Sea Gypsy

HOMAGE TO MY WONDERFUL MOM

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on September 5, 2014

AVENTURA

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The melancholy is heavy on me this morning. It is my Mom’s death day. And even though it was on a September 5th many years ago, I still grieve … deeply. I was beside her in the emergency room in her final minutes. She was already unconscious and the doctors were trying to shock her back. I knew she would not return. She had told me so the day before.

*******

 

It had been her first day of physical therapy after a very severe cardiac attack that left her with only a third of a functioning heart. With me holding one arm and the nurse on the other, we tried to gently help her take a few steps. She could not. This just staggered her. When the nurse left us alone we had our last conversation together.

 

I tried to encourage her by emphasizing that the progress back to mobility would be slow, but that it would come. And I emphasized that her five children would be able to take turns visiting and encouraging her in her recovery. My message was that even though her body was weak, her will was strong, and she could regain a satisfying and meaningful life. But she felt – and her instinct was probably correct – that the best she could expect was the slavery of a wheelchair and a grim future in an assisted care facility, watching TV with a bunch of other sad invalids.

She did not want to burden her children with the expense that such an existence would involve. And she was emphatic about not wishing to end her days as a sickly and dependent woman. So she confessed that when the next heart attack came, she would “let it take her.” And she drew me close and whispered to me in words far more poetic than I could ever write, “My wonderful first born child, there is a time for fighting and a time for farewell. I’ve been able to say my goodbyes to all of you kids now. The love and affection that you blessed me with here in the hospital has been so beautiful and so comforting that I am…ready.”

Such wisdom and eloquence was so overwhelming, that all I could do was hug her gently … and cry… as I am doing now.

 

*******

My mom totally devoted her life to her children. And she was overjoyed by how we turned out. I too, am proud of what fine, caring and joyful people my brother and sisters are. And we all realize that most of our best qualities stem from her selfless nurturing.

Even though she only had a high school degree, her understanding of the joy and sorrow of human existence far exceeded what I learned from my college philosophy professors. Of all the lessons that she imparted to me the most important was the need for basic human decency. And she knew that the compass that leads an individual to such enlightened moral conduct is within all of us. She understood that we do not need governmental regulations or religious dogma to teach us how to behave towards one another. She emphasized that such knowledge is a part of everyone’s core wisdom.

Mom was also very courageous. My dad was a scientist – a smart and successful organic chemist with many patents to his credit. As the first-born male child, he wanted me to follow in his footsteps. But I was always drawn to the arts. The words of Socrates and Shakespeare sang to me, but chemistry did not. This led to intense emotional turmoil at a very formative stage of my life. My mother would always defend me. She encouraged me to do whatever I wished in life as long as it harmed no one else.

My contrary to ordinary spirit must have certainly tested her patience in this regard, but she never complained. For example, I clearly expressed my rebelliousness during my senior year at college. I had been elected as the President of my student body. For the yearbook photo, my cabinet all wore standard coats and ties, but I dressed like Steve McQueen playing a lumberjack. When I showed it to her she laughed until she cried and then she hugged me tightly and said, “You just keep being yourself, son. Don’t ever worry about them!”

*******

Even when I returned from Vietnam and turned my back on my college education and became a San Francisco street performer, she never wavered in her support and encouragement. One episode from that period is amongst my most cherished memories. After 10 years as a prominent street juggler, the Mayor of San Francisco honored me with an official “Ray Jason Day.”   The award was to be presented at a large event with thousands of people in attendance. I flew my Mom out for the celebration. As the Mayor finished her speech and handed me the ornate certificate, my mom leapt to her feet and started applauding with her hands above her head, no less. The rest of the audience immediately joined her and for a fleeting moment in a sweet, rich life, I knew what it felt like to be a folk hero.

*******

On that same visit, we went on a road trip. During my childhood, my mom chose Spanish names for all of our family dogs – Pedro, Jose and Pancho. I was too young to detect how odd this was. She also had a proclivity towards cheap Mexican statuary that she used as yard decorations. In her defense, she never went so low-brow as to buy a muchacho in a sombrero leaning against a cactus.

But as her kids grew up, we did razz her about this in a good-natured way. Eventually, I assumed that she must have had a brief fling with a handsome Mexican before she met my dad. But she had never actually been to Mexico – and so off we went.   For her very first night south of the border, I had chosen a hotel that used to be favored by movie stars. I believe it is called the Rosario Beach Resort. Upon our arrival it was definitely not as glamorous as it had been when Clark Gable might have visited.

But it was more than good enough for us. Sitting on the restaurant veranda drinking margaritas in Mexico, and watching the sun slide into the Pacific, we clinked our glasses together and shared a glance that was a blend of both joy and sadness. For it certainly seemed at that moment that this might be as close as human beings can ever approach to true happiness.

*******

When I sailed away from the San Francisco street performing scene to become a full-time sea gypsy, she again was a beacon of encouragement. She especially liked the fact that I was helping to pay for my wanderings by writing for the sailing magazines. She loved being able to go to the grocery store and pick up an issue with one of my stories in it. I have no doubt that she enthusiastically pointed out my article to the bored, teenage check-out clerk who couldn’t care less.

But she loved it even more when I would visit her in person and regale her with my silly tales. On one of my visits we went to a Fourth of July fireworks show at the nearby fairgrounds. The spectacle started uneventfully with the usual ooohhs and aaahhs on the really good ones. Suddenly, a rocket that should have soared 200 feet into the air, exploded after climbing only about 20 feet. The workers feeding the cannons immediately knew it was a dud and dove for cover. Their dark silhouettes as they lunged for safety were perfectly freeze-framed by the exploding fireworks.

Through the rest of the show about every fifth rocket was a dud, and the poor pyrotechnicians had to catapult themselves out of harm’s way. My mom dubbed it the Three Stooges Fireworks Show. Even in her final days, we laughed joyously when we recalled that distant summer evening.

*******

After our mother died, my sister Cindy was kind enough to go through mom’s belongings. She found a card that mom had set aside for my 50th birthday. Even from the grave she was encouraging me to remain faithful to my own Path. It reads:

“Always be true to yourself, my son, for there is greatness within you!”

Beneath the text there is a watercolor painting of two sailboats gliding side by side. Even though I am a single-hander, whenever I am out there, I like to think that I am not alone and that my mom is back there sailing a watchful parallel course on that other boat.

POSTSCRIPT: My mom never got to read my first book, TALES OF A SEA GYPSY, so she didn’t get to see my heartfelt dedication.

FOR MY MOM

She abandoned her own wanderlust

in order to dedicate her life to her five children.

That nurturing sacrifice allowed

my gypsy spirit to soar.

In hundreds of ports and half a hundred

countries, her quiet lessons

of compassion, humor and courage

have smoothed this vagabond’s Path.

A Sea Gypsy Reverie

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on May 26, 2014

AVENTURA

Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner

ray-at-new-transmissionWhat a sweet, sublime awakening! Three of Mother Ocean’s timeless clocks gently stirred me from sleep. First, the boat shifted as the tide switched direction. Then the sun nudged just high enough to peek into one of AVENTURA’s portholes. And finally, a flock of wild parrots boisterously flew over the bay, swapping gossip and recipes.

I lay on my back wondering if the ship’s geckos were smiling as joyously as me. Probably not, since they were unaware of how happily emancipated I felt. Unlike so many of my fellow humans, I was not a slave to the Tyranny of Frenzy. The dictators of Speed and Stuff did not control me.

My plan had been to start a new essay this morning on some political or economic issue that was troubling me. But then I heard … the laughter in the mango tree. Three small cayucos were pulled up onto the beach of the little island where I was anchored. There were many tiny, one-tree islands in my neighborhood, but those all featured tall, skinny palm trees. But this one boasted an enormous mango tree. And today it had five giggling interlopers.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/Paul_Gauguin_128.jpgUp in the branches were two boys and a girl. They would vigorously shake the limbs trying to dislodge some of the ripe fruit. Down below a girl and a boy raced around with empty rice bags trying to catch the falling mangoes. After half an hour, the rice sacks were almost full and the kids came down from the tree. Then the five of them leaned their backs against their cayucos, stretched their bare feet into the water and savored a Spring-time feast. The scene was so pure and idyllic that I could visualize Gauguin reaching for his easel and brushes.

*******

That cinched it. There would be no meditations on serious societal problems this day. Instead, I would allow my slow, simple life in the Banana Latitudes to sweep me where it might.

I finished enjoying my Tarzan Tea, which is the water from a young coconut which I slice open with my machete. For years my body had been telling me that this was a supremely healthy drink, but I recently learned something that verified that even more. During World War II in the South Pacific, the naval doctors would often run low on surgical blood. When this occurred, they would mix coconut water with the plasma so that they could stretch out their supply.

Feeling refreshed and energized, I decided to go for a leisurely morning swim. Before doing so, I scanned the lagoon carefully. Even here in the Archipelago of Bliss there are hazards and nuisances. But no jellyfish were visible, so I dove in enthusiastically.

My fondness for physical exercise is not motivated primarily by vanity. Certainly, I won’t deny that I try to look my best, but there are other more important factors that inspire me. For one thing, it is the only health insurance that I can afford. It helps me sleep soundly and deeply. Physical exertion actually does release endorphins into your bloodstream that increase pleasure and happiness. It amuses and flabbergasts people, who are about my same age, to see me skipping rope like Rocky and doing one-armed push-ups. I still abide by the wisdom in the old Greek ideal of a strong mind in a strong body. But perhaps most importantly, it connects me to my more physical, feral ancestors, who appreciated on a visceral level what lithe, strong, quick, and smart animals they were.

And of all the forms of exercise, swimming is the most connected to Nature. When you do yoga or lift weights or sprint, you never feel like you are IN the air. But when you swim, you are unmistakably IN the water. You are immersed in Nature – both metaphorically and literally.

After the relaxing swim, I pulled myself up into my dinghy and noticed that the children and the cayucos had gone. Because the sun had not yet warmed the solar shower, my fresh water rinse was chilly but invigorating. I rested on the cabin top for a few minutes – iguana-style – using the sun and the breeze as my towel.

When I stepped back into the cockpit, a heart-warming surprise awaited me. The children had left a large, plump mango for me. Aside from its wonderful taste, it is also such a beautiful fruit, with its blend of red, yellow and green imitating half of the rainbow. Soon I was feasting on delicious eggs that I had recently bought from some nearby ex-pats. They call their hens “free range jungle chickens.” I accompanied this with juicy mango slices and some fresh squeezed o.j. and a spot of rum. Sunday brunch at the Ritz could not be more sublime than this.

Soon my contentment was so profound, that it felt like I could almost physically absorb the mellowness of this day and of this sea gypsy life. I moved up under the shade awning behind the mast, and was lazily savoring whatever meandered by in the sea and in the sky and in my head. That simple act of mango kindness from the children, reminded me of my enduring belief in the goodness and generosity of the human spirit.

*******

Most of my readers – and the majority of you are distant strangers who I will never meet – know very little about me. That is not an accident. I have deliberately revealed very little about my past. Indeed, the biography here at my blog is only 23 words long. This is not because I have something to hide. Instead, it is because I wish for my thinking and writing to stand alone on their own merit.

But having just said that, there was a chapter in my life that is very relevant to this particular essay/reverie. Believe it or not, I made my living for many years as a street juggler. For over 25 years I was one of the top street performers in San Francisco. One of the highlights of those decades was when I managed to “juggle my way around the world.” I left the Golden Gate with a backpack, a small duffel bag full of tricks and $4,000. After circling the globe, I returned to San Francisco 254 days later with $4,400. I had completely financed the trip by passing my hat in many amazing and exotic locales.

The gift of the humble mango had triggered a flood of memories from that journey. In particular, it reminded me of two of the profound lessons from that vagabond year. The first is that, indeed, we are one human family. And the second is that authentic freedom is precious and rare amongst that human family.

When sitting for my Political Science degree in college, I had some impassioned arguments with my professors about conflict in the world. My belief was that ordinary people everywhere could get along fine with each other. They shared common basic concerns such as: Could they support their families? Were all of their loved ones healthy? Did they have work that was fulfilling and not too exhausting? Was the household joyous most of the time? And did their children’s future appear even brighter than their own?

My conviction was that these normal people did not care that much about the color of your skin or the country of your birth or whether you worshipped the correct god – or even any god. These types of animosities were almost always incited by political and religious leaders. There are no historical instances in which a nation suddenly woke up one morning and decided to attack another country. This type of bloodlust insanity has to be carefully and maliciously cultivated by despicable tyrants.

http://www.thebocasbreeze.com/moxiepix/b3_313.jpgMy around the world trip proved the correctness of my college conviction that my professors had dismissed so flippantly as “just an idealistic theory.” My little juggling act opened doors of friendship and understanding wherever I traveled. And it decisively confirmed my belief in the basic kindness and decency of humanity.

My second revelation on that journey was that the vast majority of people in this world are utterly enslaved by the accident of their birth. Most of the wonderful strangers smiling and laughing in my audiences would never have the opportunity to experience the many joys that had already blessed my trip. They would never view a Van Gogh masterpiece in Amsterdam or ride the Trans-Siberian Railway or stand on the Great Wall of China. In fact, most of them would never travel more than a few hundred miles from where they were born. The tragic unfairness of this wounded me in a very deep place. How did our human societies become so distorted that everyone could not have an equal opportunity to expand their horizons and revel in the magical wonders of our pale blue planet? Why could we not have “humans without borders?”

******

Realizing that I had involuntarily veered off into “heavy thinking,” I went down to the galley and cut up some ingredients for a ceviche. I squeezed in the lime juice and placed it in the fridge, where it would be ready upon my return. It was time to go visit the neighbors. My camera, binoculars and a bottle of water went into my daypack; and off I went for a row.

I peeked into thick mangroves trying to find a tri-color heron that flew past yesterday. I drifted over the reef waiting to see how long it would take the fish to seek the shade of my little dinghy. And I scouted some tall jungle trees looking for the nest of the golden-tailed weaver birds whose distinctive call greeted me each day.

The hours idled by so seamlessly that it startled me to notice that the horizon was beginning to turn saffron, as the sun slid into the west. I began rowing back towards AVENTURA, eagerly anticipating the tasty ceviche. But when I was only about 20 yards from home, I abruptly changed course and headed for the beach on Mango Island. That’s because I suddenly realized that it had been far too long since I had climbed up a tree – and shaken out some luscious fruit.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cTJSmOqy_xY/Tewi1C9ZQ2I/AAAAAAAAGZ8/4vKQwj6W57o/s1600/IMG_3563.JPG

The River of Human Folly

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on the Sea Gypsy Philosopher on May 13, 2014

AVENTURA

Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner

 

ray-at-new-transmissionIt was a self-imposed exile. My initial diagnosis was “world weariness,” but after a few days of solitude on the Rio Chagres, it became clear to me that my true ailment was “human weariness.” How could my species be so foolish, so destructive, so self-absorbed, and so unaware of the consequences of its actions? It saddened me and it astonished me. So I had come here to escape from humanity in order to contemplate it more clearly.

 

Twice a day I would row as far up the river as the strength of the contrary current would permit me. Then I would lazily drift back down to AVENTURA in my inflatable dinghy. As I floated downstream, I savored a tapestry of exquisite beauty – the threads included shimmering water and bird song and fish play and sky and monkey trees in the jungle. By the fifth day, clarity was emerging as the river breezes and the exotic night sounds healed me. The paradoxical magic of Solitude blessed me once again. For days on end there was not a single human in view, but this absence intensified my focus on the human project – until it seemed as sharp as the vision of the osprey that circled overhead.

 

Here is what I saw. Civilization seems to be hurtling down two disastrous paths that are contrary to each other and yet connected to each other. The first course is a societal ruination that is so catastrophic that I refer to it as apocalyptic collapse – or to create a term – APOCOLLAPSE. The second course is a steady but accelerating reshaping of the western democracies into tyrannical police-surveillance states. I call this FULL SPECTRUM NEO-FEUDALISM.

 

 

*******

APOCOLLAPSE

 

There are three meta-systems that individually or in combination could de-stabilize the planet so profoundly that the world that we take for granted could vanish with paralyzing swiftness. I call them the Big Bad “E”s and they stand for Energy, Economics and Ecology.

 

ENERGY Our modern techno-industrial society is so dependent on enormous inputs of fossil fuel products that as Peak Oil intensifies prices will skyrocket and supply chains will break-down. And so huge swaths of daily living that we take for granted will be compromised or eliminated. The fragility of supermarkets that only stock three days worth of food will be revealed when the trucks can’t deliver the groceries because diesel fuel is unavailable or unaffordable. The industrial farming system which uses oil and natural gas in tractors, combines, fertilizer, insecticides, and pesticides will wobble to a halt. The electrical grid will go down as the fuel dribbles away, thus leaving millions of people either sweltering or shivering in the dark.

 

As for the recent rash (a most appropriate noun) of feel good energy stories – they are a callous and malicious charade underwritten by the energy giants to keep the illusion going … until it just stops going. A good comparison is the believability of the tobacco industry which deceived and lied and distorted until even their most expensive public relations campaigns could no longer disguise the truth.

 

ECONOMICS I would characterize our modern economic system as a perverse mating of absurdity and evil. At least the villainous Robber Barons of the 19th century actually “made things.” They may have been ruthless and greedy, but they produced steel and railroads and light bulbs. But our current financial titans have only one real talent. They are masters of deceit – of smoke and mirrors and collusion and corruption. Try heating your home with credit default swaps or try filling your car’s gas tank with collateralized debt obligations.

 

These financial demigods acquire their obscene fortunes not by producing anything of worth to society, but by a dark web of manipulation. They own the politicians of both parties. The government agencies that should police them are packed with “regulators” that used to work for the very banks that they are supposed to monitor. They are the owners of and the beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve. This omnipotent agency, which many mistakenly assume works for The People via the government, is actually a creation of the biggest and most powerful banks. I think of the Fed as the pool boy for the Too Big to Jail banks.

 

This financial criminality has led to a global economic panorama that is appalling and suicidal. Most of the banks of the first world are insolvent. Their true assets vs. obligations portfolios have been hidden by money pumping from the central banks and the IMF which, ironically also has no real money. The fiat currency system, which is the foundation for all of this insanity, is now being called into question more and more frequently. This scrutiny is well deserved since there has not been a single fiat currency in the history of the world that survived. The supremacy of the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency and as the petro-dollar is also being challenged. China and Russia would love to terminate this advantage, which has given the U.S. a “get out of debtor’s jail” free pass for decades.

 

In summary, the economic big picture is horrendous. The gap between the rich and the poor has become so gigantic that the disgruntled underclass is starting to become angry. The enormous debts of many nations are now so ludicrous that these countries have to borrow money just to pay the interest on previously borrowed money. And there is an enormous pool of financial dark matter circling the planet like an invisible Death Star. This is the multi-trillion dollar derivatives swindle. One day, in the form of an enormous black dragon swan, it will darken the sky above the executive “team-building” picnic of a major corporation and divest them of their “all is well” delusions.

 

ECOLOGY There are two diametrically opposed trends on the environmental landscape. On the one hand the vast majority of climate scientists are continually adjusting their previous predictions because their “worst case scenarios” were not worst case enough. Not only are they altering the severity of the various calamities, but also the speed at which they are occurring.

 

The methane vents in Siberia are expanding faster than predicted. There are severe droughts in most of the world’s primary bread baskets. The Arctic ice shelf might completely disappear in the next few summers. The wettest forest in the world – the Amazon – is regularly catching fire. I could list a dozen other examples, but the trend is that things are deteriorating more significantly and at a faster pace than expected.

 

On the opposite hand, the “climate change denial” camp is growing. The fact that the obscenely rich oligarchs have funded thousands of lobbyists in Washington to sway the opinions of Congress is the main factor in this increase. And the fact that these politicians are handed bullet points based on “scientific” studies that these same industrialists bankrolled, is repulsive. What sort of sick sentient being would bequeath his grandchildren a smoldering planet just so that he can move further up the Forbes Richest People list?

 

So, in conclusion, the APOCOLLAPSE seems inevitable. There is no reason to believe that some sort of Tesla energy miracle will suddenly appear out of nowhere. The economic insanity that threatens our way of life is utterly monumental due to the interwoven nature of global finance and commerce in the 21st century. And we are approaching so many ecological tipping points that it will become impossible for 7 billion people to continue to survive at our current standard of living.

 

*******

 

FULL SPECTRUM NEO-FEUDALSIM

 

Any honest analysis of 21st century American democracy must conclude that it is a sham. Certainly there is still the façade, but it is as phony as a Hollywood movie set. The trappings of a republic are still there, but the actual “power of the people” has vaporized. It has been supplanted by the power of the RICH PEOPLE. If the wealthy campaign contributors want a war in Iraq, it does not matter that 80% of the population is against it.

 

No matter which political party is in power, the results are still basically the same. And that’s because mega-wealthy individuals and enormous corporations donate to both campaigns, so that regardless of the outcome, the victor must grant them access and influence. Even the two party system itself, is symptomatic of the corruption at the core of our pseudo-republic. Any third party candidate who poses a genuine threat to the status quo is attacked and marginalized. Instead of citizen legislators, it has become a world of millionaire career politicians. And the phrases “term limits” and “genuine campaign finance reform” are not permitted in polite company.

 

It is bad enough that the U.S. political scene has become an exclusionary zone where only the prominent have access, but what is worse is the direction that this Plutocracy is headed. It feels like the country of my youth has disappeared and been replaced by an imposter. Here are some examples:

 

  • The Middle Class, which should be the bulwark of democracy, is being knowingly destroyed.

  • Instead of being outraged by the use of torture, my government now commits it.

  • The power of the press has been neutered. They have forsaken their role as societal watch-dogs, and have instead become political lapdogs.

  • Instead of supporting “self-determination” the U.S. is despised around the world for its imperial policies in support of its gigantic corporations.

  • The Posse-Comitatus Act, which forbids the use of the military in domestic police duty, is being overtly and covertly undermined.

  • The NDAA act gives the President the power to indefinitely detain (imprison) almost anyone that is perceived as a threat to the State.

  • The nation is being rapidly turned into an Orwellian nightmare whereby the government can spy on all of your communications.

  • Instead of being honored and encouraged, whistleblowers are being vilified and imprisoned.

