Extinction Rebellion - a ‘joyous call’

The call to join Extinction Rebellion is a psychological and spiritual call, as much as it is political.


Extinction is a crime against all time. We must understand what is happening to us at this crucial stage in human evolution. At this stage in the evolution of consciousness itself on Earth. 

With technology, we have developed massive power that can be used for better or for worse. However, our consciousness, and our conscience - what the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire called “conscientisation” - has not kept pace with invention. 

This has left us utterly exposed to the blandishments of marketing. Exposed to what might be thought of as “Microsoft security vulnerabilities” within the human psyche. 

Wants and needs

Throughout the twentieth century, the corporate marketeers have exploited the tools of wartime propaganda. They have combined them with insights taken from depth psychology - insights from the likes of Freud, Jung and Adler. Insights that were intended to heal the suffering of the human soul, not to capitalise on it. 

They have used these to hook into our deepest hopes, fears, and desire itself. For a century now, we have been subjected to advanced motivational manipulation.

As such, consumerism did not just happen. It has been wilfully created. Consumerism, more than levels of population, is the cutting edge of human impact on the planet. I define consumerism as consumption in excess of what is needed for a dignified sufficiency of life. 

Marketing - setting up the idols of its false gods - has replaced the legitimate satisfaction of human needs with a devilish creation of unnecessary wants. Why can’t we “get no satisfaction”? Because we have been hoodwinked into replacing true satisfiers with false satisfiers. These always let us down. 

But here’s the nub, the painful bit. Too often, we ourselves are complicit in the hoodwinking. We’re addicts, who keep on living in the hope that the next fix will be the fix-all.

Psychological work 

Whenever we slip into being self-centred we’re complicit. Whenever we avoid the inner work that is needed to become more centred selves. The spiritual work, or call it if you prefer, the depth psychological work.

And so, we see, our extractive and extinction-rendering economy is driven by both these inner factors that come from ourselves, and outer factors imposed by others and by the emergent properties of the systems within which we live. 

What can be the antidote? How can we delegitimise such systems and thereby drain them of their hold upon us? We must dig from where we stand, wake up, be “woke”. 

Individually and collectively, we need to ask ourselves the fundamental question: “Does it give life?” Does a given course of action, or a particular consumer product, give life? Or detract from it, and thereby, lead towards extinction? 

It’s hard to talk about these things. Interestingly hard! But I believe we must throw off our embarrassment about love. 

Bearing witness 

We need to start talking more, learning and teaching one another how to be great lovers in these times. Lovers of one another. Lovers of life itself. Lovers of the paths of being, doing and experiencing that give life. 

We must be humble. We are all complicit in the state of the planet, albeit some much more than others. 

The word, “protest”, comes from the Latin,pro-testari. It means to testify for, something. To bear witness. To be Extinction Rebellion.

This, then, becomes a joyous call - a basic call to consciousness; a call to live this life as not just any old life, not just as any piece of shit to be kicked around and to kick around. But to live this life abundantly.  To be great lovers.

This Author 

Alastair McIntosh is the author of books including Soil and Soul (on land reform), Hell and High Water (on climate change and consumerism), Spiritual Activism (on doing social change) and Poacher’s Pilgrimage (on war and the inner life).

More from this author