Golden Ages of the Past - Golden Future

THE WONDER: Science-Based Paganism

20-04-2024 • 1 hr 1 min

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Mark: Welcome back to The Wonder, Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, Mark.

Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

Mark: And today we are talking about golden ages of the past and as well as turning to look at golden visions of the future.

Yucca: Yeah. I think this is going to be a fun one. We were saying right before we hit record, it's it's a right for tangents as well.

Mark: yes, yeah, I imagine we're gonna, we're gonna fall down some rabbit holes on this for sure. Where this originally came from was a conversation that we had in one of the atheopagan community Zoom mixers that happens on Thursday nights, and, or and Michael, who is a member of the Atheopagan Society Council, raised this as a topic and he pasted into the chat a sort of semi facetious myth That many in the mainstream pagan community seem to embrace, which is this idea that once upon a time way back before before the Bronze Age, sometime in the late Either the Copper Age or the Late Stone Age, that there were people living in Asia Minor and in Europe who lived peacefully and in an egalitarian society where that were not characterized by patriarchy and where things were very groovy.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: That patriarchy came along with these bronze sword wielding invaders and the result was militarism and class stratification and eventually the snowball that led us to capitalism and to where we are today.

Yucca: Very familiar with the story and the narrative. It pops up in a lot of different forms.

Mark: It certainly does. And it's a compelling narrative, right? Because part of what it tells us is it's not inherent in humans to be the way we are now,

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: you know, that having a male dominated society is not just a human thing, that it's A cultural thing that took over

Yucca: Mm

Mark: from something that preceded it.

And so it's understandable why that's appealing, because it offers hope, right? It says, well, we could get out from what we're in now. We could move in another direction. So, there's a lot of this backward looking, kind of nostalgic glow in these sort of root myths that inform much of modern paganism. Would you agree with that?

Yucca: I think so. And I think that there's also the more recent ideas of the unbroken line of Grandmothers practicing this witchy tradition that was secret, but it survived through, you know, all of the Christian takeover and, and all of this and that, that connects in a little bit with an idea that we have that something that's old is automatically good.

Or, automatically has more authority because it's an older idea.

Mark: Right, that it's valid, because it's persistent,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: right, because it's lasted for a long time, it must have some kind of validity. Yeah, that's a really good point, and it's definitely something that crops up a lot in arguments about religion generally, not just about paganism or witchcraft.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: Of course, that was Gerald Gardner's story.

Right, Gerald Gardner, the creator of Wicca although he claimed that he wasn't the creator of Wicca, he claimed that he was initiated into a lineage of, an unbroken lineage extending back into the mists of time of this tradition of witchcraft.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: maybe he believed that, maybe he didn't, but it's been pretty well established that it's not true.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: there's a, there's a book by the, the, pagan and witchcraft scholar Ronald Hutton, called The Triumph of the Moon, which very thoroughly and meticulously goes over all the different threads of this and establishes there's not really much there there.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: Great book, great book, highly recommend it. So, so that's another of these, you know, these stories about antiquity.

Holding a different way of being that we, that we need to grab onto and try to work our way back to, right?

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And I was thinking about the Norse traditions, the, the heathen traditions as well. And in that case, what seems to be lionized most is Vikings, right? There's just a whole lot about Vikings.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Which I get! Very, very, like, appealing visuals, and Feelings and aesthetics, and yeah,

Mark: adventurous, and there's all these sort of macho, warlike values of honor and courage and strength and duty and all that kind of stuff that are all, you know, I mean, they're very macho, but they're, but they're, they're good

Yucca: I get the appeal. Yeah,

Mark: Yeah, I totally do, too,

Yucca: I think that those are, that those can be, can be really good values, right? I don't think we should throw the baby out with bathwater with that, but you know, there's potential with anything for abuse, but you know, those are some pretty, those have their place,

Mark: Yeah, yeah. But once again, it's rose colored glasses, right? It ignores the fact that people who went Viking, which was a verb, not a noun you know, you went Viking they were farmers most of the year. I mean, they were just working the soil like everybody else and, you know, getting food. And, you know, they were farmers and they were traders and, you know, all that good kind of stuff.

Which is, you know, a much less heroic kind of myth than, you know, paddling an open boat across the North Sea to, you know, to, to strike into foreign lands and, you know, take stuff. And I can understand why that part of the story doesn't really get included so much but here we are, we're on a tangent, right?

