Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Monumental Times

From Earl Brown

We are living in monumental times. There is nothing small about world events and circumstances as we enter 2009 and the challenges we face are going to get tougher and more eminent in our lives. Our political system, long abused by the rich elite and corporate pressure, has succumbed to the fear mongering and manipulation by these special interests, they have bought into perpetual war, the diminishment of civil liberties, environmentally destructive consumerism, religious fundamentalism and the economic enslavement of its citizenry.

It is a good thing that we are monumental Beings, not here to lead “normal” lives. It is a good thing to know, during these time of collapse and re-structuring, that our human-ness, our ability to be human, our Human Potential has yet to be tapped. It is good to know that we are up to the challenges that the knowledge, creativity, imagination and energy exists within us and within all of Life. The question is: Do we have the “will” to come together, to make the little sacrifices in our own lives that are needed to make the changes we know need to be made?

I recognize and bless the fact that people around the world are feeling the urge to create a peaceful and meaningful human presence on Mother Earth. The 2008 Presidential election was symbolic as voters turned out to signal their support for change in America. Of course, as the abusive and criminal Bush regime leaves the Presidency they are gutting the Treasury, profiteering off an illegal war and giving their big business buddies huge windfall bonuses at our, the American working public’s, expense. The “economic crises” is just the tip of the iceberg and it is too late to paint the Titanic green, we’re taking on water. To get a reasonable overview of the situation I suggest one reads Dmitry Orlav’s, “5 Stages of Collapse” (Economic, Political, Commercial, Social and Cultural) as published by Energy Bulletin, November 11, 2008 (a good digest version). Another good source of understanding for these times is Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ 5 stages of emotional response (Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance) found in her book, “On Death and Dying” (Macmillian Publishing, 1969).  Between these two documents one can get a fair understanding of what we are up against and some of the human responses we can expect. There will be a need for people capable of helping others through the challenges that are coming.

In his discussion, “The End of Time, the Roots of Eternity” storyteller and mythologist Michael Meade talks about the United Nations study on the problems of the world. In this U.N. document the member nations reported on the status, or wellbeing, of their people based upon cultural, economic, political and environmental conditions. All of the issues and problems for each of these four categories were boiled down into one word to describe the condition of the people in relation to that category. They are as follows: Cultural condition = Rootless; Political condition = Powerless; Economic condition = Jobless and Ruthless (so bad they needed two words); Environmental condition = Futureless. All of these conditions, rootless, powerless, jobless/ruthless and futureless were boiled down into one word to describe the condition of the people of these nations. That word is meaningless. For most of the people alive at this time, on this marvelous blue jewel we call Gaia, spinning in a Galaxy and Universe full of mystery and potential, life is meaningless.

However, when one creates “Up” one also creates “Down” so we can glimpse potential solutions for these conditions by looking at their opposites. To cure the sense of Rootlessness one can develop a sense of Place. Get to know your watershed. Get to know your neighbors, travel around your bio-region, learn about the animals, birds, rocks and other minerals, and see the landscapes and natural beauty. Know you are a part of this area, region, web-of-life, part of the ecosystem. Learn to know your place in Nature; you are an integral part of it, essential and necessary to its unfolding. To regain the sense of power in our political system we need to see that people who will honestly represent us in office are elected and that they are held responsible to the public they represent. This includes gaining public control of the law enforcement agencies and jail systems. The economic paradigm of growth as the only indicator of progress has to be removed in order to create a sustainable future. We must redefine “value” and “wealth” and remove the term “growth” from our planning (unless it is used in reference to personal growth or growth in consciousness). Local currency, shared labor and barter will also help to create and stabilize a viable local economy. The jobs of the future will largely be in repairing the damage caused by the rapacious nature of industrial and consumer capitalism of the past. Working in our social and natural environments will not only provide meaningful jobs and a living wage but will also help us realize and personalize our “Place” as mentioned as a cure for Rootlessness. Also, large mono-culture agri-business needs to be replaced with a diverse variety of crops to be consumed within our home towns and bio-region. Witnessing the cycles of the seasons and abundance of the Earth gives one a sense of life continuing, season after season into the future, something to look forward to.

If life has become meaningless then we must find meaning in our lives. It is a blessing to be alive, to feel, to express, to love. Pain is a part of it as well and even though it tears at our hearts it is a blessing. Pain can tell us how much we love something, or someone, that we are not in alignment with our hearts and wanting something other than what we got. We would be less human without our sense of pain, joy, anger, compassion and the myriad of other feelings, senses and emotions. We are in a crises of imagination as deeply as we are in a crises of economy, culture, or climate change. It will be our joined creative imaginations, the sweat of our brows and intense love in our hearts to meet the challenges that lay ahead.

All of this points directly at “Localization” as the main ways to meet these challenges. Many people understand that this is a logical approach and so we see Farmers Markets, organic and biodynamic agriculture, permaculture, CSAs, GULP, a ban on GMOs, here in Mendocino County, and new business models that support these efforts. Still, there are psychological and social conditions that keep us separated, fearful and un-trusting of ourselves and each other.  In her, “The Work That Reconnects”, Joanna Macy, Buddhist scholar, Living Systems scholar and Eco-philosopher, points out a number of conditions including, fear of pain, fear of despair, fear of guilt, fear of being weak or emotional, fear of appearing unpatriotic, and a belief in a separate self that holds us back. She also points to the mass media, job and time pressures and social violence as additional means of repression. These psychological and social sources of repression cause personal and social fragmentation, alienation, blaming, scapegoating, political passivity, burnout and a sense of powerlessness. We will not be able to localize very effectively with these issues destabilizing the foundation on which all of our good works are to be built.

As a facilitator for Joanna’s, “Work That Reconnects” I am inviting people to join me in examining these issues, our relationship to them and each other. I have secured a small workspace above the Three Sisters shop on School Street for four half days per month, one per week,  and wish to get a work/study group together to practice and learn to facilitate “The Work That Re-connects”. I have been studying with Joanna for five years and am a member of a global network of facilitators who are working in their communities to bring about the Great Turning, the shift from a suicidal Industrial Society to a Life Sustaining Society. Besides my experiences with Joanna I also have her training DVDs to use as a guide. I am also a facilitator for the Pachamama Alliances ( “Awakening the Dreamer Symposium” that has reached around the world and is working its way into Africa, South America and the Middle East. This symposium also helps us recognize the challenges and ways we can move through them. In the days, months and years that lay ahead there will be a dire need for people capable to handle and help process the intense emotions, and changes, that will accompany this collapse. I am ready to make that commitment and I am inviting community to join me.

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