How to Forgive Yourself
June 27, 2018

My answer to “How do you forgive yourself for being a lazy person for the past few months? And how do I move on to improve myself?”

December 6, 2013


Carl Atteniese by Jonathan Conklin Photography


Instantly, upon waking this morning, I realized that the most frustrating aspect of human society is not inability; it’s inanity.

Humanity is not without high compassion, intelligence, vast creativity, and endless resources (if you choose the right ones!)… on this planet or in our part of the solar system; we don’t have a personal or species-wide death-wish… not consciously, anyway–but we certainly act like it!

Our problem is… we do almost everything… conflict resolution, education, industry, economics, and environmental management; energy procurement & usage… food production, recycling, waste-management and governance; infrastructure, and health & human services, even love and recreation… in inefficient, dangerous, unfair, and plainly stupid ways.

We mean well–but we act unwell. The human race is not collectively working in its own best interest.

We aren’t stupid; we aren’t intentionally cruel (most of us, any way); we are–practically speaking–ignorant, lazy, reckless, selfish, unconsciously unkind… and in a dream world.

As Elon Musk put it whilst  talking about the ways we power the planet and our transportation: ‘Why are we even doing the experiment?’, and by ‘the experiment’, he’d meant the enormously foolish, uncertain, and dangerous practice of taking ‘what was buried deep in the Earth for millions of years and putting it into the atmosphere.’ He is an enormously polite gentleman genius, so he didn’t say it, but he meant, ‘we are really stupid for doing it!’ And he is superlatively correct. He knows the biosphere is not a liberal agenda. It is our space suit. And we are smoking in it and doing doo-doo in it.

Of all the elements.. in our dis-ease… that I just referred to, the most problematic is one I didn’t mention, and it is both what keeps us going and what is killing us. It is belief.

Too many people are kept–and keep themselves–selfish, ignorant, inactive, unproductive and doing the wrong things–things which are literally destroying us (something most of the scientists, poets, and artists have known for a long time), because of their erroneous faith-based notion that “everything is going to be all right”. I and tens of thousands of scientists have got news for you: No, it isn’t. The tsunamis, hurricanes, growing deserts, increasing droughts, melting ice sheets, acidification and deadening of the ocean, over-greenhousing of the atmosphere, advancing evolution of virus mutations resistant to antibiotics, and the petrochemical induced mutations in sea and animal life is the cataclysmic and horrifying proof of that. And those sensationalized, near-pop-culture-level aspects of the environmental crisis which do not comprise the whole list of issues by far…all have interlocking, exponentially digressive and out of control degenerative effects of their own, and so on, adinfinitum. Everything’s connected, dude.

And in the face of the manageable challenges of daily, private, and public life, many people can be heard proving the hopelessness that Dr. Chomsky says the average man feels politically…when he says, ‘there’s nothing you can do about it.’ And need we be reminded that in the most capable nation on Earth, half the government is in active revolution against anything progressive, to the extent that they shut down that government.

Those two obvious fallacies–‘everything is going to be all right’, and ‘there’s nothing you can do about it’, are our enormous hurdles to overcome, and more than anything else, they are made almost monumental next to the problem of over-paid government which is standing in the way of solutions and actively trying to make it worse, because they are afraid of “socialism” and a progressive president.

Some of the richest and most comfortable among us, and some of those in government they influence, have a vested interest in keeping the conversation from commencing, let alone inspiring solutions. Look at the US Congress. Look at your neighbor who buys an SUV, a jet ski, a large car for joy-riding….

These factors–if anything–will contribute more to the very real possibility of ending our species (or at least society in a decent, livable world) more than the biosphere-related challenges we face and must solve if we don’t want to be racing to find another planet to live on before five hundred years passes.

And so, the environmental challenges and these hurdles of ignorance, laziness, fantasy, and obfuscation making them more difficult –will possibly make it so we must seek refuge on other worlds–not out of a sense of exploration, beauty, and righteous curiosity, but to continue our progeny, to survive! Dr. Stephen Hawking thinks so, too! That’s no small-minded or insignificant opinion.

The solution is, we have to get most everyone on the same page in– certain areas of scientific understanding, human potential, compassion, and responsibility… and most of us who are thinking and compassionate know precisely what the titles of those pages are, and the scientists know what’s on them.

The tragic element in all this is, too many people and groups of people either ‘aren’t reading’, or they are spending too much time reading the wrong things (out of fear and ego), or they don’t want to know what the real score is.

And the shame is, many of us who do know what is really critical right now are too afraid to break the truth to those we love or to strangers. We don’t want to look worried, disharmonious, socially disquiet, or rude. As Alain de Botton suggests, ‘we don’t talk to each other’, at least not about what matters. The house is on fire, but we’d rather talk about the drapes. We are too afraid.

When was the last time, upon making a new acquaintance and getting through the small-talk, you asked something like, ‘what do you think of the president’s health care initiative?’, or ‘how do you feel about global climate change?’

In the least, if you don’t want to disturb the decorum (why should such talk do that, anyway?), or the delirium with new acquaintances, can you discuss what matters with friends? You may think, ‘who am I to think about, let alone, discuss such big issues?’ Well, who are you not to?

You are a human being, a member of the most capable species on the planet, that’s who you are, and you have a huge effect–when measured with your fellows–on the planet and other people.

You are a human soul, with a conscious mind. Nelson Mandela pointed out that we must not be small. ‘Who are you not to be great?’ he asked, encouraging us to realize that The Divine did not make us to be small and saying that we validate and encourage no one by doing so. We inspire others to be great in being great ourselves.

I ask you, my dear reader, ‘what are you going to do about it?’ Are you going to finish this article by thinking, ‘this writer is just angry, a complainer, someone who isn’t happy in his life?’ You’d be wrong…

In the words of Peter Gabriel, in the anthem, “Biko”, about assassinated South African anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, “And the eyes of the world are watching now… watching now.” And now they are the eyes of those suffering, in our time-suffering the ravages of hunger, disease, poverty, war, climate change–and inaction;

They are the  eyes of the children of tomorrow–the eyes of your children and grandchildren.

Take care, and for humanity’s sake, use your imagination, think, and take action, now.

Carl Carroll Atteniese


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