  • Local police forces all across the country are being militarized as though the powers that rule are preparing for revolution. Cops have morphed from crime stoppers into enforcers.

 

 

All of these bullet points are symptomatic of a government that seeks more and more control of its citizens. The inescapable trend is towards a society in which a tiny group is extremely rich and powerful and the vast majority is an underclass of modern serfs that run the machines that spew out the profits. It has all of the markings of a science fiction nightmare that is turning into reality.

 

*******

 

Now that I have outlined these two powerful forces – APOCOLLAPSE and FULL SPECTRUM NEO-FEUDALISM – allow me to discuss the dynamic between the two. The big issue is whether the tyrants, who seek massive domination of humanity through their thugs and surveillance, will succeed with their control freak fantasies before civilization either suddenly implodes or gradually falls over. If the Big Bad “E”s do initiate a societal meltdown, then large governments will suddenly be neutered. The seemingly almighty rulers will swiftly be transformed from harem masters into eunuchs, as everything becomes smaller and more local.

 

If on the other hand the demagogues do manage to impose their Orwellian nightmare on large parts of the world, I believe that the APOCOLLAPSE will still occur. And that is because even a Soylent Green world needs energy and a livable biosphere and an economic system that is not laughably dysfunctional. Therefore, to me, the major question is whether the world will unravel before the Malignant Overlords have managed to fully erect their wet dream control grid. It would certainly be preferable if a few generations of serfs did not have to live under police state oppression as the lights flicker out and the erupting methane vents make breathing a hellish ordeal.

 

*******

 

As for how an individual or a family can respond to these tragic scenarios, these are my beliefs. I know that I can’t stop any of the Big Bad “E”s from continuing down the seemingly irreversible paths that lead to APOCOLLAPSE. Nor do I think that any citizen or group of people can derail the hideous locomotive of FULL SPECTRUM NEO-FEUDALISM. I suspect that both non-confrontational methods and revolution in the streets are both doomed to failure.

 

But I do believe that a wise person and his loved ones can prepare themselves so that they have at least a chance of escaping and surviving. And for those who succeed, they will face a difficult but wondrous challenge. Their mission will be to sculpt a new human living arrangement that combines the best elements of civilization with the best aspects of pre-civilized tribal cultures.

 

For over ten thousand generations we human animals GOT IT RIGHT! We lived in a manner that was sustainable, communal, joyous, egalitarian and compassionate. And we showed awe and reverence for the non-human world that cocooned us. We have lost our way only in the last few thousand years when Agriculture ended tribal society and ushered in Civilization. Unfortunately, the shining benefits of this new societal structure blinded us to the devastating side effects. We did not realize that hierarchy and division of labor would lead to rulers and priests and armies and wars and rich and poor and destruction and despair.

 

*******

 

Personally, I no longer choose to “rage against the machine.” It seems like a hopeless task and a misuse of my time, energy and intellect. Instead, I believe that there is greater wisdom in attempting to conceptualize what might arise “on the other side of Collapse.” That strikes me as a worthwhile and incredibly vital pursuit. My essay on that topic is already pretty well sketched out. I am tentatively calling it “On the Far Side of Oblivion.”

 

But its completion will require more time on the river – in sacred harmony with the whispering water – and the creatures that it nurtures.

Sea Gypsy Freedom

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on April 13, 2014

ray-at-new-transmissionIt was a moment of pure, transcendent bliss. AVENTURA had just cleared some treacherous, shallow reefs south of Jamaica. As I studied my chart, it suddenly dawned on me that now there was nothing but open Caribbean water between my lovely sailboat and a cornucopia of enchanting destinations.
I could select the beautiful and historic walled city of Cartagena. Or perhaps the stunning San Blas islands with their feisty Kuna Indians, who never fell to European conquest. Maybe a visit to the magical Rio Chagres was in order. It is a jungle wonderland where the howler monkeys outnumber the humans. Or possibly I should set my course for the undiscovered jewel of the Caribbean – Bocas del Toro. But then again, maybe I should sail west to the turquoise, fish-lush waters of Belize.
Pondering these exquisite choices reinforced my belief that there is no freer way to live than the sea gypsy path. Since I didn’t want to waste my fresh stash of Jamaican limes, I made myself a tall gin and tonic. Then I retired to the foredeck with my clipboard. Feeling utterly at peace – with the sails pulling and the wind-vane steering – I decided to inventory the many forms of freedom that wandering the Wide Waters bequeaths me.
·

FREEDOM FROM FRENZY – The usual speed for AVENTURA is around five knots, which is only about twice as fast as someone out walking their dog. This allows me to leisurely observe and enjoy my surroundings. The adjoining world is not reduced to a frenetic blur, it is a panorama to examine and savor. I love the fact that my sailboat is such an organic part of nature. It is enmeshed within its rules and constraints. In the same way that you never see a turtle driving a jet-ski, you never see a boat like mine traveling at 50 knots. This magisterial pace is also vital for someone with a philosophical inclination. That’s because Speed is the arch-enemy of contemplation.
· FREEDOM FROM A BRAVE NEW 1984 WORLD – The two classic dystopian novels of the Twentieth Century proposed very different approaches that governments might use to impose tyranny. In Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD, the authorities used entertainment and drugs to enslave the people so effortlessly that they didn’t even notice their bondage. But in Orwell’s 1984, the rulers used gruesome “boot on the neck” totalitarianism to subdue and neuter the people. They combined a vicious secret police force with an inescapable surveillance grid.
I contend that the evolving, low-grade tyranny that is so evident in the USA combines BOTH of these tactics. The populace is sedated and dumbed-down with a 24/7 kaleidoscope of escapist media that prevents them from noticing the erosion of their freedoms. Simultaneously, the State is militarizing police forces and installing a surveillance dome that is all-pervasive. Orwell would be shocked at how thoroughly the Overlords can monitor the modern citizen. Out here in the sea gypsy world, I am invulnerable to their electro-techno seductions and much less visible to their all-peeping eyes.
· FREEDOM FROM HUMILIATING DEPENDENCY – Self-reliance is mandatory for the ocean sailor. You can’t call a plumber a thousand miles from land. But not only is being able to fix that leaking toilet vital – it is also extremely invigorating. Being a “minor master” of one’s seagoing domicile is deeply empowering in a modern world overflowing with incompetency.
· FREEDOM TO EMBRACE MY WILD, FERAL, ANCESTRAL SELF – The Western techno-industrial paradigm has decimated almost all of the indigenous cultures on our planet. There are only about 85 native tribes still surviving in the deserts, jungles and Arctic snow fields. But even though civilized people view them as savages, they see themselves as self-reliant human animals who can attend to their complete life needs. On the other hand they are amused by our deadly dependencies, and they think of us as domesticated animals – like sheep or cows. By spending much of my time in un-peopled places, I can reconnect with my lost feral self. When I whack open a coconut with my machete and savor my Tarzan Tea or greet the sunrise with a blast from my conch shell or stop my boat in the far ocean to swim in miles-deep water, these are not just symbolic gestures. They are steppingstones along a path to greater freedom and back to the wisdom of the wild.
· FREEDOM FROM THE FEAR OF COLLAPSE – When I first started cruising many years ago, there was no such thing as Peak Oil or derivatives or methane venting. But as our Energy, Economic and Ecological mega-systems have become overwhelmed, the specter of a major societal unraveling is a genuine possibility. Fortunately, a well-equipped ocean-worthy sailboat is probably the best survival module there is. I have discussed this belief thoroughly at my various “Sea Gypsy Tribe” essays that can be easily scrolled down to here on my blog. So when I finish this essay, I will sleep soundly knowing that AVENTURA can handle almost any catastrophe that the world might present to us.
· FREEDOM FROM “WORKER BEE EDUCATION” – The actual goal of state-sponsored, industrial-model education is not to inspire the love of knowledge into students. Instead, it is designed to teach them just enough so that they can operate the machines that are needed to keep the system functioning. The prevailing educational template does not just discourage critical thinking, it suffocates it. That’s because too much careful inquiry would reveal a system that is founded upon injustice and exploitation. But the children that I see around me in the sea gypsy community, who are being home-schooled by their parents, are full of curiosity and creativity. They are learning about Nature and other cultures not from documentaries but from direct contact. The normal inquisitiveness and originality that comes with childhood is not suppressed – it is supported.
· FREEDOM FROM SUPPORTING IMPERIAL GOVERNMENTS – In my ideal world, there are no borders. And as a symbol of that vision, I fly the Earth Flag aboard AVENTURA. It also permits me to show no allegiance to my birth country, the USA, which has become such a malevolent force on the planet. I am not referring to the bulk of its people, who are largely decent, caring humans, but to its political, corporate and military Overlords who wreak havoc and death around the world. And to those foreigners who claim that I SHOULD ridicule the average American because they keep electing such soul-less leaders, I submit that the system is now so corrupted that voting or protesting no longer offer any genuine hope for change.
· FREEDOM FROM AN UN-CULTURE WHERE “OUR STUFF” DEFINES US – Most of my friends suspect that my lifelong simplicity has been involuntary rather than voluntary. They believe that if I had applied myself better I could have been successful and wealthy. But much of it has actually been conscious and deliberate. It began when I first read this sentence by Thoreau: “A man is rich in direct proportion to the number of things that he can live without.” That inspired me to judge the worth of a person not based on their “stuff” but on their non-material qualities such as intelligence, kindness and humor. Such a non-conformist perspective means that I am dramatically out of step with the dominant culture. Fortunately, by living close to Nature in my small boat, I can avoid a disposable un-culture that is addicted to “the latest and greatest.” My sextant could have been used by mariners 200 years ago – and it could be used by future sailors 200 years from now.
· FREEDOM FROM “WORST-CASE EVIL” – It is fairly indisputable that those who control our world are greedy, arrogant, selfish power freaks. But there seem to be credible insiders and whistleblowers who maintain that the people in charge are even beyond hideous – that they are genuinely diabolical and evil. My genuine hope is that this is not the case. But if it is so, what better way to escape their web, than to wander about the seldom visited coasts and the vast ocean expanses of our wild, wet planet.

The sun had now vacated my longitude in the Caribbean, and so I decided to go below and cook my dinner. But the remembrance of that Thoreau quote about voluntary simplicity, inspired me to dig out my little folder of what I call “road quotes.” I had collected them during my long ago hitch-hiking days on the Asphalt Seas. I freshened up my gin and tonic, and settled in to renew my acquaintance with these memorable quotations. About halfway through them, I came across one that I had forgotten. It is by Albert Camus, and it is so relevant to the subject of this essay that I was both stunned and delighted. Allow me to share it with you:

“The only way to deal with an un-free world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Encouragement for a Young Non-Conformist

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on March 15, 2014

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AVENTURAThe sky was as dark and nasty as the soul of a Dostoyevsky villain.  Huge, powerful clouds that looked like charcoal dipped in molten lead, were blasting down the mountainside towards AVENTURA.  I let out more anchor chain and checked the deck for any loose items.  Then I went below to await the tempest.  It did not disappoint!  Fierce wind ushered in rain as strong as a tropical waterfall.  After 20 minutes the worst of it passed and the sky lightened to a sort of pewter gray.  The rain decreased from torrential to steady.

This was the perfect accompaniment for my present task.  I had just responded to a heartfelt email from an unknown teenager who found solace in my writing.  He was struggling with the awareness that he was different from most of his classmates; and that he did not fit in.  High school can be a very cruel environment for someone who does not conform.  I sent him an encouraging email, but then realized that there are so many others in their formative years who are battling the same demons.  And so I decided to write an essay dealing with their difficulties in the hopes of bolstering both their spirits and their resolve.
                                   *******
This is familiar psychological territory for me.  A focal point of my own youth had been my recognition that I was unusual.  It wasn’t so severe that I felt like an outcast; nor was it so ennobled that I viewed myself as a crusading rebel.  Instead, I just knew – vaguely but with certainty – that I was different.
I tended to look at things more deeply – to analyze words and actions carefully in an attempt to see what was really going on.  And my emotional sensitivity gave me a low tolerance for strife.  Family arguments that might easily be laughed off by other temperaments, weighed very heavily on me.
On a less personal level, when I looked around the world I saw a planet of astonishing beauty and riches; and yet a human project that was plagued by poverty, injustice and senseless bloodshed.  It puzzled and troubled me that a species with so much intelligence and ingenuity could not solve these problems.
The great blessing of those difficult years was my wonderful mother.  Even though she only had a minimal education, she seemed to possess maximum Wisdom.  She never belittled me for my non-conformist way of looking at life.  In fact, she vigorously encouraged me to follow my own path – as long as it harmed no one.  My mom was an extraordinary nurturer; and she remains a lifelong inspiration.
The reason for this little autobiographical profile is to assure you that as I address this topic it is not just from a theoretical position.  I have been there … and I know your agony!  So let me share with you the meandering path that I followed which allowed me to cherish my non-conformity rather than regret it.
                                    *******
Of the various definitions for “philosopher,” my favorite has always been “a lover of Wisdom.”  Early in my search for a deeper understanding of the human condition, I discovered three powerful quotations that guided my explorations.  They helped me navigate through many of life’s tribulations and they brought me soothing comfort in dark times.  Perhaps they can do the same for you.
The first quote is from Socrates.  “The unexamined Life is not worth living!”  These seven words are so timeless and so illuminating that they have been passed along from generation to generation for over 2,000 years.  For the non-conformist these are celebratory words.   They empower you to resist just getting swept along by the tides of modern living.  They implore you to scrutinize and evaluate those currents.
Most of your peers are addicted to their smartPhones or to the Mall or to the latest MileyJustinSelena scandal.  They probably mock you for perceiving the shallowness of such pursuits and for not joining in.  But take comfort in this – almost all human betterment has been empowered by people who were out of step with the herd.  Those in the mainstream do not advance the river of human flourishing – they impede it.  History is shaped by those on the fringes who disturb the waters with their uncomfortable and inconvenient insights.
Rage on!
The second indispensible quotation that has sculpted my life, comes from one of my great heroes, Henry David Thoreau.  “A man is rich in direct proportion to the number of things that he can live without.”  Not only do our possessions end up possessing us, they also suffocate us.  If you embrace a life of voluntary simplicity you will not have to spend so much time in the pursuit of money.  Instead, you can dedicate yourself to the quest for knowledge.
Too much stuff also robs us of our powers of perception.  To truly examine the world, a certain slowness and tranquility is required.  Look around you at your peers.  Do they seem relaxed and introspective or do they appear frenzied and confused?  I recommend that you minimize your desire for possessions which mostly nurture the ego; and maximize your love of philosophy which nourishes the soul.
Simplify on!
The third quote that seared itself into my worldview comes from the great populist mystical poet, Walt Whitman: “Question much – obey little!”  Not only are these extremely wise words, they have also proven to be exceedingly prophetic.  Almost all of the over-arching elements of the so-called “civilized” world have been grossly corrupted.  Government no longer serves the people – it serves the rich.  Education doesn’t encourage critical thinking – it encourages “hivemind.”  Capitalism does not “raise all boats” – it drowns the poor people living on the shore.  The media does not report the truth – it distorts the truth in order to serve the ruling elites.
It is the non-conformists who have the courage to question the status quo and challenge the dominant paradigm.  And with the increasing cleverness and ruthlessness of the Powers That Rule – a far more accurate term than the Powers That Be – in manipulating public perception, the need for alert and brave people of conscious is greater than ever.
Question on!
                                     *******
Those three wise adages from Socrates, Thoreau and Whitman were immensely valuable in helping me adhere to my own personal path of non-conformity – my own road less traveled.  I suspect that they will be equally helpful to you as well.  But because the writing of this piece has forced me to visit the misery of my own teenage years, and because I wish for you to experience as little of that as possible, I am now going to share with you some of the contemporary writers who have had a transformative impact on me.  None of these sources were available to me when I was your age; and so it is gratifying to be able to acquaint you with their work.  There are many more that I could include, but this list will be an excellent primer to get you started.  Enjoy!
·        THE REAL AMERICA – Howard Zinn, Chalmers Johnson, William Blum, Morris Berman, Chris Hedges and Paul Craig Roberts
·        THE ILLS OF CIVILIZATION – Daniel Quinn, Chellis Glendinning, Derrick Jensen and John Zerzan
·        THE PROBLEMS WITH CAPITALISM – Michael Parenti, David Korten, John Perkins and Jerry Mander
·        DEEP POLITICS – Charles Hugh Smith and Peter Dale Scott
·        THE POSSIBILITY OF COLLAPSE – Dmitry Orlov, Carolyn Baker, Guy McPherson, James Howard Kunstler, Chris Martenson and Richard Heinberg
                                     *******

When I had completed the longhand version of this essay, I put down my clipboard and headed topside to see if the sky had cleared.  To my astonishment I discovered three little birds skittering happily around my self-steering vane.  Had they been up there cavorting for the entire time that I had been writing?  I smiled at the image of these three tiny, joy-filled birds playing the role of miniature muses for this often inept philosopher.

Sea Gypsy Clarity

Off the keyboard of Sea Gypsy

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Published on the Sea Gypsy Philosopher on March

AVENTURA

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ray-at-new-transmissionMy hands just would not let go! For 30 seconds they remained attached to my lovely AVENTURA even though I was already standing in the launcha ready to head off on the first leg of a long trip back to the so-called “real world.” Finally, the boatman said, “Ramon, are you okay?” This shook me out of my trepidation trance and I replied, “Sorry, Ignacio, vamanos – let’s go!”

I have now returned from that journey – and my hands were right. Each reunion with “normalcy” staggers me so thoroughly that I wonder whether I can ever go back again. For a sea gypsy like me, who experiences it only every few years, the modern world looks like low-grade lunacy.

  • The frantic yet fruitless frenzy of the car culture – accelerating up to sixty mph even though the next gridlock stoppage is clearly visible 100 yards ahead.

  • The sad and tragic disconnection of those who believe that they are so “connected.”

  • The cultural mean-spiritedness that worships competition and power and ridicules co-operation and sensitivity.

  • The Everywhereness of Television. In this NSA version of our Cowardly New World of 1984 Plus 30, it is even more troubling knowing that The Screen is probably watching us as much as we are watching it.

  • The ever-increasing incompetence and unpleasantness of the bureaucracies that are utterly inescapable in the modern world.

Admittedly, for those marooned in this society, they have become so gradually acclimated to it, that the insanity of it is barely noticed. It is the old dilemma of asking a fish about water. The tuna is so immersed in it, that it cannot perceive it. Here are a couple of examples of the absurdities that I experienced first-hand.

I always buy a little $10 cell phone when I arrive in Key West so that my friends will be able to conveniently contact me during my visit. Obviously, I do not also buy a 2 year contract but opt for the purchase of a modest amount of minutes. When my $10 worth of time was running low, I called to buy some more minutes using my debit card. I spent the requisite 5 minutes maneuvering through the non-human phone tree. They required all of my normal info such as card number, expiration date, the 3 numbers on the back, but now they also want the phone # for when the debit card was first activated. Since that was many years ago it was also many phone numbers ago. After another 5 minutes of telephone bumper cars, I finally made it through to an actual breathing human being. However, this person who was presumably addressing me from somewhere on the Indian sub-continent, was totally indecipherable. I couldn’t even unravel whether it was a male or female voice.

So I attempted to purchase some more minutes via the internet. I went to the website and typed in my new phone #. It asked for a password. Nobody had provided me a password. But alas, if I clicked a link it would text me a password on my new phone. Presto! It did so quite swiftly. I typed it into the appropriate box and retyped it again for verification. I expected to then be quickly shifted to the page where I could buy some more minutes. But instead, it informed me that without my CURRENT password it could not assign me a new one. Perhaps it is just me, but that seems to beg the question: “If I knew my current password, why the hell would I be requesting a new one?” And so, I hopped on my bicycle and pedaled 3 miles back to the “cell phone provider” and purchased some more minutes from an actual human.

http://www.us-passport-service-guide.com/image-files/washingtonpassportagency_wayanvotaflickr.jpgA more ominous encounter with Bureaucracy Nation was my attempt to obtain a new passport. When getting my picture taken at a place that specializes in passport photos, I was told that they would have to do it over again. When I inquired why that was, she said because I had smiled. I assumed that she was joking, but in fact it is now a law that you cannot be smiling on an official passport photo. It felt like the ghost of Kafka was now writing the passport regulations.

The Miami passport office was horrible the last time I renewed mine about ten years ago; but this time it was a veritable daytime nightmare. When I arrived at the door it was locked but there was a large blue arrow pointing down the block. I proceeded in that direction but found no office. The Miami Design College was there for the next 4 doorways or so. Eventually their doors ended and there was an entrance to a parking garage under the building. Assuming that couldn’t be it, I retraced the 70 yards back to the original large blue arrow. There I discovered in very small print that the office entrance was now…in the parking garage.

So back I went at least feeling comfortable that I had pre-arranged an appointment over the phone. But apparently I was not alone in this regard. There were 54 people in line ahead of me. We all stood there in this grim concrete garage inhaling auto fumes with the line not moving at all. Forty minutes later the queue still hadn’t budged and yet nobody provided us any explanation for the delay. There was no drinking water and no bathrooms. Eventually, I just walked away from such blatant indignity and decided to try my luck with a U.S. Embassy overseas.

The philosopher in me could not help but question what all of this is about. Why are we so bludgeoned in the so-called advanced world by these bureaucratic SNAFUs that seem purposely designed to degrade us? Why must my passport photo look like a criminal mug shot? Why are automated phone trees – that rob people of their jobs – not even efficient? Why must I show my passport to a TSA guard and then show it again to another one 6 feet later? Why is it that almost all bureaucracies seem to have forgotten what basic human decency means? Why…oh why…oh why?

*******

But these were just personal nuisances and aggravations. However, while back in the U.S. I noticed two items in the alternative media that were extremely foreboding on a societal level. Our ruling class – oops, I mean our government – is stealthily attempting to further reduce Freedom of the Press by having federal observers in newspaper, radio and television news rooms. They will monitor what they term “Critical Information Needs.” A cynic might suggest that they will be there to insure that information that is critical for supporting the government’s position on any particular issue is the “need” that these neutral observers will be tracking. Is it too big a stretch to imagine them also compiling lists of journalistic troublemakers who are not willing to toe the government line?

