Catastrophes kill, social policies decimate...
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-=[ Standing on the Verge ]=-
Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better... and the catastrophe towards which the world is headed -- the ecological, social, demographic, or general breakdown of civilization -- will be unavoidable.
-- Vaclav Havel, joint session of the U.S. Congress, 1990
Truly, we don’t really live in the world, we live in the conversation we have about the world. Only we limit the shape and tenor of this conversation -- it is completely malleable. The world may or may not be a changeable place, but we have complete power over the conversation we engage about it. This is where genuine change happens, where health, safety, and love come about. This is the wellspring of compassion and forgiveness. This is where the future lives, where possibility and reality converge.
We live at a pivotal time in human history. On the one hand, we’re caught in a global thrall of an ego-centered paradigm, or what I call the Mini Me. The mini me is a state of mind marked by a painful sense of separation from others, a sense of lack, and an overwhelming experience of limitation, fear, and desire. We engage in all manner of activity in order to numb ourselves. We rush to consume in order to avoid our feelings. This is the trance of problem-based living, and though regarded as normal, it fuels a never-ending struggle. It seeps through the cracks of our armor and manifests itself as disease, conflict, and failure. From a global/ collective perspective, the Mini Me is expressed as war and economic and environmental madness.
This is no hell and damnation rant. Certainly there has been greater cruelty, inequality, and imperialism in our history, but up until now, it has always been localized to a tyrant here, a despot there. Hitler and Stalin may have yearned for global dominance and caused much destruction and suffering as a consequence, but ultimately their insanity was isolated. Today the cancer has become systemic rather than local. The dominant neoliberal paradigm of today affects everyone, everywhere.
We are all in this together, for better or worse.
On the other hand, there is an opposing, countervailing “emerging paradigm,” or force. We’re on the cusp of a major evolutionary quantum leap. If you look closely, there’s a movement afoot, a small movement, but a movement nonetheless. The head of a new human being is being pushed through, and its first faint cries can be heard. Yes, it is a dangerous time, but childbirth is dangerous and we are experiencing the birth of a new consciousness on earth. These dangers are part of the birthing process. We are riding the crest of a wave whose consequences are unimaginable, and which contains the only true basis for optimism for our planet and its inhabitants. On this edge we can already sense the possibility of a quality of life that has been seldom been dreamed of. But as with all evolutionary leaps, there is an inherent danger. If we fail to take advantage of this opportunity, we will become the first species to make ourselves extinct.
As I look with a broken heart at the consequences reverberating in Haiti today (and Katrina before), I realize that natural disasters kill, but social policies act as fate. Today, as in the past, poverty, corruption, apathy are doing more to kill than any earthquake or natural disaster ever could. Haiti should stand as a reminder that the threat to our world’s stability comes from a collective expression of greed, most sharply embodied by global corporations, which put the bottom line before integrity, profits before people.
Those opposing the current paradigm are quite possibly outnumbered or at least much less powerful, but we are increasingly motivated to act for social change. Will we see life as we know it mutilated beyond repair by corporate greed and fundamentalists bent on proving themselves right and the (made up) enemy-of-the-month wrong? Or have we finally arrived at the dawn of a collective shift into sanity? Here’s the kicker: there’s nothing to be gained twiddling your thumbs awaiting the ending of this Bond movie gone mad. The final pages of this script are still being written, and you and I have been handed the job of writing the last act...