Hola mi gente,
My brothers and sisters from the LBGTQ community will be having their annual Gay Pride Parade today in La Gran Manzana, where the modern gay liberation movement was born out of two nights of rioting in June 1969 after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York. FYI: Puerto Ricans were there at the beginning.
The rioters, once dismissed as “sick” or “perverted” by many, took inspiration from the anti-war and black power movements. Chanting “Gay power,” they started a mass movement that changed the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people forever. I just wanted to express my solidarity and that your liberation is my liberation as well. Your struggle is my struggle.
The Old Gods
The old gods are dead or dying...
I’ll start with a brief story. Some years ago a group of my leadership development workshop graduates came to me with a problem. It seems they were concerned about a spike in gun violence and drug activity around their housing. What’s interesting is that this group was composed exclusively of men and women who had been formerly incarcerated. They wanted to do something about what was happening where they lived.
Ask me some day to tell you about that story. The relevant part of this story for today was that here was a group of men and women who had previously didn’t have a functional connection to their community or to social institutions. In fact, they were often the ones committing crimes, selling drugs, and committing violence. What had changed was that they now felt a part of rather than apart from their community. They felt they had a stake in their neighborhood and wanted to feel safe and enjoy some measure of serenity and safety.
There’s an important lesson to be learned from that experience. Part of that lessons lies in the challenge to the assumption that punishment is a just response to failures in economics and education. The other part, the one I will concentrate on today, is about connection and spirituality. We have lived too long believing that our essential self is disconnected from our ecology.
Our religions seem to have gotten it wrong when it comes to our relationship to the earth. Those among us who have a relatively large forebrain have no doubt that the scientific story of evolution is true. Perhaps evolution can help us with an upgrade of our collective metaphysics. Haven’t we gone long enough believing that our purpose and our salvation lie somewhere outside the life we are now living?
Look around at the wreckage of our collective past and the ecological wreckage we are creating now. The only logical conclusion is that the old beliefs are dysfunctional. They rob the divine from the earth and place it in some other kingdom, in the process taking away the reverence of this life. Our major religions regard earth as little more than a place to plunder and a training ground, a glob of mud where we come to learn a few lessons, or burn off some karma, or get saved by a messiah, or some such bullshit. The general idea is that once we’re gone from this little piece of greenery we can all go off to some kind of spiritual Club Med, where we truly belong, and enjoy the happily ever after of our old myths.
Wouldn’t it serve us better if we brought out spiritual attention to the earth? Perhaps we could then learn, as my the participants from my leadership development workshop did, to feel a part of the life in this planet and in that way seek to take better care of our environment. I see too many of us distracted, concentrating on witch-hunts, looking for rapists and pedophiles on the internet, for example. We claim to want to make the internet safe for our children we blab. However, the fact is that the vast majority of you don’t give a fuck that we -- you and I -- are destroying our children’s birthright of a sane and safe earth. You will buy that gas-guzzler; you will blissfully pollute this planet and smoke cigarettes; you will spread deadly chemicals on the lawns your children play on and not give one fuck about it and the theft you're committing. If we were to bring our sense of the divine to this earthly existence, we just might find more joy in living in the here and now rather than waiting for a hereafter.
The story of evolution can offer us many gifts usually glommed from religion. It teaches us humility, liberates us from our narcissistic drama, presenting us instead with as much awe and wonder as any bible. Instead of resisting its truth, maybe we should be mining the story of evolution for whatever spiritual gems it offers, learning our role in the grand scheme of things.
So, stop it: stop looking for some high God-in-the-sky to punish or reward you. Those are old tales created in olden times. Those gods are dead... or dying. Drop your gaze at the wonder of this Earth and all the wonders she offers us. Celebrate and revere Nature, the instrument of our creation and most obvious of all of our gifts.
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…