We easily associate empathy, compassion, an open heart, support, cooperation, honesty, integrity, and gratitude with love, but how about boundaries, limits, grief, anger, discernment, comfort with not knowing, and a commitment to working on our personal and cultural shadow?
There is another reason for fending off sorrow about the loss of the wild natural places we love to visit and the communities where we live, and this is perhaps the hardest one of all to accept and overcome. Many of us are simply afraid that if we allow ourselves to wade, even for a moment, into the feelings of sadness for the living world that lap at the edge of our consciousness, we will find ourselves pulled so ruthlessly into grief and despair that we will never emerge.
The 21st century must be a time of Eros, if we are to heal this broken, troubled world. Not because I say so. But because we need to heal from the ruinous malaises of the ages of capitalism and technology. The anxiety and fear and isolation and meaninglessness they brought with them. We need to grieve, and grieve deeply, for all that we harmed, hurt, lost, abandoned, and ruined, in order to live again. And that is what is really being tested in this strange, difficult, century. Whether or not we want to live again. The alternative is, as it has always, been, death. The age of Thanatos is coming to an end. But will the age of Eros begin? That, my friends, is the question.
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.
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.
So whether you choose to perceive the dissolution of the American Dream as the hero’s journey or as the collapse of industrial civilization—or both, the American Dream was fated to fail each time the collective refused to be instructed by something greater than itself.
Learning how to engage people in our “New Tribe” model took us seven years of devotion and focus. There were some dramatic fails, like repeatedly calling a group of people together saying “Lets build community!” They were always wildly enthusiastic, but for some reason that was the last time that group ever met. After too often “expecting a different result from the same action” we remembered that classic definition of insanity. We learned the big lesson that tribe forms one person at a time, as a series of one to one relationships. This was almost too simple for us to grasp right away.
We need to know that someone, somewhere, has noticed and that they CARE. Which makes US the village, and it’s a job we need to be more careful about getting right. We need to keep a look-out for one another, let ourselves care about strangers, act on behalf of those who are helpless, and encourage everyone we know to do the same.
As I reflect on my travels and interactions during the past year, one theme persists in my conversations with folks about collapse. Whereas the most burning questions used to relate to timelines and the speed of collapse, what I now hear more about these days is a nearly bottomless pit of longing so many people have to be held in some kind of community where one need not face the unraveling alone. When people ask me about options for intentional or unintentional communities, I have little to offer other than websites of various ecovillages and the more abundant options of informal community structures centered around food, alternative healing, Occupy Movement projects, spirituality, or other action-based endeavors. Little is yet available for those seeking residence in a community of collapse-aware individuals who are preparing to navigate the future together while at the same time attempting to maintain a cordial relationship with the world outside the community.