Mixed Media Readings

Poems for the Solar Age

Kosmos | Dear Hazel, everyone knows you as a futurist and as an evolutionary economist, an author and a consultant, but I don’t think many people know you as a poet.

Hazel | I knew, for my mission in this lifetime, I would have to do battle with all the alpha males who run the public and private bureaucracies in most countries, and also run most of the academic scene and the silos and the boundaries between disciplines and all the competition and so on. I knew I would have to shift to my left brain and document everything very deeply. So the poetry was when I came home after doing battle in Room 100 under the Capitol Dome for six years as a cabinet level science policy advisor. I would get home and all I wanted to do was to write poems.

Kosmos | So, the poems go back?

Hazel | It was from 1974 to 1980—that was when I was in Washington advising The Office of Technology Assessment and The National Science Foundation. I was on the committee on Public Engineering Policy at The National Academy of Sciences and Engineering. And they did a big interview with me in Science Magazine back then because I was the only woman charging around in science policy. 

Kosmos | Before we get into the poetry, I do have just a couple of burning questions. I think anyone would agree that we’re at an inflection point—what is it going to take at this point to shift the economy and our economic thinking to be more regenerative and more just?

Hazel | Good question. In the 60s, as an environmental activist, I knew what would shift the paradigm would be the social movements: the environmental movement, the women’s movement—all of these are now reaching critical mass, and, thank God, with all of our children jumping in. They cannot be dissuaded because they see the future looming. And in most of my writing, I was pointing out that basically breakdowns drive breakthroughs.

I could see at every system level, things breaking down and being papered over, and I realized that the theme of everything I was writing was about the acceleration of change. And so, what we’re living through right now is that the system is coming up to real time. It’s been accelerating and there are no more niches to hide the truth. In every system now we’re seeing flaws, and the rationalizations, the assumptions that turned out to be short-sighted and incorrect, are now patiently obvious. 

It’s the planet now which is waking us up. And if climate change isn’t enough, then it’s going to be COVID-20, COVID-21, COVID-22. And we’re realizing that until we look at our assumptions of materialism and our model of success and our whole lifestyle, until we accept the fact that it is not fit for our purpose on this planet, it’s completely unsustainable. That’s all nature is trying to tell us.

Kosmos | Yes, I believe we are tuning in more to what the planet is trying to communicate. We’ve desacralized or desecrated many of our relationships with nature. I know what a sun lover you are, and I am too. As a species we used to be in awe of fire, in awe of the sun. And so when we desacralize something, we no longer treat it with care or reverence or respect. What would it be like to resacralize our relationship to the sun and to energy?

Hazel | Well, for one thing, it would be so relaxing! Because all of this urge to dominate, control, and be in charge of everything is such an arrogant sophistry. The lesson is humility! It’s about enjoying being part of the wheel of life and enjoying our relationship with all the other species so that we slow down enough to really notice the beauty. That’s why I love Kosmos so much—because of the beauty in each issue. It’s part of the slowing down. 

I have a personal mantra, and it’s all to do with my life’s purpose. It’s about universal love, which is the most powerful force in the cosmos. And my theme and my mantra in this lifetime is connecting with all of those who understand that love does conquer all eventually. 

Kosmos | Let’s talk a little bit about the first poem, Cyberspace is Sacred Space. Kosmos has been meeting, as you know, with young millennial inheritors of wealth.  Many of them are looking for meaning and purpose. They’re struggling to align with Purpose. And I wonder what you would say to them—what is the message of your poem Cyberspace, particularly for millennials?

Hazel | I think that when I wrote this poem in 1999, I could see the promise of cyberspace and the internet we all felt back then. We were all just dreaming of this kind of platform, where we would bypass all the old structures and get our voices heard for the first time. And already back then in 1999, I could see it falling into the “money meme.”

It reminds me of The Sounds of Silence: “and the people bowed and prayed to the neon God they made.” And this is all neon God. When I saw the internet being swallowed up by profit-making, and the same kind of Silicon Valley business models, it was just so sad. Yet, I have complete faith in our young people now, that they’re onto this and tracking it, and that we’re going to eventually fulfill the promise of cyberspace and use the internet for the purpose we always intended it.

Cyberspace is Sacred Space

Kosmos | Thank you. Yes, we do need to think of these as sacred technologies because they really are gifts from the universe. Cyberspace biomimics human consciousness. All of our technologies—solar energy, robotics, artificial intelligence, drones—all of them need to be put to sacred use, restoring life on Earth. But will they?

