I would like to listen more.
My friend Duff posted a link to – as well as some scathing commentary on – Steve Pavlina’s recent post about resolving global conflicts. Pavlina is of the view that the war in Iraq can best be addressed by meditation and consciouness-raising; Duff believes this is a myopic and narcissistic approach and that the oil crisis is not going to be served by sitting on a cushion and thinking good thoughts. My personal view is that they’re both right: I’m including my response here.
It takes a tremendous amount of courage and awareness to get to the point at which we realize our responsibility for the violence in the world and the situation in the middle east. So many of us prefer to see the problem as “out there” – as something beyond our control – instead of taking an clear-eyed look at how WE are responsible for it. The more we raise our awareness, and the more we’re able to respond to the world and to those beings in it with love and compassion, the more we’ll be inspired to tread lightly on the planet, to reduce our dependence on oil, and to contribute to peace in the world.
What other route is there? Coercion? Forcing people to behave in more peaceful or less exploitative ways? In my view this merely displaces (if not downright exacerbates) the problem. So while I agree with Duff about the paramount importance of reducing our dependency on oil and of working to reverse global warming and directing our efforts at creating more sustainable communities, I’d also bring up Al Gore’s point in An Inconvenient Truth. We already HAVE the techologies available to us. What’s required is a shift in perception. What’s required is a change in our belief systems . . . there must be enough of us willing to adopt the practices and processes that already exist. And this willingness amounts to, really, a shift in consciousness.
It is imperative for people to understand that we can’t compartmentalize the problems we face — nor can we externalize them. Peak oil, war, overpopulation, global warming, the environmental destruction of the planet, soil erosion . . . these are all OUR problem, all the result of the way we live in the world, the result of our day-to-day lifestyles, and the result of the fact that we are OF the world. Our problems stem from our unwillingness to see this. We need to move to the level of social consciouness in order to care about the planet, and in order, thus, to change. This is why meditation is importance. It enables that fundamental realization.
So I think they’re both right, and that the two approaches are not separable. But then, what is?
Happy Indepedence Day, I think, though this holiday tastes a little bittersweet. Is it a truism to say that no one is free until we are all free? Or that it is sheer idiocy to think that we can work toward freedom abroad (not that anyone believes this is what we’re doing in the Middle East, but still . . .) while sacrificing it at home?
Happy Indepedence Day, then. Freedom is one of those fantastic things – like happiness, and like inner peace – that can only be attained by giving it to others. So go let someone you’re close to, or attached to, or that you want something from, be free. Let go of your expectations of them. Free them from whatever obligation you think they might have. Free them, and see how you’re freed in the process.
It’s a small thing, I know, but I think this is how freedom works on a grand scale, too, and this exercise is a little more simple and a little more practical than freeing your favorite political prisoner. And if this is too much, or makes no sense, than do something else small. Go out and encourage someone – preferably a stranger – to realize how beautiful it is out, and how lucky we are, and how needless our battles. Smile. Be beautiful. Be free.
While you may have seen this already, I did add this site’s blogroll to the black navigational box in the upper right. So go have a visit . . .
I had a dream the other night in which I was demonstrating an ability to weep on command.
In real life I can’t do this – at least not that I know of – but in my dream I was in a conference room, at the end of a long table, around which were seated a dozen or so suited strangers. I was standing at the front, and I was asked, again and again, to cry. Each time I was asked I turn around, so that when I turned back to face the room, my eyes would be wet. The panel took studious notes, but were otherwise unimpressed.
I woke up with tears on my face, and I still don’t know what they were for.
Dave Pollard posted, not long ago, a link and a response to a recent article in Orion Magazine. It’s a excerpt from endgame, the latest book by Derrick Jensen (one of my favorite writers). It’s painful and heart-breaking and well-worth reading; if you have time – or even if you don’t – I’d encourage you to have a look.
I wrote a quick reply to Pollard’s post, and wanted to include it here. I wrote that I found myself mostly in alignment with Jensen, but that (and I worry about this, because Jensen has seen so much more than I have and experienced much greater pain) my heart is so, so filled with such a love for this world, and not just for the brilliant biosphere, but for the tragic fear-filled and bloated persons and systems that keep stumbling toward their own misguided hopes.
Dave wrote that “love exhausts and consumes us.” It’s my belief that this is only true if we don’t love enough. I think that the only way we can afford to love the Earth is if we love the damaging systems more: we are a part of them, after all. And I don’t mean to support or to contribute to the projects they represent, but to see them for the obviously self-destructive, self-sabotaging, sadly unsustainable operations that they are.
I do not hate invididuals bent on paths of self-destruction; I feel a deep sadness and sympathy and love. It’s okay, I want to whisper. You’re okay. You don’t need to do this. It’s this attitude that I feel toward our civilization as a whole. It’s love. And this, at least as far as my heart is concerned, is the way to freedom, and that is the end of fear.