I’m a sensitive person. Always have been. It’s both a gift and a burden to feel the weight of the world and care deeply about the suffering of others. When I was a child, I often felt emotionally overwhelmed and didn’t have the words to articulate my experience. I immersed myself in books and closely observed those around me. I eventually began to make meaningful connections and apply language to my feelings. I began to understand myself and others.
I was that kid- the one who wanted to rescue birds with broken wings and nurse them back to health. The one who couldn’t watch violence on television because I could feel the victim’s pain. The one who called out injustice when others seemed oblivious to it. The one who was always asking “why?” The one who imagined that alternative worlds/realities were possible.
I remember being told that one day- when I was an adult- I would be able to change things and make the world better. I’ve spent my entire adult life seeking to do just that and I know that my actions had a positive impact on a significant number of people. When I zoom out and look at the big picture, however, I wonder if I’m doing enough- if it’s even possible for me to do enough…? I see the accelerated pace of crisis and feel the ever-compounding awfulness of disaster and destruction all around me and sometimes it’s all too much to bear. How many times can one heart break and still function?
I’ve been writing this blog for almost a year. I started it at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, after several months of working on a book about the flawed design of hierarchical human societies and possible solutions through the lens of my lived experience. I shifted to publishing my ideas online because I felt an urgency to address the issues we are facing NOW. I get discouraged, at times, by the limitations of this platform and how few people my posts reach. I wonder if anyone is listening or if I’m “shouting into the void.”
Then I remember that I am a part of the Web of Life and I am never alone. I remember that everything is interconnected and all of my intentional actions in service of healing, wholeness, and collective well-being are expressions of love for all beings, for all time- and that they are valuable. I remember that pain is information. I remember to listen to my grief and honor my sadness. I remember and I keep writing.
What would happen if many more of us remembered our interconnectedness and the value of our contributions to the Web of Life? How might we restructure our societies and our cultural norms if this were the dominant paradigm?
What would be revealed?
What would be replaced?
What would we recover?
Who would we become?
I was not raised in a religious tradition but I read the Christian Bible as literature and interrogated the meaning of the stories through various interpretations of the symbols, metaphors, and implications of literal applications of its components. I started to recognize the role that religion has played in the structures, systems, and institutions humanity has built. I identified as an atheist for most of my early adulthood, then as agnostic, and later as spiritual- but not religious.
While studying philosophy and comparative religion in college, I recognized similarities and differences between various incarnations of spiritual belief and became fascinated with Eastern and indigenous worldviews as counternarratives to the Western Civilizational paradigm. I reflected on the moral, ethical, and legal models that have developed in the modern world and how they’ve been shaped by conceptions of power, domination, and control- originating in mythological narratives.
It seems to me that there is an obvious link between religious beliefs that have a basis in divine power being held only by God/s and the development of cultures that normalize extreme imbalances in power based on hierarchies of human value, separation from nature, and a focus on individual rights without balancing those with responsibilities. Patriarchy, racism, materialism, violence, slavery, ecological destruction, and all other structures of harm are predictable extensions of a worldview that sees our relationships as inherently defined by superiority and inferiority. Varying degrees of domination and subjugation have become default conditions of life for most of us and we rarely step back and observe how ingrained and unquestioned they are and how they impact everything we experience.
This brings me to the concept of apocalypse. Most people would immediately associate this word with the literal end of the world (SCARY!) but the original Greek word actually means “uncovering, disclosure, or revelation.” It is natural that we would be fearful of the end of the world but if we consider the potential that exists in uncovering or revealing truths about the actual state of things and imagining how we might participate in transitioning ourselves and our world to reflect the divinity and sacredness of all life- that, to me is hopeful, purposeful, and exciting!
In a number of meaningful ways, the world as we’ve known it has already ended. We are in “the in-between,” “the upside-down”- the messy middle of an unstoppable, global transformation. There are those who have long benefited from the status quo (materially, at least) who would have us believe that the massive disruptions we’ve witnessed over the last several generations- wars, pandemics, fires, floods, and famines- are temporary anomalies rather than predictable symptoms of unsustainable (poorly designed) economic, social, and political constructs. I also think most of us reject the oversimplified literalism of dogmatic religious teaching that these phenomena are signs of the pre-ordained day of “judgment” described in monotheistic mythology.
So, what do we do?
I think we must continue to wonder about what is possible under these conditions and how we may be intentionally involved in adapting to and shaping inevitable change. There are innumerable communities of practice, locally and internationally, engaging in this right now. Everyday, I’m discovering new ideas, making new connections, and building new relationships. I encourage you to seek out places and spaces that foster your sense of wonder and possibility. Invite others to join you. Imagine. Ideate. Relate. Create. Liberate. Emerge. Embody. Reveal. Transform. Know that your presence in the here and now is meaningful and necessary and you are never alone.
Not sure where to start? I have linked quite a few resources on this site and will be continuously adding more as I become aware of them. This compilation is collaborative– not prescriptive- and I invite you to share anything you’ve found with me through my contact page. Together, we will reveal what is possible and transform our world.