Let me apologize in advance for what may be an upsetting piece of writing for some of you. If you’re in a state of shock or exhaustion from recent events, perhaps you should skip this one.
I don’t offer this analysis in order to further distress anyone — but until you understand what is happening and how that influences your psychological state, you’ll remain the emotional equivalent of a rag doll shaken to-and-fro by events. Such understanding may not bring you to a place of calm acceptance. But it will set you free.
I have to honestly think of myself as deeply cynical and hopeless in relation to what I believe our cultural systems and institutions can ultimately provide us. A new deal with the old dealers won’t save us. New dealers in the same game won’t either. A new game, or an assortment of new games, might. The needed change is fundamentally a cultural change, not a piece of legislation or a piece of technology, and it is a change that is struggling from many directions to break through. The mainstream culture is focused on news-making individuals, institutions and events – not systems – so this cultural shifting is relatively invisible and under-reported. Have faith in it, be on the look out and maybe even jump in somewhere
Those familiar with The Three E’s understand what I mean when I say there are some very sizable disasters headed our way. They are mathematically unavoidable at this point. But while we can’t control *what* will happen, we each can control *how* we will meet and react to it. Advance preparation is essential. But no plan is foolproof. Having the ability to deal with unexpected setbacks is also key — which a tribe helps immensely with.
“Only a god,” Heidegger famously said, “can still save us.” An atheist would disagree, but I think that on this one, the atheist would be wrong. While we might not need a new religion, we do need a new sense of the sacred or an awakening of the most ancient one: a sense of awe, wonder, and respect for something greater than us. What could that something greater be? There is no need to theorize about it. What is greater than us is the earth itself—life—and we are folded into it, a small part of it, and we have work to do. We need a new animism, a new pantheism, a new way of telling the oldest of stories. We could do worse than to return to the notion of the planet as the mother that birthed us. Those old stories have plenty to say about the fate of people who don’t respect their mothers.
Let’s get real and face together the likelihood that the human race now has two possibilities before it: An extreme crisis that leads to the survival of a bedraggled and traumatized remnant in a vastly degraded world, or the total annihilation of that world. We can never rule out, of course, the possibility of a sudden evolutionary leap in humanity or even miraculous divine intervention, but we would be narcissistic fools to count on them. We have come to the current situation because we have drunk a deadly cocktail of illusion. Our only hope now, rugged though it is, is in daring to live beyond the need for any kind of magical thinking—beyond, in fact certainty of any kind. We must take complete responsibility for the horror we have engendered and for the response we are now called to make to that horror, whatever happens. Such a response demands of us something far deeper than what conventional religions and visions of activism call for–nothing less than living and acting from the Self, both without illusion and totally committed to compassion and justice even, if necessary, in hopeless situations.
In my quest to master impermanence, all that I continue to let go of, liberates me further from the illusion that I no longer subscribe to. I confess that I’ve yet to discover a means of removing myself completely, and from bearing witness to the nightmare the illusion is. I remain open to the possibility however; a possibility free from denial, despair, mood altering substances, altered states, pharmaceuticals, anti-depressants, or other dramatic measures that only serve to hinder the evolution of the Soul. As much as I want “out”, if I am here at this time to be fully present, holding space and bearing witness to the end, so be it. Mastering impermanence—as a middle aged nomad in a 30 foot RV—may just be my ticket to sanity (and enlightenment?!) in these increasingly insane times.
Loneliness and social isolation may represent a greater public health hazard than obesity, and their impact has been growing and will continue to grow, according to research presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.
In a cultural age that’s decidedly pro-positivity, the pressure to suppress or camouflage negative feelings is real. However, psychological studies have shown that acceptance of those negative emotions is the more reliable route to regaining and maintaining peace of mind.
Editor’s Note: So-called Russian interference in the 2016 elections is a fly speck on the wall compared with the decades-old money laundering and corruption racket of the Trump crime family.