Spiritual Lifesavers, false refuge, and Marvin Gaye
As waves of change shake our lives and cause us to reach for things we can be certain of, our knee-jerk response might be to reach for spiritual Lifesavers candy. We might try to savor the taste of "we are one" watermelon, "let it go" lime, "we choose our challenges before birth" cherry, or "part of the plan" peppermint. All of these ideas sound nice, but they are a false refuge and do little to address the causes of our current condition. If our enthusiasm does not arise from a willingness to engage directly with the full range of human experience it is despair masquerading as hope. To take on the Gordian knot of equity, justice, and liberation is an onerous task. We are being asked to be each other's champions.
If you are afraid or confused, have courage. The ground beneath us is moving 1,000mph every day all day. Incomprehensible things happen constantly. To live amidst the level of uncertainty that is present already requires courage. There are no guarantees in life. our experience of life is finite, but it's expressions, potential, and creativity are infinite. We are here, for the duration of our life, shoulder to shoulder and on equal footing on the surface of the Earth.
If you are in despair, have faith. Whether we are aware of it or not, there is an intelligence that sustains and supports existence completely with or without us. Existence has and will continue whether we can understand or explain it. Our beliefs, ideas, desires, hopes, and fears arise and fall back into the vast mystery that gives rise to all that is. Power, possibility, and potential are always available and no one has them covered under lock and key. The human made world is a product of effort and energy and can also be changed by effort and energy. We have yet to discover what our world could be beyond what we have seen already.
If you want to flee, have patience. There is nowhere else to be. Humanity has existed on this planet for around 300,000 years. There are thousands of years of human wisdom present in every person. If we slow down to listen, the voice of guidance is present in every gust of wind, every heartbeat, and every thunderstorm. The impulse to turn away, to hide, or to absolve ourselves of participating in the human and more than human world is a wonderful place to start exploring. Right now, as always, is an opportune time to engage in practices that bring our awareness into the conditions of body and mind that either promote or prevent our being of service to the world around us.
If you are angry, use it. Anger, like every other emotion, is a powerful messenger. The intensity and potency of anger is like fire. It can destroy us and cause us harm, but it can keep us warm, and bring light to the depths of darkness. Properly used, the fire can be where we gather, mourn, sing, and celebrate.
To embrace our humanity, is to stay connected with the long march of life in all its forms. The stories we inherit and those we tell ourselves to help us orient to this world are secondary to the histories that our bodies tell. Every cell has the collected trauma of generations from every part of the world. We cannot escape, transcend, or evolve our way beyond the very real conditions of ordinary human life. We must face it, embrace it, and work with what is available. We cannot expect intervention from benevolent otherworldly beings, nor can we shrug our shoulders in indifference. If we have any hope of establishing a global environment that upholds and celebrates life, we must accept that our life happens here and now, within the conditions of body, mind, and relationships that are present. Our inner narrative needs serious adjusting, and we must honestly and critically examine the broader context of social, political, and economic life.
For the sake of our collective future we must tread into the unknown. We are being invited to move beyond the world we have known, not through some mystical means, but by stepping forward and combining our efforts. We can work together, but we must be willing to give up either/or thinking and in-group/out-group identities. We have to challenge these deeply biased and harmful systems, beliefs, and behaviors in every area of life. We must learn each other's ways, know each other's struggles and sorrows, and feel each other's grief and glory. The clock has advanced since 1971, but the feeling and truth of Marvin Gaye's words are still true right now: "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)."