As a self-identifying optimist, always looking at the inherent good in all people and situations, I find myself in times of struggle witnessing the fate of humanity drift along the same trajectory we know to be futile. Rather than stocking my pantry with bottled water and canned foods, or maybe more appropriately, stitching a parachute to catch my fall as we collectively barge through the guardrail and off the cliff that social trajectory seems to accelerate toward, I thought I’d rather compose myself and collect my thoughts, as nothing more than an exercise to stay grounded and present in a space of peace, that I at least conceptually know is there. Maybe you’ll also find peace, and together from there we can continue the necessary shift to create the more healthy, peaceful, and beautiful world we desire.
I am a progressive-thinking, truth-seeking, utopia-scheming, millennial, always doing my best to keep my mind and learn from life. I share these traits not to in any way ‘qualify me’ for any position or task, but to help you know where I aim to orient my thoughts and efforts.
In the following I promise to not add any news, fake news, statistics, or any other data into your already overflowing mind. In the year 2020 alone, there has been more than enough generated content to keep the entire human race sufficiently occupied with thought to last a lifetime. Not that we humans ever need any fuel to stoke the eternal flames that power the thought factory between our ears. Most are churning out more thought than ever before. Amusing, enticing, tasty thinking that is addictive by its very nature, urging us to think more, and more, and more. Until we implode, erupt, withdraw, or pass out from the downstream biochemical buildup in the body. The steadfast autopilot in us all blinks awake to do it all again another day.
I’ve had to remind myself that life is for learning. Not just my life, but all of life. As youngsters, we explore, get into trouble, fall down, have our hearts broken, and hopefully give ourselves the opportunity to experience the fullness of life through other adventures. Learning opportunities persist all throughout life as the curriculum itself evolves. We move along, growing and mastering certain things, struggling with others. Slowly but surely, we mature (some faster than others!).
I’m not a parent, but I’ve been a child, and so have you. The movement towards maturity is unique for each of us, but always involves developing social awareness and skills. The process is natural and effortless, almost as if we are all programmed with the necessary wisdom to come into our own. Now of course, we know that our physical and social environment plays into our maturation process, but we do grow up regardless. And just as human beings grow up, so do kittens, dandelions, and gophers, each programmed with that wisdom.
We could also make an argument that collective communities, populations, and cultures also mature. An entire society can learn a lesson or discover some truth that is part of the educational curriculum of maturation. We can see examples of this collective evolutionary process through events associated with the abolition of slavery or the feminist movement. And then there are discoveries, such as identifying cigarette smoke as a carcinogen, that forever change the world, however slowly it may be. Maybe that inner wisdom present in us all is also alive in the collective. If this is the case, growth, learning, and evolution is inevitable for ourselves and the world at large.
Learning and growing isn’t always fun and easy. In fact, in the moments of growth, I don’t think it is ever fun or easy! The process almost always involves some stress or strain, physically or energetically. Science even says that on a fundamental level, growth requires stress. I remember being in my ‘tweens’ lying in bed and feeling the deep cramping pains in my legs that would keep me awake. I was told these were ‘growing pains,’ but that didn’t make it feel any better! And how about the handful of heartbreaks I felt into my young adult years. The emotional pain of these heartbreaks slowly fortified my awareness and understanding of where love ultimately comes from — my Self.
Could the Covid-19 pandemic be part of the curriculum for collective evolution? On a basic physiologic level, we know that viruses are merely fragments of genetic material that not only elicit an immune response, but also drive human evolution through transference of that genetic material. On the collective level, we have felt the effects of new socioeconomic regulations enforced during this ‘great pause,’ which has, for many, led to some degree of questioning, concern, and growing tension. Is it the tension we need for true growth and healing?
The dramatic downshift in life has forced many to ‘stay home and save lives.’ While most have remained busy watching the latest Netflix series, binging on social media, scrubbing the showers, and learning how to cook vegetables, we’ve also been captive to mainstream propaganda. I don’t know about yours, but my email inbox has been absolutely flooded with the latest covid-19 guidelines and updates from local shops, online businesses, and governmental officials. It’s like anyone with an email list instantaneously became the highest authority in global health. Even in the most deliberate attempt to stay less informed, uninformed, or differently informed, we were rapidly force fed a narrative that has remained consistent in the face of our ever-changing virus-centered reality.