Hazel | The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment was founded in 1974 for this very purpose. And I helped to promote the legislation that founded the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, and, of course, I was the only woman. They were all white alpha males. And the first meeting we had in room 100, just off the Capitol Rotunda underneath the dome, I walked in there and they looked at me and said, “Oh, could you go and get us the coffee?” Because they assumed, of course, that I must be a servant.

I have a complete copy of all the reports of The Office of Technology Assessment online, and in electronic form. I’ve been doing a project with the University of Florida Press. And we’ve re-introduced one which is free on our website. It’s called Assessing Technology for Local Development. And it could have been written yesterday, because it’s all about community owned wind farms, solar energy, contract agriculture, farmer’s markets, micro grids, everything that we’re doing today.

Well finally, what happened was that Newt Gingrich shut it down because the Republicans were so upset with what we were doing. And they said, “We don’t need an office of technology assessment, because the market drives the technology.” So they had weaponized economics once again. These two wonderful technologies that humans developed: money and markets, wonderful tools when used correctly, have been weaponized and turned into tools of power and exploitation, and we haven’t yet fully unraveled that.

40 other countries adopted the OTA model, and we were the only ones that shut it down. We decided to slay the messenger, but 40 other countries have been doing this all along, including Japan. So, here’s some interesting news: about 40 members of Congress right now are trying to refund OTA because it’s still authorized.

Kosmos | Interesting story.

Hazel | So you see, it would be very helpful if Kosmos could tell that story.

Kosmos | Absolutely. And that’s a good segue to the excerpt from your poem, Pecos River Meditation. So tell me a little bit about that story.

Hazel | I was giving a series of talks at a corporate ranch that was being built in this wonderful wild area of the Pecos River, just a little South of Taos. And my friend who invited me to do this, Larry Wilson—a really beautiful ethical guy—he was trying to teach corporate executives about the long term. And I was sitting there that morning, the first morning, thinking how do I actually get through to these guys? There were maybe 50 of them. And that was where I wrote that poem.

Excerpt: Pecos River Meditation

Kosmos | We really do need to use our reverence for nature to inform our use of technology,

Now, the Ode to the Solar Age poem is quite long. And I don’t want you to get too tired. This one is so apropos for the spring edition, “Century of Awakening.” So, would you say that we are closer to this dream of the solar age or further away than say 30 years ago?

Hazel | Much closer, because I have been tracking through our Green Transition Scoreboard that this has now entered the mainstream as the biggest investment opportunity, that all of these former fossilized sector investors are suddenly realizing. And as you may notice from our website, I have been doing all kinds of videos with asset management groups. And one in London that I’ve been working with has a portfolio of pure solar energy investments, all small SMEs, and it’s called exponential energy fortunes. And it costs a lot to join, to find out about this portfolio, with it’s double and triple returns, on all these small scale companies that everybody misses because they’re not in the major indexes.

Kosmos | Let’s go for it.

Ode to the Solar Age

Kosmos | So one final question for our century of awakening—I guess it’s a parallel question to the one I just asked you about energy—but what must we fundamentally change in our economic way of thinking in order to usher in a century of regeneration and hope, a new era?

Hazel | Okay. We have to remember the two ways that human beings transact with each other. One way: we use money, shells, wampum…cattle, cigarettes, whatever. And the other is relationships – the Golden Rule. And basically, even if you look today, almost every deal is based on some kind of human relationship that may be a bit obscure, who was a friend of somebody else who went to school with their kids who married their second cousin.

What we have to remember is that relationships actually drive the economy, and the money is just a symbol. It’s a way of tracking and keeping score. But until we fully understand that, money is just a string of digits in a computer, and that it’s a social protocol based on the network effects of platforms, and that the value of currencies, all currencies, is simply based on how many people on that platform trust and use it. That’s all.

Kosmos | Before we close, I’m not sure that we ever heard your mantra, did we?

Hazel | I could grab it if you have a minute.

Kosmos | Yes please.

Hazel | OK…And this came to me in the middle of the night, maybe 25 or so years ago. And finally I got clear what I’m supposed to be doing. And I just took it down.

“Each day I recommit myself to the almighty power of universal love and the evolutionary life force of which I am a small part. I will always be guided by this source of my eternal being and will walk in faith and hope for life on this earth and always seek those who share this knowing as my companions in love on light. I balance my energy in joy and serving my highest purpose, my universal self.”

Kosmos | Absolutely beautiful. Glad I asked you to share it.

Hazel | I just love what Kosmos is doing. Thank you.

Hazel’s Poems

Cyberspace is Sacred Space

Earthbound humans
Soaring at last,
In cyberspace.
A leap in their long
And painful journey
Upward: from Olduvai,
Altimira’s caves
Catal Huyuk,
Sumer, with waves
Of patient migration
To cover all the lands
On the bosom
Of Mother Earth.

