast majority of us will have a choice in this process — to change, to face some painful personal and cultural truths — and then, slowly, to evolve (Phase 3).
This isn’t simply a material process — even though endless physical world crises will be highlighted by our media, a lot of it seemingly unrelated. There’s a strong emotional/psychological element at play in all of this, and it’s that which will make this traumatic melodrama, ultimately spiritually driven, unique in world history.
All kinds of major and minor truths, whose foundations are subjective in nature, must be engaged and understood before any rebuilding process even begins.
Subjective in nature:
Our healthiest emotions, like gentility, innocence, sacrifice, hope, etc., have been disrespected and enthusiastically stomped upon for far too long. Just take a look around you and gaze upon those without malice in their eyes.
Don’t most people, once you remove their just-getting-along masks, look like they desperately need to unleash some internally-cleansing flash flood of tears?
Well? Tough is mostly just an act, a façade.
Symptomatically, that’s pretty telling — in terms of where we’re already headed.
* * * * *
There is a point behind this searing melodrama that warrants participation — an admittedly brazenly-stated conviction whose roots support a non-random world view, as has been consistently (and tenably, tenably, tenably) promoted here.
Our choices prompt much more impact than directly-observable material world causes and effects. The Great Leveling is not an accident. We are its authors.
This is a metaphysical claim that will be thoroughly fleshed out for another day.
None of this is a punishment from God, either. Simply stated — we can’t go one step further in this current materialistic “story arc” without destroying ourselves.
Why that’s not flagrantly obvious to everybody is way beyond mere denial. It’s all morphed into emotional illness, begging to be addressed, then restored to health.
That’s why (most) suicides, which are sure to become all but epidemic not too far down the road, unfortunately, are inappropriate. You and I are going to survive our deaths, no matter what. We’re supposed to stick around, especially now, to play out the balance of this acute once-every-two-millenniums-or-so “diversion.”
Our physical universe has been intelligently designed to be lovingly painful so our glorious highs have something insistently dreadful to reflect themselves against.
* * * * *
A related interjection: there is a point to our having been incarnated in physical reality withdisposable bodies — and while, yes, in the greater scheme of things, any behavior can, and does, find expression in this physical incarnation process (that we’ve all willingly agreed to undertake), our focusing solely on, and creating faux philosophies in support of physical comfort and saintliness-of-greed is going to come under heavy fire during this period. If we fail to make the proper choices as they come and go during this timeframe, our physicality may not continue. Our analogous movie theater could close — maybe for good.
Yet, believe it or not, the odds of that happening are slim. Very few of us want to do away with this cool cosmic theater, or the billions of stories being shown here.
One of the niftiest results to come from Phases 1-3, as well, will be the probable end to the ongoing, rampant and misunderstood global practice of misanthropy. There will just no longer be any room for it, even as a back-story behind future reel movies.
What the world needs now is love, sweet love, is a dead-on accurate perception.
* * * * *
As we slide today into being a society with increasing lost businesses and jobs, some extrapolations of a few of the aberrancies already here can be expanded:
A loud period of denial will first take center stage over the first six months or so of Phase 1 — even while flagrantly ignored pockets of American financial activity will be crashing. The naysayers will be livid if you refuse to kowtow to their fervent and falsely optimistic viewpoints. They believe they have a lot to lose if you don’t.
But what’s headed in this direction won’t be bullied away.
Forget the choreographed buying up of stocks from behind the scenes on Wall Street by manipulators to dupe stockholders into doing the same. Mortal damage had already been inflicted on the consumer about the time gas, oh, crossed the $3.65/gallon barrier — so a forthcoming predictable pullback by the oil companies to just under $4/gallon nationally is unlikely to regain widespread lost confidence.
Lots of restaurants across the country have either closed, or are closing. Unless the mom ‘n pops serve truly great food inexpensively or find themselves a central meeting place in their communities, the cost of their operations will overwhelm them. As for the chains, most will try to downsize before they file for bankruptcy.
Countless other shoestring businesses that cater to small niches will also fail.
Most consumers now acknowledge that their lives have changed forever, so they — we — attempt what we do best: to adapt. We’ve already changed our “lifestyle” priorities, and so we’re unlikely to believe ever again that frivolous spending is a viable, realistic option in terms of how we select our material upgrades in life.