Before I get disowned from my family as being some crazy anarchist, I just want to say that I am not here to judge what has happened right or wrong, good or bad, pretty or ugly. While I can’t pretend to hide my true feelings on the matter, I do want to move the conversation forward, because growth only moves forward.
My own social media binge sessions are an emotional roller coaster — fear, hope, anger, sarcasm, love, anger, fear, anger, fear, fear, fear… I guess there tends to be more fear than anything else. Maybe it’s just a testament to the quality of my social media connections, though I get the feeling I’m not alone here.
I am keenly aware of the human tendency to surround ourselves with others who reflect acceptance and validation for our thoughts and ideas. The gravity of confirmation bias turns our heads to see that which best meshes with our current worldview. The echo chambers have amplified in our fortified silos. I get it… acceptance and belonging are arguably the most basic human needs, which many feel deprived from. We all want to see what makes us feel good. We all want to simply be seen, heard, and accepted.
I’ve always felt pretty level-headed and moderate in my beliefs. While I am vegan and do think individual, collective, and planetary health and wellbeing would greatly advance if we all moved towards this way of eating and living, I avoid condemning anyone for holding thoughts or behaviors that conflict with mine. While I do believe in social justice and equal opportunity for all, you will not see me marching in any demonstration. I trust and respect the innate wisdom and health in all of life.
The current state of social polarization is intense and volatile. It’s as if all of humanity is caught in a storm out at sea, each in our individual life boat. We know it is smartest to cooperate, congregate and tie together as the storm passes through. We toss a line to those who share common values and beliefs, hoping to recruit more onto our growing mass of rubber boats. But as waters grow even more choppy, groups of boats split apart as social rifts create more division. Two groups become four, and four become eight. I long for the times when disputes were clean and simple. Left vs right. Democrats vs Republicans. Pro choice vs pro life. The waters are getting even more muddled in this social storm.
Sociopolitical generalizations we’ve made no longer hold true. For example, a growing number of progressive leftists think opening up the economy isn’t such a bad idea. Some republicans think we should all stay masked up and quarantined until we’ve got a vaccine. Even stubborn moderates are starting to consider the validity of some far out conspiracy theories that seemed totally whacko just last week. It isn’t just gun-carrying skinheads who are protesting for their freedom. It isn’t just NPR-listening nurses who oppose such protests. It isn’t just tin-hat wearing conspiracy theorists who question what is being said on CNN, NBC, Fox News, or in the latest viral video on social media. Our camps are getting subdivided as polarities are stretched even further apart.
Am I the only one feeling this growing tension of this great schism?
When I tune into most media outlets, the us vs them narrative persists. It is now common practice for news stories to skew the words of leaders and authoritative figures to maintain a message that further drives the separation. I thought this was an innocent attempt for mainstream media to create the necessary drama to keep viewer numbers up and ratings high. Now, the critical thinker in me wonders if there is a more sinister agenda…
Divide and conquer is apparently one of the oldest plays in the book that has been repeated throughout history. Hitler said, “Our strategy is to destroy the enemy from within, to conquer him through himself.” But he didn’t make this strategy up. Apparently Julius Caesar is given credit for the idea, though we could presume this tactic stems back to the beginning of human civilization and politics.
By whom are we at risk of being conquered? I’m not sure. My point is not to move forward any conspiratorial agenda, but to simply point out the obvious weakness that is inherent in our separateness.
Criticizing and demeaning those who don’t share our views on a topic is childish behavior. It’s like two kids on the playground arguing about how to properly traverse the monkey bars. It’s time to grow up.
We all want peace. We all want love. We all want truth. We all want justice. Humans are pretty much identical with regard to these basic desires. And as far as our physicality is concerned, we humans are about 99.9% genetically identical, too. Despite our differences in colors, beliefs, language, or any trivial opinions, if we go back far enough in the humanity archives, we are essentially cousins! Of course bickering with family is normal. I am an expert at finding the smallest point for which I can share my strong opinion. But if we focus on the common ground, our collective desire for peace, love, truth and justice, our unity is quite literally the most powerful force imaginable.
