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Excerpt from Dreams

Capital of Mongolia (p. 158)

From chapter "Progress"

Of course I recognize that knowing the capital of Mongolia and knowing the land where you live are not mutually exclusive. I’m simply commenting on what knowledge this culture does and does not value, and I’m pointing out that in high school I learned that the capital of Mongolia is Ulan Bator, yet I was never taught anything about how to survive in the real, physical world.

We’ve been talking about beliefs that would “embarrass even a child.”

Do you want to hear some embarrassing beliefs? I’ll tell you some beliefs that would do worse than embarrass, but would rather appall children (and adults) six or seven centuries from now, presuming any children (or adults) remain, presuming the cult of the scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic, managerial perspective hasn’t

effectively ended life on this planet.
Geography: the belief that you can enslave a planet (make it jump

through hoops on command) without killing it. The belief that you can kill the planet upon whom you live and that somehow you will survive. The belief that harming the planet is not terminally stupid. The belief that it’s not a terrible idea to create an economic system based on destroying the planet, and the belief that the success of this economic system is measured (the gross national product) by how much of the living you convert to the dead. The belief that the world (or universe) is a great machine. The belief that humans are more intelligent than nonhumans. The belief that the world was made for us to use, and to use up. The belief that there are no limits to power. The belief that there are no consequences for exploitation.

Astronomy: the belief that the stars cannot lead us home. The belief that we do not need the stars to help us find our way home.

Medicine: the belief that we can be healthy on an unhealthy planet. The belief that the health of a human community is measured by its financial wealth. The belief that the health of a human community is measured by its ability to control, by its power. The belief that the health of a human community is measured by its growth. The belief that you can have infinite growth (the logic of cancer) on a finite planet.

Perhaps most importantly, the belief that nonhuman others have nothing to say, to each other and to us.

Children of the future—human and nonhuman, presuming there are any left—will find all of these beliefs not only appalling; not only stunningly ignorant; not only completely selfish, arrogant, and immature; not only utterly counterintuitive; not only entirely counterexperiential; not only remarkably stupid; but absolutely insane.