Every so often, our work in the premium side of PeakProsperity.com is deemed so important that our paying subscribers request we share it with the general public. Last week's 'Off The Cuff' podcast received so many of these requests that we are releasing it to all here.
In last week's Off The Cuff podcast, Chris delivered a very personal message about how we each decide to live our lives.
A growing number of people are watching the “prosperity” around them — record high asset prices, record-low unemployment, new technologies, etc — and yet feeling that we're making the wrong trade-offs as a society. All that wealth is flowing into fewer and fewer pockets, ecosystems are faltering and an alarming number of species are dying off, depression rates (especially among the youth) are skyrocketing.
In short: there's more money flowing around than ever, and yet we and the planet are becoming sicker and unhappier.
From Chris' point of view, it comes down integrity. The modern human way of life lacks integrity as a guiding principle. For those of us who desire a better future, brining our actions into better alignment with our integrity is the path to true prosperity.
My ultimate diagnosis of what's going on in the United States culture and a lot of Europe culture — probably in other cultures, but I can't speak to them as well – it's that they lack integrity. Now, integrity isn't simply “Oh, I don’t lie”. Integrity means that your actions are for the greater good. Sometimes there are acts of integrity which actually are not optimal for you; they're optimal for the larger society around you.
Integrity is thinking out seven generations. Integrity is saying that beauty matters in our life, and that when we take out a species, we're taking away something extraordinarily beautiful.
Maybe we shouldn’t just spray fungicides across thousand of acres in a single go. Maybe we shouldn't spray herbicides across million of acres in a single go. We don’t know what these herbicides are doing and fungicides and pesticides beyond the immediate use we're putting them to. They have all these ripple effects that go on and on and on. And we don’t know what those are.
So integrity would include a sense of humility. Full integrity is saying “I don't know”. We should be saying more of that. And integrity would include listening more carefully and deeply. Integrity would mean that we are operating in a way that is right for the other species around us, including humans. That we strive to do things that are right and good.
That part of ourselves that's calling for our hearts to be involved in the world and to believe in something that's larger and more profound than ourselves is really an essential concept. And everything about our current culture is cheap, demeaning, unfair. It's not building towards the directions that I think any of us can really believe in, and we know that we have to go in a new direction.
Welcome, welcome, welcome, everybody, to this Off the Cuff. It is Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Can't believe that. I'm your host, Chris Martenson, of course, and today, it's going to be a solo Off the Cuff where I get to amuse myself and hopefully you in the process.
I got to admit – let me start here – it has just been hard lately to keep my frame of reference on everything that's going on and to feel positive about everything because the level of market rigging and overt fake news that's out there. But my fake news is very different from what the mainstream media is calling fake news. We have very different impressions of the whole thing.
To me, fake news is the fact that you probably didn’t read anything about the Yellow Vest protests last week, even though they had Act 2020, separate Saturdays, 20 weeks of increasingly large participation by the people of France.
And why are you not hearing about it? Because that's really not a story that the powers that be want told. That's not a story that the central power structures want told. That's not something they want people really talking about and thinking about.
Fake news is a lie of omission. That's where they omit to tell you about something. We're always keeping an eye out for what's missing in the stories. As well, there are lies of commission where things are said that are just are flat out not true. Lots of those going on as well.
But I guess I got to start here. There's a new series out on Netflix, and it's called Our Planet. It's really saying what other nature series have omitted so far. It's classic, just like you would imagine from something that's narrated by David Attenborough. The filming is extraordinary, absolutely astonishing. The scenes that have been captured are so mind-blowing that it's hard to even talk about how incredible they are. You just got to watch it. You really should watch this series.
As well, it's highly disturbing, of course, because this time they're not pulling any punches. What the other nature series have omitted is just how bad the damage has been and how bad it's getting. It's really hard to take because they bring you up close and personal with these extraordinary creatures, the orangutans and the mongooses and just everything and the hyenas, just everything, right in their lives, and then talk to you about how fast everything is disappearing and being destroyed. They're using a lot of active verbiage, which they should. It's not that the rain forest is disappearing, it's that humans are cutting it down. Why? I don't know, because we want palm oil or something to make a few extra bucks with the trees cut down or something like that.
At any rate, what really catches me about this is just how profound the damage is. That grieves me a lot. I personally think that the world, with all of these incredible creatures in it, large and small, is a much better, much richer, much more worthwhile place to live. If we are on track to just continually keep destroying the natural world, that's a tragedy on a number of levels.
First, we could say, "Oh, well, that will become very expensive for us at some point," if we got to go into the money frame of mind. Or we might say, "Gosh, that might mean humans run into trouble," and that would be about our own species. But it's well beyond that.
Look, species come and species go. You put reindeer on an island with no predators and they eat all the lichen, they have this incredible explosion of population, and then the population crashes. You put yeast in a vat of sugar and they're really happy, they have this incredible explosion of population, and then they run of out the food and the population crashes. This is normal.
So what humans are doing as an organism is really not different or special or really noteworthy. We got an available supply of food, and we're eating our way into that supply of food. That supply of food, of course, is fossil fuels where ten to twenty calories of every calorie that I ate today, or that you will eat today, came with ten to twenty calories of fossil fuel secretly hidden in there.
That's because the fertilizers are either manufactured out of fossil fuels directly or mined somewhere very far away and then brought to the field with fossil fuels. There are giant diesel tractors that are plowing the fields. All the pesticides and herbicides and fungicides are actually manufactured directly out of chemical precursors from fossil fuels.
Once these crops are harvested, again, using fossil fuels, they are then dried or desiccated and stored using fossil fuels, transported using fossil fuels. Refrigerated, stored, or otherwise brought into distribution using fossil fuels, brought to the grocery store in packaged form after having been transformed into package form using fossil fuels. Then, of course, you drive to the store, you pick them up and you bring them home using fossil fuels. And you cook with them, typically using fossils fuels. On and on and on.
So there's this whole supply chain of food that requires fossil fuels. That's just the nature of the beast at this point in time. We're eating into that food supply of fossils fuels. I know, I know, I know, I know. It looks like you're having a bowl of cereal, but you're really having a spoonful of oil. It looks like you're having a big, juicy steak, if that's your thing, but it's really you are cutting into a big old slab of nitrogen in the form of protein, which probably – I bet you 99% of that nitrogen, unless you have grass fed beef from locally – 99% of that nitrogen that's in that protein came from the Haber-Bosch process, which means turning nitrogen from the atmosphere into bio-available nitrogen using natural gas.
So everything is about the fossil fuels. We're just an organism; we're eating into that food supply. So, again, you know what, nothing special, nothing un-special about that. That's just how organisms go.
I think the tragedy in this story, for me, comes into play because we're humans, we can do better than that. If you’ve come to one of our seminars – and I really would encourage you to come – I'm so excited for the seminar this year. If you're listening to this and you're coming, can't wait to see you. It's going to be amazing. If you come to one of the seminars, we talk about there's two ways that people change.
One is by pain and the other is by insight. Changing by pain, very common. It's the usual way. We've all done it in our lives. The change comes after some painful moment has caused that moment to be more painful than the pain of change. So things remain the same until the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of change. At some point there we run our calculus, it's like shoot, I'll change. I'll finally go on that diet, I'll finally quit alcohol, I'll get out of this job that I hate. Whatever that thing is that's painful for us, it has to get to a certain moment of exceeding pain before we finally go, "Oh, gosh, changing is going to be less painful."
So that's one way, that's route one. And by the way, all organisms go through that. So again, nothing special, nothing un-special about that.
Now, join me over here with the other way that we can change. I think this is special, and this is by insight. This is where we come across some information, we look at that information, and we make changes because we've parsed through it and if feels right. It's emotionally better. We can feel it in our gut and also rationally. By whatever means and combination, hopefully of head and heart, we come to this place of holding this new information by insight, and we go "I'm going to do that instead."
I love YouTube because I get to go on there, and first I get to learn from people who have tons of information. So that's learning. I love learning. But secondarily, you can see people making some pretty big mistakes and not repeat them. I think it's just fantastic. I've learned I never want to go skateboarding down a solid metal rail for a handrail. I can just watch that and go, "Yeah, not for me." And maybe somebody else is inspired by that. Good for them, but I look at that and the insight is yeah, that's a bad idea. I'm just not going to do that.
And this is what humans do. We have these things in our brains called mirror neurons which allow us to watch what somebody else is doing, and without apparently doing anything, without even mimicking the motions with our bodies, our brain is busy mimicking those motions and firing the muscle signals that would need to be fired in order to do something that somebody else is doing. This is why you will learn more quickly by going and being in the presence of somebody else who can do that thing you want to do really well.
Whether that's playing guitar or cello or going and wanting to learn how to shoot pistols, go be with somebody who's really amazing at it and just watch, and trust that your mirror neurons are saying "that's an awesome thing that person's doing. I'd like to do that. That looks successful." And your brain will begin to pattern that in and bring it in.
Of course, I talked about this in the last piece that I wrote talking about how this is both positive, if we use it in certain ways, but also can be used against us. And it is being used against us in the social media platforms where they encourage people to show these unattainable images of success that are often fraudulent in the sense that the pictures are cropped, or they're completely fraudulent and Photoshopped or whatever it is.
But people are showing their amazing lives, and of course, our mirror neurons and our biological underpinning as social creatures says "I'd love to replicate that. I want to emulate that. I would love to have some of that success" but, of course, you can't get it because there's no information contained in that static image about how you get there. Like if I see this person with all these attractive ladies on a boat, how would I get there? You don’t know. There's no connecting information.
So our biology is being used against us very, very strongly. And it's being used increasingly sophisticatedly—if that's a word—in increasingly sophisticated ways that is creating an enormous amount of stress in our organism. So that's part one.
Part two, at a meta level, at a higher level, I think people are starting to register and record that there's something really wrong with this story. I mean, there's just something that's just not right with it.
I write about too. Increasingly, the young people, the under 30 crowd, looking at what Greta Thunberg has done, the 16-year old from Sweden, galvanizing all the students across Europe to go on strike because their leaders aren't doing something that they consider – aren't doing anything about an existential threat that the students consider to be there, which is climate change.
Watching this feature on Netflix about our planet says whether you care about the climate or some other way, we're killing the planet. And it's going on at exponentially increasing rates. For somebody who's my age – I'm 56 now – I have seen a massive decline in my own biosphere here, around insects. They're not on my windshield anymore. More importantly, I leave the porchlight on all night, and my screen isn't coated with just this amazing sort menagerie of large and small and sometimes scary looking beetles and moths and all kinds of things.
I see that. I hear what's missing in the spring dawn chorus. There are all these migratory birds that are supposed to come through, various warblers and Tanagers and all these things that go and hang out down in Central and South America and come on back up here, and they're just not coming back. Why? Because they don’t have any food. There are no insects. That's what they eat. If the insects aren't on my windshield, that means the birds can't eat them. And if the birds don’t have food, guess what? They don’t reproduce successfully. It's not hard.
We just recorded that here was a 70% die off in Atlantic sea birds. For some mysterious reason, maybe it was because they think there was this B vitamin deficiency. Well, why is there a vitamin deficiency? Well, that's a little bit harder to unravel. But the causative chain might be that there's less phytoplankton, which is where the thiamin is actually generated in that food chain. A couple other places, but that would be the principle location. That is the main mine of thiamin.
If there's less phytoplankton and then there's less zooplankton, the other plankton that's eating that, and then there's less things for the small fish to eat and fewer things for the bigger fish to eat as a consequence, it goes up the food chain, and guess what? By the time you're the apex predator in that story, which is one of these sea birds, there's just not enough to eat. And what you are eating is deficient in the things you need.
The next thing you know, because it's always about the food and the organism, is that there just isn't enough food left in the ocean to support all the different types of life. The whales aren't breeding anymore, at least the Right whales didn’t. Gray whales are having trouble. All this stuff. We're seeing it everywhere.
An intact culture—and I'm not just talking about U S, but an intact world culture would time-out, blow the whistle, and say we can't keep doing this. We are not willing to do that because the number one thing you have to admit when you say we've got to stop pulling so much out of the natural world is you’ve got to admit that you can't grow your economy exponentially.
Next thing you know, all the power structures of humanity don’t make sense anymore. The bankers aren't the most revered people in the world. In fact, they're the world's number one enemy. The people who are the billionaires who haven't actually produced much or maybe they’ve produced nothing to gain their billions, all they’ve ever done in skim money out of an exponential money system and then they give all of that to politicians who desperately want to be reelected, even though they don’t do anything of value when they're in there. I put that data up too.
They don’t do anything of value for the people they allegedly, supposedly represent. The politicians do things for their backers. So it's all about the money. Stephen Jenkinson said in, Money and the Soul's Desire – check that podcast out if you haven't seen it. It's really just a – in fact, I got to repost that one. It's just so good. We should bring that great material back forward again from time to time.
He said – people misquote it all the time – they say, "Money is the root of all evil," and that's not the quote. A couple words missing from the beginning of that phrase which are, "For the love of money is the root of all money. For the love of money is the root of all evil." "For the love of" means your relationship to it. Stephen makes the point that money itself if neutral. It's just a thing. It's neither good nor bad. But our relationship to it—now that defines what happens next. If our relationship goes off the rails, if we become enamored with this objectifying force calling money, then it does become a force for evil.
Look at what just happened recently. I don’t know if you track this in the news. I certainly did. But this gentleman, Ray Dalio comes out, and I think he's a well-spoken, very intelligent man, and the media was all over listening to his message because he's worth billions. He's been running this hedge funds for 20 plus years, and he's worth billions.
He's a very smart man, he's worth billions, let's listen to him. And he's talking about how capitalism has maybe gone off the rails or the Federal Reserve has done some things that they shouldn’t have. Or maybe we need to tax the rich a little bit more because they’ve just sort of been the accidental accumulators of all this wealth that the central banks have printed and maybe it's time to divvy that back up again.
As you look at that – that's why I wrote these articles. One was called "The One True Thing," which is that our hierarchical pyramid is enforced, and everybody knows their place in it. They self-police, self-correct, self-reinforce, self-slot themselves into their appropriate layer in the pyramid. "Neither shall they go higher or lower" – hey, Hosanna – because of how much money they have. That's our organizing principle.
In times past, it was your connection to royal blood or were you descended directly from the Gods? Which Gods? It depends which culture. Did you have a direct voice with the Gods or something? Whatever the thing was, there was always a reason that there were very few people at the top of the pyramid and a bunch of people organized down below.
Our one true thing is money, and so we detect that when the media fawns all over listening to every word that this guy Ray Dalio says. Again, probably a really nice guy. I bet I'd like him if I met him. Never have. But at the same time, he doesn't have any particular better insights than anybody else. He's produced nothing. Ray Dalio has not made the world a better place in all of his 20 years. As successful as he's been, he's never built a single thing. He's never helped make the world more sustainable.
What he's done is take his incredible mind and use it to harvest money, or what we call money, out of a system that is busy destroying the planet. That he's like the high priest, one of the top tier layers of our particular pyramid of social control right now, doesn't make him necessarily somebody who's got better or worse insights either way.
But our media would never give the same sort of channel or platform to, say, myself, somebody else who hasn't proven really that they are worthy of talking about how we should keep this pyramid stable for the next 100 years because I'm fundamentally chipping at that all the time and talking about how the pyramid isn't really even a good pyramid. Or it doesn’t really work for everybody. Or in fact, it only works as well and as politely as it has for the past 50 years or 100 years because of this thing called oil.
Energy. It's the energy. Ray doesn't have a clue about the energy – or maybe he does – but he didn’t talk about it. He doesn’t talk about the fact that we don’t need a better taxation system. We just need to stop the central banks from funneling money to people like himself. We don’t need to reform capitalism.
We need to understand that the planet is being killed. We, either on our own terms through insight, decide to square up to that information, or we just pretend it doesn't exist, talk about how we're socialism versus capitalism, something completely meaningless. Because both isms are just as busy as either other ism figuring out how to grow and divvy up the pie. Just different means. We're arguing over how the pie gets divvied up. But nobody's talking about the fact that the pie is about to run out, that the pie is being poisoned.
So, I don’t really care. I'm totally agnostic. I don’t care if Trump is in there or if a Clinton is in the Presidency. I don’t care at all about whether we call it socialism or capitalism or kleptocracy or whatever is it, it doesn't matter. Or capitalism versus Communism. It doesn't matter. It doesn’t matter because they all have the same thing in place which is our one true thing. It's money. It's money.
