[On Thursday March 15, I head out to a retreat center in Crestone, Colorado, for the first part of an 8-month long training program called, Warriors for the Human Spirit. This marks a significant turning point in the work I've been doing for at least 14 years now on the ecological crises of our times - what it is, what's actually happening, what it means for us as life as we've known it unravels all around us. How will we live? Who will we be? What choices will we make as we walk through these times?
We begin and end with week-long retreats in Crestone, while in between we work by teleconference, in small groups, and in our daily disciplines. The point of this is not for personal benefit, although there will be plenty. The point is to gain skills to help us maneuver down the path of uncertainty, crisis, risk, letting go the familiar and embarking on the new adventure before us - like it or not.
This post is in anticipation of this journey. Donations to support the Center for New Creation as this writer takes up this commitment will be enormously appreciated.]
When I first started to write a new post a couple of weeks ago, still reeling from the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, this was the headline I had chosen: "We cannot make new creation while armed to the teeth." Certainly felt, sounded, about right. Still does. It is a profound truth, and one hardly knows where to begin to figure out how to grapple with that. I often think we need to accept that we can't do "new" creation here, not as a nation, at least not now, and that it will come from other places in our world. Collapse feels inevitable, something that has to play itself out in a culture truly coming apart at the seams.
Seems to me that our work of the moment then is to prepare the ground for something new to emerge out of the collapse, out of this mess of violence, complete government dysfunction, fear of change, and deepening tribalism. Our task is to begin the work of new creation at the most immediate local levels, as one plants a garden, one seed or plantling at a time, preparing the soil with the richest of nutrients. The big picture? I wouldn't even know where to begin.
An old order is dying. We have to prepare ourselves to help shape what comes next - because there are no guarantees that it will be better. That depends on what we do now.
But then, in the wake of the unimaginable tragedy in Florida, something else happened: in the rawness of their grief, trauma, and anger the voices of these students rose up with a clarity and eloquence that took our collective breath away. They spoke at rallies, marched in the streets, went off to the Florida legislature to demand change, traveled to the halls of Congress, met with the president and made him and other officials in that room extremely uncomfortable with the truth they told, their searing honesty, their direct and emotional challenges to the defenders of the gun culture and the NRA.They appeared on a nationally televised CNN Town Hall and confronted the politicians for their hypocrisy, their NRA funding, and their share of responsibility for the plague of mass shootings that is unique to this country.
|MARCH 24, 2018|
And then I thought about that other kind of pervasive social violence, the gun violence in some of our urban neighborhoods, the police violence that gave birth to groups like Black Lives Matter, the violence of poverty and segregation that has harmed the brains, health, hopes of so many young people in our cities. I thought of the many movements like BLM that are emerging now out of those places of oppression, the young angry poets and artists, the talented and creative community organizers, who are giving voice to this injustice and demanding that the structures of racist oppression finally be dismantled.
And then I started thinking about the Dreamers, the DACA immigrants, and their enormous fan base (more than 87% of the country wants them to be given a path to citizenship). Again, their clarity and eloquence in speaking of their lives, their hopes and dreams, gave me such hope for what they could contribute to building a new cultural reality in this country. And here we were retelling the story of this immigrant nation, and, sadly, also of its history of hostile reaction to it. That said, non-white people now make up over 40% of the population. If you want to understand white supremacist rage these days, break open that statistic.
We are changing. The whole nation is undergoing huge demographic shifts. Resistance, as they say, is futile. However, it is also fierce, rage-filled, demanding a return to something that no longer exists and never will again.And then I thought of the young LGBTQ generation courageously claiming who they are in a culture that has often treated them with violence, harsh judgement, and rejection. Why did I think of them? Because I checked out the twitter feed of Emma Gonzalez, the 17 year old that ignited the nation with her speech after the school massacre. And among her tweets was one in which she proclaimed her identity as "a bisexual Cuban-American living in Florida." I think back to when I was 17 and almost cannot believe how far these kids have come in self-awareness and in openness to the bigger, wilder world out there. I envy them - not their suffering, their self-knowledge.
It was just one of those moments of realization, or reassurance, that what we see in the sad political culture that soaks up most of the nation's attention is not the only thing happening, or even the most important thing happening. A good part of a new generation is going to impact this nation hugely. They are different. They are not like the baby-boomers of the post-WWII generation. They are going to change things.
Of course, the jury is out about what that change will look like. The jury is out about whether they have the clarity, strength, and courage to make the radical break with the economic culture of the global economy that is necessary for their survival and the survival of their children in this century.
Then this, too - that a lot of work preceded them, generations of those who struggled for human rights and social justice, opening spaces in the culture for rights to be claimed, often at terrible costs. Change doesn't just appear: it is emergent. It has roots. And these young people are moving into these new spaces with real energy.
Here, too, young people know this more than we ever did at their age. They know the generations before them have made a real mess of things and they are the ones who will have to bear the costs.
I thought of all this, trying to find the entry into a post about this moment that would make any sense of it. This country is in deep trouble, and the trouble arises from its history. Mass shootings happen here for a reason. Trump happened for a reason. The takeover of our political system by corporate donors and billionaires happened for a reason.
So did the eloquence of the MSD High School kids. So did Emma Gonzalez. All of this is happening for a reason, part of the fabric that has been this nation since it was first founded in conquest and enslavement and the brutal subduing of Nature. There have always been savagery and greed. There have always been decent people and communities fighting back against those tendencies, against oppression and injustice.
An old order is dying. We have to prepare ourselves to help shape what comes next - because there are no guarantees that it will be better. That depends on what we do now.This culture is in a state of upheaval and tumult, the collapse of an old Anglo-European culture built on an illusion of superiority over Nature and over "others." And this upheaval is happening because of its real history, not the one in my grade school history books. That real history has led us to exactly where we are today and to the way the transition is manifesting itself. We're going to be in it for a while. And we all need to gather ourselves together and ask how we want to live through this time - what we are prepared to relinquish, what we hope to create, what we feel called to witness.
And that's why I have decided to train to become a "Warrior for the Human Spirit," for the reasons so eloquently articulated by our fearless leader, Margaret Wheatley:
Warriors for the Human Spirit are awake human beingsThe choice I have made is not to flee, but to abide. I ask for your support in this. And I will definitely keep you posted.
who have chosen not to flee. They abide.
They serve as beacons of an ancient story that tells of
the goodness and generosity and creativity of humanity.
You can identify them by their cheerfulness.
You will know them by their compassion.
When asked how they do it they will tell you about
discipline, dedication and the necessity of community.
~ Margaret Swedish
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|CENTER FOR NEW CREATION|