Growing Up, Growing Whole, and How We Compose Ourselves

by Rebecca Solnit

Growing up, we say, as though we were trees, as though altitude was all that there was to be gained, but so much of the process is growing whole as the fragments are gathered, the patterns found. Human infants are born with craniums made up of four plates that have not yet knit together into a solid dome so that their heads can compress to fit through the birth canal, so that the brain within can then expand. The seams of these plates are intricate, like fingers interlaced, like the meander of arctic rivers across tundra.

The skull quadruples in size in the first few years, and if the bones knit together too soon, they restrict the growth of the brain; and if they don’t knit at all the brain remains unprotected. Open enough to grow and closed enough to hold together is what a life must also be. We collage ourselves into being, finding the pieces of a worldview and people to love and reasons to live and then integrate them into a whole, a life consistent with its beliefs and desires, at least if we’re lucky

“What we know of other people, is only our memory of the moments. During which we knew them. And they have changed. Since then.  To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must  also remember that at every meeting we are meeting  a Stranger”

From T. S. Eliot’s play The Cocktail Party

Excerpt taken from Rebecca Solnit’s Recollections of My Nonexistence. pg.190 She is a Writer, historian, and activist.  Rebecca is the author of more than twenty books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster, including Whose Story Is This?, Call Them By Their True Names (Winner of the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction).  She is, as well,  an alumna of UC Berkeley and SF State University

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The Great Dictator

by Charlie Chaplin

I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor.  That’s not my business.  I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone.  

I should like to help everyone if possible. We all want to help one another — human beings are like that.  We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful.  But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.  We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: more than machinery we need humanity; more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say, “Do not despair”.

Bee Hotel, Costa Rica

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.  The hate of men will pass and the power they took from the people will return to the people and liberty will never perish.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written, “The kingdom of God is within man.”  Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men — in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power.  Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security.  Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.  Let us all unite!

Look up.  The clouds are lifting, the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light.   The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow – into the light of hope – into the future, that glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up. Look up!

— excerpted from The Great Dictator (a 1940 American political satire comedy-drama film written, directed, produced, scored by, and starring British comedian Charlie Chaplin)

Passage taken from Awakin Santa Clara readings.

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On Hope

by Krista Tippett

A couple of years ago I started sometimes asking, at the end of my conversations: “What makes you despair, and where are you finding hope?” It turns out that answers to the two parts of that question are more often conjoined than oppositional.

I should say that hope for me is distinct from idealism or optimism. It has nothing to do with wishful thinking. It is a muscle, a practice, a choice: to live open-eyed and wholehearted in the world as it is and not as we wish it to be. We are strange creatures. We mask fear with rage, and despair with violence… We have so far to go to live into our name, Homo sapiens: the creatures who are wise. And we may not get there. Yet I know that in life and society, wisdom emerges precisely in those moments when we have  to hold seemingly opposing realities in a creative tension and interplay: power and frailty, birth and death, pain and hope, beauty and brokenness, mystery and conviction, calm and fierceness.

We are at one of those in-between moments as individuals, as nations, as a species. I cleave to a line of a poem by William Stafford, on vocation: “Your job is to figure out what the world is trying to be.” You could make a persuasive case that humanity is hurtling backward. But hope calls me to attend, too, to the world that wants to be born. Our strangeness turns up as ugliness and betrayal and destruction, and it turns up as bravery. I see beautiful lives, everywhere, stitching new relationships across rupture, seizing new life out of loss.

Hope keeps me amazed at the larger narrative of our century too, of the learning and wisdom unfolding …we’re working with words and disciplines that did not exist when I was born and others that are a mere century old: neurosciencesocial psychologyecosystembiometectonic shift. Evolutionary biologists in our day are rediscovering humanity’s superpower of cooperation and so are redefining how the fittest might survive, the principle around which the Western world has organized.

In that world, we advanced by dividing our bodies and minds and spirits. We perfected systems for making an “us” and an “other”; we made of the natural world an “other.” Now, on frontiers of seeing inside our brains, we are grasping new forms of agency to change. Now, as we explore the cosmos above and underlands below, we’re understanding that we live in stardust-infused bodies — and that we’ve inhabited ecosystems while we organized around parts. For us, all of life is being revealed in its insistence on wholeness.