But still, it's about golden pasts.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So, Michael's host, Michael's, you know, quote that he put in the chat was very thought provoking because as we learn more, it becomes pretty clear that none of these golden era of the past myths is likely to be very true. There are kernels of truth

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: them. I mean, have, have there been women that were herbalists and knew natural cures for things in an unbroken line since the time of Arwen?

Antiquity? Certainly.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah, of course there have. Now, were they practicing a particular kind of religious framework around that? Probably not.

Yucca: Probably changed with the time as the society around them changed, and their view of the world changed, and, right? Yeah.

Mark: I mean, you know, it's like, did it make that much of a difference whether you invoked some goddess when you tied on a poultice or whether you invoked some saint? It, you know, it may, it may have been exactly the same thing. So, There's all this past stuff and that, that led to a very thought provoking conversation about kind of the nature of nostalgia

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: and this, this very human quality that we have of looking back on times in the past and seeing them fondly, even if they were terrible.

Yucca: Right. Even if we lived through them, or, but especially the ones that we didn't. I saw a short video recently of she looked like You know, maybe 16, 17 year old talking about how she was born in the wrong era, that she should have been from the 80s, right? And I remember, you know, being a teenager and, and the kids around me going like, Oh, we should have been hippies.

We were meant to be hippies from the 60s. And it's, I think people just do that. Yeah. Even if it's, of course, in the 90s, the 60s seemed like forever ago. Right.

Mark: Yeah it's, it's very funny. I, I mean, I was born in the early 60s, so I have, and my father was in a PhD program on the UCLA campus, so I have Other than memories of events, which I have pretty vividly, like the assassinations and

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: body counts announced on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the news, and, you know, the riots and, you know, a lot of stuff like that, but I remember going to my father's lab And all of the students that were around him, and they were all hippies, they were all, they were all dressed in that particular way because they were college students in the late 19, in the, you know, mid to late 1960s.

And there, there is, a flavor of that era that I can remember and that feels, I don't necessarily feel drawn to it, but I feel almost like it's something lost that I wish I could recapture somehow. the same thing is true of the 70s and the 80s. It gets muddy towards the 90s and later than that, and I'm not sure whether that's because we tend to have more nostalgia for times when we're younger, or whether It's because the internet came along and culture got a lot blurrier.

Suddenly, I mean, it used to be like, you can recognize music from the 70s and 80s. By the 90s, I mean, there was a swing music movement, and there was all, there was the world music movement, and there was all this, you know, sort of backward looking.

Yucca: I, I'm not sure I agree with that, because I think if I hear a 90s pop song on the radio, it instantly is, I can instantly place 90s or 2000s so that I would, I would guess that it is more of a 90s pop song. the age and how old we were when we were engaging with that, rather than becoming less distinctive.

Mark: That may very well be the case. I may simply have not been paying as much attention.

Yucca: right.

Mark: You

Yucca: Well, and just being in a,

Mark: career by that point.

Yucca: yeah, different life stage, and at least my memory of the way time has worked is, it just keeps speeding up. Right? When I was four, that a year was an eternity. A week was so long, and now I'm like, oh yeah, a year, like, you know, and I'm told it keeps getting worse. It just keeps going faster and faster.

Mark: does, and I'm not sure whether it's a function of A year being a smaller and smaller proportion of your overall life and memory, or whether it's that we get into routines that cause months to fly by at a time. I'm really not sure what that's about, but it's a little frightening how quickly the years just start to go.

And that's one of the reasons why, yeah, probably so, but that's one of the reasons why I feel it's really important to have a ritual practice to create sort of sublime moments. Either by myself or with other people, of shared observation and celebration of life. So that those, those moments stick out.

I don't look at the last year and see nothing but just going to work and doing the tasks and stuff. There are special days that, that I remember.

Yucca: I think novelty slows us down a little bit, and makes us pay a little more attention.

Mark: Yeah, yeah. That's why traveling is so wonderful, right?

Yucca: mm hmm.

Mark: everything is new. You're in a place that's unfamiliar. And you point yourself towards experiences that are going to be novel, like experiencing museums and cultural events and architecture and art and, you know, being, being in cafes and hearing foreign language around you and, you know, all the various things.

