- Walking Away from Empire: A Personal Journey by Dr. Guy McPherson
- ISBN: 9781462638871
- # Pages: 230 pages
- Dimensions: 6×9
- Format: Softcover
- Release: 9/27/2011
We first profiled Dr. Guy McPherson in this article about fusing science and poetry to combat bullying. However, his book, “Walking Away from Empire: A Personal Journey” has recently been released and is garnering loads of attention. Typical of McPherson’s writing, it’s controversial yet not for controversy sake. It’s insightful but without an intention to be. In the end, the intention here is to educate the masses on a problem we all are feeling either indirectly or directly. Want to know why the global economy is struggling? Want to know why you can’t find a job? Want to know what’s going on in the world? It all comes down to the environment – this place we live on but not with. McPherson has facilititated poetry lessons with incarcerated youth, he is a man of the utmost empathy. But his message about the collapse of civilization is a brutal one, a brutal story that needs to be addressed with a strong, confident voice like his. Some have cited McPherson crude or careless in his message, but he is the messenger of this bad news precisely because he cares. A careless person would sit back and let the world fall to pieces. Although McPherson believes we’re headed down an irreversible path of destruction, it’s ultimately his caring that makes him want to go down with a fight.
Look, most books have some value. They help us see a new perspective, teach us about issues we’re unfamiliar with or help us reflect on our own lives. McPherson’s Walking Away from Empire has these literary values, but beyond that, it’s an important book to read. Here is a man who had it all by many standards – a tenured science professor at a Tier 1 research university, high-pay, work he loves, far less than 40-hour work weeks. But he walked away from it in the prime of his career. Not all books are “important.” But this one is. It’s a book that shouldn’t just be read, but used. Here are two excerpts:
(1) My place of birth: the heart of the Aryan Nation, northern Idaho. The year: 1960. In so many ways, it was a time far different from today. The primary industries in the town of my birth were hard-rock mining and prostitution.
Ten years after my birth, living in a backwoods, redneck logging town even smaller than the town in which I was born, I’m walking along a gravel road on my way to elementary school. I look up to see a 13-year-old student pointing a rifle out his bedroom window. It was aimed at my head. I knew better than to run. If I showed fear, he might shoot. We can’t outrun bullets. The incident was so ordinary I didn’t bother to tell my parents for another two decades. It just never came up. America’s Cultural Revolution spread its messages of tolerance and free love to northern Idaho long after it rippled through the rest of the nation.
(2) I recall last week’s visitors, a gaggle of university students. After talking for hours about economic collapse, including light’s out in the empire and no water coming through the municipal taps, I was extolling the virtues of living in a “third-world” country with rainwater harvesting and hand-dug wells. A very fi t, 20-year-old woman askedfor clarification about the wells: “They really dig them by hand?” I explained that I move as much dirt in an average weekend as required to dig a 20-foot well. Tears welled up, and she turned away. Economic collapse is fun to talk about, until it becomes personal. And for most people, the personal nature of physical labor is no fun at all.
Cameron Conaway is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet.