The recent events in Kazakhstan are a wake up call for devotees everywhere. I live in the US, which has a history of religious tolerance and respect for human rights, but in recent years, since 9/11/01 to be specific, there has been a systematic attempt by this federal government to dismantle basic civil rights even here. When you examine the contents of the Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act and several other similar laws that have been passed since 9/11/01, it becomes evident that the complete legal framework now exists to support a state of martial law.
The discretion to declare martial law rests entirely in the hands of one man, the president. The Supreme Court or Congress cannot intervene or review the situation for at least 6 months. Needless to say, the civil rights we now take for granted including free speech, religious freedom, and all the rest could not be guaranteed during such a situation. When the president declares martial law such as in the event of a “terrorist” attack, a natural disaster.
Even unrest in the form of government protests or civil disobedience, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) would have the authority to commandeer farms, businesses and all local and state government facilities and personnel. It is interesting to note that 9/11/01 is the first day of a very long and difficult Rahu dasa in the new United States jyotish chart. Rahu is conjunct Mars in the 12th house. July 7, 1920, 16:39 Philadelphia PA.
Even without a military or natural disaster, economic crisis and a possible collapse as a result of oil shortages is close at hand. Peak oil, the state when oil extraction reaches it’s zenith, occurred in the US in the early 70’s. Global peak oil, by most expert accounts, is likely to occur on or around 2010. This means that by the end of this decade we will begin to see declines in oil production even in the Middle East and the world’s other major producers.
The result will be sharp increases in fuel prices as well as price increases in almost every category. When you closely examine the economy, you discover that practically every good and service we consume is somehow directly or indirectly dependent on oil either for production or distribution. As the plateau of oil extraction tails off to begin the down slope, we will begin seeing the collapse of all oil dependent economies and increased conflicts over the remaining oil reserves in Venezuela, North Africa, the Middle East, Mexico, Russia etc.
In fact, in most of the world the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq is seen as nothing more than a power grab for some of the largest oil fields on the planet. In the US we’re told these wars are to fight “terrorism”. In any case, the immense amount of energy being expended in these wars will only exacerbate the problem.
In the time we have left before the crisis state, it is extremely important that devotees individually and collectively plan and act to achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency. If the preaching of Krsna consciousness is to continue post-collapse, devotees need to be in a position of strength and relative comfort. This means we should be planning and installing renewable energy systems, growing food, having the means to obtain potable water when the grid goes down, and dozens of other important considerations.
Obviously, the rural properties will be the best refuges and this is exactly the reason Srila Prabhupada urged us to purchase and develop them. The rural ashrams provide the best opportunities to grow food, develop sustainable energy systems, eg, solar, wind, biomass, etc, and also allow devotees a safe haven from the certain chaos and likely violence in the cities.
But as the events in Kazakhstan illustrate, it behooves us to carefully consider exactly which areas will be the best survival outposts. In one sense, every Vaisnava outside of India could be viewed suspiciously and therefore a possible threat. Areas predominated by religious extremists will most likely be some of the worst places for devotees to seek refuge. In addition, areas that have a history of racial or ethnic tensions could be unsafe also. Devotees in some rural districts have cultivated very good relationships with the local people and authorities and in my view, this can be very important in a crisis situation.
If the locals are already hostile to the devotee community, it is very likely that a time of scarcity and tension will only exacerbate the hostility. Therefore, good community relationships should also be a high priority on the list of necessary preparations for the coming crises.
I believe that it’s important to seriously begin the preparations needed to survive and spread Krsna consciousness in the post-oil world now. Our GBC, temple presidents, and senior devotees need to understand where world events are headed and lead the devotee communities in this effort. Without this important action our communities, preaching efforts and the lives of many devotees will be put in jeopardy. I would appreciate any and all feedback and correspondence on this subject. Dandavat pranams to all the Vaisnavas.