Someone just recently asked me how I know that everyone is indeed devoted to finding the truth. I didn’t have a clear answer for him. I suppose not all of us always feel compelled to move towards the ultimate truth. With that in mind, regardless of the inherent desire to pursue truth, I do believe it is crucial that we do our best to avoid sabotaging that pursuit for others.
The word truth itself is quite a controversy. The thing is, we very, very rarely have an absolute hard fact truth on any matter. Just the other day, it was pointed out that we don’t really even have concrete evidence that there is a novel virus here in this current global pandemic situation! Since tests just look for DNA, and we are exposed to, and shed, DNA constantly as normal healthy humans, it’s really hard to pinpoint ‘the virus.’ (Again, my point is not to advance any conspiratorial ideas, but to just get us to slow down and use more of our brains, beyond just our audio visual processing centers.)
The inherent freedom to pursue truth is what has led to the present flowering of human consciousness. The beautiful fruits of creative expression that we enjoy today — from the internet, to our favorite TV series, to the medicine that helps us heal are all direct results of that freedom. The data scientists didn’t stop after they connected two systems via ethernet — now we have high speed access to the World Wide Web at our fingertips across the globe. Thankfully, the TV screenwriter didn’t stop after season 1 of your favorite show — now we get to binge a couple dozen more episodes. And thankfully medical researchers did not stop their creative pursuits after the discovery of penicillin, for we now have many medicines that have saved the lives of millions.
So should we all blindly surrender our creative freedom, the very inspiration that drives us through life, and blindly trust what someone, or some media source, tells us as the ultimate truth? Do we want to live in a world where we are socially shamed or outright censored for innocently questioning a dominant narrative? Should we all just allow the truth-seeking and critical thinking parts of ourselves to atrophy and politely follow the leader, as if in kindergarten?
Humanity is maturing. We are completing our childhood and adolescence years. Things are weird, just like they were when you moved out from your parent’s house and into the college dorm. We might get into some trouble or gain the freshman 15, but everything will be okay, if we let it be.
We don’t need a riot, a revolt, or any abrupt reaction to the current state of affairs. Things do not change with force. The universe is 99.9999999999999% empty space. Pure nothingness. That includes me and you. Our flesh and blood is mostly nothing. This so-called energy that makes up the vast majority of our physical world reality is dynamic, fluid, and the very stuff through which change happens.
Force moves matter, but power creates the energy that effects transformation.
If we can center ourselves in our peace and love (yes, it’s in there), and pursue truth from there, we WILL create a just and peaceful world.
I know it might sound absurd, and the news feeds you information that feels much more pressing to worry about. However, there are a couple of things I do know for certain. The first is that ingesting media and worrying about the world will never, by any measure, yield a productive outcome. Secondly, change is constant and inevitable, and the world as we once knew it will definitely never be the same. This is an incredibly important and exciting fact! Herein lies the incredible opportunity to actually, physically and energetically, create the more healthy, peaceful, and beautiful world we desire.
Social distancing and fear mongering may have us feeling alone and afraid. It might feel like we are fending for ourselves on our little lifeboat as society seems to become more and more fractioned. However, you are not alone, and you have nothing to fear, besides of course, fear itself. Yet fear is a normal human emotion often experienced from our thoughts of approaching unknown territories. Excitement is a similar emotion. On this new horizon and amidst the stormy seas we have a grand adventure to create for ourselves.
Our entire world is faced with a great test right now, a final exam of sorts. This is our opportunity to graduate and move beyond the childish habits and stories that no longer serve us. This test is open book and we have each other to collaborate with. We have as long as we need to complete the test, and there is no ‘failing,’ but only continued opportunities for success. It’s time to open our minds and put our heads together.
Here and now, in the eye of this great storm, we can allow ourselves to remain open to that source of wisdom that guides our individual and collective growth.
The advancement of our culture depends on harnessing our authentic power from a collective ‘letting go.’ Can we let go of grudges and differing opinions? Can we surrender the insatiable desire to be right? Or, will we dig our heels in even deeper to resist and suffer through this period of growth?
This isn’t easy. Not for me, anyways. My desire to be right is strong. But thankfully, my desire for peace, happiness, and health is stronger.