And so we tend to have much more detailed memory of times when we travel than we do when we're at home.

So, it seems kind of natural that these sorts of narratives would, would appeal to people.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: And I think that they may have been part of the appeal of paganism for some people. I mean, some people get into it for a vision of a better world.

Some people get into it for a desire for magical power. Some people get into it for a desire for connection with and reverence of the natural world, like us. And I think all of those are compelling reasons why people are attracted to modern paganism. And I'm

Yucca: combination of those things, too.

Mark: absolutely, for

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: for sure.

Yucca: I think, also, being There's also, for some people, an attraction to being different, right, wanting something that is a little counter cultural, regardless of what the specific values are, but just something different, because whatever it was that they were doing, was not working.

And so they're looking for anything that is different than whatever that was.

Mark: Yes, and, and paganism specifically works very well for those folks because they tend to be folks that don't fit in very well. And paganism is very, inclusive, by and large. It's very accommodating to people who may be neurodivergent or may be strange or may just be very unique people, right? And what I saw when I first came into paganism was that there was this celebration of the uniqueness of individuals, which is something that I have worked to carry forward in my own pagan work because I think Everybody's amazing, and they all need the opportunity to show their amazingness and to have that affirmed and lifted up.

Yucca: Yeah. Well, that's a good lead in to, to thinking about the now, and I guess the golden future, right? We're talking about the golden past. So, what about our visions for the future?

Mark: Yeah and, and I should say that I do think that a lot of these golden past narratives, whatever their factuality, I think they're a distraction.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: if they were true, I don't think that matters very much. Because we're not then, and we're never going back then. We're only going to be here, and we're going to go forward into the future. Time doesn't work in a backwards manner, it only goes forward. So, my focus, oh go ahead,

Yucca: I, I do think though that there is some value in examining those for looking at what do we value and what do we want to bring forward. So, do we, if we're thinking about, so yes, recognizing that it's probably pretty much a myth about our, our pre Bronze Age egalitarian societies in which, War was not a thing, and there weren't skirmishes and conflict between groups.

But seeing that there is a recognizing our longing for that, I think is valuable. I think it's important to, to also recognize that that may not be factual, but that there is value in that. Mmhmm.

Mark: certainly, of that we would like to have a world in which there was peace, in which there was inclusiveness, in which there was a better human relationship with the natural world.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And,

Yucca: hmm. Mm

Mark: and one of the things about those myths is that they tell us that it's possible because it happened in the past.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: I just choose to believe that it's possible because I think it's, it has to be possible.

Yucca: Because we can choose to make it that way. Mm

Mark: Yes. And we have chosen as humans to go far afield of that. Even, even in some of the ways that we have really excelled and succeeded as humans, like through science. You know, the newest science is generally applied first to creating weapons.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: It's usually applied for figuring out ways to kill people.

And that is a very, very sad commentary on the divorce between values and reason. That we have become very effective at applying our reason In problem solving and to understand the nature of the universe, but the concept of ethical constraints around that is, it's very tenuous. I mean, there is a field of scientific ethics, but I haven't seen much example of that actually applying except in the experimental sense.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: It's like, you know, no, we're sorry, you, you can't test this weird dangerous thing on live people,

Yucca: Right. Yeah, we've got our review boards that we've got to get past to be able to do human or vertebrate subjects, but that's where it pretty much ends.

Mark: yeah

Yucca: you want to do anything with an invertebrate or anything that isn't an animal, and it's, you know, there's, there's no red tape.

Mark: yeah. Yeah. So, you know, re rethinking these things in a really deep sense is important. It's really important. And immediately that makes you subject to some accusations of being very unrealistic because you're, you're thinking far beyond the bounds of what the currently constructed society can do.

Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm

Mark: And and of course also being accused of being radical, right? Because To make those changes would be a radical shift in the way humanity works. Don't think either of those accusations is very persuasive, myself.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: I think people are so adaptable, and we have so many examples of cultures that have not been colonized by, or have only been partially colonized by, the Western mindset that has taken over virtually everything.

in the world that operate differently, that I believe we do have choices about the way that we go forward.

Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm

Mark: And it starts with values. It starts with making decisions about what we consider to be sacred and what we consider to be worthy. And where we draw ethical lines around not doing things that we can do, but we really shouldn't.

Yucca: hmm. Yeah, agreed.

