Living in the Land of Pharaohs

My wife suggested that I write an article on the Land of the Pharaohs, not Egypt where the Kings of the Nile ruled, but right here and now, in the land of modern day Pharaohs. These modern day Kings are the Pharaohs of Industry, Pharaohs of Finance, Pharaohs of Media, Pharaohs of Education, and Pharaohs of Politics, all ruling over the Land of Denial. All exhibit one common trait….avoidance of giving credibility to existing difficult dilemmas, and a persistent refusal to address them.

Lately it appears I am watching a massive reenactment of the classic tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. All the Pharaohs/Emperors tell us that everything is just fine; all plans are working properly as designed. We are urged to ignore obvious, growing realities, and to go along on our merry way. We are receiving a wide spectrum of optimistic, official sounding reports, assuring us that the Pharaoh’s/Emperor’s New Clothes are as magnificent and genuine as we would wish them to be. The problem is that a portion of the worldwide population is coming to a new realization, that their own perception of reality is not flawed, but indeed, appallingly clear. Underneath their cloaks and credentials, the Pharaohs/Emperors are clearly without a stitch of real clothing, regardless of the presumed credibility official reports portray.

We have all been critical of the Pharaohs ruling over the Land of Denial, remarking to each other “Surely they must know?” and asking “Why don’t they inform us of what is ahead?”. Considering the fact that there are all types of data that show massive problems looming just over the next hill with Energy, Economy, and Environment, what is the information/communication holdup?

But wait a minute; things aren’t always as simple as we wish they were in the Land of Denial. I searched my own thoughts as to how I would proceed as a Pharaoh in the Land of Denial.
Basically I saw three different options:
1. Go open and public with the existing information as we know it about Energy and Economy, including potential disruptions and depravations that will accompany the approaching energy or economic decline. There would follow a necessary appeal for public cooperation.
2. Make the public aware of an energy or economic decline in a general sense, and outline potential steps to deal with the situation as well as what actions are underway to control the impact on the population.
3. Smile into the cameras, remain quiet, deny the existence of the inevitable oncoming change, and hope that some new oil find, scientific discovery or economic miracle will manifest itself in time before the population becomes too impatient or restless with the situation. This option inevitably allows Pharaoh to depart with the golden chariot, leaving the irreconcilable mess behind to be inherited by the next Pharaoh.
As a backdrop to these scenarios, we must realize once again that Energy is married to Economy, and Environment is a close relative. Even more distressing, Economy is on life support, plasma is running low, and diluted saline solution is being substituted in its place.

Now let’s speculate over the possible outcomes the Pharaohs might have with each of these 3 scenarios. With scenario 1, such a move would probably pull the plug on Economy’s life support system, and Economy would expire much sooner than anyone had ever believed possible. The impacts on the population would be swift, and devastating. Cooperation will be the last thing the population would offer to the Pharaohs in the Land of Denial. As with some processes in the real world, the phrase “Results may be unpredictable” may truly describe the public reaction to the Pharaohs becoming openly honest. Although we have heard many times that “honesty is the best policy”, in this case, it may not have the most livable outcome.

Scenario 2 looks to have promise as a possible approach, or does it? Creating public awareness of a truly distressing set of dilemmas will generate a call to action. Action in this case needs more than words, it needs capital, capital that a weakened Economy will be hard pressed to deliver. Uh oh! Yank the saline solution IV to free up capital and replace it with tap water from the restroom. Economy gets weaker. Not a pretty picture. Public frustration with the lack of progress on any front of the Energy/Economy dilemma, and we wind up with “Revolving Door Pharaohs”, coming and going so quickly that we start attaching their names on the Pyramids with Velcro. This scenario, it appears, would only have a chance of working if Economy is in robust health.

Scenario 3, even though by appearance seems a cowardly approach to meeting the coming Energy crisis tied to Economic crisis, is the only scenario that buys precious time to prioritize tasks and projects against available capital. That time may reduce the impacts of coming change, before divulging to the public the magnitude of what looms before us. Unfortunately, the Pharaohs seem to spend this precious preparation time engaged in frivolous pursuits. Does the phrase “Nero fiddling while Rome burns” seem an appropriate description?

Scenario 3 only is workable if you have real leaders serving as Pharaohs, holding key positions, with definite goals and directions for declining Energy, Economy, and Environment.

Meanwhile many Pharaohs continue on transacting “business as usual”, preserving their positions, perks, and extra-curricular activities, and in the meantime paying off the special interests that are truly financing them. Can you imagine what the magnificent structures of the Egyptian Pyramids would look like if the current crop of Pharaohs were trying to build them today? Scary thought.