We're going to take this system of money, and it has to be preserved at all costs. We can't entertain any other ideas around anything else because this is how we know our place in society. It would just be too painful to think about reorganizing that particular pyramid. So everybody's just going to let it run.
Next thing you know, you have the kids in this story, the 16-year old's like Greta Thunberg and all of her compatriots boycotting school, and coming out and saying "Hey, older people, we don’t believe in this future you’ve got laid out for us. Why should we study and do our homework if you guys are refusing to study and do your homework? How is it that we're supposed to stay on track in our jobs, as they are in this larger pyramid, if you're not even going to remotely attend to how this has any sort a future you can explain to me?"
I wrote in this last piece that came out, I said, "There's a generational breakdown occurring with increasing numbers of young people. Let's define them as the under 30 crowd, falling into despair, dismay and even outright demoralization over the state of the world. Put bluntly, many of them see nothing to gain by preserving the status quo."
It was just a few days later that some really startling information came out, and the headline of that was – this was the headline from CNN. It reads here, "Number of Children going to the Emergency Room with Suicidal Thoughts and or Attempts Doubles." So the data here is that between 2007 and 2015, according to an analysis that came out from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, administered by the US Centers for Disease Control Prevention – it's done every year – they sampled 300 emergency rooms, and they found that the number of children between the ages of 5 and 18 who received a diagnosis of suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt doubled. It doubled between 2007 and 2015.
In case I went past it a little fast, let me repeat a number here. 5, children as young as 5, are showing up here in this report. The average age of a child at the time of evaluation was 13. And 43% of the visits were in children between the ages of 5 and 11.
Again, an intact culture, one that wasn't sick to the core, one that wasn't absolutely not a civilization would say how is it possible that our children, between the ages of 5 and 11, are thinking about suicide? What is it?
Is it because we're killing the planet and they're still sensitive young, open creatures, these children, and they're registering that? Is it because, per chance, we're stuffing them to the gills with highly profitable, but ultimately, incredibly damaging psychoactive compounds to correct for ""behavioral maladjustments"" because the kids just aren’t finding a way to find meaning and purpose, they aren't fitting into this culture?
Seriously; 5 and 11, 43% of the visits. Children between the ages of 5 and 11. That is a sick culture. There's nothing there worth preserving. There's something worth understanding. There's something worth studying. But boy, things need to be changed right away. Just right away.
I don't know what the statistics are, but even I bet if you went back to 1930, depths of the depression, things you would imagine, that's as hard as life can be. I will bet you anything, and I'll have to see if I can dig this data up, and I don’t know how good the data would be from back then, but I would bet you kids weren't thinking about taking their own lives back then. Maybe a few did, but not these numbers. Not like this.
So what is it about today that is so damaging and sickening for these kids? Is it the screen time? We don’t know. There was a big study in Psychology Today that came out two weeks ago that said 17,000 children were studied and screen time didn’t correlate with any negative outcomes. Yeah, can't wait to find out who funded that study.
That's the other problem with today. Lies about omission and commission. So many lies of commission by so-called studies that are funded by people and, surprise, the results always seem to match with what the dollars want it to find. Go figure. Total surprise. That's the world we live in.
But there are these suicides popping up. This is just an absolutely astonishing thing, again, that I think should really not just be like this little blip, it was news that came out three days ago, so we're already past it. This would be something that I think should cause us to just stop full force and really consider it.
This raises the idea for me that – I keep talking about it. There was this great article, and I'm going to see if I can get the author of this on a podcast because I just keep quoting it so many times. It really stuck with me. It's about the demoralized mind. This was in April 2016. This is when the article comes from – it was in a – by John F. Schumaker, and he's a retired psychology academic living in Christchurch, New Zealand.
He talked about how the age of depression, that our descent into this age of depression just seems unstoppable. This is back in 2016, so that comports with this other data that we're seeing here.
Three decades ago, the first onset of depression was 30. Today's it's 14. As they really look through this data and start coming through it, again, they found out that depression wasn't really the right term here because depression is usually treatable. It's either chemical, so we can pop you out of that with some kind of a compound, hopefully something short acting like an infusion of ketamine, which actually pops you into a new chemical state that can give you a chance to operate in a non-depressive mode, not one of these long term, lifelong chronic antidepressants that has its own set of issues as a lifelong compound.
It's either that, chemical, or it's situational. So something happened, you lost your job, somebody important to you died. Something happened. But that's treatable too. There are ways to get support to move past those situationally awful moments in life.
They found that this new onset of depression that was coming on at the age of 14 was resistant to treatment, chemical or talking or whatever modality. It just didn’t work. There was no way to talk people out of it or pill them out of it.
So they came up with another word like, oh, this is actually demoralization. It's not depression. Demoralization is something that speaks to an extreme attack on your existential being. It's a disorder associated with the breakdown of your cognitive map. It's this big, overarching, psychospiritual crisis where the victims feel disoriented, they're unable to find meaning or purpose, they can't find that fulfillment in life.
As they persist in that demoralized state, the entire world around them starts to lose creditability. They don’t trust anybody. They don’t connect with anybody. The people who are very well meaning, who are trying to get them back in the game, "Come on, Jimmy, we'll get you out of your demoralized state because we need your grades to get back up so you can get a job." They can't connect because the advice is actually trying to push them back into the very hole where they find no meaning. So frustration builds, anger builds, bitterness, all of these things come. It's just like some kind of lost cause or losing battle.