Presumably, the ruling class – oops, I mean duly elected representatives of the Multi-National Corporations, Too Big To Fail Banks and the Military Industrial Surveillance Prison Complex – believe that this latest insult to a free society will not be greeted with pitchforks and torches. But just in case one of their actions eventually does nudge the citizens beyond the “can’t take any more” tipping point, there was another extremely disturbing revelation in the non-mainstream media.

The Pentagon has built a 300 acre “fake city” in Virginia complete with a bank, a mock subway station, and a sports stadium in order to train troops in advanced urban combat techniques. If this has you wondering whether this is designed for overseas operations or for responding to domestic violence, you are not alone. It certainly seems like the army is being trained for homeland police duties even though that is strictly forbidden by the Posse Comitatus Act which has restrained the military ever since 1878.

*******

So, my recent journey convinced me that corporate and governmental bureaucracies have become even more ludicrous and soul-sapping than ever. And then combine that with two more examples of the U.S. steadily sliding from freedom towards tyranny, and I gained even greater clarity about the value of my sea gypsy path.

My wanderings on the Wide Waters have been driven by two main motivations. The first is the sheer enjoyment of it. And the second is the fact that an ocean-ready sailboat is probably the ideal survival platform should the world face a severe emergency. Here are some of the joyous aspects of this life choice that make it so wondrous:

  • As a sea gypsy I don’t visit Nature – I live cocooned in it. My days are not spent in a world of concrete, asphalt and steel. Creatures of the Sea and the Sky are not rare visitors – they are my neighbors.

  • My life is slo-mo. At warp speed my boat barely achieves 7 mph. Back in the real world, its frantic pace genuinely unnerves me.

  • The freedom to “just sail away to somewhere else” is a powerful elixir. If a situation deteriorates, it is pretty intoxicating to be able to pull up my anchor and head for greener pastures or bluer waters.

  • There is much more community in the sailboat cruising world than in suburbia. There are frequents pot lucks, swap meets, beach volleyball games, etc. And neighborly helpfulness is the norm rather than the exception.

These are some of the wonderful characteristics of my life aboard and abroad. The second aspect of my sea gypsy existence that is very reassuring is the fact that should there be any sort of large-scale emergency of a societal or environmental or political or economic nature, my AVENTURA is an ideal survival platform. And she offers the prospect of not just making it through the black swan storm clouds, but of actually flourishing after the calamity has occurred. My carefully considered thinking in this regard is detailed in my 4 “Sea Gypsy Tribe” essays that are available here on my blog.

*******

So now that I have returned from my latest visit to Insaneistan, I have another reason for embracing my sea gypsy path – ESCAPE! Rather than passively surrendering to an Un-Culture that is mean-spirited and numbing and that grinds a person down, I have actively abandoned it for a better way of living. I have voluntarily rejected its insipid artificiality – its Reality Television and Celebrity Worship and Shopping Mall Nirvana. I have sailed away from a United States that is so different from that of my youth – a nation that is now widely scorned because it has become a global bully and a police-surveillance state.

*******

Arriving back aboard AVENTURA, I opened all the hatches and portholes to let her air out. A sailboat can get pretty musty when battened down for 3 weeks. Then I went on deck and eased myself down into my dinghy. And just as I had done 3 weeks earlier when trepidation was sweeping over me, I held onto her.

Many of my friends insist that AVENTURA is a dream machine that dooms me to a life of fantasy. Well, I have just returned from the Real World – and I find it unacceptable. And to me the great mystery remains … why do so many people surrender to it?

Open Letter: Nobel Prize Economics Committee

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on February 12, 2014

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ray-at-new-transmissionIt was Nautical Swap Meet day in my quiet corner of the southwest Caribbean.  Sailboats were arriving from all over the archipelago to buy, sell, trade or give things away.  We affectionately refer to the goods as “treasures of the bilge” but many of the items could just as easily be described as “donations for the dumpster.”  The event, which takes place every couple of months, is not just about commerce – it is also about friendship.  Many people attend with the primary intention of just visiting with their sea gypsy pals from the far shores of our little inland sea.

I love these events – not just for the camaraderie – but because they are proof positive that economic activity does NOT have to be convoluted and incomprehensible.  It can be honest and fair and beneficial.  This face-to-face, no middleman type of commerce is such an abnormality in our world, that it got me pondering the nature and purpose of modern economics.  In order to make this complex topic more understandable, I decided to frame this essay as an open letter to the Nobel Prize for Economics Committee.

Before getting into my actual communiqué to the jurors, the back-story of the award itself should be shared with you.  Alfred Nobel did not establish a Nobel Prize for Economics.  The fields of human endeavor that he wished to applaud and encourage were Peace, Literature, Medicine, Physics and Chemistry.  The award for economics is an “add-on.”  Its formal name is The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.  And guess what the Sveriges Riksbank is?  If you answered “the Swedish Central Bank” then you passed your Econ pop quiz.

Now a skeptic might contend that this award is riding on the coattails of the Nobel Prize reputation.  And a cynic might add that the glorified phrase “Economic Sciences” indicates profound self-doubt as to the genuine merit of this field of study.  A quick glance at the 2013 prize tarnishes the image of this prestigious award even further.  The committee described it in this language: “The recipients were honored for their empirical analysis of asset prices.”  But amazingly, two of the 2013 laureates have completely opposing theories on asset prices.  It is like awarding the physics prize to someone who argues that gravity forces objects downwards and then sharing that award with a scientist claiming that gravity propels them upwards.

In the world of common sense this is absurd, but in the kingdom of academia it appears to be meritorious.  It certainly seems like the goal of many scientists and academics is not to simplify and clarify, but to complicate and confuse – perhaps as a way of protecting their profitable fiefdoms from those who do not possess their specialized knowledge.  My suggestion to the Committee is that if they truly wish to legitimize and ennoble the study of economics, they need to reward research and theories that are understandable and also valuable to the society as a whole.

Dear Nobel Prize for Economics Committee,

Let me begin by commending you for encouraging insightful thinking and writing in the field of economics.  The lives of everyday people are greatly affected by both politics and economics; but the more dominant influence is that which you survey – economics.  To a certain extent politics can be ignored or avoided, but economics is all-pervasive in our daily lives.  So it should be unceasingly examined and analyzed.

My purpose in writing to you is to suggest that perhaps the committee’s perspective has become too narrow.  The broad river of any discipline tends to branch off into tiny meandering tributaries of specialization.  This creates battalions of experts who cannot see the forest because they are looking at one leaf on a single tree.

Perhaps this is an appropriate time for you to seek out and encourage economists who are generalists and not specialists.  Here are some bullet point observations about the impact of economics on our planet and its creatures.  Most of these conclusions are obvious to the average person in the street, but somehow they are imperceptible to those in the ivory towers.

CAPITALISM HAS MUTATED INTO PREDATORY CAPITALISM  

A system that once encouraged individual creativity and hard work, is now so totally ruled by those at the top that it has become a private club for the uber-elite, who suppress opportunities for all others.  A perfect example is the gargantuan chain stores that bulldoze their way into community after community destroying small local businesses wherever they go.  In biology they would be deemed an “invasive species” but in contemporary economics they are honored and forgiven on the grounds that they are a “good business model.”

TOO MUCH OF OUR COMMERCE NO LONGER INVOLVES GOODS OR SERVICES

The so-called “financial sector” has metastasized from a tiny portion of the economy into a Godzilla-like dominator of global markets.  But the “products” that they market have almost no intrinsic or tangible value.  The bankers and hedge fund managers who rule these kingdoms are sleazy conjurers who merchandise worthless “financial instruments” that are so esoteric that even their creators barely understand them.  The world simply does not need “credit default swaps.”  But it does need rice in the bowls of the starving millions.

THE THREE “P”s OF ECONOMICS ARE BACKWARDS  

We currently live in a Darwinian “survival of the most ruthless” economic system.  Under an Ethical Economics, the three “P”s would be reversed.  Profits would be subservient to People and the Planet.  This would mean that workers jobs could not be taken away from them by robots or “off-shored” to laborers working for slave wages in Dickensian conditions somewhere in China or Bangladesh.  And the wonders of our miracle planet are not simply commodities.  Forests are not just “board feet” and rivers are not latent “hydro-eledctric power.”  Worshipping “profit” is worshipping Greed.

TOO BIG TO FAIL” ARE FOUR DIRTY WORDS   The most enormous and powerful banks are allowed to reap obscene profits when one of their endeavors succeeds, but when one of their programs fails, the taxpayer bails them out and eliminates or minimizes their losses.  This situation is so perverse that it could only have been conceived by the lobbyists for the banks.  But our politicians are also complicit since they pass the legislation that allows it.  They do so after receiving huge “campaign contributions” which is the deceitful way of saying “bribes.”  And the regulatory agencies, which should be overseeing such malfeasance, are packed with former executives of the very banks that they supposedly monitor.

UNLIMITED MONEY PRINTING WILL LEAD TO UNLIMITED AGONY   

Despite the fact that every single fiat currency in history has failed miserably, the Central Bankers of the world are engaged in this practice once again.  But this time the consequences will be far more catastrophic because our economies are so interlinked globally that a sneeze in Brazil can lead to pneumonia for the whole world.  Anyone who lived through the horror of the Weimar hyper-inflation would cringe at the possibility of such a plague spreading across the entire planet.

INFINITE GROWTH ON A FINITE PLANET IS NOT JUST LUDICROUS – IT IS GENOCIDAL

In human biology unlimited growth is known as Cancer, but in economics it is considered Nirvana.  Petroleum is the best example of the destructive consequences of unchecked growth.  The world has become utterly dependent on affordable petroleum products for transportation, agriculture, manufacturing etc.  As the supply and affordability of oil reaches critical levels the entire panorama of modern techno-industrial society will change and probably crash.  And this “threshold of collapse” scenario is also playing out in many other areas such as oceanic fish stocks, drinking water, the desertification of former farmland and many other resources.  Ignoring these problems does not solve them.  In fact it exacerbates them.  The consequences might not be just terrible but genocidal.

And so, in conclusion, as you search for future laureates for the Nobel Economics Prize, perhaps there are candidates out there who are less focused on the minutiae of the subject and are instead more conversant with the bigger picture and with its consequences.  If the everyday Jane and Joe in the street can perceive the aberrations and injustices of the current economic template, surely there are experts who can also do so – and who can offer meaningful and wide-ranging improvements.

Sea Gypsy Tribal Principles

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on January 11, 2014

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ray-at-new-transmissionAs the old man’s cayuco nudged up alongside AVENTURA, I sensed that there was something different about him this morning, but I couldn’t quite place what it was. He greeted me with a cheerful, “Hola, Capitan Ramon” which made me chuckle as I recalled our first encounter from a few months ago. At that time his severe hearing problems had led to a funny exchange as I struggled to convince him that I was not “Capitan Rainbow” or Capitan Rambo.”

His visits were always a treat because I never knew what he would try to sell or trade me. It could be a fish or a lobster or an octopus or some fresh eggs or the mother of the eggs. Today it was some “jonny cakes” – a sort of dense Indio bread vaguely shaped like a hamburger bun. I bought a few and as he passed them up to me I suddenly recognized what was different about him today. He was wearing a watch! When I playfully teased him about this, he explained that he had just gotten a job as a caretaker or “watchee man” at an expat property. They had bought him the Timex and insisted that he wear it. We both laughed when I asked him what time it was. That’s because instead of looking at the watch, he looked up at the position of the sun in the sky – like a hundred generations of his ancestors had done before him.

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This quaint little episode, and the crazy pageantry that greets the arrival of each New Year, got me wondering whether my “Sea Gypsy Tribe Theory” would became a reality in 2014. I certainly hope not, because it involves a global societal meltdown in which the world that we currently take for granted, vaporizes before our eyes – either swiftly or fairly swiftly.

Because there are many new readers here at my blog who are not familiar with my Sea Gypsy Tribe concept, I will give a brief outline of it in the next few paragraphs. After introducing you to it, I will then move on to the heart of this particular essay, which discusses what principles might be the foundation for an emergent Humanity 3.0. This H 3.0 term that I use, perceives our hunter-gatherer ancestors as Humanity 1.0 and our modern civilization as Humanity 2.0. My vision is to combine the best of both approaches, so that a Humanity 3.0 can arise that bequeaths us Mozart without the mushroom cloud. Or to state it another way, so that our path forward can be guided by Walden and not by war lords.

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There are thousands of people out wandering the world’s waters in extremely self-sufficient, ocean-capable sailboats. These vessels are the ideal survival pod should a societal meltdown occur. They elegantly combine simplicity and appropriate technology. Their electricity is supplied through solar panels and wind generators. Propulsion derives mostly from the wind, but the diesel engine can be used in an emergency. Water comes from catching rain or from reverse-osmosis water-makers. Many months of non-perishable foods can be easily stored onboard. And “security devices” can be hidden for use, if necessary.

Most sailboat cruisers are unaware of the threat of societal disintegration. But on the other hand, a small percentage of them have actually adopted the sea gypsy life in order to escape from such a possibility. My mission is to encourage these people to find each other, wherever they might be on the Wide Waters, and band together into small tribes so that they have a better chance of both surviving a collapse and of flourishing afterwards.

Now that you know the fundamentals of my Sea Gypsy Tribe concept, let me demonstrate how adaptable this strategy is to almost every catastrophic situation. Conjure up almost any worst case scenario and I contend that being at sea in a sailing vessel is the best way to deal with it. Here are a few examples:

  • Pandemic The danger of contagion comes from large groups of people gathered closely together.
  • Thermo-nuclear The ICBMs are aimed towards cities or military installations and not towards the open sea. Studying the wind currents allows the prepared sailor to avoid the likely fallout tracks. Plus ¾ of a sailboat’s surface area is underwater and less susceptible to fallout. I carry Potassium Iodide aboard AVENTURA in my medical kit.
  • Grid Down Whether it originates from an EMP weapon or a cyber attack on the power company computers or just a breakdown of the old, rundown equipment, a gigantic and long-lasting power outage is a genuine risk. Cruising boats can handle this effortlessly since they are self-contained survival pods with wind and solar power systems, water-makers, and long distance SSB and HAM radios.
  • Famine It is easy to have many months of food stored aboard a sailboat. And the sea provides bounty in the form of fish, shellfish and seaweed. In addition, heirloom vegetable seeds can be carried along for growing food once the worst clashes have ceased.
  • Marauders Although I listed this last, I rate this as a top priority. A small flotilla of 6 boats positioned near each other 50 miles offshore is so much safer than any well-intentioned but vulnerable Transition Town.

If you find merit in my concept, I have thoroughly fleshed out my ideas in three essays here at my site. The first one, which is entitled “The Sea Gypsy Tribe,” explains in detail the “why to” aspects of this strategy. The second article is called “The Sea Gypsy Tribe Start-Up Manual” and it clearly lays out the “how to” guidelines. The third relevant piece is “The Sea Gypsy Tribe – Further Thoughts.” This one responds to some of the discussions that these essays generated in the blogosphere. It specifically addresses people’s exaggerated fears about piracy and the “you can’t stay at sea forever” comments

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Now, let me return to the “Principles” mentioned in the title of this essay. First of all, who got us into this dire situation? Is it the 80 or so remaining indigenous tribes struggling to survive in the wilds? Are they the ones who are wreaking havoc on the planet? No! It is the civilized people who have us peering into the energy, economy and ecology abyss.

Primitive people lead self-sufficient lives that do not destroy the biosphere that supports them. Their societies are non-hierarchal and they are free from Rulers, Priests, Lawyers and Hedge Fund Managers. They work only about half as much as civilized people, and there is tremendous equality between the sexes.

Our problems stem from the values and actions of the civilized world. It would be lunacy to survive a massive catastrophe, and then immediately revert to the suicidal lifestyle that caused it. So if I was a Sea Gypsy Tribal Elder speaking at a Council of Deciding these would be the Foundational Principles that I would recommend. As always, I emphasize that my goal is not to impose but to inspire – not to coerce but to convince – these are Principles – not Commandments.

SEA GYPSY TRIBAL PRINCIPLES

  • LIFE IS A WEB – NOT A PYRAMID We deceive ourselves by thinking that the geometry of Life is a pyramid and that humans are at the apex. This delusion justifies our belief that we can rule over all else on the planet – including the other creatures, the land, the water and the air. Certainly, with our amazing self-awareness and our use of language and tools, we are different from the other creatures. But even though our big brains bequeath us tremendous brilliance, they also allow us to act in horribly destructive ways. We are the only animal capable of destroying not just its own habitat but the entire planet. We must recognize that all of Life is a web and that damaging one strand jeopardizes the entire web of survival.
  • SIMPLICITY IS BETTER THAN COMPLEXITY One of the most significant factors in the fall of almost all previous civilizations was too much complexity. And now that we are so globally interconnected, the downside of complexity is far more dangerous. A single computer glitch can shut down an air traffic control system that instantly affects a thousand flights in a hundred airports. Civilized people have to call a technician. But tribal people make and repair their own tools. They have done so for over 100,000 years. By contrast, the Industrial Era is only a few hundred years old and it is littered with breakdowns and decay.
  • EMBRACE CO-OPERATION AND NOT COMPETITION Planetary flourishing absolutely depends on eliminating the whole “We’re #1” mindset that is so widespread in the modern world. This philosophy needs to be replaced with the “We are all in this together” worldview. We need alliances and not antagonisms. We need brothers and sisters and not winners and losers.
  • LOW TECH EQUALS LOW DAMAGE None of the possible Armageddon scenarios that confront our Planet are caused by indigenous peoples. Their low tech modes of living barely impact the planet. But Fukushima and the Doomsday Clock and oceans drained of fish, are but a few of the terrible consequences of high tech living. Humanity 3.0 will need to embrace low or appropriate technology. There is a strong likelihood that there will be no other choice.
  • REPLACE RELIGION WITH PANTHEISM AND BHD The two main arguments that church people use to defend their belief systems are that humans crave spirituality and that humans need the moral code that religions provide. Pantheism, which is reverence towards Nature and the Universe, provides abundant fulfillment for those seeking transcendence beyond the material realm. And it does this without any of the horrific side effects of sky gods and their edicts to go forth and kill the infidels. BHD stands for Basic Human Decency. It makes an ideal moral foundation. For thousands of years true believers have massacred innocent people who just happened, through nothing more than an accident of birth, to have worshipped the wrong god. You can kill someone in the name of Jesus or Allah, but you cannot commit such atrocities in the name of Basic Human Decency.
  • INFINITE GROWTH ON A FINITE PANET IS ABSURD AND DEADLY Only a buffoon believes that you can have infinite growth on a finite planet. There ARE limits. Just ask the folks from Easter Island who thought that there would always be enough trees. How can we big brained humans not realize that unrelenting population growth and unrelenting resource decline will lead to horrific disaster and an enormous die-off?
  • HIERARCHAL SOCIETIES BECOME HORRIBLE SOCIETIES Before Agriculture – or what I prefer to call Conquest Agriculture – tribal people lived in small bands where everyone knew each other and worked together for the good of the clan. There were no rulers and ruled, no rich and poor, no inequality between the sexes and no chiefs living in splendor, while the rest lived in squalor. But hierarchal societies suffer from all of those injustices. And despite the false propaganda, those who rise to power in hierarchies are not “the best and the brightest.” In fact, they are the most ambitious, ruthless and despicable – which leads to dominator cultures that spew death and destruction around the planet.
  • STOP TRYING TO PLAY GOD Tribal people study Nature in order to feed themselves more successfully. But they do not create Frankenfoods in laboratories by tinkering with Mother Nature. Aboriginal clans are always trying to better understand the weather that cocoons them. But civilized people are attempting to alter and control the weather. Call me old fashioned, but it stretches credibility for me when people deem themselves “civilized” while at the same time they create napalm, Agent Orange and biological weapons.

Most of you reading this are probably thinking that those Principles are naively idealistic. But that is because you are looking at those concepts through the filter of Civilization. Indeed, it is nearly impossible to envision modern humanity suddenly adopting such altruistic values. But think about those 80 tribal cultures still out there battling for their survival. Do they view those codes of conduct as Utopian fantasies? No they do not – because that is the way they lead their normal day to day lives!

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The next morning, while I was finishing this essay, the old man came rowing up again. He flashed me his big crooked smile and told me that he had something “muy especial” for my jonny cakes. It was a jar of homemade pineapple/mango jam. I went below and brought up two of the cakes and a knife. We spread some of the sunrise-colored jam on them and silently savored this little treat.

I bought the rest of the jam, and then asked him what time it was. He showed me his new watch, which was already about three hours out of whack. Then he asked me if it was “bueno?” I responded with a smile, and assured him that it was “perfecto.” As he gently rowed away, I felt a little less heartbroken by this sad world of ours. It comforted me deeply to know that this simple man, who couldn’t even read a watch, could live in complete harmony with the core principles of my sea gypsy tribe.

http://www.eyeinhand.com/Marginalia/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/CayucoRough_2049.jpeg

A Sea Gypsy Christmas

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on December 23, 2013

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It is Christmastime down here in the Banana Latitudes. Far to the north in the Frenzied Latitudes, the shoppers are body-slamming each other with vigor and venom. In a little Panamanian town square, I savor the sight of the Indio families in from the hills letting their children marvel at the lights and the decorations. Compared to El Norte, it is all so calm and unhurried and moderate. Surely gifts will be exchanged on the big day, but there is none of the fevered gluttony for stuff that soils the holidays in the First World.

As I leave the park to head back to AVENTURA, a faint, sweet music whispers from the little chapel across the street. I cross over and answer its call. It is a choir of children practicing Christmas carols. The beauty and innocence on their faces is enough to inspire a Leonardo to reach for his canvas and brushes. I am spellbound by the sound of these old English folk songs exquisitely rendered in Spanish. Their last song is a playful version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

It is still joyously cascading in my head when I step back aboard my lovely sailboat. Since eggnog is not available this close to the Equator, I improvise and combine some warm milk with some Bailey’s Irish Crème. It keeps my festive joy simmering; and I settle in to ponder what might “my true love give to me.”

 

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AVENTURA under wayI chuckle at the realization that I don’t have a “true love” to bequeath me twelve days of gifts – or even two days of gifts. What woman would wish to mate with an impoverished, sea gypsy philosopher who is already becalmed in his Middle Years? But as I scan AVENTURA’S small but handsome interior, I realize that my boat has been my truest true love. Through heart-stopping dangers and heart-soaring delights, she has been my companion and my enabler. She has allowed me to embrace a tough but extraordinary “path less traveled.”

When I begin to meditate upon this more deeply, I am pleased by how swiftly I can tally up twelve days worth of blessings that my sea gypsy life confers upon me. And so I enumerate them on my little Socratic clipboard. (Yes, I often write without a computer!) Then I explore each of them more thoroughly. None of these can be purchased or wrapped or packaged – but what fine life gifts they are!

  1. CONTENTMENT To be happy and healthy in the here and now of one’s daily Life, is the greatest gift that any true love could provide. And this condition is even more remarkable in our modern era, because it is so difficult to unshackle ourselves from the powerful Discontentment Machine. The relentless juggernaut of our materialistic culture does everything in its power to convince us that we are sadly inadequate, and can only be complete if we buy more stuff.
  2. IMMERSION IN NATURE My sailboat and I do not just visit Nature, we are immersed in it – both literally and symbolically. Suspend your reading for a moment, and ask yourself if you know what stage the moon will be in tonight. Or can you distinguish the call of an osprey from the sound of a laughing gull? Such things might seem inconsequential compared to the latest iPhone app, but there are many who believe that Nature Deficit Disorder leads to enormous problems in the modern world. Drop one of the few remaining hunter-gatherers into a sprawling, concrete city and observe his extreme distress. We delude ourselves by thinking that we are civilized and urbanized humans. But we are still hard-wired as hunter-gatherers and when we are almost totally separated from Nature, it causes significant psychological damage in both the individual and the society.
  3. FREEDOM I know of no other way of life as independent as that of the sea gypsy. And for me it is not just geographic emancipation, it is the joy that comes from not being a part of modes of living that profoundly disturb me. I can completely liberate myself from the Empire Machine, the War Machine, the Shopping Machine and the Rape of Mother Earth Machine.
  4. COMMUNITY The sense of togetherness is far more pronounced in the sailing fraternity. And I am not speaking in vague, ethereal terms, but in brass tacks reality. This morning most of the sailors gathered on the VHF radio for a daily communal network where we shared information and assisted the newcomers. Two of today’s topics were the Christmas Eve potluck that is being finalized and some questions about nearby low-cost medical care. The bonds of support and harmony are much stronger here in our water world than they are in terra world.
  5. SOLITUDE Although I cherish the wonderful sense of community amongst the sailors, I also relish the solitude that I can so easily find by simply hauling up my anchor and sailing a short distance away to an isolated, pristine cove. There I can reconnect with my other community – my animal friends who live in the sea and the sky. For a contemplative spirit, this seclusion is essential. Indeed, for a philosopher, tranquility is one’s friend and frenzy is one’s foe.
  6. FERAL-ICITY Most of humanity is totally disconnected from the wild, untamed aspects of our animal nature. The 80 or so remaining indigenous tribes scattered around our homogenized planet, view us as domesticated animals –as cows or sheep. On the other hand they view themselves as jaguars or eagles. They do not rely on a keeper – they fend for themselves. This sea gypsy life allows me to swim naked, howl at the rising moon, spear a fish for dinner, greet the sunrise with a blast from my conch shell and generally embrace my Inner Tarzan without worrying about neighbors on the cul-du-sac.
  7. SELF-RELIANCE For most people, the joy of repairing something has become a quaint relic from by-gone times – something only seen in Norman Rockwell paintings. But for the ocean sailor, it is not just a nostalgic memento, it is a life or death requirement. Smash into a floating container that has fallen off a big ship, and you will be in a race with Captain Grim Reaper. Being able to swiftly fix that hole with a patch and some underwater epoxy is a life-affirming rush if ever there was one. Relying on one’s tool kit, spare parts and skill is a wondrous experience.
  8. ELEGANT SIMPLICITY The ocean-going sailboat is probably humanity’s finest combination of form and function. At sea, AVENTURA is strong, fairly fast and she has a sea-kindly motion even in maximum miserable conditions. At anchor she is a perfect little bachelor writer’s pad. Small – but spacious enough – with a bright yet warm teak and mahogany interior accented with brass lamps and bronze portholes. All of her systems are as simple as possible. The pumps and plumbing are manual and the electrical equipment uses basic on/off toggle switches. The sun and the wind provide the power. Although I am often reclusive, I am not a monk eating grubs in a spidery cave. Mine is not an ascetic existence but a pleasant one – with a fine library, good music and even a stash of classic movies. It is the physical manifestation of one of the pillars of my personal philosophy. “Enough is good, but more than enough is BAD!”
  9. PAYING FORWARD As an unrepentant hippie, I still believe in the importance of trying in some tiny way to help make the world a better place. By adopting this sea gypsy life, which is so affordable and time rich, I am able to dedicate myself to what I call The Way of RATAWI. This is my acronym for “Reading and Thinking and Writing Inspirationally.” Fully aware that my little blog will probably never influence the wider world even minutely, it still feels meaningful to me – even if it is a fool’s errand.
  10. RAY JASONECO-FRIENDLY As a part-time Tarzan, who loves being cocooned in Nature, it is deeply comforting to me to have such a tiny carbon footprint. My water comes from the sky to the spigot with no electricity whatsoever. Almost all other electrical power for fans or lights come through my solar panels or wind generator. I use about 2 gallons of diesel fuel per MONTH! Each night AVENTURA and I can rest comfortably knowing that we are not harming Mother Earth or Mother Ocean.
  11. COLLAPSE CONSCIOUS Most deep-ocean sailors embrace this mantra: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst!” I have also applied that motto to my carefully researched beliefs that Captain Catastrophe may be lurking just below the horizon. As I thoroughly described in the three “Sea Gypsy Tribe” essays that are easy to find here on my blog, I suspect that calamitous troubles might await us. AVENTURA continues to be a test-platform for how to survive if indeed there is a bad moon arising. I could literally sail away tomorrow and survive comfortably at sea for a few months with the food, water, supplies and tools that I have onboard as I complete this sentence.
  12. FUN My hippie brothers and sisters would likely characterize most of the essays here at my blog as being “heavy.” And indeed, I do traffic in serious subjects and attempt to speak powerfully and provocatively and poetically about them. But this does not mean that my sea gypsy life is also heavy. In fact, I know very few people who are as happy as I am on a daily basis. Now that I have sailed into my Middle Years, I understand that it is important to battle the Malignant Powers; but it is also important to embrace the joy and beauty that our Earth Ocean planet bequeaths us!

 

Suicidal Growth

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on December 10, 2013

meteor_shower

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Sailing down the decades, my sweet little boat and I have witnessed some amazing meteor showers while alone at sea. During those nights I always listen to Debussy’s lyrical masterpiece “Reverie,” while lying on my back and marveling at the falling stars. And what makes it even more sublime is being the only human presence in that sector of the planet. It reminds me of how utterly tiny Homo Sapiens is in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, back on land the dominant perspective is just the opposite. Humanity considers itself the Grand Actor in the center of the cosmic stage, and Nature is merely the backdrop.

But my almost visceral understanding of just how miniscule our species is, inspires me to view our human project in a radically different manner. Spend as much time alone at sea as I have, and you too might find yourself transformed from being an Accepter to a Questioner. In this essay I will discuss a topic that is almost universally embraced and yet never challenged. That subject is Growth. How can somebody argue against Growth you might wonder? Well, hopefully I can do so calmly and convincingly.

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Even a sixth grader understands that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. This is not an “economic issue” to be debated. It is an ecological fact that must be addressed. Our planet has limited resources and our survival hinges upon our ability to allocate and preserve them. The two great enemies of sustainability on Earth are Runaway Population Growth and Conspicuous Consumption Growth. Together they are a recipe for biological botulism.

http://isiria.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/overpopulation.jpgPopulation overshoot has been fervently debated ever since Thomas Malthus first introduced it back in 1798. In the 1960s, Paul and Anne Ehrlich reignited the discussion with their cautionary book, THE POPULATION BOMB. The timeline of their predictions did not come true, because they had not foreseen the Green Revolution that massively expanded industrial agriculture. But now food output HAS peaked while population expansion continues to accelerate. So a significant population decrease is essential.

But there is a huge force in the world which will not allow this to happen. That obstacle is Big Religion. The major monotheistic churches want their membership to grow as enormously and rapidly as possible. But they never admit to such selfish motives. Instead, they claim that they are merely following god’s edict that birth control shall be forbidden and that the flock shall go forth and multiply.

If you doubt the truth of this indictment, consider this. If the Catholic Church injunction against birth control is not just designed to increase their enrollment, then they will not object to this suggestion: Let every other child that is born to a Catholic parent be raised as a Muslim. Observe how the church fathers respond to that recommendation, and you will quickly understand that their birth tyranny edicts are not about god’s will, but are instead about increasing their membership and their power.

Another more subtle impact of Big Religion’s dictatorial population stance is how it affects education. There is a direct link between a higher level of education and a lower birth rate. The least educated segments of society tend to be the most religious. And so women who are forbidden by the church to use birth control devices soon become birth increase devices. Since they are burdened with almost constant childbirth, they have little time for education or for the widening of their personal horizons and opportunities. They become slaves to reproduction and to Big Religion.

Besides the bishops and mullahs and rabbis, there are other factors contributing to out of control population growth, and I will deal with them thoroughly in a future essay. But one thing that I can’t emphasize enough is the fact that this issue does not even get discussed in any meaningful way. If you think that bringing up politics and religion is a sure way to derail a conversation in polite company, just interject the issue of population control and notice how almost everyone considers it a taboo subject. And yet overpopulation is a major element – if not THE major factor – in the history of every single civilization that has collapsed.

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The second type of growth that is so hazardous to our planet and all of its creatures is our lust for stuff. Although the USA is largely innocent when it comes to causing population problems, it is unmistakably guilty when it comes to promoting rampant consumerism. The American Way of Life is worshipped and imitated around the globe. Through its movies and television and product saturation, the American Empire spreads its own religion with missionary zeal – The Church of the Mall. The message of that gospel is that happiness is achieved by owning things. The corollary to this is that more stuff equals more fulfillment. Embracing such a vapid worldview has dire consequences for the Individual, the Society and the Planet.

For people, it means that values such as the affection of friends, the solidarity of community, the appreciation of beauty are all subordinate to the less meaningful and often endless craving for more stuff. I contend that the world is not better off with cars that talk to us or 671 types of “yogurt products” or phones so expensive that one has to take out a loan to purchase them.

http://www.photosensitive.com/imgs/native-children-happy.jpgMany of my sea gypsy years have been spent in Third World countries. I have carefully observed that there is a direct correlation between personal happiness and owning a lot of things. But it is an inverse relationship. Only 30 yards from where I am now typing, I will often marvel at Indio children playing joyously for hours with just a coconut and a stick. And yet just down the dock, first world kids will be miserable because their electronic game console is not the latest version.

http://www.tophostgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/kids-playing-violent-video-gamesdo-bad-grades---violent-video-games---violent-kids--greater-good-irfohlij.jpgAside from the damage that insatiable consumption inflicts on the individual, it also has extremely harmful consequences for the larger society. When a person fixates on buying more things and interfacing with more machines, they forget to exercise their power of critical thinking. They are so mesmerized and distracted by the latest iEverything, that they don’t even notice their slide into consumer slavery. A society with a colossal wealth discrepancy between the rich and the poor, with meaningless work that is numbing and degrading and with a tyrannical police/surveillance grid should be cause for code-red alarm. But instead, most people barely notice it because there is an enormous plasma TV in the way.

But our addiction to more and more stuff is not just harmful to individuals and to societies. It is utterly catastrophic to our one and only life-supporting planet. Our constant-growth consumerism pollutes the air, decimates the ocean fish stocks, poisons the rivers and blows away the topsoil.

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This combo platter of increasing population growth and unceasing consumer growth is a recipe for societal suicide. Too many people and too much stuff are ravaging all of the support systems that keep us alive. We need breathable air, clean drinkable water, fertile land, plus renewable and non-renewable resources. But we are decreasing all of these vital necessities and at the same time we are increasing all of the waste products that our excesses are generating. This cannot end well! But it CAN end horribly!

 

P.S. For excellent information on how to steadily decrease population without coercion, visit Bill Ryerson’s site www.populationmedia.org. He has nobly dedicated 40 years of his life to this unpopular cause.

 

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS …

Off the Keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on November 20, 2013

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…ALTHOUGH THEY SHALL BE GUNNED DOWN

Time shimmers past differently for a long-distance sailor. The daily markers that are so familiar in the real world do not exist out on the Wide Waters. There is no breakfast with the family or racing off to school or leaving for work. There is only the subtle curve of the horizon, the enveloping water, and the on-looking sky. Occasionally a wild sea creature flies past or emerges from the depths, but mostly it is an immensity of space and an undulating flow of time.

Thus, my decades as a sea gypsy have gently distorted my sense of how swiftly the years thunder by. So I was totally blindsided last week when I realized that the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy was approaching. That horror bludgeoned me in my youth. It was the first time that I really had to deal with mortality. That was my initial taste of the bitter randomness of death – of someone being vibrantly alive and then gone forever.

Like so many other young people, I was inspired by JFK and hoped to one day follow his lead in sculpting a better world from the clay of our democracy’s political institutions. My grief then was overwhelming and personal – my hero had been viciously gunned down. But as the decades ebbed and flowed, my sense of loss widened and intensified. Yes, I had lost a role model, but the planet had lost a visionary and a healer.

What haunts me the most is that brilliant speech that he made before the United Nations when he offered the olive branch of Peace during one of the most incendiary stages of the Cold War. When I watch that footage and see him accepting the applause from the General Assembly after he offers to lead a campaign for total world disarmament, a heart-breaking realization assaults me. He already knew! There is a nobility and resignation in his body language that seems to imply a foreknowledge that the bullets had already left the guns and were headed his way. He probably understood that by speaking those peace-seeking words, he was signing his own death warrant. But he spoke them anyway – boldly and poetically – because he knew that sometimes Right must defy Might.

http://ahscoldwara.wikispaces.com/file/view/E.jpg/329085074/384x288/E.jpgPresident Eisenhower, in his Farewell Address, only three years earlier, had warned the nation about the clandestine influence and danger of the Military/Industrial Complex. Hidden behind the scenes, these rogue power-brokers wielded enormous control. Kennedy was perceived as a direct threat to them. He had already vowed to destroy the CIA, and now with his desire to dismantle the war machine, his enemies eliminated him in a cowardly ambush. Needless to say, this was not the story that was conveyed to us 50 years ago by the media, and they still deceive us now.

Kennedy’s presidency was an absolute crossroads event in this nation’s history. To use contemporary terminology, he came from the 1% but he championed the 99%. He didn’t wish to actually strangle the ruling elite, but he refused to let them suffocate the vast majority of decent, everyday citizens. And unlike our present politicians he did not just pay lip service to such noble aspirations. He acted upon them and was gunned down as a result of his ideals.

Although polling data reveals that a great majority of Americans do not believe the absurd Lone Gunman theory, there still are millions who do. They often justify their position by saying, “But everybody loved JFK. He had no enemies. So it must have been some lone nut case like this Lee Harvey Oswald character.”

Indeed, out in the general population almost everyone did love the president. Just witness the affection from the crowds as his motorcade moved through the streets during the last hour of his life. But there is a massive difference between The People and The Power. Many of his actions during his first three years in office were specifically designed to rein in their influence.

http://www.timbenjaminart.com/benjie/art_portfolio/color_pencil/brothers_rfk_and_jfk/brothers_1.jpgHe had penalized the steel industry for price gouging. He dispatched his brother Robert, the Attorney General, to try and dismember organized crime in America. He was attempting to reduce the massive tax dodge for the petroleum industry known as the oil depletion allowance. He would not bow down to the Miami-based former Cuban oligarchs in their vendetta against Castro. He refused to send troops to Vietnam, allowing only non-combat advisors. He fired the head of the CIA and vowed to greatly diminish its power. He was on the brink of implementing far-reaching Civil Rights legislation. So he was at the top of the enemy list of heavy industry, the Mafia, Big Oil, the rabid Cubans, the Military/Industrial/Complex, the CIA and the Ku Klux Klan.

Furthermore, he eloquently and clearly stated his position on extremely important issues in major speeches. These topics included the need to rid democracy of secret societies, the importance of racial equality, the fact that imperialism is the enemy of freedom and the grave imperative for nuclear disarmament. These messages further infuriated his enemies, who were weaving their secret webs behind the scenes.

How different life might be if JFK had not been viciously murdered. He was essentially the last apostle for the little people. With him gone, the men behind the curtain, what I call the Shadow Power, could enormously increase and consolidate their control of the country. And they did so with appalling success. Here are some examples of how they have increased their stranglehold over decent ordinary people:

  • They have made a mockery of the concept of representative government. Politicians represent the Few and not the Many. Congress views themselves as our Masters and not our Servants.
  • Wall Street has carpet-bombed Main Street. The Middle Class, which should be the centerpiece of a functioning Republic, has been incinerated by the 1%.
  • Because the Haves are justifiably worried about the anger of the Have-nots, they have doubled-down on their security measures. Surveillance grids that would even make Orwell blush, have been covertly put in place to monitor us. The friendly policeman on the corner has been turned into a psychotic, militarized storm-trooper.
  • The consolidation of their power has been colossal. Big Everything has stomped the rest of us into Mom and Pop Nothing. The big chains have destroyed Main Street retail.
  • Mainstream media is a fraud. It does not represent the great bulk of America – the main stream. It services the interests of the 1%. It should be called Corporate Media or Government Media or perhaps Anti-Truth Media.
  • The rise of the multinational corporations is a global version of the big chain stores. In the same way that big box retail doesn’t care about the communities that they are in, the big global corporations barely care about their home countries.
  • Without permission from the citizens, our nation has been turned into an imperial parasite that is scorned around the world. Did anyone ask you if you wanted to unleash drones on wedding parties or install 700 military bases overseas?

So, when people try to tell you that the Kennedy assassination is unimportant or that it is ancient history, do not let them do so. The Shadow Power, that literally blew his brains out, was able to gain almost full spectrum societal domination as a result of that “hit.” They are now more powerful than ever and they are INSATIABLE. They will not be content until they have turned this once great nation into Plantation America. In honor of the vision and sacrifice of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, we must not let them!

 

Chained to the Cross

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on November 8, 2013

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Discuss this article at the Seasteding Table inside the Diner

AVENTURA at anchorThere is no calendar aboard AVENTURA, and I often lose track of what day it is. Actually, down here – south of many borders – the seasons are so similar to each other, that I often lose track of what month it is! But I always know when it is Sunday. That’s because a veritable armada of cayucos will stream by my boat on their way to church.

A few weeks ago one passed very close, and as always, I waved with neighborly enthusiasm. Seven or eight of the kids waved back just as vigorously. But there was one young, teen-aged girl who responded differently. Apparently she had never been so close to one of these sailing boats, and she studied it carefully. I watched her gaze drift from bow to stern and then from the waterline to the top of the mast. Then she noticed my boat’s name which is the Spanish word for “adventure.”

With the cayuco only 10 feet away, I delighted in seeing her happy smile as visions of travel, freedom and exotic elsewhere’s danced in her head. But swiftly her face changed, and I witnessed something that a man in his Middle Years never wishes to see in the eyes of someone so young. As she looked directly up at me, I watched as her youthful joy was suffocated by despair. There was surrender in that look – the realization that her dreams for a life that could cross over the borders of her birth, might never be achieved.

This experience touched me so deeply that I created this little story, which tries to depict what she is experiencing at this threshold moment in her life. And even if this tale is not accurate in the case of this young woman, it surely is for someone else her age – and probably for many, many others out there who also feel caged by the circumstances of their birth.

 

*******

 

I will name her Dolores, which is the Spanish word for “sadness.” She was the second born of 8 children. As is often the case, in an effort to keep up with her older brother, she tended to be tomboyish. If he could row the cayuco across the bay in 20 minutes, she would try to do it in 18 minutes. If he caught 4 fish she would strive for 6. But one thing that they did not compete in was sea turtles. They both loved the big creatures, and would drift for hours amongst them in their little native canoe.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_B12ademvvek/THbbjHJ4FPI/AAAAAAAAARE/OnD_U2rAtyo/s1600/Turtle2BabiesReturning.jpgFor her 10th birthday, her father took her on a turtle-watching trip at a remote beach. As the female labored most of the night laying her eggs and covering them in the sandy nest, the volunteers quietly explained to Dolores the entire process including how the tiny hatchlings will have to race down the beach to the safety of the sea as predator birds and animals attack them.

It was a momentous night in her young life. Besides being inquisitive about the mother turtle, Dolores asked the volunteers many questions about their lives and their dedication to these animals. She learned that a person had to be at least 18 years old and very carefully trained before they could qualify to be turtle beach monitors. She also discovered that some of them were studying marine biology with a specialty in sea turtles. Dolores felt a bit like her beloved turtles that night. She sensed that she had stuck her head out of her own shell and glimpsed her future.

At school she found a helpful teacher who encouraged her and brought her books and magazine articles about the turtles of the sea. The more she learned, the more she wanted to know. Could it be that one day she could go to university and become a marine biologist and then travel the world studying and helping these gentle animals?

 

*******

 

And now at 13 years old, her family cayuco is passing beside AVENTURA. My sweet, little boat is the perfect symbol for all that she seeks in life. But it is not just a fairy tale illusion. It is a real thing – tangible evidence that people can voyage to strange new lands, see unusual creatures and savor exotic adventures. And it lives where the turtles live – in the sea.

As her cayuco heads across the bay to the chapel, the young girl pivots and looks back at the lovely AVENTURA once more. Even from 30 yards away I can sense her longing and her sad resignation. She is headed to church, which is supposed to be a joyous and liberating experience. But Dolores is wise beyond her years, and she understands that it does not emancipate her – it enslaves and crushes her.

Yet, even though she intuitively recognizes this, she cannot possibly imagine how masterfully the church orchestrates this. For over 20 centuries they have perfected their subtle incarceration methods so brilliantly that the prisoners barely realize that they are captives. Allow me to explain how profoundly and malevolently they dominate so many lives around the world.

