After struggling against our own self-destructive tendencies throughout the entirety of recorded history, humanity is now at a point where that struggle is probably going to be resolved, one way or another, within the lifetime of most people reading this.
The movie about this struggle has been written with one of two possible endings. In the first, we are unable to overcome our self-destructive tendencies, and the last of our species dies by radiation poisoning or choking on the dust of an uninhabitable planet. In the second, we evolve beyond our self-destructive tendencies and move into a healthy relationship with our minds, our ecosystem, and each other.
Neither of these two endings would work in a Hollywood blockbuster. In the first, humanity dies off not with a bang but with a whimper as a result of nuclear fallout or climate collapse. In the second, conflict and drama as we know it will cease to exist as we pull up and away from the self-destructive patterns which brought us to this point. We’ll either keep along this same destructive trajectory and meet its inevitable end very soon, or we’ll deviate from that trajectory into something wildly different. In either case, there is no kissing the girl while the credits roll, no coolly striding away from the explosion, and no spin-kicking the bad guy off a cliff into lava after uttering a short, memorable line.
I say this because it seems like a lot of people are kind of hoping for a Hollywood ending in some way. People are hoping that Donald Trump gets arrested for conspiring with Russia and dragged off in chains and everything goes back to normal. People are hoping that President Trump drains the swamp, locks up Hillary Clinton, arrests most of Capitol Hill for child molestation, and destroys the Deep State. People are hoping there’s a violent revolution which restores individual sovereignty to the citizenry. People are hoping there’s a peaceful people’s revolution which ousts the ruling class and replaces the status quo with whatever their personal favored strain of leftism is. Everyone’s subconsciously looking for some big, momentous climax where the Good Guys are vindicated and the Bad Guys are brought to justice.
And it just isn’t going to go down like that.
If you’ve paid much attention to human behavior throughout your life, you know that we reliably repeat the same patterns until there’s inner healing and personal growth. If you’ve experienced inner healing and personal growth, you know that the actual experience of it is generally anti-climactic. True healing is always a game of subtraction, and it moves in the exact opposite direction of the egoically satisfying mental narratives which Hollywood has grown so skilled at providing us. When true inner healing takes place, it doesn’t usually make for a good story, and its effects often go unnoticed for some time, because they are evidenced not in the addition of something new but in the subtraction of something old. You look at your memories of your old unwholesome behavior patterns and think “Hmm, how strange that I used to do that sort of thing!”
If humanity transcends its unwholesome patterns at the end of this movie, it’s going to happen in much the same way. Not in an egoically gratifying way where we see our most hated political figures punished and our own ideological preferences uplifted, but in the simple falling away of old patterns. If human consciousness evolves to the point where we can avert our own destruction, then it will necessarily have dropped the egoic patterns of fear, greed and negativity which kept us bound to our old destructive behaviors. Were that to happen, we’d probably struggle to even remember what we used to stress and rage about when looking at the state of our world.
Nothing else will do the trick. If we do come to some dramatic, egoically satisfying climax, like where all the oligarchs and warmongers are guillotined and their wealth distributed among the needy or whatever, then it isn’t the end of the movie. We have not arrived at a point where we’ve transcended our old patterns, we’ve just seen those old patterns manifest in a way which happens to be egoically pleasing to us in this particular instance. And we will soon see them manifest in ways which we find far from pleasing again.
We will not arrive at our happy ending unless we collectively heal away those old egoic addictions to drama and conflict. Even if we did somehow manage to create a utopia without healing away those old egoic addictions, it would be quickly destroyed and the countdown to doomsday restarted by the gnashing, looping patterns which brought us to the brink of extinction in the first place.
Because guess what? From the perspective of our current state of drama-addicted and conflict-addicted collective consciousness, a world without drama and conflict is dull and worthless. Those addictions will keep leading us toward our destruction until we shed them, if for no other reason than our psychological inability to live in a peaceful, harmonious world.
Are you able to live in a peaceful, harmonious world? A world that is boring to the ego and unsuitable for Hollywood scripts? When I look at the behavior of a lot of activists on social media, it seems like a lot of them fear an end to drama and conflict more than they fear the end of the world. It sounds funny to say, but I think this is legitimately the case for many people. Our addiction to drama and conflict is so strong and our ability to just be at peace in the here and now so weak that keeping things from becoming harmonious can feel like an existential life-and-death need. And we all know people who are strongly predisposed toward stirring up drama to feed that illusory need.
To be able to live in a peaceful world where we collaborate harmoniously with our ecosystem and our fellow humans, we’ll have to transcend our inability to simply be. To have a world where all human ingenuity is pointed at making the world a better place instead of inventing new ways to create landfill for mass consumption and new ways to kill and exploit each other, we’re going to have to have minds that are able to survive in an environment with a lot less conflict, and, once our ingenuity really gets going, a lot less work as well. Minds that can rest comfortably without frenetic busyness or drama. Such minds are currently rare among our species.
The reason there are so many Hollywood movies about dystopian futures and hardly any about utopian futures is because there is no drama and conflict in utopia. Hollywood movies bring in the big bucks by being egoically pleasing to watch; it’s ego candy to watch heroes kicking villains off cliffs, because we can place ourselves in the role of the protagonist and imagine ourselves emerging triumphantly from the drama and conflicts displayed on the screen.
This is why I refer to myself as a “utopia prepper”. In order to have a peaceful, harmonious world, we’re going to have to have minds that are receptive to such a thing. I consider cultivating such a mind to be the most important thing I do in paving the way for paradise on earth, abandoning all attachments to our old ways of operating and opening a path within myself for something new. This will necessarily happen among us all if we’re to see the happy ending of this movie, and if we do it won’t be spectacular. It won’t be egoically gratifying. We’ll simply cease engaging in unwholesome patterns in a very anti-climactic way, begin channeling our ingenuity into making the world a better place, and perhaps once in a while look back on history and think, “Hmm, how strange that we used to do that sort of thing!”
By Caitlin Johnstone