Let's imagine now that you're one of these young people who feels demoralized, hopefully not all the way to the point of suicide, but it's increasingly – that's showing up. And in large measure, the reason why I think it's contained exactly in that special on Netflix called Our Planet, which, again, you should watch. What purpose is there really in participating well in a so-called well-adjusted way in a culture, in a system, that is fundamentally unfair? It throws billions at somebody like Ray Dalio. It forces really dynamic school teachers to pocket out of their own meager salaries for art supplies.
What do you do with a system that's just deeply unfair, where everybody shrugs and goes, "Oh, what are you going to do?" Some drugs cost $80-$300,000 now. Why? "Well, because we think we can get that much out." How high are hospital bills? "Just enough to bankrupt people. That's how much we want, what we would like to get, basically, all of your money if we could just because we had you in a captive hostage situation at a critical moment where you couldn't comparison shop. And then we were opaque about our billing strategies because, you know, that's our system."
There's no real good way for people to engage with that. So here's the call out. This is what we need to do. It's time to get past all of that. It's time to no longer feel like we're victims in that situation. It's time to stop asking our young people, who are demoralized – and if you know one of them, just sit with them and talk with them, and don't ask them to participate in a system that deep down they know is corrupt, that they know is not worth their time, that they know is not going to provide them with anything fulfilling, nothing purposeful, and is going to just lead to this existential depression, which we can call demoralization.
Because demoralization, let's be clear about this, it's actually a realistic response to untenable circumstances. That's all. Demoralization is not this thing we have to fix. It says that we have to understand the larger thing around it. We might say that wow, we have all these young boys, typically, who just have ADHD because they can't sit in this box—as a 6 year old, a 7 year old, an 8 year old—they can't sit in a box under 60 cycle humming fluorescent lights all day long with no other stimulation besides the material we put in front of them without bouncing off the walls and tapping their legs and doing other things like that.
The problem isn't the boys who can't sit still in that situation. The problem is the box you put them in. That's all. It's that simple.
I like this idea that if demoralization is a realistic response to untenable circumstances in our life, then what are better circumstances? And what do we do to break out of this?
Of course, this is the work of Peak Prosperity, and my own life is dedicated to this idea which is that what we need to do is recognize where we are in this story. Let's have the insight. Let's not go all the way down the pain route. Let's just take a look and say the direction we're heading in is unsustainable.
We are eating into our fossil fuel supply. We are destroying the planet. We are killing it – active verb, it's not dying – it's being killed. We are doing things that also, besides impinging on our own sense of a future and survivability, are destroying the beauty of the world. Really the ultimate thing that – I don’t know how to put all this together because I can point all this stuff out – that's fine, but what do you do about it?
Here's my ultimate diagnosis of what's going on in United States culture and a lot of Europe culture, probably in other cultures, but I can't speak to them as well. It's that they lack integrity. Now, integrity isn't simply oh, I don’t lie. Integrity means that your actions are for the greater good. Sometimes there are acts of integrity which actually are not optimal for you; they're optimal for the larger society around you.
Integrity is thinking out seven generations. Integrity is saying that beauty matters in our life, and that when we take out a species, we're taking away something extraordinarily beautiful. How it operates, and the subtlety and the sophistication, and the more we learn about how nature actually operates, the levels of sophistication are extraordinary.
In this BBC documentary – well, it's on Netflix –I'm not sure if it's BBC. I usually associate Our Planet with BBC. It might be. Anyway, I can't remember. But this Netflix thing that I watched, Our Planet, they had this one thing where there are these bees, these male bees, and they have this relationship with these orchids in a rain forest environment, obviously. The male bees are attracted to these orchids because the orchids produce the pheromone that the female bees want to see.
The male bees, if they want to get laid, they got to trundle off, find themselves one of these orchids, and they're rummaging around in the opening of this orchid flower, and they're getting close, and there's this really awesome pheromone. It's like cologne. This is absolute— you want to get a gal, you got to get some of this cologne.
So they start heading toward the cologne, and oops, they fall down the throat of this flower. And then it's all like gosh, it's all kinds of... there's hairs pointing the wrong way, and it's a little slippery, and they can't quite get their wings out, so they got to get out by some other means. And oh, the flower has left this little portal at the base. Oh, that's so nice. So the bees crawl out this little portal at the bottom. And as they do, it gets a little narrower, and it gets a little tight, but it's just wide enough for this particular bee to get out.
It wrestles through there and it just wrestles through, it gets deliciously coated in this nice cologne, so the bee's kind of happy, I guess. But as it's popping through, the last thing that happens is two little pollen sacs are glued onto the back of the bee, not in a place that interferes with its flying or its mating, but the pollen sacs get glued on. Now this bee is a messenger for the flower. So the flower gets what it needs. It manufactured this tasty cologne for the bee and its pollen sacs get carted off to the next flower. The bee gets the cologne it needs so that it can reproduce and continue its mating cycle.
How does this happen? This is extraordinarily beautiful. It's astonishing that nature would have thought of things that complex. And oh, by the way, it's probably thought of things a thousand times more complex than that that we haven't unraveled yet. So integrity to me includes the idea that we would have the humility as a species to say we don’t actually know what's happening out there in nature, but it's important, and we should stay connected to it, and we should use our powers of observation to begin to understand it.
But maybe we shouldn’t just spray fungicides across thousands of acres in a single go. Maybe we shouldn't spray herbicides across millions of acres in a single go. We don’t know what these herbicides are doing and fungicides and pesticides beyond the use we're putting them in. They have all these ripple effects that go on and on and on. And we don’t know what those are.