Although most of us find Scenario 3, the Land of Denial, to be somewhat distasteful and unsatisfying, it appears it does buy us time. The Pharaohs around us may continue to squander this time chasing lollipops and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, you and I do not have to engage in this same folly. Many of us have worked through the denial phase with peak oil already, and developed some acceptance of the dilemma as it unfolds before us. We can now move on.

Undoubtedly, some decisions by the Pharaohs in the Land of Denial will greatly complicate and hinder our personal efforts to prepare for a different world, but we must persevere.

Our tasks are straightforward, Survive, Thrive, and Encourage others to participate with us, even if the thriving part will be less than we are accustomed to today.

Preparing ourselves, we will be miles ahead, while the Pharaohs in the Land of Denial continue insignificant debating over how many sides a pyramid should have.


PS: Thanks DW for the inspiration for this article; I hope I have done it justice.


  1. Will Stewart says:

    In actuality, all three scenarios are being realized currently, albeit in different countries;

    1. The Hirsch Report from the DoE 2005/2006
    2. The German Military (Bundeswehr Transformation Center) report on Peak Oil;
    2. Obama speech 12/2008: “the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy.” He then said “All of us know the problems rooted in our addiction to foreign oil – it constrains our economy, shifts wealth to hostile regimes, and leaves us dependent on unstable regions.”
    2. Obama speech 1/2009: . “At a time of such great challenge for America, no single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy,” he said on Monday. “It falls on us to choose whether to risk the peril that comes with our current course or to seize the promise of energy independence. And for the sake of our security, our economy and our planet, we must have the courage and commitment to change.”
    2. Obama speech 3/2009: “Oil is a finite resource… We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean: because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

    1. Of course, here is the speech he could have given;

    For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. ”

    Yet, the 15 minute mindspan of the typical American means these exhortations are overwritten when Grey’s Anatomy (etc) comes on, or the second drink kicks in, or they wake the next day and nothing significant has changed (not recognizing a “slow motion train crash”).

    So tackling the commute, job, getting meals ready, getting kids to soccer/swimming/ballet/piano/baseball/orchestra/(etc) and back again overwhelms the major planning sections of the frontal lobes. And then faint but unmistakable grinding sound of shearing (virtual) locomotive metal in the distance is drowned out. Plus, “shouldn’t they really be drilling more wells to bring down the price of gas??”

  2. Cassandra of the Remnant says:

    We are borne up from this planet. We will wither and die back into it. All of our complex nomenclature processes scream for recognition.

    Yet our society, our death culture wipes out this life affirming expression , forces it to push back , push under all that was life sustaining.

    One innate response is honesty, another empathy. We are human . We have freedom of expression. Yet our culture attempts to suppress and restrain this inherent need. We smother these feelings, entomb them, they reassign identify and gravitate toward the light in waves of violent regurgitation. Expressed in all the killing. And the dying. Heed this warning: Right now the killing is not in your neighborhood. Right now . . .

    And just as our greater mAcrocosm exhibits this paradigm of “avoidance of giving credibility to existing difficult dilemmas, and a persistent refusal to address them” so does our mIcrocosm also encompass this. We witness this in cities and towns, pockets of neglected reality. In our quaint little villages; mirrored in our churches and well-intentioned theme groups, why even in individual neighborhoods. Most definitely in families. Thinking that things are well, that all lives are equally satisfied. Hope is a sickened LIFE Form. DENIAL, DENIAL, DENIAL.

    If people cannot even understand and accept some form of this emanating from their own thought processes, how can we expect it from our brain dead elected officials?

    Just as a single molecular particle reverberates a mirage of our magnificent cosmos, as in upended quantum physics, then so too does one individual thought emulate a corrosive duplicity echoed in our collective unconsciousness reflecting that of the entire planet, perhaps even possibly the entire universe to diverse entities not even named.

    We must see the whole of the parts, we must echo reality, we must accept definition of individual crises and conflicts, we must, upon must believe, understand, voice our cognitive suffering, we must believe our neighbor, we must stop judging, we must start feeling, we must stop the hurting (the hurting by denying others’ hurt and reality), WE MUST NOT STOP SEEING . . . or it will fling back that one hardened neutrino of human unreality and bank it off the walls of every canyon from here to eternity and multiply it, two to the nth squared and we will not, we will not ever survive. . . . .

  3. Brad Janetstein says:

    Oh look, a type 1 (or is that type 2) Pharaoh:

  4. ROXANE MONIZ says:

    Just in case anyone needs to fill out a Denial Form, I found a blank form in this site PDFfiller. This site also has several related forms that you might find useful.

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