Here in Latin America, when a baby is born, it is extremely likely that it will be designated as a Catholic child. A few weeks later a baptismal ceremony further reinforces this status. As the little one finds its way in the world it receives loving guidance from its parents. It learns that fire and snakes and lightning are dangerous. And it is also taught that mangoes ripe from the tree and fish fresh from the sea are delicious. A bond of sublime trust is formed between parent and child. So when these adults, who have provided so much helpful knowledge about how the world works, also teach it that religion is a good thing, why would the youngster not believe the parents?

And this is further reinforced by the pageantry of the religious services. Things are different inside the church. It is quieter and solemn and reverent. The kids aren’t running around wildly, and the person at the front wears very unusual clothes. He gives some sort of fancy speech that the adults all follow carefully. Afterwards the grown-ups behave as if something important has happened.

So if the child’s parents say that religion is a good thing and if the ceremony at the church is so extraordinary, then it is natural for the kids to accept their place in the flock. And the term “flock” is appropriate here – for the church controls them as thoroughly as a shepherd dominates his sheep.

http://what-buddha-said.net/Pics/hell.n4.jpgThe keystone of the church’s indoctrination is the concept of hell. The young people are relentlessly warned that if they do certain things they will suffer grotesque agony for all of eternity. Most of the “sins” that will condemn a person to this horrible fate are irrelevant to typical kids. After all, they are not going to murder someone or worship false idols or rob the local bank. But as soon as they reach puberty, they get hammered by a Catholic edict that they barely knew even existed. Thou shalt not use birth control.

After the epiphany that Dolores experienced on the beach with the mother turtle, she realized that her desired path in life was different from most of her peers. Although there was much charm in her Indio village life, her dreams swept towards the far horizon. She wanted to venture beyond the boundaries of her birthplace, and embrace the wider world. To achieve this she would need to succeed in both high school and university.

Just when Dolores was recognizing this, she noticed that many of the girls just a few years older than her were suddenly dropping out of high school and having babies. When she asked them why they didn’t wait a little longer until they finished school, they confessed that the pleasure of sex was so extraordinary that they couldn’t restrain themselves. And since the almighty church insisted that if they used birth control they would burn in hell for a million years, they had risked unwanted pregnancies because sexual passion can be so overpowering.

Because Dolores had not yet reached puberty, she convinced herself that she could forego sexual desire in order to fulfill her dreams. But when those potent universal yearnings started to pulse through her young body, she too felt herself being swept along. She went to her mother seeking guidance. Why can’t a person enjoy the wonders of sex without having to risk bringing an unwanted child into the world? Since her mom had never questioned such things herself, her only response was, “…because the church says so, and they know what’s best.”

But with the exquisite vision of her future blurring and darkening before her eyes, that answer was not good enough for Dolores. So she asked the teacher who had been so helpful to her, if there wasn’t some other way, some other option? As an instructor in a Catholic school, the sympathetic teacher hesitated, but then decided to answer truthfully. She told her bright young student – so overflowing with curiosity about life and the world – that there was another way. She explained that there are reliable and affordable methods of birth control as close as the nearest drug store. And she added that millions and millions of people around the world use them without fear or guilt, because they have not been told that by doing so they will burn forever in hell.

And then the confused young student said, “But if the church cares about us so much, why would it destroy my dreams for the future – my simple dreams that harm no one and can help the turtles?”

The good teacher paused and looked Dolores in the eyes, “Your question is a just and sensible one, but the answer is very complicated. Anything I say will probably confuse you even more. But in only a few more years you will discover the answer for yourself. And it will be much more powerful and valuable to you because you found it on your own!”

 

*******

 

It was only a few days after that conversation with her beloved teacher that Dolores passed by AVENTURA in the family cayuco headed for church. Had I known the source of the anguish that was so clearly visible in her eyes, I might have shouted out something like this:

The church does not care about you, Dolores. It seeks only to further its own power and interests. Witness how its birth control rules crush your dreams and force you down a life path that you do not desire. Ignore the church. It is a dictatorship that wants to dominate your heart and your mind and your body. Cast it off like a scorpion on a shoe, and race out into that wide world that beckons to you so powerfully. Listen to the murmurings within you. They are the voices of our race and the echoes of the centuries. They will serve you well.”

Enslaved by Our Stuff

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on October 29, 2013

Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner

We were still … and we were solitary. The wind had been mute for two days. Our only companions were our brethren in the sea and the sky. No other human presence disturbed this deep blue mirror, stretching to the horizon. AVENTURA and I were becalmed but content.

I rigged a shade awning and went below for a cold drink. My tiny refrigerator is powered by a solar panel. A cold young coconut was awaiting me. I opened it with my machete, inserted a straw and savored it beneath the awning. My back rested against the mast and my thoughts drifted as aimlessly and contentedly as my boat. Gradually, the word “contentment” inspired a meditation on what I consider one of the great curses of the modern world … Stuff.

 

*******

 

We have been led to believe that acquiring more stuff bequeaths us greater freedom and happiness. I heartily disagree, and to support my position I will call three wise men as witnesses. Here is Thoreau’s opinion on the subject: “A man is rich in direct proportion to the number of things that he can live without.” Mark Twain had an apt quote on the issue as well: “We have turned a thousand useless luxuries into necessities.” And Bertrand Russell was even more emphatic with this quotation: “It is our preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”

http://www.mommybrainreports.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/walmart-renovates2.jpgIn other words, we are enslaved by our stuff! And it is more insidious and malignant than traditional slavery, because we are not forced to submit to this enslavement, we voluntarily do so. Materialism has become the true worldwide religion. If most people were told that for the rest of their lives they could only go to either the church or the mall, which would they select? They would choose the Temple of Shopping.

What makes this situation even more tragic is that our worship of stuff is not just some innocent, unavoidable human trait. Almost any anthropologist who has spent time amongst the 85 or so indigenous tribes, who still survive far from the tentacles of industrial-techno civilization, will verify that there is an amazing lack of private property amongst these (misnamed) primitives. They possess very little stuff, and much of what they do have is communally shared. So, the greed for things, which consumes modern humanity, is not intrinsic to our nature, it is manipulated into us.

And the exploiters who condemn us to the treadmill of “more, more and still more,” do not do this benevolently. Their motive is to further enrich themselves and to increase their control over us. Does the concept of “planned obsolescence” profit the makers of the products or does it benefit the consumers of these items? After you have answered that obvious question, step back a bit further and ponder how we have allowed ourselves to be reduced to the status of “consumers.”

Our culture programs us so thoroughly and yet so subtly that we do not even perceive our captivity. Just as the fish is unaware of the water that it is immersed in, humanity is unmindful of the severity of its enslavement. Certainly the desperately poor in the world realize that they are captives to the daily struggle for survival, but the more well-to-do have also lost much of their freedom. Consider this downward human trajectory:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-R43PIRYz4x4/Tww5KnStd_I/AAAAAAAAAlE/5E07QmoFlc4/s1600/human-evolution-go-back.jpgOur hunter/gatherer ancestors survived independently for over a hundred thousand years using their amazing physical and mental powers in a fairly hostile world. When they encountered a mirror-like pond, they could look at their reflection and see a strong, lithe, smart, human animal that could fend for itself and protect its tribe.

But with the advent of agriculture came the ascension of rulers and priests. These ruthless manipulators swiftly recognized that in order to exploit the human animal, they would need to domesticate it. A person that could feed, clothe, shelter and protect herself or himself, would not consent to subjugation. So the rulers imposed dependency through division of labor. The hide tanner relied on the barley grower who needed the well digger who depended on the tool-maker. Life became compartmentalized and the subtle slavery began.

Shortly after that came a further diminishing of the wondrous, free, and empowered human animal. This arrived with the imposition of political boundaries. People were now designated as Assyrians or Egyptians or Babylonians. Next, came the religious divisions which further reduced human autonomy. So the wild, independent, almost feral, human animal had now been domesticated so thoroughly that they had morphed into a citizen and a churchgoer. What a sad and pathetic degradation.

And as the human caravan continues down the centuries, rulers and priests still dominate us. They constantly rein in our independence as they transform us into serfs or slaves or soldiers or salesmen. And now, without even realizing it, we are suffocating beneath the ultimate indignation. We have been degraded so profoundly that we don’t even cringe when we are called consumers. Step out of the cultural programming bubble and contemplate that. On the one luxuriant planet amongst millions of dead ones, we are the most highly-evolved species, and yet we spend our brief time here … SHOPPING. This is insanely tragic and repellant. It is also why the few dozen hunter/gatherer tribes still in existence, feel sorry for us. And why they do not wish to adopt our “civilized” ways.

 

*******

 

The mandate to “buy, buy and buy some more” is so all-pervasive in our society that it is difficult to even notice it much less escape it. But emancipation IS possible. Through the help of Thoreau, Twain and Russell, I managed to liberate myself. Perhaps, as homage to these wise ones, I can help a few of you to unshackle yourselves. Settle in for a few minutes and let me acquaint you with some of the Evils of Materialism that the consumer culture cheerleaders never mention:

  • WE ARE NOT OUR STUFF – People who wish to get rich by selling us things that we do not need, try to convince us that unless we purchase the hot new item we will be conspicuously inferior to our peers. They are trying to manipulate us into the belief that a person’s character corresponds to the size of their stuff-pile. Things become status symbols. Because my car is pricier than yours, then I am a better person. But only an advertizing-addled fool believes that. For the most successful accumulators of stuff are usually the most ambitious, immoral and ruthless members of society. Almost everyone knows in their heart of hearts that the qualities that are the true measure of a person’s worth have nothing to do with stuff. Character traits like wisdom, compassion, serenity, humor and subtlety of mind will always surpass garish mansions and shiny cars.
  • STUFF-LESS HAPPINESS – I have fewer things than almost anybody I know, and yet on a day-to-day basis, I am happier than almost anybody I know. In fact when people visit my boat for the first time there is often an awkward silence as their eyes glance around the cabin. Then they will sheepishly ask, “Ray, where’s all your stuff?” My honest answer is that indeed, I am poor in stuff, but I am rich in time, friendship, health, adventure, freedom, relaxation, travel, etc. This perspective is reinforced as I watch the nearby Indio kids play joyously with just a stick and a coconut, while the ex-pat kids are cursing at their electronic games because their batteries are low.
  • CONSUMERS VERSUS THINKERS – Those who have gained control of any society do not want the vast majority of the people to engage in critical thinking. If the population did so, they would no longer tolerate the obscene wealth disparity or the ever-growing police/surveillance grid or a reverse Robin Hood economy that robs the poor to give to the Wall Street rich. So the citizenry must be distracted and placated. Stuff is the opiate that the Elites use to defuse any rebellious tendencies. Give them gigantic plasma TVs and iEverythings and the latest violent video game, and they can control them like two-legged sheep.
  • STUFF STRANGLES INTEGRITY – When I was in Vietnam I often tried to unravel the mystery of how anyone could invent Napalm and still live with himself. It took me decades to realize that even that horrendous depravity was connected to our worship of stuff. The thinking runs like this: Since everyone else has nice houses and new cars and the latest HDTVs, then I need those things too, in order to maintain my self-respect. Therefore, if the job pays enough, I will just ignore the consequences of what I am inventing. So even though this high tech weapon causes grotesque tomato-sized tumors on innocent children, I will rationalize that away with the delusion that I am spreading democracy. But if stuff wasn’t so godlike, more people would refuse to accept despicable jobs just because they pay well.
  • CONSUMERISM IS CONSUMING THE PLANET – By worshipping stuff and embracing an extravagant, constant- growth lifestyle we are poisoning the air, fouling the rivers, sweeping away the topsoil, decimating the ocean fisheries and generally wreaking havoc on our biosphere. Those 85 indigenous tribes are not doing this. It is our shop til you drop mindset that is fueling this human engine of destruction.

 

*******

I lost track of time as I pondered these things, and was momentarily startled when my thoughts returned from the real world to this, my preferred world. AVENTURA and I were still becalmed, but as she knows even better than me, the sea is never truly still. The undulating movement is so miniscule and yet so monumental that it seems like the pulse of the planet. It comforts me deeply, because it feels like Gaia is breathing.

http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/208823.jpg

The Road to the Future Leads to the Past

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on October 16, 2013

Schoolgirl_and_sister_in_a_cayuco

Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner

An ordinary sunset was about to turn extraordinary. AVENTURA was resting between voyages – way down south in the Banana Latitudes. We were anchored in a cove so serene that the birds seemed to fly at half speed in order to preserve the tranquility.

A native cayuco slowly emerged from behind one of the islands that frame this tiny bay. A man and a woman were gently rowing their dugout canoe through the pale, peach-glazed water. When they swung their bow around and faced the west, I recognized the young couple. They had stopped by yesterday and traded a freshly-caught fish for some cooking oil.

They stowed their oars in the cayuco and drifted about 30 yards off my starboard side. She leaned her back against his chest and his chin cradled the top of her head. Although the twilight panorama that we were savoring was only mediocre, I suspect that their contentment was as transcendent as mine.

Suddenly, this exquisite peacefulness was destroyed by the roar of an outboard engine as a shiny American powerboat came blasting through our little sanctuary. Two overweight guys laughed drunkenly as they watched their wake nearly capsize the little native canoe. I looked over at my neighbors and shook my head in disgust. They responded with body language that said, “Sad, sad, sad.”

A few minutes later, with the euphoric spell broken, they slid a fishing line into the water, and then started to row towards a nearby island. As I watched them depart, I realized that every element of this dusk-soft panorama was so elemental, that it could have taken place 500 years ago.

While their cayuco drifted to the south, with the lovers lazily fishing, I turned back to the west and caught a glimpse of the drunken gringos roaring out of sight. Because I am blessed (or cursed) with the philosopher’s need to contemplate such symbolic vignettes, I began a meditation that took me deep into the star-plush night.

 

*******

 

Yesterday, when the couple rowed over to barter their fish, I complimented the young man on his well-crafted cayuco. With a mixture of modesty and pride he said that he had carved it himself, just as his father had taught him. And he mentioned that one of his earliest childhood memories was watching his grandfather teaching his dad his boat-shaping technique.

A single tree trunk, a few hand tools, and skill passed down the generations, was all that was necessary to create this handsome cayuco that could be used for transportation, fishing or twilight romance. How simple and exquisite; and how out of step with the misnamed “real world.” By contrast, the speedboat that had just annihilated the silent beauty of this little cove was a perfect symbol for our industrial-techno society.

As the Sun Sky surrendered to the Star Sky, I decided to carefully ponder the differences between these two vessels. An hour’s contemplation confirmed that they are an excellent metaphor for the chasm between the primitive-tribal worldview and modern-civilization. The contrasts are stark and sobering and they are a perfect illustration of the somewhat enigmatic title of this essay: “The Road to the Future Leads to the Past.”

Go to any shopping mall, anywhere on the planet, and show 50 people a photo of a cayuco and a picture of a high-speed powerboat. Then ask them this simple question: “Which of these boats will become extinct in the near future?” A huge majority will respond that the little Indio canoe will soon be gone. But I firmly believe the opposite, and hopefully I can also convince you. But before examining the future of these two types of water-craft, let’s consider how profoundly different they are in the present.

  • Simplicity The cayuco has exactly one moving part – the paddle. On the other hand, the power boat has hundreds, if not thousands – all interwoven amongst mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and electronic systems.
  • Health-promoting A lean, powerful human animal smoothly paddling a small boat is a universal and enduring image that can be traced back thousands and thousands of years. But an overweight, “look at me” speedboater is a phenomenon that has been around for less than a hundred years.
  • Nature-friendly The self-propelled cayuco allows one to blend with nature and savor it. A motorboat with its screeching outboard engine assaults nature and scares away all of the nearby neighbors of the sea and the sky.
  • Non-polluting The speedboat imposes its noise pollution on any creature in the vicinity. The exhaust from its engine spews poison into the air. And a more subtle form of pollution is the lack of bio-degradability of the fiberglass hull. The wooden cayuco will rot away fairly swiftly, but the power-boat will try to outlive the pyramids.
  • Personal satisfaction Admittedly, the owner of a gaudy new power-boat will experience some ego-stroking as he pulls into his local marina. But compare that to the pride of an Indio, who has just finished carving a cayuco. Imagine the joy he feels as he admires her sturdy but elegant lines and his delight when his excited children climb in to go for their maiden voyage.
  • Fossil-fuel freedom Astronomical gas prices or crippling supply interruptions are meaningless to the person in the dugout canoe. But these issues can convert that shiny pleasure boat into a money vacuum or a haunting, unused relic.

 

I was still contemplating fuel dependency, when I heard a shout of delight from the couple in the cayuco, who were now a hundred yards down the bay. They had caught a fish. Soon they built a fire on the beach and prepared their meal with cavemen simplicity, by cooking it on a stick bent over the flames. When it was ready they rotated it to let it cool. Then they enjoyed it by just pulling off delicious chunks of the fish with their fingers.

Watching this lovely couple enjoy their little feast in the same manner that their ancestors did 10,000 years ago, turned my ever-pensive mind to how much more complicated it would be for the chunky, drunken gringos to catch a fish and enjoy it for dinner. It would probably involve very expensive high-tech equipment and an underwater fish finder. As for the rustic campfire, it would be replaced by a propane barbeque grill. And this brought me back to that question that I posed earlier – “Which one of these boats is headed for extinction?” And this leads to the more significant interrogative, “Which one of these modes of living is headed for extinction?”

 

*******

 

Most people today, believe that the problems our planet faces are serious, but not overwhelming. They comfort themselves by thinking that we can muddle along until some miraculous solution appears. Having carefully researched the possibility of societal collapse for many years, I vehemently disagree.

My term for the possible disasters that confront us is the Big Bad “E”s. This stands for Economy, Energy and Ecology. I could discuss these three meta-systems individually for hours, but it is their interconnectedness in today’s society which I find most troubling. Let me focus on just one – contemporary food production, or what is normally called Big Ag. It will be obvious how intertwined and precarious every aspect of modern daily life is.

In the U.S. during the Great Depression, there were still many family farms scattered throughout the nation. So when the economic collapse hit, most of the farm children who had migrated to the big cities, could return home and at least have survival food. Nowadays about 98% of agriculture is conducted on massive corporate farms, so the family farm safety valve no longer exists.

And these monolithic agribusiness tracts are entirely fossil fuel dependent. You will not find many farmers tilling their fields behind mules or scattering manure on their soil. Every step of the modern agricultural assembly line relies on fossil fuel inputs whether it is fuel for the tractors, combines and trucks or natural gas derivatives for the fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.

Ecology also entwines itself negatively in Big Agriculture in both directions. As the climate crisis deepens there are more extreme weather events that destroy food production such as severe droughts or devastating flooding. And because factory farming is so artificial and inorganic, it contributes enormously to climate destabilization. The fuel inputs in modern, large scale agriculture are so vital that some people have observed that we actually “eat oil.” This may or not be an exaggeration, but I believe that the way I phrase it is completely accurate – “Without oil – we do not eat!”

But the young couple feasting in the firelight on their just-caught fish, are completely independent of modern food processing. Certainly, they sometimes go to town and buy a few staples and some treats, but if that was no longer available, they would still survive. But the hefty, drunken boaters are utterly dependent on their supermarket. This led me to assess the other basic elements of survival and how well-prepared the natives are.

However, before evaluating these differences, let me clarify my terminology. The couple that I describe in this story, are what I consider Fringe Indios. Their ancestors were here long before the arrival of the white people, and due to their self-reliant capabilities, they will remain after the whites are “gone.” I refer to them as “fringe” because unlike the 85 or so remaining indigenous tribes who live almost completely cut off from the modern world, these Indios exist on the fringe of it. Here’s why they are so much less vulnerable to a “real world” collapse:

  • Water They have never been connected to any form of “the grid” whether it is electricity or piped-in water. They know which local streams are good for drinking and they know how to catch sky water.
  • Food Besides fishing, they also are skilled at foraging the shoreline. In the surrounding jungle they know which fruits and plants are edible. They are also skilled at primitive, low-tech cultivation. Cooking is mostly done with pots and pans over open fires.
  • Shelter The roofs of their homes are woven from palm trees. The only hand tools necessary for building the remainder of a house are a machete, hammer and saw. They sometimes use nails but they can also connect the timbers using twine at the joints.
  • Health They haven’t completely lost the knowledge of which local plants are medicinal and their simple style of living insulates them from most of the “diseases of civilization.”
  • Security The Indios have very little that a typical marauder would desire, which is their first line of defense. But should things become dangerous in spite of this, they can retreat to the deep jungle where most human predators would not follow.

The little campfire on the beach had now gone out, and I could hear the young couple splashing in the water. A few minutes later their play became quieter and more rhythmic. I sighed deeply, for it comforted me to realize that these lovely human animals were now pleasuring each other where the water meets the land…the same place from which our forebears had emerged so many millions of years ago.

 

*******

 

Then my thoughts returned again to the drunken power-boaters who were probably sitting at a bar back in town laughing uproariously over how they had almost capsized “a couple of Indians” that afternoon. These so-called civilized beings are supposedly “my people.” Certainly I was raised in that milieu. But miraculously, down the decades I was able to separate myself from the conventional human voyage and to view it through a different lens – from the outsider, sea gypsy perspective.

But it has been profoundly disturbing to carefully observe our species. With our enormous brains which bless us with the power of self-awareness and of language and of the arts, we could have achieved so much, but instead, we have squandered these gifts so foolishly and destructively.

Rather than accepting and relishing our place in the natural order, we deceived ourselves into believing that we could rule over Nature and use it as we desired. Our hubris in this regard became so extreme that we embraced the fool’s quest for infinite growth on a finite planet.

We never achieved our higher order consciousness when it came to conflict resolution. So every century has been stained with needless blood and mutilation. We chose competition over co-operation, excess over moderation, and mindless worship of trinkets over authentic, interpersonal living.

And we let our big brain technologies seduce us. We unleashed gargantuan forces without wisely pondering the consequences. So now we are poised at the edge of the abyss. Our human intelligence and power has been so distorted and corrupted that we are on the verge of destroying our planetary support system. We are on the threshold of annihilating much of the life that exists on the one single planet amongst millions that can support life. How insane and tragic is that?

 

*******

 

Just as my depressing ruminations began to overwhelm me, the young couple came rowing by. They nodded to me and smiled. Even though there was no moon, they glistened radiantly in the starlight. A reassuring peace came over me, for I knew that if the monstrous Leviathan of modern civilization did come tumbling down, these two lovers would survive. THEY are the road to the future that leads to the past. And perhaps on the second try, humanity will do better on that road…

In Praise of Pantheism

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on September 30, 2013

moonbow

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ray-at-new-transmissionIt has been 23 years since a mystical experience jolted my consciousness. But the memory of that event remains so vivid, that it could have been only 23 seconds ago. AVENTURA and I were Westbound in the immense Pacific. There was no land within a thousand miles in any direction.

AVENTURA under waySeveral dolphins had surrounded us, but they were behaving in a strange manner. Instead of frolicking in the bow wave as they normally do, they were repeatedly circling from bow to stern. I tried to decipher this, and guessed that they were pointing out the majestic full moon looming directly ahead. Or perhaps they were agitated by the powerful rain squall that had just ended.

Suddenly, a particularly large dolphin approached to within a few feet, pivoted its body, and actually looked me in the eye. Mesmerized, I followed its path as it circled back behind the boat. And there, emblazoned across the sky in shimmering magnificence, was a moonbow! Bands of luminous silver, opaque white and misty lavender arched across the eastern horizon.

I shouted my thanks to the dolphins for alerting me to this phenomenon that very few people ever witness. And then a staggering awareness jolted me. I realized that of the billions of humans on Planet Earth, because of my mid-ocean isolation, I was probably the only one witnessing this exquisite spectacle.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4e/Panth%C3%A9isme.JPGSoon the moonbow dissipated and the clouds dispersed. The universe dispatched its million twinkling messengers to remind me of its incomprehensible vastness. Lying on my back, on the deck of my tiny boat, in this gigantic ocean, on a small planet, in this immeasurable cosmos, I received my baptism as a pantheist. It was at that moment that I excommunicated myself from human-created gods, and embraced the sanctity of Nature and the glory of the Universe. This majesty – this mystery – this miracle – seemed truly worthy of human reverence.

https://si0.twimg.com/profile_images/2603968105/0nkqyhmgbdarsdyw07mc.jpegAnd as I now peer at our world, 23 years later, the value of pantheism is even more evident, since humans continue to slaughter each other in the name of their multitude of “one true gods.” Whether it is muslims against christians or shiites versus sunnis or tamils battling hindus, our planet is awash in unnecessary bloodshed.

And yet it is all so easily avoidable. Name one war ever fought in the name of pantheism!!! But if I asked you to list some of the evils directly linked to human-spawned gods, the catalog would be long and horrible. It would include:

  • Religious wars and crusades
  • Witch-hunts
  • Persecutions of “infidels”
  • Torture
  • Jihads
  • Fostering the terrifying myth of Hell
  • Burnings-at-the-stake
  • Rejection of scientific discoveries
  • Suicide bombers
  • Demonization of our natural sexuality
  • Claiming that innocent babies are born “soiled”
  • Forcing unwanted children on poor, overburdened parents by threatening eternal hellfire
  • Justification for slavery
  • Reducing females to a subservient status to males

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/WondersoftheInvisibleWorld-1693.jpgWhat a dreadful cavalcade of atrocities has been visited upon the world and its creatures in the name of organized religions. The defenders of these faiths often justify these horrors by claiming that churches are necessary because they provide a moral foundation for the world. The absurdity of such a claim would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic.

Look again at that litany of terrors and ask yourself this. “Could any of them be committed in the name of the love of Nature or in the name of basic human decency?” Of course not, but they ALL have been committed in the name of somebody’s favorite god. And this continues right up to this very moment. In fact, as I type this sentence, somewhere in the world an innocent child is probably being killed or mutilated because of religious fanaticism.

Let us consider the roots of religion. Our early ancestors were surrounded by inexplicable, terrifying forces such as thunder, lightning, floods, volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes. Because of their limited knowledge, they suspected that these horrors were caused by invisible gods. And in order to obtain the mercy of these gods, they paid homage to them in various ways. So the original “religious impulse” was a survival strategy.

But with the arrival of what I call Conquest Agriculture about 10,000 years ago, religion changed from a survival strategy to an “exploitation strategy.” Food surpluses eliminated the hunter/gatherer lifestyle, and led to social hierarchies, divisions of labor and the disastrous emergence of rulers and priests. These early religious tyrants realized that if they claimed to be intermediaries between the gods and the frightened people, that they could gain enormous power and wealth.

But when reason and science were able to prove that thunder, lightning, floods, etc were not unleashed by unknowable behind-the-scenes gods, but through very knowable natural laws, the priests should have disappeared. After all, there was no longer a need for human emissaries to non-existent gods. But the bishops and mullahs and rabbis were not willing to surrender their wealth and power. So, in order to keep the “con” going, they played the “enemy” card. As long as the people could be convinced that other religions were a threat, then the need for priests could continue. It is a vile charade forced upon us by power-junkie psychopaths.

Allow me to demonstrate how pantheism can break the spell of these conjurers. But first I will clearly define what pantheism is for me. It is not the “god is everywhere” version. On the contrary, it is the “god is nowhere, but Nature is everywhere” variety. It permits me to exhibit reverence towards something that is indisputably authentic and evident as opposed to worshipping a being whose existence cannot even be proven. Now let me describe its many positive and powerful aspects.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8hGOzB5XokY/UZklg2Up0WI/AAAAAAABA2Y/9cmqOkcJw28/s1600/pantheism8.jpg

There is no “enemy” in pantheism. People don’t go to war over who has the most beautiful waterfalls. There is no need for all of the trappings of institutional religion. Who needs cathedrals and mosques on a planet lush with redwood forests and pristine shorelines? All of the money spent on such prideful glorification could be allocated to far more important needs such as universal clean drinking water or birth control that does not diminish pleasure.

Pantheists do not dictate how people should conduct their lives. There are no commandments from invisible sky bosses. Caring deeply about the planet and all of its creatures is a far wiser ethical foundation than rules supposedly imposed by a dictator in the clouds who is paranoid that his human pawns might worship false idols.

Pantheists enjoy fuller and richer daily lives because they don’t view this existence as a dress rehearsal for some heavenly paradise. This is it, so we embrace it with vibrant enthusiasm. We are also not obsessed with the “How did this all happen?” issue. The wonders of the Cosmos are no less magical and amazing just because we cannot fully comprehend them. They are still holy, and worthy of our reverence.

http://bbsimg.ngfiles.com/1/22805000/ngbbs4dd44b8b90f0b.jpg

Pantheism also provides a fulfilling alternative for the many borderline atheists out there who recognize the absurdity and evil in organized religion, but are troubled by the lack of spirituality in atheism. Although Richard Dawkins is a pre-eminent atheist, when I hear him speak about the wonders to be found through the microscope and the telescope, he sounds to me like a pantheist poster boy.

Finally, let me revisit the title of this essay – In Praise of Pantheism. I have tried to convince you that pantheism is the ideal spiritual practice for our present, troubled era. It eliminates all of the horrors of institutional religions that I listed earlier, and yet it fulfills our need for something outside of ourselves that is extraordinary and worthy of adoration. At a time when human activities are destroying our very life support system, how can we not turn to a sacred path that reveres our great mother, the Earth, and worships her great mother, the Universe?

http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kalw/files/styles/card/public/201202/Pantheism.jpg

 

Sailing Away from Insaneistan

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason
Graphics Edited by RE

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on September 22, 2013

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Indio_boy_coconut_and_chicken

http://oceanleadership.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/6125731.bin_.jpgMy new neighbors seem to like me. This is quite lovely – because they are dolphins. And it is even more wondrous because they are a mother and her child. Today is the fourth morning in a row that they swam a lazy circle around my boat.

Each day I greet the sunrise with an enthusiastic blast from my conch shell. It connects me with my post-civilized, feral self. It also seems to amuse the nearby creatures of the sea and the sky. No people are disturbed, because I am the only human animal in the vicinity. More importantly, it attracts the mom and her baby dolphin. They arrive just after I serenade the sun with my tribal horn.

Yesterday, the little Indio boy who sells me fresh coconuts from his tiny cayuco, also brought along a live chicken. Although he offered her at a good price, I declined. But I did buy some of her eggs. Their yolks are so intensely orange that they match the morning sun nudging above the hazy horizon. They are tasty and nutritious and perfect with my Tarzan Tea. That’s my name for the water from the young coconut that I open with my machete.

http://www.concierge.com/images/destinations/destinationguide/latinamerica/costarica/costarica_033p.jpgI call my neighborhood the Archipelago of Bliss. It bequeaths me immense joy – mostly because it is totally removed from the “real world.” As I sit here with my notepad and pen, I am completely severed from anything modern, and totally immersed in many things primal. Everything around me is ancient and elemental. This same type of flora and fauna has been here for over 100,000 years. The mangroves, the howler monkeys, the birds in the shallows – all preceded any human presence.

I call my slow simple life, the Way of RATAWI. That is an acronym I created which stands for Reading and Thinking and WritingInspirationally. My day revolves around those axis pursuits. Interspersed with them, are swimming, rowing, exploring, healthy eating and observing my neighbors – be they animals, clouds or planets.

When I need supplies or fellowship, it takes only a few hours to sail back to a little town abundant with eccentric characters – sailors, backpackers and surfers. Usually, about a week of visiting friends, replenishing my cupboards and emailing out essays is sufficient. Then I head back out to whichever vacant anchorage suits my fancy.

*******

Needless to say, most modern people would find this sort of existence … terrifying! The lack of around-the-clock stimulation and incessant electronic connectivity would be barely survivable. Even my friends, who seemingly find merit in my life path, are probably troubled by it on some level. “I mean, come on, Ray, this sea gypsy stuff is fine for a while, but isn’t it time you came home?”

http://llwproductions.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/pepper-spraying-cop-john-pike-spraying-statue-of-liberty-in-planet-of-the-apes.jpgWhen I respond to such well-intentioned counsel by explaining that my life is blissfully happy and meaningful, they chalk it up to my lifelong, unrepentant romanticism. But it is not my romantic disposition that inspires me to surrender to the embrace of nature. On the contrary, it is my capacity for perceiving reality that keeps me out here wandering the Wide Waters.

My exile from “The Great Frenzy” bequeaths me a much clearer perspective on it. If you stand a foot away from the Statue of Liberty you will not see it as well as you would from 100 yards away. Because they are so close to it, my friends cannot perceive how degraded the USA has become. Yet from afar, it is so obvious that I now jokingly refer to it as Insaneistan!

*******

Although many react to this tragic decline with anger, my response is sadness. The founding documents of the United States are so brilliantly enlightened, that they almost take one’s breath away. As someone who is aware of more than just the whitewashed version of U.S. history, I realize that from the very beginning we did not live up to many of the principles in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. (Slavery and Native American genocide are the obvious examples.) But the concept of government of, by and for the People, was such an improvement over rule by monarchs or mullahs, that it deserves the utmost admiration.

And there were periods when America did seem to be that inspirational Beacon on the Hill. We had citizen legislators rather than professional politicians. We got things done of genuine value to the planet, such as the Panama Canal. And we interceded to subdue vicious tyrants, as in WWII.

But shortly after our greatest triumph, the seeds of our tragic demise were sown. When the evil of Hitler was vanquished, we did not dismantle our war machine as we had done after WWI. Instead the Military Industrial Complex made its gruesome entrance onto the global stage. An enormous secret alliance of military and industrial and financial and espionage beasts spawned a lurid Leviathan that needs to engorge itself on Perpetual War in order to survive. President Eisenhower warned us about this monster in his farewell address, but his message went unheeded.

http://cloudfront-media.reason.com/mc/_external/2013_07/we-are-all-criminals-heritage.jpg?h=336&w=225As a result, money and madness wormed their way into the American body politic like devouring parasites. Now we are controlled and manipulated by “career politicians.” We no longer build canals; instead we sell high-tech weapons of death and mutilation. And rather than playing the role of schoolyard monitor to the world, we have become its most feared and hated bully.

This is not just personal opinion; this is verifiable fact. Most of the members of Congress are not schoolteachers or shop owners. They are multi-millionaires, who enrich themselves even further once they are in office. In a Republic, elected officials are supposed to represent the needs and interests of the people. Here is a short list of things that our government has imposed upon us in recent decades. I bet that neither you, nor anyone you know, asked for any of these.

  • More than a dozen separate spy agencies, who can’t seem to communicate with each other, but who have no problem invading every aspect of anybody’s personal life – including phone calls, emails, online purchases etc.
  • Economic and monetary policies that enrich Wall Street and the obscenely wealthy, while destroying Main Street and the middle class.
  • The militarization of local police forces. With tanks and battlefield equipment, they look like Galactic Storm-troopers rather than friendly neighborhood cops. Is the police mandate still to protect the citizens and solve crimes, or are they “gearing up” for expected mass social uprisings?

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.965988!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/alg-la-swat-jpg.jpg

  • An Imperial foreign policy with over 700 military bases blanketing the planet in more than 110 countries. Our “statesmen” claim that this global presence is in our national interest, and enhances our safety. But only a fool fails to see that this over-reach is spawning new terrorists every day, which actually decreases our security.
  • The perpetual misallocation of money and mind-power on the development of ever more horrific weapons of needless destruction. The litany seems endless, because it IS ENDLESS! Atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, neutron bombs, napalm, agent orange, chemical weapons, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, biological weapons and drones. And now the DARPA maniacs are working on robot soldiers, weapons in space, and cyber combat.
  • The privatization of prisons. By making incarceration a “growth industry” they have incentivized the imprisonment of our sons, daughters and neighbors. And what kind of heinous criminals are we being protected from? Mostly drug users and minor dealers. The prison industrial complex is a shameful, hideous racket.

Now that I have shared this little “government in action” sampler with you, I’ll repeat my question from a few paragraphs ago: “Did you, or anyone you know, ask for any of these things?”

*******

http://americandigest.org/aconsumer.jpgUnfortunately it is not just politics that has declined so shockingly in the U.S. It is society as a whole – what I term the “Un-culture.” America has become a nation of obese, dumbed-down, television addicts, who live vicariously through a galaxy of the most vapid, self-absorbed “stars.”

The average person spends an enormous amount of their time fixated on their Smartphone. They sit on a bus texting their 347 cyber “friends” while being unable to make a new real friend in the seat beside them – because that person is buried in their iPhone43.

The movie industry, which both shapes and reflects the public consciousness, can no longer make a film about the complex joys and sorrows of actual people. Instead, they spew out preposterous comic book superhero fantasies that grotesquely distort the true human condition. This produces a population of dangerous male adults with violent juvenile values.

To highlight how sad and ludicrous daily existence in the USA has become, here are some of the categories in which America leads the world:

  • Obesity
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Lawyers
  • Murders
  • Adults who believe in angels
  • Incarcerated citizens
  • Laws
  • Mental illness
  • Fast food consumption
  • Rapes
  • Military spending
  • TV viewing
  • Prescription drugs
  • Arms sales to foreign countries
  • Divorce
  • National debt
  • Plastic surgery procedures

Hopefully, you are a lot less inclined to chant “We’re # 1” or “U-S-A” after seeing that list. Although I jokingly refer to it as Insaneistan, it should be clear from my synopsis that the situation in the USA is not funny at all. It used to be wonderful in so many ways, but now it has deteriorated so profoundly that it is just a sad, tragic caricature of its former greatness.

*******

It’s twilight now; and I’ve added a touch of rum to my Tarzan Tea. I chuckle while pondering whether this is to avoid melancholy or to embrace it. A black-crowned night heron glides by, and the kind words of my friends revisit me. “I mean, come on, Ray, this sea gypsy stuff is fine for a while, but isn’t it time that you came home?” Fortunately, I AM HOME! And even though my neighbors may be dolphins and egrets and spotted eagle rays, our world is sweet and genuine and enduring.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r0yUc8e0b-I/UQcfbG79xFI/AAAAAAAAX4U/IAbQse8wDZc/s400/130128_siluetas-de-delfines-saltando-fuera-del-agua-al-atardecer_anemon.jpg

Never Stop Running, Napalm Girl

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on September 9, 2013

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The Sea was mild and soothing as I sailed alone in the western reaches of the Caribbean.  It had been four days since my last human contact.  Such exile does not disturb me – it comforts me.  The wind was light, and the waves were small and melodious – like the cello phrase in a string quartet.

          Although quite relaxed, I was also vigilant, because my position was near the busy shipping lanes between the Panama Canal and the Yucatan Channel.  Suddenly, I sensed a nearby hazard.  My first scan of the horizon revealed nothing.  On my second, more careful sweep, I saw her – a gray smudge of a ship, still half below the undulating cusp of the Earth.  I took my binoculars from their rack and focused them.  What I saw slammed me backwards – both physically and emotionally.   She was one of them – a gray, military transport vessel that was all too familiar to me.  I had served aboard one – a U.S. Navy ammunition ship in Vietnam.
                                    *******
I had not willingly done so.  I had been drafted just after receiving my bachelor’s degree.  My first decision was whether to flee to Canada, as my courageous college roommate had done, or to let them take me.  My next choice was between a two year Army enlistment or the four-year Navy sentence.  Wishing to neither kill nor be killed because of anyone’s insipid “domino theory,” I chose the USN.  As someone who survived higher education with my capacity for critical thinking still intact, I already knew that war was horrible and this particular one was senseless and despicable.  I was not an ideal recruit.
          The toughest part of my service was being a closet pacifist aboard a ship full of gung-ho, pseudo-warriors.  And these were the worst kind – the swaggering, macho types, who had the luxury of never facing any real combat.  I kept my secret to myself, just as I kept my self to myself.  In fact, I do not have a single friend from that chapter of my life.  When I would go ashore and meet actual soldiers, they were not gung-ho at all.  They were beaten down and regretful and frightened – and wanted only to be away from there…to be home…to be far from all that madness.
          I never talk about this with my friends.  And it rarely enters my consciousness.  But that dark ship on the horizon, transporting munitions and mutilation to who knows which target this time, just staggered me.  To ease my anguish, I tried the comfort of my favorite classical music.  It didn’t work, and neither did dousing myself with buckets of sea water.  Although I resisted, I knew that the only way out of my agony was to burrow deeper into it.
                                   *******
So I brought out her picture.  I keep it protected in an envelope hidden in one of my favorite books.  I unfolded it tenderly, and gazed one more time at all the evil, meaningless terror of war captured in a single frozen instant from 40 years ago.  I spoke to her once more as I had done many other times down the decades, when I needed solace:
“Hello again, Napalm Girl.  Keep on running!  There must be some place, somewhere, free from this horror and insanity.  You must find that place.  You deserve that place.  Never stop running!!!”
          She is crying out, “Too hot!  Too hot!” as she flees.  Grotesque flaming jelly from the sky has burned most of the little dress from her nine year old body.  The rest she ripped off herself as she kept running and screaming “I’m dying!  I’m dying!”
When the heroic photographer got to her, she was whimpering, “Water, water.”  He emptied his canteen on her.  With ferocious determination, through insane traffic, he managed to get her to a hospital in Saigon.  They said she was so badly burned that she would never live and they would not accept her.  He flashed his Associated Press photo credentials and said, “Don’t let this child die or everyone will hear about it!”  They took her in.  And they saved her.
That Vietnamese photographer, Nick Ut, deeply understood the ravages of war.  His older brother, who was his personal hero, had already died photographing the misery of combat.  When Nick answered the call of basic human decency, and rescued that terrified little girl, he had no idea that on the film in his camera was one of the most profound and powerful photographs of all time.  He was only 19 years old.
Even though the immortal Napalm Girl picture touches me in my core being, it is the one with her mother sitting beside her in the hospital that truly haunts me.  The woman’s quiet dignity as she comforts her innocent frightened child overwhelms me.  In her noble, image, I can see what an almost unbearable burden but blessing it is to be a Woman, and to be a Mother, in this world of torment.  And it sickens me to realize that it is almost always men that cause this needless anguish.
Decades later, I can still imagine their likely conversation as the child asks the mother, “What was that horrible fire that fell from the sky?”
And the mom might reply, “It was some terrible new weapon – like a bomb, but different.”
“But why did they drop it on us?” asks the little girl.  “We were just children and old people hiding in the temple from the planes.  We didn’t hurt anybody!”
My guess is that the heroic mother, overwhelmed with grief by the sight of her incinerated child, might have said something like this.  “I do not know the answer, my beautiful daughter.  But I do know that you survived this horrible thing, and your pain will go away and you will heal.  And someday, life will be sweet and sensible again.  Now, try to go to sleep, and when you awake, I will be right here beside you.”
                               *******
 
Kim with one of her children.

The dark gray death ship passed a few miles ahead of me, and has now disappeared beyond the horizon.  But even though it is no longer visible, its malignancy still torments me.  I stare again at little Kim’s photo in my hands, and ask myself, “How can I best honor her suffering?”  And then I realize that what makes her pain-wracked image so universal and so immortal is that it lays bare the true nature of war.  And that the best way to repay my gratitude, is to use my power as a writer, to further expose this loathsome evil.

                              *******
Tragically, as I type these words, the war drums are beating again.  The Deceiver-in-Chief has scheduled a national address in which he will knowingly lie about the need for this latest “regrettable but necessary action.”  Then the commentators will babble on about “sufficient justification” and “reprisals” and “surgical strikes.  But they will never discuss what war actually is.  And that is because, at its core, it is sick and perverted and senseless.
If someone invades your home and threatens your family, it is your right and your responsibility to protect them, even if it necessitates violence.  This type of personal duty is decent, courageous and just.  But war is the killing of human beings with whom we have no personal grievance.  War is Mass Psychotic Hypnosis.  But it is never initiated by ordinary people.  One morning at breakfast, a million Norwegians do not spontaneously decide that it would be a good idea to invade Ireland that afternoon.
No, this type of insanity can only be seeded and nurtured by certifiable sociopaths.  Unfortunately, we don’t call them lunatics, and banish them to asylums.  Instead we anoint them as political and religious leaders.  These diseased power addicts use cold-blooded manipulation to convince enormous groups of people that other groups of people are their enemies…and so they must go forth…and annihilate them.
 
Nick and Kim at the Vietnam Vets Memorial .

