This is an edited transcript of a conversation that took place on April 24, 2018 as part of the inaugural quarterly issue of Kosmos Journal. The theme of the first edition is Unlearning Together. As such, it felt appropriate to have a quartet dialogue of unlearning, focused on a complex of issues associated with the inevitable transition to post-capitalism; namely, the issues of grief, collapse and the mystical impulse of transcendence that can provide deep healing in such troubled times. One of the key questions is how we come together to explore the edge of our practice as seekers, as activists, and as advocates for a more just and loving world.
He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. ~Aeschylus~
In reality, what Emma and her friends are experiencing is a profane, contemporary iteration of what youth in ancient, tribal times experienced in a sacred, contained, ritual setting. In those times, the community understood that rites of passage in youth were as necessary as learning to walk, cutting teeth, or entering puberty. Thus the community prepared its children for adolescent rites of passage because they understood that children come to this life with an inherent need for them. In fact, they understood that not providing rites of passage or what is sometimes called initiation, guarantees that the child will never grow up and in fact, will become toxic to the community
My purpose with this book is not to convince you of the apocalyptic times we are now living in, or of the biosphere collapse currently underway, or of what you already know inside yourself. The fact that this book is in your hands is indicative of a truth that already lives within. My purpose for this book is to highlight the inauthenticity of who and what we’ve allowed ourselves to become so that in these final times, we can awaken to, and embrace all of who and what we’ve always been meant to be. At the very least, let’s make our final ride enlightening, compassionate, and caring. Let’s at least become as a result of what now is.
I Felt Despair About Climate Change–Until A Brush With Death Changed My Mind, By Alison Spodek Keimowitz
This planet is dying. Not just in the way that life on Earth is always, inevitably beginning and ending, that species are rising and falling, that extinction and evolution occur, and that temperature and sea levels cycle dramatically and irregularly. In the 21st century, Earth is hurtling toward a specific death with a shape, a name, and a timeline. It is dying of global warming, climate change, extinction, biological annihilation, and ocean acidification. The exact names and the exact timing is debated, but the overall trajectory of life on Earth is well-understood: We are in the midst of Earth’s sixth mass extinction, and the odds of human civilization reaching the 22nd century are often estimated at no better than 50/50.
So here Americans are. They are trapped in rage and despair and anxiety. But they will not grieve for imperfection — and thus free themselves of the burdens of perfection. They still demand perfection from one another — and that is why they cannot treat one another gently. So a culture of cruelty emerges. Kids shoot kids when they’re not numbing themselves with drugs. These are the wages of perfection as a way of life. We might be angry at all that — but the real question: are we grieving?