Rationality vs Intuition

A decomposing bird carcass, filled with plastic pollution on Midway Island. Photo: Chris Jordan

In 2008, worldwide consumption of bottled water surpassed 52 billion gallons. 86% of these bottles will not be recycled, but will rest in a landfill.

Should you care?

Rationally, there’s no reason to care. The bottles will be buried and mostly out of sight. Besides, with the human population exploding, and the developing world hungry to consume as much as the rest of us, humanity is doomed anyway.

In my recent interview with Charles Eisenstein, he shares much the same conclusion:

It is quite irrational to believe things will ever be much better than they are today. When you really study the situation the world is in, you realize that it is going to take a miracle, lots of miracles, so save us. The situation is quite hopeless, from a rational standpoint.

On the surface, that’s pretty depressing – and it’s fairly easy to give up and decide to carry on with “business as usual.”

But every so often, when we catch moments of stillness, when we relax the cold logic of rationality, we touch upon the beauty of intuition.

It’s intuition that grips our hearts when we view images like the one above, revealing the brutal effects of plastic pollution on wildlife. There’s something about it that feels… wrong.

It is the same feeling that demands we phrase the Gulf “oil spill” for what it truly is. As Naomi Klein writes:

The hole at the bottom of the ocean is more than an engineering accident or a broken machine. It is a violent wound in a living organism; that it is part of us.

It is the feeling that we are more intimately connected than we’ve been led to believe. Eisenstein describes this connection:

I think we know in our hearts that we have the power to create a beautiful world. It will only happen, though, if we listen to our heart’s knowing enough to actually carry out the actions necessary.

We are called to live according to what our hearts know. That is the only sure guide. That is also a true revolution.

The mental calculations we call ethics, minimizing your carbon footprint, etc., none of those are a sure guide. Like, should I fly to California to co-create a transformational event? Well, it burns a lot of jet fuel. How can I possibly add up all the costs and benefits? It is impossible.

When we try to choose from the head, we get into a maze of indecision, and even when we do choose we have no certainty and no courage. So now it is time to listen to our heart knowing.


  1. So should someone fly to California to co-create a transformational event? It happens all of the time, if not CA then pick your destination. Should organic papayas that are grown in Hawaii be flown to parts of the world where papaya trees cannot flourish? How do you rationalize such an issue? Is the law of compensation good enough to justify our good intentions? For the longest time, transformational events have been produced and yet the sense today it one that might be best expressed as, “everything appears to get bigger and bigger but not much better.”

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