More Effect Than Cause?

September 5, 2021

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.“
— John Muir

Dear Family,

I spent this weekend on a project: setting up a small-time Prepper Stash. You might say that we transferred some of our savings account into Food Assets, specifically 160 pounds of rice, 50 pounds of rolled oats, 75 pounds of steel cut oats, 25 pounds each of chickpeas, black turtle and pinto beans, 50 pounds of red beans, and 25 pounds of brown rice flour. I did some research and decided to repackage everything into 25-pound bags with an oxygen absorber in each, two bags per plastic tub. You have to seal the mylar bags with heat, and it turns out that there is a thing called a flat iron for hair which works quite well for this. In theory, the bags should stay good for 5-25 years (flour for less time; rice and beans for longer).

Now that all the packaging is in the recycling bin, and the plastic tubs are in the closet, it doesn’t look like very much. Four hundred and thirty five pounds of food works out to a little more than a full year’s worth of food for one person, if that one person were to subsist on rice and beans and oats alone; so maybe 2-3 months for our family.

People keep asking: why did you want to put 435 pounds of food in your guest room closet? And I keep answering, Well, not because I’m paranoid. Just a little! It’s nice to have a buffer.


In between working on the prepper stash and tending to our feverish baby (finally feeling better, but he was very unusually grouchy this week!), I managed to have a few of those yo-yo days I was describing, where my long-supportive husband gets yet another round of Me Feeling Unmoored And Tenuous and Wanting Him to Listen All About It.

Things sure do feel unmoored and tenuous! _I_ feel so unmoored and tenuous.

And then, out of all the many dozens of black swallowtail butterflies that have been gorging themselves on our fennel plants, one finally began a chrysalis in the outdoor shower, in plain view (every other one has disappeared during this process). It is so super awesome!! I haven’t quite invited enough damselflies in to deal with the mosquitoes, but hopefully next year I’ll figure out how to tip that balance away from favoring hordes of bloodsucking insects. Meanwhile, I love that our backyard has evolved into a butterfly mecca. Butterflies are really fun to watch.


A dear person reported back that they read the “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” conspiracy theory article. Interestingly, this person did not have many quibbles about the facts contained therein, as with the causal chain/theory itself: too much coordination between government agencies would be required for such a plan to happen, which is impossible in the best of times - and those weren’t the best of times.

I asked, how do you have hope for the future? How do you work to promote policy [working to promote voter accessibility]- do you really feel like positive change is possible?

To paraphrase, this was their response: “I don’t do it for me, I do it because I grew up in a large family and I don’t like it when things aren’t fair. I have a great life, and enough resources, and I hang out with my spouse and kid in our beautiful house and play in my garden. I’m not really worried about the world ending for me, because I could get a gun and hang out in my garden and I’d probably be okay. But all over the world, and in our own country, there are people for whom their living situations are just awful, and they don’t have enough.

“I try to imagine how it would feel to be so scared about the place where I live, have it be so awful that I’m willing to risk everything and leave whatever I’ve got, to take my children to try to find somewhere better… And then I imagine all these families arriving at the border in Central America, and I imagine them being met by Neo Nazis who don’t want them to live here. And that just isn’t fair.

“I think that if we can get through the next 10 years while avoiding a Civil War, that will be a good sign. If we can nudge things in a better direction overall, then I think we have a good chance of seeing a better society in two hundred years or so…”


From another friend:

“… I have been reading this guy Matthew Crawford of Rounding the Earth Newsletter. Anyway, he is (almost) non-political, with a heavy statistics perception. His stuff is free, but his work is amazing. This edition talks about vaccine death numbers, but if you have a minute, all of his stuff is spot-on, he’s kind of funny, and explains things easily.”…
“I was happy when he mentioned John Taylor Gatto.”
The R(evolution) Begins Here and Now - by Mathew Crawford - Rounding the Earth Newsletter (

From our friend who originally passed along the “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” article:

“After your email, I went back and re-read the article. It really got me thinking about my own discomfort with ‘conspiracy theories.’