Mark: Because there's an awful lot of stuff that we do that we really just shouldn't do.

Yucca: Yeah. Can and should. Those are two different things. Yeah.

Mark: And there is a terrible tendency, and I mean, we see this in children. Given the opportunity to make something go boom,

Yucca: Oh, not just children.

Mark: Yeah, I know, everybody likes to make something go boom. It's it can be really fun. But when the implications are, you know, environmental devastation and, and loss of lives we really need to resist that urge to make things go boom.

Yucca: Yeah, we need to maybe get that out of our systems when it's, you know, little pop cans with and vinegar and baking soda and things like that and not do it with, you know, People and buildings and mountains.

Mark: And cities, and yeah,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So that's what I think. I think that this vision of the future starts with ideas that are around values, rather than structures. But in order to get those values really to propagate in a mass sense, it is going to take some major structural overhaul of the way humanity operates.

And fundamental to that is we have to find an alternative to capitalism that works better for the planet. I think one thing that would help a lot, Would be if there were something, and I am, I'm just sort of spinning and talking while I'm thinking here, so maybe I'll end up in something really stupid, but I think international shipping is a big problem. For one thing, it causes a tremendous amount of of carbon into the atmosphere, just astronomical amounts of pollution.

Yucca: Right. And so many other things. I mean, our, I think that decentralizing a lot of that would be really, really helpful.

Mark: I agree.

Yucca: you know, just the supply chain things that have happened over the last few years is just the tip of the iceberg with that. But if we could, return a lot of our means for survival to be in our own hands, in a more local setting, I think that that would be incredibly powerful because on so many different levels, one, just the practical, if something happens, then so many people are without a paddle, right?

But also, it's really easy to control people when you control their ability to survive. you Other means to survive, right? Yeah.

Mark: the exploitation of cheap labor facilitated by international shipping because producers can go shopping for the most destitute people they can find, pay them as little as they possibly can in order to produce consumer goods that then get shipped back to rich countries where people pay for them. And I mean, That's, that's not just a horror story, that is the standard operating procedure of manufacturing in the world. That's, that's, that's the way it is.

Yucca: That's the origins of most of the objects around you right now. For most people, I don't know, some of you might be actually out you know, sitting in a tree with just your phone and some earbuds in. If so, that sounds awesome. But I'm guessing most people listening right now are probably in a constructed environment.

In your car, in your house, you know, in a bus, something like that.

Mark: Yeah, yeah.

Yucca: So

Mark: And there's nothing wrong with that, and I want to be very clear, I'm not shaming people

Yucca: we're in the same boat,

Mark: Yeah, I mean, we all have to live, you know, we're talking on computers here I've got headphones on that I am absolutely certain were made in China by someone who was not paid nearly enough for the service of having created this product.

Myself, as, you know, similarly a wage slave in capitalism If that person was actually paid a reasonable wage, I might not have been able to afford these headphones, right? So the whole system reinforces itself, and no one is innocent, and no one other than the decision makers on this are really guilty.

Yucca: Mm hmm. I'm

Mark: You know, we, we all, we're all doing the best we can, given the system that we have, but that system needs to shift, unless we just decide we're gonna eat up the world and go extinct.

Yucca: not so fond of that,

Mark: I'm not either, I, that's just, you know, as, as golden futures go, that's really not one for me.

Yucca: this is a topic that we did do several years back at this point. We did talk about misanthropy and I do see a a strong tendency of that in our culture today. Which is, I find, very saddening. But I, other than I don't agree with that from a value perspective it's very, it's very counterproductive.

It really doesn't help us solve any of these problems, to be really down on, well, we should go extinct, it would be better for the, for everybody, or for the rest of the world, or, you know, all of that. It just, I don't think that, I don't buy that. I think it's not a very strong argument. It's kind of a, it's a cop out.

Mark: Yeah, I was gonna say I agree with you, I, I don't have much truck with that either, and I think it's intellectually lazy.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: I think it's just, oh, there's a huge complicated problem, I don't want to think about it, maybe let's just go extinct. and, and it's a very uncompassionate, non empathetic way of looking at humanity and at, you know, The crises that we confront and I hope to do better than that and I think that we collectively can do better.