Here is another truth about war that the self-righteous, talking heads deliberately avoid.  Those who make the wars never have to fight the wars.  The Great Deciders will never be in a night ambush, where the fear is so overpowering that their bodily control abandons them, and they shit themselves.  And the defense contractors, engorged on obscene profits, will never have to kick open a mud hut door after strafing it with automatic weapons fire, and discover a heap of dead children beneath a wounded mother, who is so traumatized that she cannot even scream.  And the media tycoons cheerleading for more carnage, will never rush to the flag-draped coffin of a dead son or daughter and wrap themselves around it in fury as the military band tries to sound heroic.

And here is yet another profound truth that the acceptable, credentialed pundits never state:  War doesn’t work!  It never makes the world a better place.  For thousands of years, humanity has waged hundreds of wars, but they never achieve their supposedly noble ideals.  They never “end all wars” or “bring everlasting peace” or “insure self-determination” or any of the dozen other excuses that are used to incite people to massacre one another.  What it does succeed at doing is bringing misery, murder, mutilation and madness to ordinary, decent people.
So listen carefully as the highly paid military and political analysts parade across your television screens, proclaiming the need for this latest “kinetic action.”  Observe how these shrewd distorters evade the three paramount characteristics of war that I have just discussed.  None of them will address what war really is.  Nor will they mention that those who benefit from war do not suffer its horrors.  And finally, they will not admit that war never brings good into the world and is actually a plague that sickens the human project.
                              *******
Recognizing that war is Mass Psychotic Hypnosis, how do we overcome those who mesmerize us?   How do we break free from their spell?  Certainly our liberation will not come from those at the top.  War rewards them too handsomely.
We must rely on our numbers.  We are many, they are few.  When the chant from the anti-Vietnam protests, “Hell, no…we won’t go!” became a reality and not just a slogan, the war machine sputtered and died.  Refusal is our best strategy.  We must refuse to serve in their militaries or in their terror cells.  We must refuse to resolve disputes through violence.  And if they incarcerate us for our resistance, that is a better fate than killing someone who is not an enemy.  And when enough of us refuse, their prisons are not large enough to hold us.

I am perfectly mindful that such thinking is idealistic and foolhardy, but perhaps it will inspire others to come forth with better options for ending war.  Yet, even if such ideals are useless, we must try – if for no other reason than to honor Kim Phuc, the Napalm Girl.

We must sculpt a world where an innocent little girl does not have to race down a road with the flesh peeling off her body, trying to outrun her own death!

*****

I urge you to visit www.kimfoundation.com.  Dedicated to helping other children who are victims of war. Almost every day something utterly insipid “goes viral” on the World Wide Web.  Perhaps we can help spread this little essay at this critical time when the war drums are again thundering Inside the Beltway.  By doing so, we can all honor the Napalm Girl.

Podcast: Further Thoughts of the Sea Gypsy

Article off the keyboard of Ray Jason
Podcast off the microphones of Ray Jason, RE & Monsta

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Article published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on August 29, 2013
Podcast Aired September 14, 2013 on the Doomstead Diner

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ray-at-new-transmissionMy Sea Gypsy Tribe essays, which outline my unusual strategy for dealing with the possibility of a major societal Collapse, have now been orbiting the Blogosphere long enough to generate considerable discussion. These articles have been republished by at least four influential websites. The debate in the “comments” sections has been undeniably “lively.” In this article, I will address the two main objections that were raised. But before doing so, I can happily report that nobody exposed a flaw significant enough to lessen my belief in the merit and achievability of my concept.

Piracy

It was quite amusing to observe that almost all of the comments about the threat of piracy were from landsmen. Those of us out here in the cruising fleet do not even lose nanoseconds of sleep worrying about this supposed danger. This is not because we are bold, devil-may-care adventurers who laugh at fear, but because we understand how TINY this threat actually is. You have a much greater chance of being killed by a golf ball while walking your dog near a country club, than by getting fed to the sharks by buccaneers.

http://www.ubique-psr.ch/res/operational/460somalia_979174c.jpgAlmost all of modern piracy is directed towards BIG SHIPS and it is RANSOM piracy that relies on insurance companies paying up rather than hiring commandoes to recapture the vessel. There is very little piracy directed towards small, recreational sailboats. And if there IS an incident somewhere, the sailors’ radio nets light up and everyone avoids that area. Yes, there are semi-regular dinghy and outboard thefts (it is practically a sport in Cartagena!) but when one takes proper safety precautions, even this is very unlikely. But in terms of boarding the yacht, killing the crew, chucking them overboard and stealing the boat, I have been out here for over 20 years and I know of exactly ZERO incidents of this nature.

And for those who say that although it might not be a threat today, it will become a problem if there is a societal meltdown, I have a simple and short answer – FUEL. All contemporary piracy is done in motor vessels with strong engines that require lots of gasoline. Show me a single news article in the last 10 years where a SAILING SHIP full of brigands approached a container ship blasted them with a broadside from their cannons and took control of the vessel. Piracy will be LESS OF A DANGER should things get ugly.

Another advantage that the sea gypsy tribe has over pirates is RANGE. Due to the constraints of physics and naval architecture most of the vessels used by modern buccaneers are small, open boats powered by big outboards. These are the types that provide them sufficient speed. But if they try to go 50 miles away from shore they need enough fuel to return 50 miles as well. This will require large tanks full of extremely expensive fuel which will be very difficult to even find.

AVENTURA under wayContrast this with my ability to raise my anchor and sail away. In 24 hours I can be 100 miles from where I started while using absolutely NO FUEL. My strategic advantage is further increased because of the various directions I could sail. From AVENTURA’S current geographical position I can sail on a course anywhere from northwest to due east. Anyone attempting to intercept me would have to cover thousands of square miles of open water in order to locate me. The odds of them doing so before they ran out of fuel are exceedingly small.

But for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume a gang of three pirates in a 25 foot open boat are approaching me. They want my “stuff.” This means that they cannot blow me out of the water because if they sink me, my stuff goes to the bottom also. So they have to come alongside and board me. This places them in point blank range in an open boat. Any well-armed sailboat firing from portholes should have a significant tactical advantage in this encounter. Compare that to a typical land-based prepper situation where marauders can destroy the house and the people inside, and then avail themselves of the gardens, orchards, livestock, etc.

Long Term Survival

Several critics of my sea gypsy tribe concept argued that you can’t stay out at sea forever. I would not dispute that, and that is not my tribe’s intention. Our approach is to always have our fuel, water and propane supplies topped off. Then while enjoying our daily lives we would stay alert to world events with possible “sail out of Dodge” consequences. Should things start unraveling swiftly, my tribal members would only have to spend a few hours buying perishable foods and then we would cast off and head out to the open sea.

http://k0gkj.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/radio-on-board-varnish-003.jpgWe would sail out to a pre-arranged lat/long rendezvous point about 50 miles offshore. There we would gather within sight of each other and monitor our HAM and Single-sideband radios to see how the emergency is playing out. We would converse with each other on our short-range VHF radios which could not be monitored from more than a few miles away. Depending on the wind and sea conditions we would either drift or sail back and forth or heave to. Mostly, we would stay aboard our own vessels, but in calm conditions some inter-boat socializing could also be enjoyed by rafting our boats together. We would wait it out far offshore, safely removed from marauders, contagious diseases, martial law and food riots.

Our solar panels and wind generators would supply most of our electrical power. Because we would not be using our diesel engines for much propulsion, that fuel could be used to run the engines for battery charging on cloudy days with no wind. The most vital need for power is for the radios, which don’t draw a lot of current. Some tribal members might continue to run their refrigerators, which are big energy users, but most will probably go into deep survival mode and shut them down. The main function of refrigeration is to keep the perishable items like veggies, meats and dairy products fresh. Once these items have been eaten, fridges are essentially no more than glorified beer coolers.

By monitoring our long-range radios, our tribe would be able to determine when conditions have improved enough to return to the land. This would be done cautiously. It seems reasonable to assume that there would be less people there. Some would have abandoned the area voluntarily, and some would have been victims of starvation, disease or human predators.

Our tribe would then commence homesteading on the best available land, while our boats remain anchored directly offshore, in case conditions dictate that we have to swiftly escape again. We all carry many varieties of vegetable seeds in foil-wrapped long-life packets. As these crops are planted and are growing, we would survive from our remaining onboard food, combined with our communal skills as hunter/foragers. Near shore fishing and spear-fishing are obvious nutritional sources, along with easily recognizable edibles like bananas, mangoes and papayas. With the help of our guidebooks we would become skillful at gathering clams, oysters and scallops and other edible plants growing in the wild on the land. Using solar food dryers we would be able to preserve much of this bounty.

http://media2.apnonline.com.au/img/media/images/2013/05/25/RMB_25-05-2013_INDEX_02_240513crackers7_t620.jpg

Along with the emphasis on survival food cultivation and gathering, the next most important pursuit would probably be salvage operations. There would be lots of vacant buildings and abandoned boats to provide valuable tools and spare parts. In times of real desperation, the difference between true value and illusory worth will become sadly but comically obvious – a nice machete versus a folder full of stock certificates.

The Sea Gypsy Tribe: START UP MANUAL

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

Published on the Sea Gypsy Philosopher on July 18, 2013

Discuss this article at the Seasteading Table inside the Diner

ray-at-new-transmission

 

In my last essay, I proposed an unusual response to the possibility of global societal collapse that previously has not been suggested. My core message was summed up in these 30 words:

“I believe that if there is a near extinction catastrophe, a sea gypsy tribe has the best chance of both surviving and replenishing the human population in the wisest manner.”

For those of you who may not have read that article, I encourage you to do so before continuing with this one. THAT piece provides the “why to” background information for my belief that economic, energy and ecological disasters are very possible in our near future. It then suggests that various sea gypsy tribes scattered about the planet provide an excellent survival and re-seeding option. THIS article provides the basic “how to” information for anyone who was inspired by my message, and would like to join our movement. My sense is that there are three potential types of candidates. I refer to them as Seekers, Converts and Recruits.

The Seekers are skilled ocean sailors who are already out there cruising, but who are searching for more meaning in their vagabond lives. The frenzied, hollow, shop-til-you drop, electronic doo-dad hologram that modern life has become, was no longer tolerable; and so they sought the comfort and authenticity of Mother Ocean. Hopefully, my essay awoke them to the probability that there are many other liked-minded sailors out there, who are also looking for their tribe.

The second category is the Converts. This group is also already out there enjoying the cruising life in their ocean-ready sailboats. But their basic philosophy is very different from that of the Seekers. Here is a good way to describe the conversion that would be necessary for them to be drawn towards the sea gypsy tribal value system. If they previously thought that The American Dream was good for the planet, but now realize that it is extremely destructive for the planet, then they are ready to hoist their Earth Flags and join our clan.

I classify the third group as Recruits. They have no sailing experience, but they are mindful of the lunacy of modern life and are searching for other, more fulfilling paths. Many of the core sea gypsy tribal values resonate with them. They understand that infinite growth on a finite planet is delusional. They sense that the vast problems caused by too much technology cannot be fixed with more technology. And they do not want to contribute their energy and vision to an increasingly more Orwellian police/surveillance State. They are fed up, and they wish they had a boat and knew how to sail it.

The main purpose of this essay is to convince those Recruits that they CAN learn how to sail and they should buy a boat. Also, I wish to reassure them that this can be done much more quickly and affordably than they might imagine. As for the Seekers and Converts, my purpose is to help them upgrade their cruising sailboats into state-of-the-art, ocean-going survival pods. Let’s begin!

 

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http://www.virgin-islands-charter-yachts.com/images/Learn_To_Sail.jpg

 

The vast majority of sailors are NOT wealthy yachtsman. They are regular people who learned their skills without spending a fortune doing so. Your local Parks and Recreation Department will often have low cost sailing instruction. Don’t be put off if it looks like the lessons will be conducted in tiny boats, because it is actually best to learn in small craft, since they are so responsive to the moodiness of the wind.

There are also low-cost sailing clubs in many towns as well as programs offered through community colleges. The back of most sailing magazines will list programs where you can learn sailing. The costs range from reasonable to extravagant. Just hitting the docks at your local marina is a very inexpensive option. Most sailors are pleasant, easy-going people. If you express an interest in learning, and offer to swap some help with boat projects, you have a good chance of picking up some free instruction. Volunteering to crew on local racing boats is another option. You will initially be given simple tasks, but if you pay attention, you can swiftly learn a lot. There are many “how-to” books that provide excellent instruction on the basics of sailing. Many libraries will carry some of these. Otherwise, they can easily be googled up.

So, as you can see from the preceding inventory, there are lots of ways to learn basic sailing. Once that is achieved you will need to acquire “cruising skills.” In a way, this is even easier, because the sailing magazines run a steady stream of articles dealing with topics such as anchoring, dinghy selection, outboard motor repair, food provisioning, navigation and various potential emergencies at sea. A couple of inexpensive subscriptions to sailing magazines would provide you lots of valuable information. And many libraries have current and back issues of these periodicals. Another excellent, inexpensive resource is the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. They offer many free and low-cost courses in such topics as safe boat handling, first-aid and coastal navigation.

 

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BUYING A SAILBOAT

34′ Hunter 34
US$ 27,900
Groton, CT
29′ Hunter 29.5
US$ 25,000
Deale, MD
21′ 4 ” Hunter 22
US$ 24,862
Mystic, CT
30′ Catalina 30 Sloop
US$ 24,900
New London, CT
Springline Yacht Sales, LLC Annapolis Yacht Sales Springline Yacht Sales, LLC Springline Yacht Sales, LLC

Just as there are many options for learning how to sail, there are also lots of ways to find a suitable boat that can be both your joy and your protector. When friends ask for suggestions, I recommend fiberglass boats in the 30 to 45-foot range. My preference for fiberglass is because they are light but strong. They are also low maintenance and since they are the most prevalent on the market, they are reasonably priced. There are certainly merits to the other hull materials – steel, aluminum, wood and ferro-cement – so if that is your preference, indulge it!

http://www.wheretraveler.com/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/Bumfuzzle-Family-Aboard-Dec31-1-1.jpgMy size recommendation is based on the fact that the majority of the sea gypsy community is likely to be couples. Less than 30 feet and things get a bit cramped. And when it is more than 45 feet, the vessel becomes difficult for just 2 people to handle because of all of that weight and power. Additionally, the 45 feet size should adequately take care of the needs of families with kids.

While you are learning basic sailing, you will probably start noticing boats that appeal to you. Owners love it when a stranger approaches them and says, “That sure is a fine looking boat…what kind is she?” By window shopping your nearby docks and by paying attention to the boats in the magazines you can become fairly knowledgeable quite swiftly.

Here is another important tip for quickly increasing your knowledge. Go to a website called yachtworld.com. Then click on their “brokerage” section and type in specifics such as “used, sail, fiberglass, 35to 45 feet and under $60K.” Most of the listings that pop up will have multiple photos of the exteriors and the interiors as well as the “specs” or specifications for that vessel.

Once you have a better sense of your needs and wishes, you can get serious in your search. Start locally by walking the nearby docks and searching for boats with “for sale” signs. Check the classifieds in your local newspaper and also in any free “shopper” papers. There are also regional editions of Sailboat Trader which can usually be found at convenience stores.

Many sailboat designs have “owners’ groups” who find each other on the Web and exchange information about their boats. So, for example, if you found yourself desiring the venerable old Pearson 424 design, you could google up their owners’ page and see if they know of any sister ships for sale.

There are many listings in the back of the sailing magazines. Besides the glossy national publications, there are several regional ones that are published on newsprint that are also very helpful. Latitude 38, which originates from San Francisco is a good example of one of these. Almost all of these are free and almost all sailing magazines have complimentary online versions.

And, of course, there are also professional boat brokers. These folks are quite different from the typical used car salesman who is trying to close the deal while you are there on the lot. Brokers realize the magnitude of your purchase, and they don’t try to rush you into a decision. Most marinas will have some marina brokerages nearby or you can locate them in the yellow pages or online. And speaking of the differences between buying a car and a sailboat, you’ll be happy to learn about professional yacht surveyors. This is a specialist who carefully examines the vessel and then makes a thorough written report of its strengths and deficiencies. Banks and insurance companies require this. But for “cash and a handshake” purchases, this is not necessary. However, considering the value of the investment, a yacht survey is usually well worth the expense.

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OUTFITTING YOUR BOAT

Hopefully, my suggestions will help you find your dream boat. When that happy day arrives, your focus will then shift to preparing her for the rigors and joys of the open ocean. There are a few excellent books to help guide you through this process. My favorite is READY FOR SEA by Tor Pinney, because it is well written and contains a wealth of information that is understandable even to a novice.

It is important to emphasize that ocean sailboats are complex creatures. There are MANY systems that are vital to a sea boat that are not needed in your house, apartment, condo or yurt. Here is a list of some of them:

Anchors/autopilots/bilge pumps/diesels/dinghies/GPS/ham and SSB radios/ life-rafts/outboard motors/radars/roller-furlers/solar panels/winches/wind generators/and windlasses

http://www.retpower.com/files/www/air_breeze_sailboat_rs881x344.jpg

Now I realize that this might seem daunting, but most used boats on the market are already equipped with many of these systems. And more importantly, that less-complicated but stationary house will not help you escape in the case of a societal meltdown. Now I could devote thousands of words to arguing the merits of any of these pieces of gear, but it is far better for the novice to research this on their own. Pore through the magazines and “how to” books and ask other sailors on your docks. Another excellent source for information on properly outfitting your boat is the West Marine Catalog, which is available free of charge from this nationwide nautical hardware store. Scattered within its pages are short “advisors” on just about every boat system you would desire.

 

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SPECIFIC SEA GYPSY TRIBE PREPARATIONS Everything that I have described thus far would apply to anyone who wanted to wander the wide waters on their own sailboat. Now I will outline some specific preparations for long-term self-reliance in case civilized society starts to unravel. I emphasize that my hope is that this will never occur, nor am I claiming that it will occur. But there is much wisdom in “hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst!” This is the portion of this essay that is directed not just to the “Recruits” but also to the “Converts” and the “Seekers.”

The most vital needs in a survival situation are probably:

WATER FOOD SHELTER PROTECTION COMMUNICATIONS

http://image.made-in-china.com/43f34j00ZKnEVfFllucy/Seawater-Desalination-Reverse-Osmosis-Water-Maker-BWD-500L-.jpgWATER A human can survive for weeks without food, but only for a few days without water. On a sailboat there are two basic ways to stay supplied with drinking water. The low cost option is to “catch” water directly from rain showers. I call this sky water and it is delicious. I use an awning that dips towards its mid-point and funnels the rain through a hose directly into my tanks. I let the first couple of minutes of rain wash the awning clean, and then hook the hose up to the tanks. Then a foot-pump down at the galley sends the water to a Brita pitcher which then filters it. In my decades of cruising I have never run out of water and that includes ocean passages of up to 30 days.

The second option is a reverse-osmosis water-maker that converts sea water into fresh water. There are both manual and electric versions. The electric ones only need to be run for a short period each day, in order to produce far more water than you need. They are low maintenance and some of them can also be pumped manually if there is a problem with your ship’s electrical supply. As for the problem of oceanic acidification, I have not heard any reports from my friends with water-makers, saying that this has become an issue. I also assume that the manufacturers are paying close attention to this and beefing up their filters.

FOOD Non-perishable foods are the mainstay of a survival vessel. Most sailboats do have refrigeration systems that can be powered by solar panels and/or wind generators. But these fridges are mostly devoted to lengthening the edibility of perishable foods such as meat, dairy products and vegetables. On an extended voyage, or if supplies ashore are cut off, there will be no food left to cool. So the fridge will just become a glorified beer cooler.

Nowadays, many more boats are using freezers, which greatly increase one’s perishable food capacity. These require far more energy, and usually necessitate running the diesel or generator for an hour or more each day. But since this essay foresees a world without readily available petroleum, a sizable solar or wind generation capacity is required to keep a freezer functioning.

Because I have always been on the impoverished end of the sea gypsy financial spectrum, I have mostly sailed without refrigeration. But I have not suffered because of this. A quick inspection of my ship’s cupboards reveals the following wealth of long-term foods that are readily available from any grocery store:

Almonds/beef stew/black beans/Bragg’s liquid aminos/brown rice/canned beef/canned chicken/canned clams/canned fruits/canned salmon/canned shrimp/canned soups/canned veggies/cashews/cereal/crackers/dried fruits/egg noodles/fruit cocktail/garbanzo beans/gouda cheese/honey/jelly/lentils/long-life bread/long-life /mac and cheese/mayo/nutritional yeast/oatmeal/paella mix/pancake mix/pasta/peanut butter/powdered/eggs/powdered milk/protein powder/red beans/salami/sardines/spaghetti/sugar/tea/tofu/TSP/whole wheat flour/etc

This inventory should demonstrate that eating aboard an ocean-capable sailboat is not just beans and rice drudgery. Furthermore, I supplement these supplies with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods. I have dozens of the large #10 cans filled with such treats as beef stroganoff, chicken teriyaki and dehydrated broccoli. A little water and a very short cooking time and you have delicious meals.

I also keep a supply of canned bacon, cheese and butter aboard. If you google up “survival foods” you will find contact info for purchasing these extremely valuable products. Growing my own alfalfa and mung bean sprouts has been a tradition aboard AVENTURA for many years. A large jar of these tiny seeds will provide you months of tasty sprouts that are alive with nutrition.

There are also old sailors’ tricks for extending the life of perishable foods without refrigeration. For example, potatoes, carrots, onions and cabbage will last quite some time if stored in cool, dark locations. Raw eggs can be coated in Vaseline to extend their usability and I wrap apples, oranges and zucchinis in aluminum foil to help keep them fresh.

An important component of the onboard, long-term food supply will be fishing and foraging. Fish, lobster and crab from the sea and clams, mussels, and oysters from the shore are all mighty fine and nutritious foods. Seaweed is also something that will prove very valuable although I personally need to learn much more about identifying and harvesting the best types.

Food drying, especially fruit, seaweed and fish is also an area that requires more of my attention. I look forward to increasing my knowledge and therefore my food independence as I research this. Thus far my web surfing has failed to locate a good, affordable solar food dryer. There are plenty of electric ones available, but since they must run for hours, they are a huge drain on the ship’s electrical supply. However, there are nice solar ovens and cookers already available and one of them is high on my wish list. Sun-baked bread is reportedly quite delicious.

http://spidersworkshop.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/solar-oven.jpg

In concluding this vital section, it should be emphasized that a well-provisioned sailboat can be an island of comfort and safety as the food procuring situation dangerously deteriorates for those stranded on the land during any severe catastrophe.