We should allow ourselves to pause, every once in a while, and draw a long collective astonished breath. Culturally, we are the generation of our species that is redefining elemental human fundaments like community and marriage and gender. And for all our awakening to the power of digital technologies to divide and isolate us, this too is true: our technologies have given us the tools for the first time in the history of our species to begin to think and act as a species.

We are strange creatures, hope reminds me: again and again we are made by what would break us.

Excerpt take from Oreon Magazine=

Krista Tippett is the founder and CEO of The On Being Project, the host of On Being and Becoming Wise, and curator of the The Civil Conversations Project. Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, New York Times bestselling author, and a National Humanities Medalist.

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Hard Times Require Furious Dancing

by Alice Walker

I am the youngest of eight siblings. Five of us have died. I share losses, health concerns, and other challenges common to the human condition, especially in these times of war, poverty, environmental devastation, and greed that are quite beyond the most creative imagination. Sometimes it all feels a bit too much to bear. Once a person of periodic deep depressions, a sign of mental suffering in my family that affected each sibling differently, I have matured into someone I never dreamed I would become: an unbridled optimist who sees the glass as always full of something. It may be half full of water, precious in itself, but in the other half there’s a rainbow that could exist only in the vacant space.

I have learned to dance.

It isn’t that I didn’t know how to dance before; everyone in my community knew how to dance, even those with several left feet. I just didn’t know how basic it is for maintaining balance. That Africans are always dancing (in their ceremonies and rituals) shows an awareness of this. It struck me one day, while dancing, that the marvelous moves African Americans are famous for on the dance floor came about because the dancers, especially in the old days, were contorting away various knots of stress. Some of the lower-back movements handed down to us that have seemed merely sensual were no doubt created after a day’s work bending over a plow or hoe on a slave driver’s plantation.

Wishing to honor the role of dance in the healing of families, communities, and nations, I hired a local hall and a local band and invited friends and family from near and far to come together, on Thanksgiving, to dance our sorrows away, or at least to integrate them more smoothly into our daily existence. The next generation of my family, mourning the recent death of a mother, my sister-in-law, created a spirited line dance that assured me that, though we have all encountered our share of grief and troubles, we can still hold the line of beauty, form, and beat — no small accomplishment in a world as challenging as this one.

Hard times require furious dancing. Each of us is the proof.

Alice Walker is a Pulitzer-winning author, poet, novelist, and activist. The passage above is from the preface of her book of poems: “Hard Times Require Furious Dancing“. Pasage take from Awakin Readings

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Privilege as a White Person…

By DEMCAST Staff

I have privilege as a white person because I can do all of these things without thinking twice:

I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)

I can go jogging (#AhmaudArbery

I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothamJean and #AtatianaJefferson)

I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)

I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark)

I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards)

I can play loud music (#JordanDavis)

I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling)

I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)

I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown)

I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice)

I can go to church (#Charleston9)

I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin)

I can hold a hair brush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell)

I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant)

I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland)

I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile)

I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones)

I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)

I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerenceCrutcher)

I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott)

I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover)

I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese)

I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)

I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)

I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)

I can run (#WalterScott)

I can breathe (#EricGarner)

I can live (#FreddieGray)

I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)

Opinion editorial created by DEMCAST staff and posted on 5/29/2020 with videos for each of the brothers & sisters (RIP) mentioned in this Op-Ed.

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Space to Heal

by Thuy Nguyen

Healing requires space. As we plow through day to day life, we dream about finding a time when there will be space to heal, rejuvenate and refuel. Some of us are holding off until the weekend, while for others the breaks are fewer and farther in between. When we can’t find that space in time, we fall sick. Then we are forced to have some bed rest, some space, some time to heal. Sometimes it is just a few days we are in bed, sometimes it is much longer than that.