Entrance to the Mind
Of God.
Sacred Space,
Full of promises
Sung by all our sages
From Nomad Gatherer – Hunters
To Agriculture: Gift
Of all our Mothers.
To Industrialization,
Materialism, Consumerism,
Onward to the vaunted
Information Age.

Triumph of Technique
Yet mindlessly playing
Earlier childhood games:
Clicking on trades
In the Global Casino,
Dungeons and dragons.
Escaping from the Sacred Duties
Of Earthbound Life.
More ancient win-lose games,
Netizens crowing
Over Citizens,
Celebrating freedom,
Rights without Responsibilities.
Will we reach
The Age of Knowledge,
Learning at last,
To understand
The mysterious glories
Of Mother Earth
Teeming with Life
Symbiotic with our own?

Will we move on
To the Age of Wisdom
Seeing all Life
As inseparable
On our planetary journey?
Will we use our tools
Of Communication
To reach Community,
And a new Communion
With the Cosmos?


Excerpt: Pecos River Meditation

When all remember they are lovers
Then all places are sacred once again,
Each red pepper drying in the sun,
Each seed of corn,
Sweet smelling cedars flanking
The peaceful stream.
The spirit of all things in the brisk, chill wind, 
The untidy, boisterous dogs,
The winter-coated, sweating horses.

Sacredness is everywhere,
From the lonely pueblo ruins,
To mysterious dugouts, black pots
Lost on sandy isles,
Amid tangled seagrape and diving waterbirds.
Neither is sacredness the province
Of antiquity, or any age,
Each time and culture offers us its gems
Even our own “post-industrial era.” 
It is for us to see the beauty in this too, 
Amid the strutting “Information Age,” 
The nuclear nightmare.


Ode to the Solar Age

Entering the Age of Light
A new Age of Enlightenment
Humans awakening
To the Solar Age!
Envisioned for centuries
By many peoples on Earth
Those who worshipped the Sun,
Saw land and fire as sacred
Living with earth and winds,
Respecting the Four Directions.

Yet hordes of strutting conquerors
Brought globalization and the vaunted
Industrial Era.
Weaponizing ancient tools:
Money and Markets.
Narrowing relationships of caring,
Sharing and mutual respect.
The ancient Golden Rule of community.

Mathematizing exploitation,
False metrics concealing the pain.
Devastation of the Anthropocene Age
Hidden by illusions of abstraction.
Destruction of other lives and species
Marketed as “progress” and “success”.

The planet’s wake-up call
Arriving in pandemics
And climate catastrophes.
Humans now face graduation time.
Are we fit to continue on this Earth?
Tested now before allowing
Our ambition to colonize
Our Solar System as 
An inter-planetary species.

We need first to learn
Our true situation 
Living with other species,
Dependent on our still-hospitable planet
Powered by the daily photon shower
From our Mother Star: the SUN!

Learning at last, from green plants
Their ways of harvesting 
Those free daily photons 
With Photosynthesis!
Life’s primary technology 
Besting all human techne as
Merely biomimicry.
Plants producing food and sustenance
Inhaling our CO2 while 
Providing us with oxygen.

No need to dig deep in Earth’s crust
For fossil oil, coal or minerals.
Solar cells, wind turbines,
Geothermal and ocean energies 
All stored and distributed
By the lightest element: 

All provide beyond our dreams
Healthy lifestyles, enough for All.
No need to compete, instead:
Joy in sharing and communing
In all our communities,
Families, tribes and nations
Face to face and in
As our beloved children are teaching.

Released at last from 
Conceptual prisons,
Recycling our cultures and theories.
Freedom from cognitive limits,
Academic boundaries and silos.
A new Age of Enlightenment for All.
Healing ourselves and the Earth.
Re-planting, re-wilding
Lands, rivers and forests.
Fulfilling at last 
The promise of generations of
Fire and sun-worshippers, 
In this new Age of Light,
The Solar Age!

About Hazel Henderson

Hazel Henderson’s achievements and influence span the globe. Founder, Ethical Markets Media, Dr. Henderson is a world-renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, a worldwide syndicated columnist, and consultant on equitable ecologically sustainable development and socially responsible business and investment. She is the author of Beyond Globalization, co-editor of The UN: Policy and Financing Alternatives, and seven other books. Well known for the Calvert-Henderson Quality-of-Life Indicators, she shared the 1996 Global Citizen Award with Nobel Prize Winner A. Perez Esquivel of Argentina. To learn more about this extraordinary woman, visit www.hazelhenderson.com.

Read more

Related Reading