SHELTER A person in his or her sailboat is like a turtle in its shell – you bring your own house with you. This also allows you to bring along a nice supply of creature comforts as well. My library is a constant joy for me and positioned beside it is a nice selection of movies on DVD which I can watch on this very laptop. Plus I have plenty of music CDs onboard as well.

And for high-end boats with water-makers and propane water heaters there are hot showers even a thousand miles from land. And if there is no longer any propane, they can shower as I have contentedly done for years, by using a very low-priced but efficient solar shower.

Being able to move your comfortable shelter is probably its greatest feature. If I was in the U.S. and some sort of societal meltdown began, I could depart in a matter of hours. I keep my diesel fuel, water tanks, propane supply and food always topped off. I would bid farewell to my local friends, email my more distant ones, go buy fresh fruit and meats and veggies, check the weather forecast online and get underway.

I would then set a course for one of my favorite Third World countries – probably in Central America. There are well-considered reasons for this choice. Because their basic infrastructure is LESS reliable than ours, they have adjusted to disruptions and can handle them better. Because of previous problems with the transportation of food, they usually have a supply stock-piled, so they won’t become violently upset by the trucks not arriving. And they don’t have the “entitlement” issues of the citizens of the wealthier countries that make them so dependent on governmental assistance. Essentially, these folks have always demonstrated a better capacity to fend for themselves.

http://yachtpals.com/files/userimages/boats-guns.jpgPROTECTION In my Sea Gypsy Tribe essay I emphasized the tremendous danger that starving, heavily-armed MARAUDERS pose to land-based people. My belief is that the only real strategy for avoiding this life-threatening likelihood is to LEAVE. In my carefully considered opinion, staying onshore and attempting to win a seemingly endless series of firefights to protect one’s family and food is a fool’s mission.

But what about the hazards that might exist “out there?” Let’s begin by talking about piracy. Most of the attacks that draw a lot of media attention are directed towards large ships and not at small sailboats. When there are incidents involving cruisers, the word gets out so quickly through ham and single-sideband radio nets, that it is easy to avoid the problem areas. Essentially, there are only a few dangerous regions and since we know where they are, we don’t sail there. Would you vacation in Afghanistan?

Many, if not most, countries force you to surrender any guns that you have onboard when you clear in with Customs and Immigration. Failure to do so can result in fines, jail time and confiscation of your boat. But the likelihood of any sort of attack is greater when close to shore than it is in open waters. So, just when you might need your weapon, it is locked up in the Customs office. Some sailors deal with this dilemma by hiding things deep in the boat during the inspection process, and then moving them to a more readily accessible spot when the authorities leave.

There are legal forms of protection with less stopping power but still considerable impact. This would include flare guns, pepper spray, crossbows and spear guns. There are also adaptor kits available that allow a flare gun to fire a shotgun shell rather than a flare.

One of the hallmarks of my personal defense strategy is that I would NEVER use lethal force just to stop a thief. If someone is threatening me or a loved one with bodily injury, I would definitely respond appropriately, but I would not shoot my spear gun into the back of someone trying to steal my dinghy.

If I felt someone hop aboard my boat I would keep my hatches shut and blast them with my air horn from down below while switching my deck lights on and off. If that did not convince them to leave, I would proceed to more assertive tactics. One protective layer that I still need to investigate is a simple car alarm style horn that I could activate from down below if I sensed an intruder. The motion-activated ones are not ideal onboard because boats are often moving due to waves and wakes. But a manual one might be a very effective deterrent.

http://k0gkj.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/radio-on-board-varnish-003.jpgCOMMUNICATIONS Often when there is a severe natural disaster such as an earthquake, the normal communication systems are completely disabled. The same would be the case in a “grid-down” emergency. In such situations the first on the scene reports are usually transmitted via Ham radio operators. The reason for this is because there is no intermediary infrastructure involved. There are no cell phone towers or underground cables or bundles of fiber optic strands. As long as the receiving and transmitting radios are functioning, communication is possible. And since these radios can easily remain charged up using solar panels and wind generators, the ocean sailor has a far more reliable communication system than people back onshore. In a potential collapse situation this is not just comforting but potentially lifesaving.

CONCLUSION In my two Sea Gypsy Tribe essays, I have attempted to convince whoever is willing to listen, that brutally hard times might await humanity. And I have tried to persuade those open to my message, that the best way to survive such catastrophes is by escaping on a well-equipped ocean-ready sailboat. But besides just evading these disasters, the various sea gypsy tribes scattered upon the wide waters, can also help repopulate the planet. Hopefully as they do so, they can avoid the horrible mistakes that techno-industrial civilization made. My dream is that they will create a Humanity 3.0 that will bequeath us Mozart without the mushroom cloud.

The Sea Gypsy Tribe

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on July 6, 2013

Hokulea

Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

Note from RE:

With this  article, we welcome The Sea Gypsy Philosopher Ray Jason to the Pantheon of Cross Posting Bloggers on the Doomstead Diner. Ray is a live aboard Sailor, right now somewhere down in the Banana Latitudes probably howling at the wind and swimming Naked in some isolated cove somewhere.

I’ve written numerous essays on the Sailing culture of the Polynesians, and on many occassions inside the Diner we have discussed the Pros and Cons of the Sea Gypsy lifestyle as a means to make it through the Zero Point.  I have long hoped that someone pursuing this paradigm would join the Diner, and yesterday when Ray emailed me, it was a No-Brainer to add him to the Blogger Pantheon here on the Diner.

We look forward to hearing more from Ray here on the Diner, and discussing with him the various aspects of Sea Gypsy life.

 

A fine sunset is beginning to pastel the sky. I am seated on AVENTURA’S cabin top watching a great blue heron standing motionless in the twilight shadows, patiently awaiting its dinner. The melancholy is heavy on me tonight. These pristine, quiet, un-peopled places do that to me.

AVENTURA under wayMy sweet, strong sailboat and I have been together for over a quarter of a century. While aimlessly meandering amidst some fond memories of our decades together, I am suddenly jolted by an unpleasant realization. It is all so profoundly different now. When we first sailed together, she was just a sea-going magic carpet, transporting me to far-away lands, plush with exotic creatures and cultures. But now she has also become a survival pod, protecting me from the possibility of societal collapse.

Admittedly, when I first disconnected from life on the land, the world was already extremely dysfunctional. That was part of the enchantment of the sea gypsy life – that I could voluntarily exile myself from much of the violence, injustice, ugliness and shallowness of modern techno-industrial society.

But in only 25 years, global conditions have gone from deeply disturbing to cataclysmic. We certainly knew back then that our human activities were damaging Mother Earth, but we didn’t realize that our conduct could actually unravel the critical bio-geo-physical systems that sustain all life on our luxuriant, garden planet. Who would have believed that we could actually annihilate our support system?

I might not have believed it back then, but I certainly do now. That’s because sailing the wide waters imposes a heightened sense of reality on a person – far more so than shore-side life. Out on the vast ocean, where one has to fend for oneself without any nearby assistance, delusions can kill you. So, my many years at sea have trained me to see things as they are rather than as I wish them to be. And what this sea gypsy beholds just beyond the horizon is grave and frightening.

Fortunately, others far wiser than me also see the troubles ahead, and they are attempting to raise the alarm about the impending catastrophes. But tragically, they are almost completely ignored. This neglect is so significant that I have created a term to describe these well-intentioned messengers who carry such unwelcome news. I call them the Cassandra Choir, because they suffer the same ignoble fate that befell the mythological character Cassandra. She could accurately foretell the future and she used this gift to warn her people about the woes that awaited them. But they either ignored or scorned her.

The truth-tellers of our modern Cassandra Choir are relentlessly marginalized and ridiculed by what I call the TMA – The Malignant Authorities. These political, corporate, religious and media gatekeepers are so obscenely engorged with wealth and power under the existing system, that they will fight ruthlessly to defend the status quo. They desire a population of The Asleep. They fear a population of The Awake.

So they label those in the Choir “screwball doomers” and claim that the risks that they are exposing are greatly exaggerated. The TMA do their utmost to insure that the message of the Cassandra Choir is suppressed, because when looked at objectively, it is supremely convincing. (At the end of this essay I will provide a footnote listing many of these insightful and courageous thinkers. A few weeks spent reading them, will probably convince you that our current path will most likely lead to a devastating societal collapse.)

 

*******

 

The phrase that I use to describe the possible catastrophes confronting us is the Big Bad “E”s, which stand for Energy, Economy and Ecology. One of these alone could destabilize the world so profoundly that the life that we currently take for granted would be shattered. But because they are so intertwined, an emergency in one will probably impact the others, thus compounding and accelerating the problem.

Let’s look at Energy first. Any clear thinker can discern that Petroleum has virtually enslaved us. Its black hand is smeared across every aspect of our daily routines. Without abundant, affordable liquid fuels the food trucks stop delivering to the grocery stores, the tractors aren’t plowing the fields, the airplanes don’t fly, and the container ships can’t transport low-priced consumer goods from East to West. And even more disastrously a large portion of the power grid goes down. Without electricity, the air conditioners don’t cool and all of the electronic gadgetry that mesmerizes the citizenry into a docile stupor suddenly disappears. The swiftness with which the fabric of civil society can be shredded will be astonishing.

As for Economics, because of the interconnected nature of our globalized world, a crisis in one area will impact billions on the other side of the planet. Should China decide to renounce the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency and install its own gold-backed yuan, this will have profound repercussions in every nation and in every market, whether it is stocks, bonds or commodities.

The Ecological future looks even more terrifying each passing month. Melting ice caps, further destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, bubbling tundra, and a relatively new environmental horror – climate change denial – add up to a grim path forward…and most likely downward.

These are just a few “scribbled on a napkin” examples of possible disasters headed our way that easily came to mind because of my years of researching the likelihood of Collapse. Anyone, who thoroughly investigates the existing data, is likely to reach a similar conclusion – that we are probably doomed. Almost the entire Cassandra Choir agrees in this regard. A huge die-off of billions of people and a reset to an almost unrecognizable, low-tech style of living seems to be the consensus.

And the most radical sector of the Choir is so pessimistic that they have coined the term NTHE, which stands for Near Term Human Extinction. They believe that Homo Sapiens will either go completely extinct or only a few pockets of a remnant population will survive. I ardently hope that this is not the case, and my research up to this point has not totally convinced me that this is the case. But there is a wise old sailors’ adage that goes like this: “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst!”

It is in this profoundly empowering spirit that I have written the rest of this essay. Up to this point it has just been an introduction or a setting of the scene. The rest of this meditation is my core message and my heartfelt truth. I hope it proves to be a helpful addition to the growing conversation on how we can most wisely confront the agony that lies ahead.

 

*******

 

Many members of the Cassandra Choir paint a sobering and convincing portrait of the horrors that are headed our way. The unsettling images in their books and blogs are so disturbing that they often feel obligated to conclude their message on a more cheerful and optimistic note. So they usually extol the value of “resilient communities” that can protect their members from the ravages that most people will experience.

I greatly admire the basic concepts behind this Transition Town – perma-culture – low-tech model. But sadly, I believe that this response to an imploding world is as doomed as the “stay in the city and see what happens” approach. The reason for my concern can be stated in one word – MARAUDERS! As a friend of mine tragically describes it, “The Amish are toast.” When people are cornered into choosing between starving and marauding, it is fairly easy to predict their decision. This is a recurring blind spot in the otherwise brilliant and well-grounded thinking of the Cassandra Choir. How can they not foresee that their vegetable gardens and root cellars and chicken coops will be stormed and ravaged by heavily-armed, hungry people?

But the solution that I am proposing to any worst-case Collapse scenario deals with the problem of marauders effortlessly – you simply sail away from the violence and mayhem that is overwhelming both the cities and the countryside. I call my alternative approach THE SEA GYPSY TRIBE.

Name any apocalyptic scenario, and I will argue that being at sea in a sailing vessel is the best way to deal with it. Pandemic? The contagion danger comes from large groups of humans jammed closely together. Grid Down? Sailboats are self-contained survival pods with wind and solar power systems, water-makers and long-distance radios. Thermo-nuclear? There is not a single ICBM on the planet aimed towards the middle of the ocean. And the fallout danger is more easily handled in a boat with ¾ of its surface area underwater. Famine? It is easy to have a year’s worth of provisions stashed onboard, and the sea provides, fish, shellfish and seaweed. Submerged Coastal Cities? Not an issue in a floating survival module.

But more than just being a survival concept, I also envision the Sea Gypsy Tribe as a “seeding” option. Here is my basic premise:

I believe that if there is a near extinction catastrophe, a Sea Gypsy Tribe has the best chance of both surviving and replenishing the human population in the wisest manner.

Those last four words are exceedingly important – “in the wisestmanner.” There is already a fairly large group of people who have been paying attention to the global unraveling, and who have responded by preparing for the worst. These folks are usually referred to as “preppers.” I applaud their foresight and dedication. But I have grave doubts about their ability to reboot the post-Collapse emergent world “in the wisest manner.”

That’s because most of the preppers are very religious and patriotic. And there is overwhelming evidence that more blood has been shed in human history in the name of god and country than for any other cause. And besides that, the hierarchal nature of religions and nations invariably attracts the most ambitious, ruthless sociopaths who ascend to the highest positions of power. They would soon be repeating the same mistakes that plague us today.

 

*******

 

What I propose is a far bolder vision of a post-Collapse future. I call it Humanity 3.0. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors were Humanity 1.0 and our civilized forebears comprised Humanity 2.0. For about 2 million years the Paleolithic tribes lived peaceably with each other and in balance with Nature. They perceived the world as a web and themselves as but one strand amongst millions of others. They lived a life of harmony rather than hegemony.

But then about 10,000 years ago at the onset of what I term “conquest agriculture,” humanity drastically changed its philosophy. These Neolithic villagers started viewing all of Life as a pyramid with Homo Sapiens at the pinnacle. And they perceived this position as a justification for ruling over all of the other life forms on the planet. This marked the beginning of what we term Civilization. It also marked the arrival of States and Churches and Rulers and Priests. As this worldview expanded and accelerated, it has unleashed dire consequences for all life-forms. And now it even jeopardizes our future existence as a species. I discuss the disastrous, unintended consequences of Civilization in much greater detail in my essay entitled “The Vast Picture.” _________________

I believe that the Sea Gypsy Tribe can function like the monks of the Dark Ages who preserved the best of the Greek and Roman cultures, which then led to the Enlightenment and to the Renaissance. Our mission would be to conserve the best of Humanity 2.0, and also to sound the alarm about its worst elements. I have a catch-phrase to describe this – “Mozart without the mushroom cloud.”

 

*******

 

AVENTURA at anchorPerhaps the best aspect of my Sea Gypsy Tribal concept is that it is achievable. It does not require a global paradigm shift. It just needs about 1,000 kindred spirits. I use that arbitrary number because many anthropologists believe that after the last great human extinction event, which was the Toba volcanic eruption approximately 17,000 years ago, there were only about 1,000 survivors, and yet they successfully managed to repopulate the planet.

Right now there are already tens of thousands of people scattered around our wet, lush planet living a full-time sailing life. The vast majority of them do not possess what I would consider essential Sea Gypsy Tribal values, but there is probably a tiny minority that is ripe and anxious for my message. We just need to find each other, discover our common philosophical beliefs and exchange contact info. Then, if things start deteriorating, the various seagoing tribes can come together in their particular neighborhood of Mother Ocean.

A simple means of identification is the Earth Flag. I have been flying mine for decades. It symbolizes my desire for a world without borders. Anyone displaying the Earth Flag is probably an excellent candidate for the Sea Gypsy Tribe.

 

*******

 

So, what sort of paradigm shift in values would I wish to see in this new, water-borne community? I’ll gladly provide some examples, but I emphasize that I am vehemently against “imposing” a philosophy on anyone. My goal is to inspire. I believe in “suggestions” and I despise “commandments!” If I was a Sea Gypsy Tribal Elder here are some of the things that I would recommend to my clan. They could then choose whether or not to embrace them.

  • HUMANITY’S PLACE IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS. We have tried to elevate ourselves above the other creatures on our planet by claiming that we are human “beings.” But we are actually just human animals. We have further deceived ourselves, by claiming that the geometry of life is a pyramid, and we humans are at the apex. So this entitles us to dominate and control everything else – including the creatures, the land, the water and the air. We must return to the geometry that our Humanity 1.0 hunter/gatherer ancestors so clearly understood – that life is a web and damaging one strand damages the whole.
  • THE LIMITS OF GROWTH. Only a buffoon believes that there can be infinite growth, which requires infinite resource extraction, on a finite planet. But beyond the absurdity of the equation, there is also the atrocity of its perspective. The few dozen indigenous tribes still surviving on our blighted, techno-industrial planet view the rivers, forests and mountains as their living neighbors. They don’t see them as commodities – as hydro-electric power, as board feet or as open-pit mines. Gaia should be enjoyed, cherished and protected – not strip-mined!
  • A WORLD OF TOO MUCH TECHNOLOGY CANNOT BE REPAIRED WITH MORE TECHNOLOGY. The Luddites in England and the last Samurai in Japan were correct – the seductive benefits of techno-industrial Civilization would be short-lived. But the horrors that they spawned would be forever. The 443 nuclear reactors in the USA are a testament to this. It takes about 10 years to decommission each one. What will happen if the power grid goes down swiftly and all those cooling ponds dry up? We should abandon our addiction to “the latest gadget” and embrace low or appropriate technology. A basic, any-ocean sailboat is a great example of this. It is a bridge across to the Old Ways. Or as I like to say, “The path to the Future leads to the Past!”
  • IMMERSION IN NATURE IS A NECESSITY AND NOT A LUXURY. None of the 80-90 indigenous tribes still living in their native habitats, suffer from mental illness, or require psychiatrists or need psycho-tropic drugs. Our Paleolithic operating system is designed for living in “the Wild” and not in “human-built environments.” I get to spend long periods alone with the creatures of the sea and the sky. To me this is not a vacation, it is a vital psychic centering. We must come home to the wild.
  • HIERARCHAL SOCIETIES BECOME HORRIBLE SOCIETIES. Tribal societies are small bands where everyone knows each other and they work together for the good of the clan. There are no rulers and ruled, no rich and poor, no inequality between the sexes and no chiefs living in splendor, while the rest live in squalor. But hierarchal societies suffer from all of those injustices. And despite the false propaganda, those who rise to power in hierarchies are not usually the “best and the brightest.” Instead they are the most ambitious, ruthless and despicable, thus leading to “dominator” cultures that spew death and destruction across the planet. Hierarchies should be as unwelcome as the bubonic plague.
  • CAPITALISM MUST CAPSIZE. It should be obvious that any system that places profit ahead of both people and the planet will end up being a disaster for both. Any economic model that worships greed, cannot possibly serve the common interest or the greater good. The tribal model has provided fulfilling lives without jeopardizing the environment for 2 million years. Shouldn’t we dismantle the Capitalist system which only enriches a tiny elite, and in just a few centuries is destroying the ecosystem which we depend on for our very survival?
  • CHURCHES AND STATES MUST STAY BURIED IN THE ASHES. The most obscene atrocities in human history have usually been committed in the name of the love of god or the love of country. There is nothing wrong with striving for spiritual joy, but organized religions that demonize other groups and command their annihilation, should never re-emerge from the Collapse. As for States, humanity existed contentedly for 2 million years without them. And in only 10,000 years since their arrival, we have massacred hundreds of millions of people and now are on the verge of decimating our planetary support system. Churches and States should be buried for eternity in the world’s most polluted toxic waste sites.

If I was a Tribal Elder at a Council of Deciding, these are the far-reaching changes that I would recommend to my people. They may seem radical, but I perceive them as “radically sensible.” Also, it should be remembered, that these proposals are designed for a future scenario where there has been a cataclysmic societal collapse and the survivors are attempting to rebuild a civilization far more enlightened than our current version.

 

*******

 

But let’s hope that we are never in that position. A huge majority of my personal friends regard my views on the possibility of impending collapse as semi-lunatic. They agree that the world is enormously screwed up, but they believe that humanity will continue to muddle along with things steadily deteriorating, and then some miracle will come along and save us. I would be delighted if they are right and I am wrong. But if they ARE correct, I still encourage people to consider adopting the Sea Gypsy Tribal Path as perhaps the healthiest way of living on a very diseased planet. These are some of its many rewards that I know so well from my decades of Sea Gypsy living:

  • You are a World Citizen and thus in no way supporting the imperialistic perversions of any government.
  • You live in the Yellow Light rather Than the Blue Light. Your illumination comes from Mother Sun and not from electronic addiction devices.
  • You can escape the steady defilement of daily life as world governments keep morphing into police-surveillance states.
  • You can reconnect with and embrace anew your wild, animal self.
  • You can live slowly and simply – immersed in Nature – and exiled from the meaningless frenzy of the so-called real world.
  • You can discover anew a sense of connectedness as you mesh with your new tribe of kindred spirits.

 

*******

 

I hope that my words and my vision will inspire some of you out there to consider the Sea Gypsy Tribe as a viable alternative to a possible disastrous future. My desire with this article was to introduce an entirely new and potentially successful approach to worst case scenario survival strategy. But to state it more poetically, my heart of hearts hope is…that this little essay will launch a fleet of a Thousand Thoreaus.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As promised here are some members of the Cassandra Choir. The topics that they emphasize in their thinking and writing include: Collapse, Peak Everything, Downside of Civilization, Economic Lunacy, Eco-Disaster and How the World Really Works. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but it will give anyone with a sincere interest in re-evaluating the Future, a lot of wise resource material.

Dmitry Orlov, James Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg, Chellis Glendinning, Guy McPherson, Carolyn Baker, Derrick Jensen, Daniel Quinn, Morris Berman, John Zerzan, Jerry Mander, Jared Diamond, Howard Zinn, Albert Bates, Naomi Klein, Jan Lundberg, Paul Craig Roberts, Chris Hedges, Michael Ruppert, George Mobus, Dave Pollard, David Korten, Bill McKibben, William Catton, Thomas Berry, Tyler Durden, Matt Simmons, Stacy Herbert, Max Keiser, Gail Tverberg, Gerald Celente, Joseph Tainter, Ronald Wright, William Banzai and many more fine and courageous thinkers…

 

 

 

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