We think of space as if it were a far-off destination or something we create. But really, space is ever present and everywhere. A room crammed full of stuff doesn’t have less space than an empty room, It just has more stuff in it. We are not creating space when we take stuff out, space is already there. There is nothing but space.  
Inside us is space as well. Like our external space, our internal space can become crowded with stuff that might impede our ability to move around and do things efficiently. Our internal space becomes more and more crowded with thoughts, beliefs, and judgments that keep us from healing, movement, and growth. Much like a hoarder who crowds his life with material things because he fears he may someday need them for survival and well-being, we hoard and crowd ourselves with unnecessary beliefs and judgments.

“Should” thoughts and “can’t” thoughts and “have to” thoughts and “never/ always” thoughts are dis-empowering and create impossible conditions for our healing, depleting us of our energy. Thoughts like “I will never have enough time, space or resources to fulfill my needs.” Or thoughts like “the only way to feel better is to have or do x, y and z” set us up for failure time and again. These thoughts crowd our internal space and become externalized in the form of judgments of others and the world.

We have the internal space to heal. We only need to be willing to let go of some of the discordant clutter and noise of our minds. We need to trust and accept ourselves enough to let go of the stockpile of unnecessary thought weapons and defenses that are weighing us down every day, every moment. This acceptance in and of itself creates space and expansion. A spacious and trusting internal world can positively affect both internal and external environments in subtle and miraculous ways. De-clutter some outdated thoughts right now. Replace them with: I have the space to heal, I have the capacity to heal, this very moment.

Thuy Nguyen is a licensed acupuncturist and mother of three wonderful children. Berkeley Community Acupuncture represents a culmination of her love of Chinese medicine, her commitment to family and community, and her desire to effect positive social change. She is a certified Medical Qigong Practitioner and this article is reprinted from her blog.

Passage taken from Awakin Santa Clara readings.

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Black Bodies

by Richard Rohr

Until the killing of black mothers’ sons [and daughters] is as important as the discovery of white mothers’ sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest. —Ella Baker [1]

As I wrote in last week’s meditations, the early ego creates itself by comparison or negation, by how we are not like others. [2] It likes to differentiate. The ego then holds onto this falsely created sense of superiority at all costs. Last year when I shared about coming to recognize my own white privilege—the unearned benefits I receive simply because of the color of my skin—I wasn’t surprised that the Center’s Customer Service team received more than the usual defensive and angry emails. [3] Many people think “white privilege” is liberal propaganda, a made-up idea to seed more division. After all, the United States had a black president! Surely, we’ve moved beyond racism.

And what about “reverse racism,” some whites say? Anyone can be prejudiced. But racism is all about an imbalance of power. In the United States today, most of the power still lies with people who are white. The very nature of oppression makes it hard for those of us who are comfortable to see this problem. [4] Perhaps subconsciously we know that systemic inequality serves our own ego’s interests and so we resist change. We still define ourselves by differentiating and comparing (dualistic thinking) and not by “similarizing” (which is unitive thinking).

As Jewish poet Emma Lazarus wrote, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” [5] If we are all made in God’s image, if we are all the Body of Christ, then treating black and brown bodies with love and respect is the only way for our country, our communities, and our Christianity to be whole. Our love must be active and embodied. We cannot just preach peace and justice in a theoretical way; the rubber of justice needs to hit the real road.

One of our CONSPIRE 2018 presenters, author and professor Barbara Holmes, explores how some young people today are working hard to dismantle systems of oppression:

Ella Baker [1903-1986], civil rights activist and organizer, reminds us of the reason that we continue the struggle for justice. It is for fairness, equal treatment under the law, and the cessation of violence against innocent black and brown bodies. Another generation is on the rise, and they are confronting police brutality and advocating for black lives through the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLMM), its contemplative activism and deeply spiritual resistance. . . .

One cannot help but wonder why the same battles for justice must be fought by every generation? Certainly, there were enough sacrifices, martyrs, and legislation during the ’60s to ensure justice for all. Yet . . . “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities and the rulers of darkness in high places” [Ephesians 6:12]. The powers or systems do everything they can to resist change. In response to the demand for justice, systems morph and adjust while maintaining the status quo.