So integrity would include that sense of humility. Full integrity is saying "I don't know." I don't know. We should be saying more of that. Integrity would include listening more carefully and deeply. Integrity would mean that we are operating in a way that is right for the other species around us, including humans, but we do things that are right and good.
That's why I included that Marcus Aurelius quote in that last piece where he said the grapevine doesn’t spend any time thinking about how many grapes it produced last year. It just does it. And goodness can flow from humans as just an order of our business. We should be operating in a good way and with a good heart. Bodhicitta is that good and pure heart that is like a gem that is – you can bury it under the earth for a thousand, million years and when you pull it out again it's still just as shiny and unchanged. It's still just as brilliant.
That Bodhicitta, that part of ourselves that's calling for our hearts to be involved in the world and to believe in something that's larger and more profound than ourselves is really an essential concept. And everything about our current culture is cheap, demeaning, unfair. It's not building towards the directions that I think any of us can really believe in, and we know that we have to go in a new direction.
The Integrity Project is something that occurred to myself and to Evie as we were thinking this through the other night. What would that look like? How would we convey this? It's really calling upon ourselves, our highest selves in this situation, to bring our greatest integrity to whatever situation or circumstance is before us and to bring our best selves.
One of the things that I know – I wrote this in a comment, but I'll say it here in this Off the Cuff podcast too, which is I know that one of the most important and powerful gifts that I can give to somebody that's sitting across from me, who I'm in a relationship with, whether that's just a minute or two in between talks at a conference or it's in a deeper more structured way, say at my men's group or my relationship at home, is to bring my full presence. That's it. I don’t have to have magic words. I don’t have to go to a lot of training to figure out how to do that. I just need to quiet my mind, get all of my egoic thoughts out of the way so that I'm just there fully present.
That presence is what transforms us. I think there's something subtle going on there that we don’t yet understand. Like we just learned about mirror neurons in 1998. We learned about associative trees. We've learned that our DNA actually pulls in and records experiences and passes those on, just records them and somehow passes them on to our offspring in certain circumstances. So we're learning.
But there's something magic that happens when you just bring your full presence to somebody. It's recorded in some important way.
When I think back to what's happening with, say, this suicide data that I talked about with kids, it's just that tells you there's something profoundly, profoundly wrong in that situation. Because being alive is one of the most amazing things. It's the most amazing thing.
If you follow the movie The Matrix at all – I love the movie — it has got a lot of great metaphors, but the idea that there's this software simulation that people are engaging in, there's times I don’t know if this thing that we're in isn't just some sort of giant simulation of some kind.
Who knows what the fundamental nature of consciousness and reality is? It's beyond the scope of this podcast and my life. But I look at it and I go this is amazing; to be alive is amazing. To be surrounded by natural life that works at all is astonishing. How things actually work in my body and in all of nature is just simply breathtaking.
If we extract all of that beauty away, if we anesthetize ourselves – Stephen Jenkinson made this point as well, he said, "Break that word down, anesthetic." "An" means without, and "aesthetic" is beauty. So an anesthetic is something that takes the beauty away. We numb ourselves. First it takes the beauty away, but maybe we numb ourselves. Maybe the opioid epidemic and these suicides are because the beauty has already been taken away. We know that students learn much, much better if they're in an environment where the architecture, like you find at Harvard, say, like beautiful halls and inspiring architecture that's at a human scale and the number of stairs actually leading up to the library actually follows the Fibonacci progression and all of the beautiful stuff.
That was all built very intentional because with that solid container, then it infuses the student with a much better opportunity to absorb, really deeply absorb the material. As compared to say, getting shunted off into a little box with no windows and florescent lights. Just the environment matters.
Our built environment is very much not beautiful. Jim Kunstler would tell you all about that. I got a piece here I'd like to read from him from something he wrote recently because it's really important, I think. It's about that lack of beauty.
In this Integrity Project movement, to be in integrity means to value things across all of the aspects, all of the attributes. I talk about honoring and elevating and rebalancing the feminine attributes and holding them just as valuable and just as dear as the masculine attributes that so much of our culture is just really over organized around.
Here's a recent quote from Kunstler, he said:
"I don’t think you can overstate the damage we've done to ourselves in the sheer material arrangement of our national life."
He was taking about sitting on the boards and Walmart's and chain stores and all that stuff happening in upstate New York and how so many people just really, really wanted these Walmarts. He said:
"Well, that was some bargain they got. The chain stores got approved and the Main Streets died, but that wasn’t the end of it. This dynamic also destroyed networks that gave local citizens an economic and social place. Locally owned business people were the caretakers of the town. They took care of two buildings; their place of business and their home. They sat on library, school and hospital boards, and donated money to running local institutions. They employed people who lived in town, and there were consequences for treating them well or badly. There was even a time in this country when local business people wouldn’t dare to put up an insulting ugly building.
"A lot of this economic behavior has produced the social perversities of our time. Exterminating an entire class of local merchants has eliminated the heart of the American middle class and grotesquely concentrated the nation's wealth among corporate leviathans who comprise one percent of the population. It has also eliminated the place where young people learned how to do business, preparing themselves to drive ventures of their own and to make a place for themselves in the world.
"What is your place now? A cubicle in the marketing department of Old Navy? An aisle in the Home Depot? A desk in the Diversity and Inclusion Office of some state university pushing to sort the student population into racial and sexual categories because all other ways of belonging in society are gone? None of those places are liable to furnish a personal sense of life that is worth living."
I think that captures it. There are consequences to things.