Yucca: I think so. And I think it relates to our ability to choose what we are going to focus and pay attention to. And I think that's some of what we were talking about before about the nostalgia. When we're in that, we're focusing on just specific aspects of the past. Right? That nostalgia for the 60s in the hippie era.

Well, there was a lot of things that really sucked about that, right? But when we're longing for it, we're not longing for the war and the turmoil and all of that. We're longing for the parts that were really positive about it. And so we, we have the ability to really shape the way That we behave in the world based on what we focus on.

Not that we shouldn't pay attention to that, we certainly should pay attention to the negative things, but do we focus on solutions to those things? Or do we focus on the misery of how bad it sucks to be human? Yeah, enduring those things.

Mark: Right. Right. Yeah, that's exactly right. And one of the things that I find increasingly frustrating is, is that tendency to simply say, well, we're screwed. And so let's stop trying.

Yucca: hmm.

Mark: Now, trying is going to involve some dislocation because capitalism gives us lots of goodies. It's totally unsustainable, but it gives us goodies that if we were to move into a sustainable modality, we probably wouldn't have nearly as many of.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: But the odds are good that we would actually be significantly happier because Instead of filling our desire for happiness and for satisfactions with the purchase of things, we would have stuff like culture and community and relationships and, and, and celebration like Pagan celebrations around the year, that kind of stuff.

Spirituality art. All of those things that really are shunted to the side by the capitalistic frame, which is that all of those things, because they can't be monetized very well, aren't very important.

Yucca: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And so the challenge is moving out of that structure in a way that doesn't cause harm as we do it.

Mark: Or the, the, the so called soft landing. You know, there are so many indicators that point towards some kind of collapse or crash coming not very long from now between climate change and and various economic indicators and so forth. You know, it is likely that there is going to be some real privation in our future, but

Yucca: And there is. There is.

Mark: he will, and there already

Yucca: future. I think that there's a lot of places that we can point to in this moment and go, right here, here, here, here.

Mark: Right, yeah, I mean, any Appalachian town that had the top of its mountains shaved off by a coal mining company, and then, which then marched off to, you know, do its next project in Brazil and left all those people with no work in a destroyed environment, I mean, that's a microcosm right there of exactly what capitalism does.

And we need to have a more For want of a better word, holistic understanding about economic development. Economic development needs to be something that benefits people in the ways that most matter, and it is sustainable over time, rather than this endless boom bust thing that we see so often through capitalism.

Yucca: Well, I think remembering the root of that word is helpful in this. The echo is home. That's what the word means, is home. So it remembering that everything that we're doing, we are doing, To our home,

Mark: Mm hmm.

Yucca: so,

Mark: Mm hmm.

Yucca: which we are part of,

Mark: Right.

Yucca: right? A home isn't just a house. A home is the people and the culture in that house.

Right. It's all of the structures that the people depend on, that they're part of.

Mark: And a part of the way that we can start pointing in this direction, I think, is through media. Because people need You know, we're so disconnected now. I mean, let me speak for myself and what I see around me in American society, right? People are very disconnected. They're often disconnected from their own families. Because of the nature of the job market under capitalism, families are atomized to the far corners of the world.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: As people seek jobs and go and work it becomes very hard for people to build communities because they're moving around looking for economic opportunities.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And they're working themselves to death so they don't have a lot of time to build community and relationships and culture and all that kind of stuff.

So I do feel that getting some of those warm, fuzzy, kind, empathetic values out into media is a way to kind of start the process. Mean, I can think of a couple of examples that just sort of reminded me of. Oh yeah, people can be kind to one another, people can, people can love one another, people can accept one another for who they are.

And one of them is the Australian slash adults animated series, Bluey.

Yucca: Absolutely.

Mark: Yeah, I mean, as a mom, you, you know about Bluey,

Yucca: Oh, I absolutely do. The parents in our household will be watching it, and the kids have left the room. It's a great, yeah, it really hits home. Very sweet.

Mark: It's very kind and very thoughtful, and It's the kind of thing that, that moves the sorts of emotions that I think we need to be fostering more. You know, there's so much stuff out there that's all sort of, you know, post apocalyptic, war like, you know, blockbuster drama, and superhero vigilantes, and all that kind of stuff, and I just think people need to be reminded of how good it feels to be kind.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: the other one that I was thinking of is sensate. Did you ever see sensate?

Yucca: No, I'm not familiar with this one.