So public hangings end and the murders of unarmed black folk rise. Slavery ends, but the mass incarceration of minority populations increases. Jim Crow practices are no longer openly discriminatory; they reappear as educational and economic disparities, voter suppression, and aggressive police actions against people of color. [6]

Power never surrenders without a fight. If your response to today’s meditation is to retort, “All lives matter!” I invite you to take a closer look at your own fears and biases. Of course, all lives matter! Yet until black and brown lives matter, no lives truly matter. Jesus spoke into specific lives, into particular circumstances of oppression, saying, “You, an outcast Samaritan woman, you matter. You, a leper rejected by society, you matter.”

Passage from   Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation. Friar Richard Rohr is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico

References:
[1] Ella Baker, from her keynote speech to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) in Jackson, MS (August 6, 1964). Two days earlier, searchers had located the bodies of murdered civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. See J. Todd Moye, Ella Baker: Community Organizer of the Civil Rights Movement (Rowman & Littlefield: 2013), 153.

[2] See Richard Rohr, https://cac.org/listening-to-our-body-2018-04-05/.

[3] See Richard Rohr, https://cac.org/the-invisible-character-of-white-privilege-2017-11-17/.

[4] If you struggle to see how white privilege and racism exist today, learn about systems of oppression that disproportionately impact people of color, particularly Hispanics and African Americans. For example, explore the criminal justice system through Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press: 2010) or the documentary 13th (available on Netflix).

[5] Emma Lazarus, An Epistle to the Hebrews (Jewish Historical Society of New York: 1987), 30. These fifteen essays were published from November 1882 to February 1883 in The American Hebrew.

[6] Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, second edition (Fortress Press: 2017), 141, 144.

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Returning the Gift

By Robin Wall Kimmerer

We are showered every day with the gifts of the Earth, gifts we have neither earned nor paid for: air to breathe, nurturing rain, black soil, berries and honeybees, the tree that became this page, a bag of rice and the exuberance of a field of goldenrod and asters at full bloom.    

Though the Earth provides us with all that we need, we have created a consumption-driven economy that asks, “What more can we take from the Earth?” and almost never “What does the Earth ask of us in return?”

Nnej Gifting “The Corn” to Awakin Oak’s new home

 The premise of Earth asking something of me—of me!—makes my heart swell. I celebrate that the living planet has the capacity to ask something of us and that we have the capacity to respond. We are not passive recipients of her gifts, but active participants in her well-being.

For much of human’s time on the planet, before the great delusion, we lived in cultures that understood the covenant of reciprocity, that for the Earth to stay in balance, for the gifts to continue to flow, we must give back in equal measure for what we take.

In the teachings of my Potawatomi ancestors, responsibilities and gifts are understood as two sides of the same coin. The possession of a gift is coupled with a duty to use it for the benefit of all. A thrush is given the gift of song—and so has a responsibility to greet the day with music. Salmon have the gift of travel, so they accept the duty of carrying food upriver.  So “What is our gift?”

As human people, most recently evolved here, we lack the gifts of our companion species, of nitrogen fixation, pollination, and 3000-mile migrations under magnetic guidance… But we carry gifts of our own, which the Earth urgently needs. Among the most potent of these is gratitude.

Gratitude is powerful medicine!Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer

Giving thanks implies recognition not only of the gift, but of the giver. When I eat an apple, my gratitude is directed to that wide-armed tree whose tart offspring are now in my mouth, whose life has become my own. Gratitude is founded on the deep knowing that our very existence relies on the gifts of beings who can in fact photosynthesize. It challenges the fallacy of human exceptionalism—the idea that we are somehow better, more deserving of the wealth and services of the Earth than other species.

The practice of gratitude can, in a very real way, lead to the practice of self-restraint, of taking only what we need. Acknowledging a feeling of enough-ness which is an antidote to the societal messages that drill into our spirits telling us we must have more. Practicing contentment is a radical act in a consumption-driven society.

