Responding to 11-9

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017

Goat Lake, North Cascades Mountains, Summer 2015, image credit: Jordan Van Voast

The sky is blue this morning in Seattle. Opening wide my curtains, I let the colors stream down through the optic nerves, lighting candles of hope, joy, wonder in the long hallways of the spirit, within each and every cell of my body, illuminating consciousness with the wavelength of transcendence.

We are born from the stars. Our very bodies are composed of atomic elements which were formed inside cataclysmic supernovas billions of years ago. The mind-spirit which dwells within each one of us are infinite rivers of clarity and mirror-like awareness, with no beginning or end. These truths are within us in each moment, though shrouded and obscured by the dust storms of modern existence. I invite you to remember and dwell within your inner sanctuary and power, as we face the challenges of our times.

Many are calling 11-9 the new 9-11. The 2016 U.S. presidential election is deemed by many to be a greater threat to our world than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In a poll conducted by the American Psychological Association, 57% of Americans polled feel either very stressed or significantly stressed by the current political climate. 66% of Americans feel either very stressed or significantly stressed by the future of the country.  49% feel either very stressed or significantly stressed by the outcome of the November election.   People of color disproportionately reported increases in stress, particularly in relation to fear of police violence.

Human existence on earth is dangerously out of balance. Nearly every rational, scientific assessment informs us that this is so.  To pretend that continued investment in the fossil fuel industry is not directly tied to catastrophic climate change, that the economics of capitalism, based on self-interest and personal profit, is sustainable, that a mentally ill President with his hands on the nuclear briefcase and flanked by a cabinet of out of touch billionaires, is not a grave and imminent threat to the future for all life on the planet – is denial, and its own form of mental illness.

Water Protectors – Divest from Wells Fargo, January 2017, Seattle, image credit: Jordan Van Voast

 

And yet denial is a choice that many of us seem to take at times, unwilling or unable to face the mounting evidence of the imminent collapse of the global ecosystem and the disintegration of a mutually cooperative social order. Inevitably this leads to psychological stress as we attempt to reconcile the expanding chasm between the deluded world view we cling tightly to, and the great unraveling of social and ecological fabric that has held our world together for all of recorded history and beyond. Psychological stress leads to physical disease, great suffering, and premature death.

Acupuncture and meditation can certainly relieve stress and open up new avenues to response, but it is only one step on a journey that we all need to make, towards a new way of being in the world, a way that deeply understands that all life is interconnected, that how we treat ourselves and how we treat each other are but mirror images of one underlying state of mental (im)balance.  The long term peace and happiness of one is dependent upon the happiness of all.  The stewardship and preservation of the natural world is dependent upon our ability to control our egoistic desires, beginning with the degree of respect and reverence we accord to “other” life and our willingness to rationalize the killing of other species in order to feed and clothe ourselves.

If we deeply take the teaching of interdependence to heart, and I believe we must in order to to turn around the forces of destruction, our lives must become a principled response based in non-violence and love.  Recently, I attend a talk by Dr. James Peterson, “There is No Them, Only Us”. He challenged us to develop empathy for those who voted Republican in the last presidential election. They face a bitter awakening when they realize the empty promises of yet another morally corrupt politician. I would go further and challenge you to develop empathy for every living being, including perpetrators of mass harm. Universal justice is infallible – it’s called karma.  On a more immediate and practical level, responding with hate and outrage diminishes our effectiveness, as John Lennon, and many others have observed.

The provocative tweets and press conferences staged by our current President are in some ways, a calculated strategy designed to continue dividing the wedge between people with common interests, preventing us from uniting. Falling for this strategy with righteous anger not only diminishes our effectiveness, it literally kills us – slowly – with a rise in blood pressure and other stress borne disease.

So what to do? Marching in the streets, and signing online petitions make us feel good, and are not without some positive effect, but they are relatively easy.  Speaking out in your community, attempting to bridge ideological divides through dialogue, organizing and participating in public actions which spring from mindfulness and love, informed by a long term vision of sustainability, with awareness of our interdependence – these are the more difficult challenges of this time we live in.

However we choose to respond to the world, know that facing the truth and acting, not hiding in denial, will not only reduce your stress, but it will liberate you eventually. As we act, not out of fear or anger, but deep commitment to universal justice for all present and future life, we release our attachment to outcomes and keep going because it is the right thing to do.  In doing so, we discover that we sleep better at night, awaken refreshed with more hope, laughter, joy, and sometimes tears.  Embrace all aspects of your experience and be free.  See you on the path, and in the street.

 

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