And that, actually, has been the first huge demonstrable aftereffect of Phase 1: we’ve pretty much stopped buying stupid stuff.
Materialism, as a widespread practice, quietly has been dispatched to death row.
* * * * *
Drug and alcohol use will increase exponentially, particularly the former. Wholly destructive illegal drugs like methamphetamines will induce a huge spike in theft, robbery and violence, particularly within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Because addictive drugs prompt their users to do whatever they believe they need to do to secure them from desensitized (and retaliatory) dealers, entire small- and medium-sized towns may fall to this culture over the next year or so.
It’s already begun happening in the desert Southwest.
We just don’t have enough law enforcement personnel to deal with this kind of societal degradation, and the residents of such towns will learn to look the other way — so long as the violence is largely limited to the vilified dealers and users.
The good news (and it won’t come very quickly) is that once the money runs out in such communities, the drug trade is likely to collapse, just like any other profits driven enterprise in The Great Leveling. If users don’t have the money to spend, then the dealers will either move someplace else, or stop dealing altogether.
Today’s drug lords, ironically, will quickly come to look with disdain at one of the chief spoils of their vocation: expensive, shiny, gas hog trucks. Their standing in the community, real or imagined, will plummet as buyers die off. And their peers will label them idiots, particularly after they try to re-sell these thuggish, sluggish behemoths.
Neither users nor dealers will be happy campers. Rehab centers will be sought, therefore, but qualified counselors will be hard to find, given the explosive growth of the phenomenon. Some centers will operate as best they can, but will prove to be functionally inept. Little state or federal funding will be available to correct that.
* * * * *
Suicides are already on the increase, but as with individuals who earlier this year reportedly chose to enter state and federal parks to essentially “disappear,” the idea of suicide will take on a new heartbreaking dimension: Many who opt to off themselves will do their very best not to be discovered, and so incorporate a new form of suicidal etiquette: don’t leave a mess behind for loved ones to trip over.
As with almost all destructive tragedies during Phase 1, a counter-reaction by the American public will be similar (although not the same) as its reaction to returning combat vets, particularly those who were maimed, paralyzed or lost limbs by war. A reaching-out will be initiated on a mass level that expresses its deep caring for these emotionally devastated individuals. Americans will tell them they do matter.
Our fascination with comic superhero films will quickly fall out of favor during this time, too, as real world pains become increasingly intrusive on a conscious level. Again, some good counter-news: powerful (and often tears-inducing) new scripts, inspired by hard new daily realities in America, will be written by young people who previously were focused mostly on celebrity news and self-image concerns.
E!, VH1 and MTV cable channels will adjust their programming accordingly.
* * * * *
What’s fast headed our way will not be The Great Depression, Part II. Money will still be recognized (hopefully) as valid currency, even if the federal government decides to declare bankruptcy to climb out from under vast international debt and to balance the U.S. budget (increasingly a probability, occurring maybe within six months of the seating of our next president — say, a year or so from this writing).
Entrepreneurship will continue, at least somewhat mutedly, as entirely new green-friendly, social support and preventive health enterprises are established. The new jobs will be far less focused on profitable bottom lines. Still, salaries will remain minimal. Ever so inevitably, both employers and employees alike will view their relationships with renewed cooperation and gratitude, and they will truthfully respect, at times even revere, the services they’ll provide in their communities.
National cynicism, ever so gradually, will find itself collapsing into life support.
* * * * *
The Internet is almost sure to be sabotaged by multi-national political activists or “net terrorists,” somewhere along this time line (covering an estimated four to six years for Phases 1 and 2, and the awkward beginnings of Phase 3). What will then strike avid Internet users as most unsettling will be discovering a seemingly abruptly-forced isolation. A lot of people spend a great deal of their waking hours online. For them, a professed emptiness temporarily will seem to be devastating. Most will be teased back into re-joining the human race, though, and do just fine.
Then the Internet will come back up for anybody who wants it — although it may have lost some of its addictive allure by that time.
Humor, by the way, gradually will come off as forced (or just not very funny) over the next year or two which, again, will be characterized by punctured bubbles of denial. This might all be compared to the dearth of jokes expressed in, or about, New Orleans after Katrina.
