Posted by: energyblogwalter | November 20, 2006

Psychological Preparation Questions

This is an exert from Thompkins County Relocalization Plan.  It’s clear now that we’re no where close to prevention, but will have to suck it up when the effects of Peak Oil hit us.  Therefore, mental preparation will be very important to avoid much social stress and scapegoating.  Link and text follows:

On a personal level, many of us are going to be strongly affected by the lack of mobility that will result from the permanently high price of oil. While we tend to joke about the “cabin fever” that afflicts many residents during the winter, most of us recognize the effect of confinement as a potentially serious psychological risk. But cabin fever is nothing compared to what many people will feel when deprived of the unlimited ability to travel by automobile any time, anywhere, whether this limitation comes directly from high prices or indirectly from unemployment. Dysfunctional families whose only outlet is the ability of their members to get out of the house will suffer severe stress when confined in one place for long periods of time. People who identify with their vehicles and act out their need for control through the control of their vehicles will experience serious crises of identity, as will unemployed “movers and shakers” whose concept of self is bound up with their role in larger enterprises.

Many people will refuse to acknowledge the underlying cause of the problem — their own overconsumption of a finite resource — and will instead project their anger and frustration onto a variety of scapegoats, ranging from oil companies (for profiting from high prices) to environmentalists (for impeding the construction of power plants) to mysterious cabals (for being mysterious). People’s unwillingness to face their own complicity in creating the problem will be abetted by politicians eager to profit from popular unrest and looking to deflect attention from the sizable contribution made by their own failure to address a problem that has been decades in coming.

Research questions

Rebuilding community. How do we foster the recreation of strong local communities in the absence of a common religion? What kind of rituals can replace the practices that formerly bound neighbors into a common cycle of activities?

Rebuilding self. How can we provide alternatives to the sense of personal freedom and control previously made possible by cheap fuel? Is it possible to build a network of local gathering places that will allow people (especially young people) to escape from the house without needing to travel far? How can we replace the psychological and social functions of the automobile?

Rebuilding purpose. How can we give people whose identity is bound up with their jobs an alternative sense of purpose when those jobs have been made obsolete? Can the need to grow one’s own food serve this function?

Rebuilding personal empowerment. How can we restore a sense of personal control in a world that takes away our current almost unlimited ability to expend cheap energy?

Replacing consumption. With what can we replace material consumption as an expression of personal identity and power?

Combatting boredom. What will people do when limited to their own resources for entertainment? How can our extensive local arts resources help in training people to be more self-sufficient in this regard?

Combatting denial. How can we move our population to accept responsibility for their substantially lowered standard of living and focus on appropriate adaptations to the new order?

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