When the American folk-singer, Bob Dylan, way back in 1964, declared that ‘the times they are a-changing’ he clearly understood that a new era of rapid expansion was emerging—one that today is impacting upon every level of the human experience.
Someone who has studied this rapid, and someone say also degenerative, transformative process is writer and psychotherapist Carolyn Baker.
She firmly believes that we are failing to adapt to the changes that are taking place and that as a result society is plunging headlng into an abyss—one that potentially will result in our own demise.
In her book ‘Love in the Age of Ecological Collapse’ she shares her unique perspective—not so much on the nature of the collapse itself for this has been covered in detail in her earlier books, but on the need for each individual to formulate strong relationships and community ties as we face the prospect of our own demise.
The book opens with a look at what writer James Howard terms the ‘Long Emergency’. Here Baker reflects upon the dangers that social isolation brings at such times and ponders on the opportunities that are available to us when engaging strongly with other important areas of society.
Chapter one focusses upon that difficult situation which many spiritually-awakening people find themselves today—one in which one partner engages with the concept of social and environmental collapse but is not supported in their views by their own partners.
This disparagy invariably creates tensions between the two parties and Baker offers some advice on how this can be resolved.
In the next chapter she considers the impact that such issues as ecological collapse has upon our children. Here she advises on the correct method that a parent can take when dealing with youngsters of several different age-groups—though she does advise that children under the age of six years are not directly exposed to parental ideas related to the ‘Long Emergancy’.
Moving away from the immediate concerns of the nuclear family the author then looks at the relationships that we need to cultivate with friends, neighbors and the larger community of which we are part.
Once again she acknowledges the challenges that are faced when trying to prepare a community for collapse when, for the most part, people fail to demonstrate the essential characteristics of love and kindness to fellow human-beings.
Baker then looks at the world of work. She identifies the major disconnect that most people feel between the form of activity that they engage in to earn money in order to survive and the lack of connection to the Soul work that they are being called upon to do in their lives’.
The author also looks at the work ethic itself and its relevence to what she refers to as the ‘Sacred Economy’ as well as the function of creativity within the current system of ‘corporatocracy’—a method of consumer control upon which our whole industrial civilization is founded.
This problem, Baker believes, links directly to the widesprrad lack of respect thath big business as well as individuals have for our natural world and its limited resources that it provides.
She also critiques the New Age and its philosophy of the Law of Attraction with its concept of unlimited abundance, which she sees as being a direct consequence of our overly consumeristic material society.
This brings her to question the role and function of money with the false ethical parameters it establishes within society.
As an antedote to these issues Baker refers to the Four G’s of Enough-Ness; namely, Gratitude, Grief, Guardianship and Giving Back.
Oher subjects that the author tackles includes food and diet, animal consciousness, the form and nature of the human shadow before she expands upon the central theme of her book with a look at our own particular relationship with what she describes as the ‘Powers of the Universe’.
In the later quarter of her book the commentary becomes somewhat darker and bleaker in context.
Here the author considers life trying to exist in a world at he edge of finality. She considers questions that can arise within those regreting a life half-lived, lives’ spent in over-working, supressing feelings, losing touch with friends and actively denying ones self personal happiness. She also considers the prospect of being admiited into hospice care.
Finally, the book comes to an end with a look at death through heart failure and the five resultant patterns of grief that accompany those who are deceased. It closes with a article and advice for clearing the personal Shadow.
This is a book that utilises highly emotive terms such as ‘near-term extinction’, ‘conscious collapse’ and ‘congestive heart failure’ throughout. These are terms that the author draws upon in her belief that the world is facing destruction along with the inevitable eradication of the human species.
Although she does not go into her reasons for believing this imminent catastrophe is about to take place in this book it is a central theme that underpins all of her earlier published work.
Readers might be advised to check those books out first in order to gain a deeper understanding of where the author is positioning herself and her theories in order to fully appreciate the material on offer here.
Personally speaking I do not subscribe to what appears to me to be Baker’s overly apocolyptic prognosis of our destiny and so I have a problem with the essential philosophical ideas that underpins her work.
Nevertheless, for a variety of personal, psychological and environmental reasons I appreciate that many readers will accept her Doomsday paradigms.
For those who do then I am sure that the contents of this book offers a degree of comfort and emotional support. Followers of Carolyn Baker who have enjoyed her previous works will probably find in this one a sense of completition or tying up of the strands left unresolved in her previous work.
Those readers who are not so pessimistic about our future—but who are struggling with transformative challenges in their own lives—will also find this work interesting for its guidance in how to deal with difficult and even over-powering circumstances.
This is, however, a book that focusses upon a specific target audience and is rather broad in its assumptions and evaluations. The authors’ advice and spiritual insights, whilst interesting and non-challenging, is overly generalized in its context.
It is a book of commentary rather than instruction so the reader can be left either confused by its clear lack of direction or appreciative that in fact it offers an option to formulate their own decisions and make their own judgements at this time.
Which side of the fence you come down on will ultimately determine whether you consider this to be a valuable publication—one that adds to your life and understanding of how the ‘times are a-changing’ or is simply a collection of jumbled thoughts that confuses and confounds more than clarifies.
A wake-up call to all comfortable, essentially middle-class consumers who are suffering from ecological amnesia.