Ben Zolno & Alina Huff: Deep Adaptation and “Ok, boomer!”

When I first saw the phrase “Ok, boomer!” pop up on the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group, I admit I was offended. I felt like I was being blamed for something I didn’t do, and that my entire life experience was being dismissed with a snarky epithet.

As a moderator of the group, I concluded that to call someone a “boomer” like that was an insult, and thus forbidden by the rules. I ended comments on the thread, and muted the writer for a day. (Spoiler: That didn’t solve the problem!)

It was Ben Zolno who contacted me privately to say he was leaving the group, with this message:

“No one is putting responsibility on a single age cohort. That’s your emotions fogging you. The post was saying that kids see a huge portion of it is on the boomer generation. That’s just factually true. And they’re in pain, and the response of this group was, ‘Shut up, you’re hurting my ears,’ and it was rewarded.”

My eyes were opened! “Ok, boomer” is not rational statement (or not only so), it is an emotional expression. The question is not: How can we older people justify our actions in the face of sarcastic criticism? The question is: How can we, as compassionate elders, respond with empathy to this expression of pain and suffering from our younger kindred spirits?

I felt the need to learn more about how younger people actually think and feel about the catastrophe we face, and about how the Deep Adaptation group is handling it. This interview with Ben Zolno and his partner Alina Huff is my first attempt to begin that conversation.

(Further spoiler: Ben rejoined the group!)


If you have something to say about “Ok, boomer” and the generational divide – especially if you are a younger person – please contact me by email.

Alexandra Wilson – Part 2: Grief, Joy, and Returning to the Source

In the second part of our interview (first part here), Alexandra Wilson, of northern Wales in the U.K., continues with her radical approach to death and dying.  She talks about making peace with death, and about the force in each of us which wants to return to where we came from, and to find rest in the source of our being.

“When the fear of death dissipates, death itself is a joy. When the fear of loss dissipates, then loss itself contains joy,” Alexandra says.

Also, Alexandra and I engage in some heretical criticism of the Deep Adaptation philosophy.

I offer Alexandra the title “Prophetess of Doom,” which, upon consideration, she is willing to accept. “If I am a person who brings that truth to consciousness, which enables the process of grieving, such that we can collectively accept and be with the reality of what is, then I’ll take that,” she says.

If you haven’t read Alexandra’s extraordinary paper, see it here.

ADVISORY: If you are triggered by talk about death, be advised that Alexandra’s approach, though thoroughly compassionate, is unusually direct.

Alexandra Wilson – Part 1: Death, Oppression, and the End of Days.

Alexandra Wilson of North Wales, U.K., is an “End-of-Life doula;” that is, she accompanies people who are dying. She has a background in youth work, social policy and human rights.

Alexandra sent to me, and to the Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook group, an extraordinary message, weaving together themes of death, oppression, spiritual consciousness, grief and trauma, liberation, and the end of alienation (between peoples, and between humans and the earth). You can read that paper here.

In our interview, it became clear we were going “off the map,” to the places labeled “Here be dragons!” As it turns out, the flag of Wales is … a dragon! I said I would look it up, and you can see it above (on the blog). Alexandra says: “I’m very protective of the dragons, and they are of me.”

ADVISORY: If you are triggered by talk about death, be advised that Alexandra’s approach, though thoroughly compassionate, is unusually direct.

John Clarke: Deep Adaptation and Indigenous Community

John Clarke is an environmental activist, social worker, and philosopher who works with the indigenous Amadiba people of the Wild Coast, in South Africa. That community is fighting to sustain their ancestral lands against the threat of mining and exploitation by a foreign company.

John describes his lifelong growth into “environmental consciousness,” which he calls a pilgrimage and “a return from ecological exile.” From an awakening to the environment as a 17-year old visitor to a nature preserve, to activism against apartheid South Africa, to his current work helping defend the Amadiba people, John’s life has blended two threads: “an environmental ethos, and peace activism.”

In his work with the Amadiba, John has been taught their ancient wisdom, recognizing the latent life energy that exists in the land. He has learned that “inclusivety” is the primary virtue, and that social networking is the only way to achieve victories in the effort to protect the land and the people.

Ultimately, John says, the necessary struggle is to expand human consciousness. “The opportunity inherent in this climate collapse is for the emergence of a more compassionate, loving, inclusive, and healing consciousness.” And we cannot heal alone, he says, which is why communities-of-interest like Deep Adaptation are vitally important.


References:

  • A TV news story about the Amadiba people’s struggle against foreign mining, and the price they have paid, in violence.
  • Sustaining the Wild Coast: The South African non-profit created by the Amadiba people to protect their ancestral lands.