Indigenous story traditions are full of cautionary tales about the failure of gratitude. When people forget to honor the gift, the consequences are always material as well as spiritual. The spring dries up, the corn doesn’t grow, the animals do not return, and the legions of offended plants and animals and rivers rise up against the ones who neglected gratitude. The Western storytelling tradition is strangely silent on this matter, and so we find ourselves in an era when we are rightly afraid of the climate we have created.

Reciprocity among parts of the living Earth produces equilibrium, in which life as we know it can flourish. When the gift is in motion, it can last forever.

How can we reciprocate the gifts of the Earth?

  1. We must recognize ourselves as only one member of the great democracy of species and understand that we, like every other successful organism, must play by the rules that govern ecosystem function. The laws of thermodynamics have not been suspended on our behalf. Unlimited growth is not possible. In a finite world, we cannot relentlessly take without replenishment. 
  2. Long before the descent of humans, a solar economy of plants created a living world from inanimate materials, constantly regenerating life through networks of reciprocity. Industrial economies are hell-bent on reversing that process, converting the gloriously animate to cold dead products with stunning efficiency. Our paths on the Earth are shaped by what we love the most. We participate in economies that appear to love profits for a few members of one species more than a good green world for all. We have a choice to invest our love otherwise. We must align our economies with ecological principles and human integrity.
  3. Ecological restoration is an act of reciprocity and the Earth asks us to turn our gifts to healing the damage we have done. The Earth-shaping prowess that we thoughtlessly use to sicken the land can be used to heal it. It is not just the land that is broken, but our relationship with land. We can be medicine for the Earth, partners in renewal.
  4. Reciprocity is rooted in the understanding that we are not alone, that the Earth is populated by non-human persons, wise and inventive beings deserving of our respect. We tolerate governance that grants legal personhood and free speech to corporations but denies that respect to voiceless salamanders and sugar maples. The Earth asks that we be their voice. Indigenous-led movements across the world are conferring legal personhood on rivers and mountains. The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth has been presented to the United Nations. I think the Earth is asking for our vote.

Gratitude is our first, but not our only gift. We are storytellers, music makers, devisers of ingenious machines, healers, scientists, and lovers of an Earth who asks that we give our own unique gifts on behalf of life.

 Let us live in a way that Earth will be grateful for us.

Excerpt from Center for Humans & Nature  “contributor response”

Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, scientist, writer, and Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. Kimmerer is an enrolled member of the Citizen Band Potawatomi. She lives on an old farm in upstate New York, tending gardens both cultivated and wild.

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Love Is Not An Emotion

by Barbara Frederickson

Love, defined as micro moments of positivity resonance, may thus be the most generative and consequential of all positive emotions. By virtue of being a single state, distributed across and reverberating between two or more brains and bodies at once, love’s ability to broaden mind-sets and build resources may have substantially greater reach.

Love, then, is not simply another positive emotion. Rather, it is the momentary phenomenon through which we feel and become part of something larger than ourselves. Meaning in life may thus emerge not from the grand and unrealistic utopian ideals of “happily-ever-after” love, but from what art historian Nicholas Bourriaud calls the “day-today micro-utopias” of shared positivity. Seeing love as positivity resonance also blurs the boundaries that surround the concept of emotion.

Many, if not most, scientific descriptions of emotions locate these affective phenomena within individuals, confined within one person’s mind and skin. By contrast, the concept of positivity resonance aligns with perspectives offered within cultural psychology that position emotions as unfolding between and among people as they interact. Seeing emotions as properties of individuals may indeed be a myopic by-product of the Western tendency to perceptually extract focal objects from their contextual surround. By contrast, positioning love as a dynamic process that unfurls across and unifies two or more interacting individuals offers parsimony to accounts of the social and societal functions of positive emotions.