Mark: It's the word sense and then the, the letter, the, the numeral eight.

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: And you have to trust it because you won't understand what's going on until about three episodes into the series. It has Daryl Hannah in it and a bunch of people that I didn't know. But it's beautifully done. It's super queer, so it's very inclusive in that kind of way. And wonderful. It's done by the By Lana and the people who did The Matrix, Warszawski's, I, I, it's a, it's a long, seemingly Polish or Czech name that I, that I believe begins with a W. And both of those sisters are trans. When they made The Matrix they hadn't transitioned yet. So, interesting storytelling, interesting world perspective, just really worth checking out.

Yucca: hmm. I've written that one down. I'm guessing that's not something you can watch with a five year old in the room.

Mark: Probably not, no, there's, there's some sex in there, and,

Yucca: wait for after bed.

Mark: yeah and when they announced that it was cancelled, there was such an outpouring of, of rage that they made a movie to wrap it up, so that, there, the, I think it's two seasons and then the movie.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: It's either two or three seasons and then the movie, but anyway, yeah, worth, worth checking out because once again, it's like, oh, cool, interesting, unusual people being happy with each other.

This is great. And, and it's a, it's a dramatic story. It's got tension. It's got conflict. It's got, you know, intrigue and all that good kind of stuff. It's not just people standing around being happy with one another, which unfortunately is not entertaining.

Yucca: Yes. Although I wish that there maybe was some of that out there. Because sometimes that's what I, that's what I need to watch,

Mark: yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. It's yeah, it's a funny thing. It's like, media can be like a companion in some ways, but what it reflects back to us can be really impactful on our worldview and on our feelings. And so getting, you know, getting a lot of the cruelty and, coldness out of what we consume.

And building a market for that more kind, inclusive, warm human kind of way of being, I think is one of the things that we can do to start to shift things in the world.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: And then of course there's activism. I mean, you need to, you need to just advocate that people not be exploited. That the planet not be exploited.


Yucca: And of course, our, our everyday, just the way that we move through the world, right, working on ourselves about the kindness that we bring to the world, or don't bring to the world with us,

Mark: Yes, yes. And that's particularly hard right now, actually, with the cultural divide in the United States, at least, where the rhetoric is so vitriolic. And

Yucca: both sides,

Mark: both sides, it really is.

Yucca: demonization that happens, it's hard to breathe sometimes with

Mark: It is. Well, and, you know, a lot of that is inspired by leader figures. I mean, there's, there's a lot that can be laid at the feet of Donald Trump simply for how abusive he's willing to be to other people. And people see that and say, Oh, well, then I can do that too.

Yucca: right?

Mark: It's, it's just

Yucca: And I don't think it's a conscious process, for the most part. I don't think people actually say those words in their mind, to themselves, but that that is the takeaway, again, across the board, right? Not pointing to one aisle or the other, that that's, you That's a, it's something that's grown, at least my awareness of it has grown in the last few years.

I think that it's something that's not just my awareness, I think that's a trend that has really really spread.

Mark: Yes

Yucca: and I think some of that is enabled by the systems that we have. Especially with format that social media has right now. And I think social media can, can take different forms, but the form that it has right now is very, is about creating the us versus them mentality, because that's what gets the clicks and that's what gets the advertising dollars.

Mark: Yes. Yes, and to be honest, if it were not for the fact that the atheopagan community spaces are online social media spaces, mostly. I wouldn't be on them at all. I, I know that Facebook does bad things to me. I, I can tell that Facebook is doing bad things to me, and I can tell by the way the algorithm curates my feed that it's trying to rile me up, it's trying to get me mad.

I get this endless stream of, like, right wing Christian stuff.

Yucca: Well, because you look at it.

Mark: Well, even if I don't interact with it, it's

Yucca: but it sees how long you are, even if you don't click on it, it sees how long you stay over that page. So the, if you just keep scrolling past it, don't look at it at all, it won't give it to you as much. But it sees that you linger for that half a second on it, and then it'll give you more the next time, because it worked.

Right? And that, that is a content that, it doesn't actually look at what the content is, it looks at whether you engage with the content or not.

Mark: This is why I love groups, because there are no ads in groups.

Yucca: You can just go right in. Yeah.

