Conversations

A foreboding sense of climate chaos, societal breakdown, and economic and ecological “doom” is now widespread. Acknowledging our predicament and working through the stages of grief takes one only to the midpoint: acceptance. What lies beyond? Michael Dowd (with occasional co-hosts) invites guests to share their personal journeys along this trajectory and especially the gifts they have found on the other side of the postdoom doorway. (List of questions below.)

Sample Questions

1. LANGUAGE: What do you think of when you hear the term “postdoom”? What name or description best captures your sense of a contracting and deteriorating future? (e.g., civilizational contraction, 6th mass extinction, population die-off, denouement of Homo colossus, the great unraveling/turning/simplification, age of consequences, etc).

2. YOUR STORY:  Talking about your own journey is central to this conversation series. Notably, how and when did you wake up to the global predicament, and was it sudden or in gradual steps?  What triggered your worst episodes of sadness, grief, or relationship challenges? And what, if any, spiritual, philosophical, or psychological perspectives or practices carried you through?

3. HUMAN NATURE:  How does your sense of inborn human strengths and limitations affect your interpretation of our societal and cultural deterioration? That is, could this descent have been avoided? Or do you think it was in some way inevitable? Or maybe you view this kind of “if only” speculation as being irrelevant now, even a waste of emotional energy?

4. THE BIG PICTURE: Joanna Macy wrote, “There is science now to construct the story of the journey we have made on this Earth, the story that connects us with all beings.  Right now we need to remember that story — to harvest it and taste it.  For we are in a hard time.  And it is knowledge of the bigger story that is going to carry us through.”  Have you found the epic of evolution or universe story helpful in expanding your sense of identity or helping you trust time and nature, evolution and ecology?  Has understanding the rise and fall of previous civilizations assisted you in accepting our fate?

5. IMPERMANENCE & DEATH:  Some of us have found that holding impermanence and death as natural, necessary, and no less sacred than life helps facilitate “post-doom” consciousness.  Are there ways of thinking about your own mortality that assist with your being at peace with our species mortality (whether the near-term or millions of years hence seems more likely to you)?

6. GIFTS:  In coming to terms with cascading problems of overshoot, resource depletion, climate breakdown, etc, have you encountered stages of grieving that went beyond mere acceptance?  What opened up for you, positively, on the other side?

7. REMAINING OPPORTUNITIES:  What is your take on what is beyond our control and where we can still make a difference, individually and/or collectively?  In other words, what is your sense of what is no longer possible, and what still is possible?

8. CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC (added March 2020): How do you understand and interpret the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath? What do you hope for or fear will emerge from this experience? What are you personally learning from this pandemic that you want to inform how you continue to live your life once the worst of it is over?