Seeing love as positivity resonance also holds practical implications for how people might strengthen their relationships, families, and communities. Striving to improve these directly can be like telling a complete stranger “trust me” in the absence of any trustworthy actions. By contrast, knowing that relationships, families, and communities grow stronger to the extent that positivity resonates between and among people reveals the value of planning for and prioritizing positivity. Creating activities and safe contexts that allow real-time sensory connection and support the emergence of shared positive emotions becomes the pathway to build social bonds and community. This guidance may be especially valuable within contemporary urban cultures that propel people toward multitasking and technology-mediated social connections. As novelist Ursula Le Guin put it, “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

Excerpt from Awakin Santa Clara

Barbara is Kenan Distinguished Professor; Department of Psychology and Neuroscience; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Director, Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory; President, International Positive Psychology Association

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The Greatest Danger – The Deadening of Heart and Mind

by Joanna Macy

What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.” – Buddha


The Great Turning arises in response to what we know and feel is happening to our world. It entails both the perception of danger and the means to act. As conscious, embodied beings endowed with multiple senses we are geared to respond: instantly we leap from the path of an oncoming truck…dive into a pool to save a child. This response-ability has been an essential feature of life throughout human evolution. It enables whole groups and societies to survive, so long as their members have sufficient information and freedom to act. In systems term, response to danger is a function of feedback—the information system that connects perception to action.

Now, however, perils facing life on Earth are so massive and unprecedented they are hard to even take in. The very danger signals that should rivet our attention and bond us to action, tend to have the opposite effect. They make us want to pull down the blinds and busy ourselves with distractions that support billion-dollar industries telling us everything will be ok as long as we buy the new…..or watch the next show in…


We eat meat from factory-farmed animals and produce grown by agribusiness ignoring pesticides, hormones, and genetic alterations they contain. We buy clothes without noticing where they are made, preferring not to think of the sweatshops they may have come from. We don’t bother voting…or hope our candidate will change his/her views. Has our society become callous, nihilistic?  Does it not care for life on Earth?

It can look that way. Reformers and revolutionaries decry public apathy. To rouse people, they deliver yet more terrifying information, as if people didn’t already know that our world is in trouble. They preach about moral imperatives as if people didn’t care…it all appears too overwhelming, too complicated.. too out of people’s control.

So it’s good to look at what this apathy is, to understand it with respect to compassion. Apatheia is a Greek word that means, literally, non-suffering (the inability or refusal to experience pain). What is the pain we feel—and desperately try not to feel—in this planet time? It pertains not just to privations of wealth, health, reputation, or loved ones, but to losses so hard we can hardly comprehend them.  It is pain for the world (distant famines, ever-widening military offensives, toxic wastes, climate’s destructive change).

To be conscious in the world today is to be aware of vast suffering and unprecedented peril. The problem, therefore, lies not with our pain for the world but in our repression of it.

It is hard to believe with feel pain for the world if we assume we are separate from it. The individualist bias of Western culture supports that assumption. Feelings of fear, anger, and despair are seen as personal pathology. Thus we are tempted to discredit feelings that arise from solidarity with our fellow-beings or other life forms.

Many fears arise: Fear of powerlessness: Fear of Knowing -and speaking

Yet there is a shift in consciousness…you are part of it…which is central to the arising of the Life-Sustaining Society.

The world view emerging now lets us behold anew and experience afresh the web of life in which we exist. It opens up to the vast intelligence of life’s self-organizing powers, which we have brought us forth from interstellar gases and primordial seas. It brings us to a larger identity in which to cradle and transcend our ego-identified fears. It lets us honor our pain for the world as a gateway into deep participation in the world’s self-healing.

More basic to the Great Turning than any ideas we hold is the act of courage and love we make together when we dare to see our world as it is

Our pain for the world is natural and healthy.

Excerpt from Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown  pp 19-72

Joanna Macy Happy Belated birthday – 91 years old on May 2, 2020. An excerpt of her extraordinary love in action is found at Joanna Macy: A Wild Love for the World at inspiringstory.org

And Happy belated birthday Honorable Buddha.  The super moon on May 8 (last one in 2020) corresponds with Buddha Poornima, which is the birthday of the great spiritual master, Gautam Buddha

“If we fail to look after others when they need help, who will look after us?

The root of suffering is attachment.

Silence the angry man with love. Silence the ill-natured man with kindness. Silence the miser with generosity. Silence the liar with truth.

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?”- Buddha


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