As we chased money—for the love of money—our relationship to money said it's everything. Money's everything. That's how we know our place. That's how we – if something's making a lot of money, I guess we got to just let that go. "Oh, Monsanto makes a lot of money on Roundup and Roundup Ready Seeds. I guess it's okay. let's listen to the people who have billions of dollars. They must know something I don’t."
That overconcentration and focus on money has left us in a place—that slight abstraction... Humans are wonderful, complex creatures. We're capable of really deep, intelligent thought, and we're also not. Two sides on that coin. Yes, we're amazing, deep thinking creatures, but also, it's kind of simple.
For the most part, money provides that one layer of abstraction that allows us to do really horrible things. I don’t know of many CEOs that would take a gun and shoot a mother orangutan right there on the spot, but they would fund a palm oil planation that ends up doing that anyway. The money provides that layer of abstraction that's essential in this story.
This Integrity Project, whatever it is, has got to be about reclaiming our own sense of integrity, knowing right from wrong, doing the right things because they're the right things, not because they make the most money, not because society says they're important right now, but because we just know they're important. We just know that.
We know that things are off track. I shouldn't have to provide and more data on this to anybody. When you have 43% of visits to the ER for suicide ideation or attempts are for children between the ages of 5 and 11, God damn it! There's just so much in this story that we need to be having conversations about that has nothing to do with socialism, nothing to do with capitalism. Everything about DC in the United States, everything about politicians is just absolute distractions. It's meaningless.
If I have to hear one more person complain how if we just had somebody besides Trump in there everything would be better, I just want to slap them because it has nothing to do with anything. Obama was just as bad as Trump in every measurable category. 4,000 people were drone struck and killed under Obama. He was known as the Assassin in Chief to the security teams. He would sit down, pretty routinely, maybe one, two times a week and say here are the targets we should hit, picking off a deck of cards or whatever – however they did this. We now know that 90% of the people that were killed by those drone strikes were innocents. There were civilians. They were not the intended targets.
Can you even imagine what would happen in the United States if some other country was just willy-nilly and just sort of bombing places? "Well, we thought some bad people were nearby, so we bombed it. Deal with it."
We tolerate things that are done in our name with that level of abstraction in other countries that would never, ever, ever be tolerated inside of our own borders, but here it is. It's just fundamentally out of integrity. Fundamentally out of integrity.
So that's what I think we need to recapture as an organizing point that sort of occurred to me is how do we begin to communicate and organize and rally around this idea of integrity? Of doing things because they matter. Because they fulfill us with purpose. Because they're beautiful. Because we just know in our heart that that's the right thing to do.
And we don’t do other things because we just know in our heart they're the wrong thing to do. I could never load up a thousand-gallon sprayer container and contaminate the 2,000 acres that were under my management. If I was asked to do that, I couldn't do it because to do that I would lose something. I would lose my job if I didn’t do it, but I would lose something that I couldn’t recapture.
That's the story of war. People go to war and they do things that they cannot undo, and it's permanently disfiguring to their psyche, to their soul, to their core.
On that note, to look at just one thing that's happened recently – let me see if I can find it here in my notes because this is I think really, really important.
I talk about the Yellow Vests, just as a quick aside, and so here's something that is virtually never reported in the mainstream media. I had to dig hard into a blog to find it. The French demonstrations where the riot cops are deployed, the Yellow Vests are actually chanting something. (FRENCH) "Everybody hates the cops." That's what they're shouting at the cops. "Everybody hates the cops."
And again, state of commission, if you read anything about the Yellow Vests inside United States or European press, you're probably reading that Yellow Vests are totally composed of White Power, anti-Semitic fascists, right? But when you actually dig in there you discover oh, no, it's just French people. There's grandmas, grandpas, mothers, fathers, children. And possibly, just like any large crowd, I'm sure there's a couple of anti-Semites in there, but that's not the whole thing, not even a part. It's not even like a tiny pie wedge of the whole thing.
Anyway, think about that. So the police are violently beating up on their own fellow citizens. They don’t dare wear identifying badges, numbers, anything like that because that would just be too horrifying. But at any rate, people still know who they are. And they detest the police for how they're behaving.
So that's probably – you'd think, wow, the police don’t seem to care. They're just doing horrible stuff too. I don’t even dare to really circulate this stuff anymore because it's too much, but it's happening. I've been reading about that for a while, and then it was just – let me see where it is – I think it's on this page down here. Oh, yeah, this just came out a couple days ago on April 8th. The headline is "Wave of Police Suicides in France Sparks Alarm." And this is in a mainstream source.
The highest number of police suicides in French history was in 2014; 55 officers took their own lives, and just four months into 2019 there's already half that many. The article concludes: there's no clear underlying cause for the high rate of police suicides.
Let me go back to this idea of the demoralized mind. If you're a police person and you're doing things that you fundamentally don’t believe in, it's just harder to not be demoralized by all of that.
I can't imagine being a riot police person in France and trashing and beating up on my own citizens and being chanted at that everybody hates me and then going home and being cool with that.
So this is just some interesting data that's just sort of come out. What's interesting about this is that the police in France, the median salary, $59,680. It's not a lot. So there they are protecting the 0.1%. There they are protecting the elites of elites that went to the best ecoles, protecting this guy Macron who fundamentally is a Rothschild banker boy, as it were, who has just been entitled his entire life and absolutely refusing to behave in any way that's remotely appropriately for the people of this country, asking the police to go out and protect him and everything he stands for by being violent with the people of France.
So the cops, they have to protect the 0.1%, but at $59,680 median salary, they're not part of it. So that's really an awkward place to be.