Mark: in and you see the posts that people have made in the groups, and that's it. The, the curated feed is something that I try to avoid as much as possible. And, I mean, I used to use Twitter for rapid news, but now that's turned into a cesspool.

I'm not, not gonna

Yucca: Oh, I would say that it always has been. It's had some rough times recently, but it's It's definitely a model for all of that. Yeah. And of course, I mean, it's, each of the platforms have their, their issues. But, well, this has actually been a huge tangent. We we left the golden golden age topic half an hour ago, right?

Mark: Well, what would that golden age look like? To me, the balancing act there, the place where I won't go is the so called dark green resistance. direction. There's a book called Dark Green Resistance and it's, it's very problematic in a number of ways, one of which is that it's extremely ableist. It basically declares that industrialization is, and, and the products of industrialization are things that we're going to have to give up in order to get into sustainability.

And so basically everybody who's disabled and needs that support or needs, you know, prescriptions or whatever that is, they

Yucca: So the, the folks who rely on insulin or other things like that, too bad.

Mark: They can just, too bad. They're, they're, they're washed out. And so I find that very offensive and, and unproductive. I think, and unrealistic, to be honest, because the fact is that people,

Yucca: We're not going to do that,

Mark: no. People do, they, you know, these are family members, they're people that we love. We're not going to do that, and we're not going to let it be done to ourselves, either.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: So Me

Yucca: I, I really dislike the framing of the nature versus humanity,

Mark: too.

Yucca: right? That's just so unproductive because we are, we're part of, we're part of all of it and we have to take care of us to be able to take care of the whole system. Because,

Mark: And, and I have another tangent, which is that our, that that conceptualization of the separation between nature and humanity actually informs some of the early environmental laws that we have in this country, like the Wilderness Act that was approved in 1964. Which discusses in its preamble the idea of lands untrammeled by man, which,

Yucca: except that we've been here for 30, 000 years. Thank you very much.

Mark: In a completely racist way erases the presence of native people here for that entire time.

Yucca: who have been actively managing that there isn't any news. Maybe some areas in Antarctica. But other than that, there's, there's no land on Earth that we haven't actively been managing for thousands of years.

Mark: That's right.

Yucca: That's not, yeah.

Mark: Yeah, that's right. And there is still a divide within the environmental community between those who. are apoplectic that the National Park Service might allow these little tiny anchors to be pinned into rock so people can climb, because it's, it's inserting human technology into nature.

And people who are much more reasonable, who understand, climbers are some of the best environmentalists there are. They love the outdoors, they love the wild, they love the wildlife, they, they, they donate, they, they volunteer, they vote, they do all the things that we need to do for our environment. And you're gonna, you're gonna tell them to get lost because they because you're upset about a totally invisible thing way up high on a rock face?

I just, it's, it's, it ain't right.

Yucca: Right. And there's a lot of other examples, you know, we can choose different fields for that. But that's definitely one of the ones that's like, really? That's, that's, that's, that's, That's the, okay,

Mark: yeah, that's, that's the hill you're gonna die on.

Yucca: what you're going to fight with? Okay. Yeah, because it's, okay, full disclosure, I am a climber, so, but but that's not even like arguing about roads, which you could have the argument of if they're improper, if they're not put in right, then you get erosion and trickle down effects from, like, problems with that.

But yeah,

Mark: there's a lot to be said for roadless areas. When the roadless area policy was implemented under Bill Clinton, it did some very good things for some large, unsegmented

Yucca: absolutely,

Mark: of wildlife habitat.

Yucca: yeah. So, I see a lot of problems that have been created by roads. As a restoration ecologist, when I go in, that's one of the first things that we see is, oh, I haven't even walked up that way yet, but I know that there's a road that way. Right, so it's, it's something that, I just brought that up as something that I could see why people would be arguing against a road, but why somebody's going to argue against the little piece of metal in the, the rock all the way up there,

Mark: makes no sense whatsoever.

Yucca: most of the time you don't even know is there unless the person is actively climbing, right?


Mark: Yeah, exactly so. And, I mean, there, as you say, there are other examples of this as well. I mean, the, the terrible wildfires that ran through the Giant Sequoia National Park.

Yucca: Mm hmm.

Mark: killed 20 percent of the giant Sequoia trees. And the reason that that happened was because fire suppression practices for a century had built up fuels such that when fire finally went through there, the temperatures were so high that these giant

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