Once The Great Leveling is acknowledged (if by a variety of alternative names), though, by both American and global societies at large, we will welcome laughter — and some of the silliest, inspired comedy shows and routines ever will surface.
Romance will also fill the air by that time. Casual distanced sex will give way to starry-eyed pairings that incorporate a long-forgotten dimension of intercourse.
If someone you’re emotionally drawn toward should ask you, “Are you making love to me, you big lug?” — just say yes.
* * * * *
Climate change will continue to stroll its way in as it frames its frightful displays, and could even be overlooked over the next year or two while Phase 1 begins to insinuate itself. (We’re likely to find ourselves unable to deal with more than one overwhelming crisis at a time.) Global warming symptoms appear as if they’re taking hold more slowly than was first envisioned, but major corrective changes will still need to be incorporated — and soon.
Regardless, as with all of these other social crises, however, one upside has already begun to show up from abruptly increased gasoline prices: we’re already driving a lot less now — and because of that, emissions have been reduced to some degree. Is it enough to turn back climate change? Probably not — but it’s likely helped slow the planet’s well-advertised expiration.
Shame on us, though, if we permit big oil to brag about such a development.
For whatever the reasons, too, hurricanes hitting the mainland of America have decreased in numbers and strength the last two years, all likely due to climate change. A Florida meteorologist told me the year after Katrina hit that conditions were primed for hurricanes to form in the Gulf of Mexico, only it never happened.
He said he and his peers had no idea why, beyond global warming gone weird.
On the other hand, around that same time — the winter of 2006-2007 — I watched a large shrub outside my northern Florida residence window become “tricked” into blooming early in January during an atypical, unexpected heat wave. Then the cold returned, the buds died — and when the plant attempted to re-bloom during the early Spring, only the buds that hadn’t blossomed in January bloomed. Not good: half of the bush’s limbs were bare when they should have had flowers.
Climate change isn’t going away. Weather changes may seem benign, but aren’t. We can almost assuredly expect to get blindsided by deadly weather aberrations.
* * * * *
These earliest stages of Phase 1 will be the most terrifying and dramatic in their popping-of-denial bubbles. Federal and corporate spin control will stop working and, worse, will cease offering up answers to calm growing fears in the public.
Long-buried prejudices and rages will increasingly command center stage in the U.S., and some very well known and very visible public figures will behave badly.
Political talk radio and even major cable news channels will increasingly feature unexpected and bizarre personality melt-downs. Twisted-faced, finger-pointing on-air rants will be, forgive the pun, all the rage.
Much of this will be very close to comical — but some of these behavioral bursts will be shocking and pathetic, and at times maybe even deadly.
World War III and/or End Times will be widely voiced interpretations intended to characterize this era, and there will be very few equipped with the tools, or even the inclination, to countermand these badly-conceived convictions and intervene. Hatreds in America will never before or again be so public and widely on display.
The key to navigating this period will be the willingness and ability to incorporate big picture overviews and restraint. It’ll all come thudding to a halt, at some point.
Then we’ll find ourselves in an eerie and unsettling silence. It’s then we will have finally hit bottom (beginning of Phase 2). The approximate two years it will take to pass through Phase 1 will seem longer than that. Fear will be everywhere, as there will be so few practical or meaningful directions or answers at our disposal.
But that’s all part of the nature of this leveling process, and it’s to be expected. Given that, then, activities that help diminish our fears will also help diminish the impact of rapidly developing and transiting changes, most of them unanticipated.
One of the constants in life, predictable in its fashion, is the element of surprise.
After we make it through Phase 1’s downward spiral, circumstances will improve.
But the changes that may have taken place will have been precipitous, and fast.
And by then, it’s very possible that we’ll discover ourselves residing on a new and relatively alien planet Earth. No one will recall such a transition historically.
Yet, it will be one where we’ll have our first real opportunity to rewrite all of the rules that long since have been crying out to be rewritten — rules that will have exposed all of their faults and false logics over a brief and intense period of time.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere … all will be just as it should be.
We’ll find ourselves able to catch our breaths once more — and to move forward.
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