I'm not surprised to hear that the French police are suffering some psychic difficulties managing that balancing act. My prediction would be that if the Yellow Vest people can just persist for who knows how many more acts, how many more weeks, that they will find that the police will come over to their side.
And then, grudgingly, grudgingly, the power structure will give some crumbs, and hopefully enough crumbs that they can get everybody to go back to sleep for a little bit longer. And that's the nature of it.
But one thing that the elites would not do is act out of integrity, is to sit down with the Yellow Vests in an honest open way and say "there's a disconnect here. How do we reconnect? What are you feeling? What are your grievances?"
Their grievances are actually quite profound and well categorized and I think very reasonable. Among the many things the people of France are grieved about, and on their list – I've never seen it anywhere else – on their list – "here's some things we're a little concerned about. We'd like our government to actually operate in our best interest. And one of the things we care about is this stupid practice of planned obsolescence. We hate buying stuff that breaks. It destroys the environment, it doesn’t last that long, it's annoying, it costs us more money, it's wasteful. We think planned obsolescence ought to be outlawed." Government says, "oh, what are you going to do? How could we possibly pass... what could we do?"
Well they can't do anything. Governments can't do anything because corporations own them and they own them in France as much as they do in the United States. But boy, that's a legitimate grievance. I'm aggrieved by that. I don’t want to have to buy a stupid washing machine every four years because they're designed to break. That's stupid.
But that would be of the things that Macron has said, "you know what? We'd rather send police out with truncheons and eye-destroying rubber bullet guns and lots and lots of tear gas because we'd rather not have to sit down and talk about that. That's just too much."
Or the idea that the banks ought to be nationalized and that the banks ought to be working for the interests of the people, not for international interests that syphon the wealth of a nation out, not unlike maybe the State Bank of North Dakota, which works beautifully up there.
Maybe the people say, "when times go upside down, we shouldn't have to be the source of the bail-in funds. Maybe we ought to do what Iceland did, make the bankers eat their losses." These are untenable thoughts to somebody like Macron who's a died in the wool status, big-government kind of person who's hoping he can just club these terrible ideas back into submission because it's been a really great gravy train for the elites.
Ray Dalio might be a nice guy, but the people who have been feasting on this deeply unfair monetary extravaganza that the central banks have pushed forward are just in no position really to comprehensively critique it in any meaningful fashion. Even as they dither and pretend that this ism matters more, maybe we can tweak taxes or maybe we could exceed a few of your demands, the rain forests of Borneo are being chopped down at an astonishing rate. I think we're losing something worldwide like one football a second. It's just an unspeakable tragedy.
And the sea birds don’t have enough thiamin. And the phytoplankton's gone somewhere. And the Arctic ice extent is already way below what it should be or ever has been at this time in April. And on and on and on and on and on and on.
What do we need to do? The reason I created the Crash Course is I don’t want to take the bankers on directly. They play dirty. People have a fairly short lifespan when they do that. But what if you can invalidate them by pointing out that their whole central theory, idea of exponential money forever, doesn't work on a finite planet.
What if you can come with that idea, like V for Vendetta, the movie, you're coming in with an idea that... ideas are impossible to kill. There's a new idea coming forward which is about how are we going to live differently in this overall planet?
Maybe this time we live differently. We live with less. We don’t have quite as many goodies in our lives. We have less stuff to manage. But guess what? Maybe we get some benefits from that? I don't know, maybe not everybody has a smartphone, but maybe fewer of our children end up committing suicide. Who knows? There are all these tradeoffs we can make. We have to begin making them.
We either do it on our own terms by insight or we do it by other terms through pain. Macron says we're going down the pain route. We're going to just keep this ship going this direction until it breaks in some larger, more ugly way. Fine. History goes that way.
But we don’t have to go that way. The idea that really I think pulls at people is that sense of legacy, honor, integrity. The only thing that matters at the end of the day, when you're on your deathbed, the only thing that matters is your integrity. It's how you conducted yourself. It was your being. If was the impact that you made, the service of your gifts to the world offered just in service. That's what matters. That's what matters. It's the integrity.
That's a side idea that pokes right into the side of this thing without having to take it on and fight every battle and get this person elected and tweak that law. God bless the people who are taking that route, but it's a losing, rearguard action. Put up as many Standing Rocks as you want and block as many pipelines as you want, and there's ten more right behind them for every one that you stop. That's a rearguard action.
So what is the clever way to come at this particular thing, given where we are in this story in this day and age? And it's this: We have to have an idea that takes the moral position that's unassailably right. Will be as unassailably right today as it is in a thousand years. It's as unassailably right as the things that Marcus Aurelius was writing about because we're humans.
Deep down, what matters deeply to us is our integrity. Who gets hurt the most when we're out of integrity? It's ourselves. That's who gets hurt the most in this story.
The question is: Where is our integrity and how do we begin to promote that? As young people are increasingly saying "I don’t want to participate in that low or zero or negative integrity system. I don’t want to do it." We should say "[Claps], absolutely. I'm right behind you. What do you want to do? How can I help?" That's got to be the story as we go forward.
That's what sort of occurred to me this week. Thank you so much for listening. I guess I don’t know what else to say besides that; integrity. The Integrity Project. Got to figure out how to get this really pulled forward.
So that's that. It's been wonderful. I will see many of you, I hope, at the seminar coming up in a couple weeks. With that, listen, just comment on this. Let's talk about this. I need everybody's input on this. I want everybody's input.
I just can't wait to figure out how we get this movement going and I want to participate however I can and do whatever I can to participate and enable it because this is my mission. This is my mission.
So thank you. I can't wait to see you in a couple weeks and, if not, I'll see you in the comment sections.