“…I get really uncomfortable with the way conspiracies are used as explanatory. This article, for example, does a really powerful job connecting a string of dots that leads to an explanation: ‘the global financial elite needed a way to curtail the coming financial meltdown, and the Covid pandemic was manufactured in response.’ The article argues this in a straightforward and compelling way. But what happens if we think about it from a systems perspective? 

“In any system, there are going to be ‘opportunists’, who seek to take advantage of weaknesses. In our immune system, for example, we are constantly fending off pathogens as a way of restoring balance. However, as the overall health of a given individual's immune system declines, there are many more opportunities for the system to move to greater and greater states of ill-health. Are we unhealthy because of the proliferation of viruses (the conspiracy mind), or are the opportunists thriving because of our ill health? In a way, it's germ theory vs. terrain theory. 

“I’d argue that it's more helpful, both in terms of our psychological state and our ability to respond coherently and effectively, to think of our current social, political, financial and ecological systems in a similar light. The system itself is moving more and more out of balance. We've reached the limits in all of those systems, which _allows opportunists to thrive with greater and greater ease_. The opportunists are not the cause of our plight, but rather the symptom of our imbalance. I think that's why the ‘Dark Ecology’ article spoke to me so deeply: it offers a response to our predicament that is not a call to arms. We're being invited to work towards a healthier and more balanced system, rather than to join the war against ‘the problem’ (pick your conspiratorial puppet master). 

“For this reason, it really doesn't matter to me whether the points in the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy have uncovered the true masterminds and/or causes of the pandemic. If it wasn't Covid that threw us deeper into disarray, it would have been something else. Gaia is far out of balance, if not more than ever before, at least more rapidly with far more leverages. Until there is real global and systemic change, we're likely to see even more opportunistic responses (and therefore, effective, in the darkest of ways) that will make Covid pale in comparison. I feel a lot of anxiety as I ponder that. But even more importantly, I ask myself: what is _my response, and my role to play within this greater, planetary ecosystem_? That's what really keeps me up at night…”


That’s a perfect analogy, and I think I concur with our friend’s points.

I struggle within myself to feel stable, which is why I say “I Think”, when actually I feel barely certain of anything. I am pretty certain that the spiritual void I keep feeling is that which religion would try to fill, if I had one. When every day I read horrible news after horrible news, my heart wants Something to Believe and my brain lurches around, trying to understand what’s going on first of all, and what to hold on to after that. 

Also I am so angry at those who would exploit others the way most persons do when they reach positions of power within our human pyramid schemes. It is so insane that you or I could end up in jail for some petty crimes, while the corrupt and cruel - one might even term evil - crimes committed by our global Ruling Elites generally go unpunished.

It occurs to me that we have often laughed when reading Greek and Roman myths. “How funny their gods are!” we say. “How could they have possibly taken them seriously? They’re so flawed, it’s crazy that at any point anyone could revere them!” And then I read about - say - the incestuous goings-on between the FDA and Big Pharma, and I realize: we have our own gods! We just call them CEOs and Politicians. We revere them by giving them ultimate power within capitalism (i.e. Having Lots of Money and therefore making their own rules). I hope someday our species will look back and say, “Oh my goodness, isn’t it funny how those people let Rich People Get Away with Murder, but they locked poor people in prison for growing cannabis?!”

What a crazy ass species we are.

Every day I feel bombarded by the insidious conspiracy vaunted by practically every news outlet and other person I meet: If everyone would get the Covid vaccine, this craziness will subside and we can go back to “normal,” a normal which I guess ignores all the crazy that has been building since waaaaay before Covid - and so this conspiracy absolutely infuriates me.

And then I again face my own spiritual void, the fact that while I read compelling and spiritually uplifting articles and essays and feel a brief solidarity with various points of view…it mostly breaks down by the next day because my own spiritual compass isn’t strong enough.

As a very small attempt toward strengthening my psyche, I plan to copy short excerpts from recent compelling articles so I can hang them in our kitchen.