STILL NOT FALLING APART - Gareth Higgins
The world is not falling apart - but the story we're telling could use some help.
I know you've heard this before - it's a bit of a mantra at The Porch. We don't just say it to feel better, we do actually think it's true. And not in a superficial way - there's lots of evidence that life for the average human is better in many ways than ever: violence reducing, diseases disappearing, communities renewing. Of course, every day we also hear stories of immense suffering, we all know folk who are living through their darkest nights, and on a wider scale the threat of climate change, the danger that someone might use a nuclear weapon, and the cruelty of authoritarian politics may seem so unthinkably large that we can do nothing except rage, wait for a miracle, or accept despair.
But to seek retribution, to run away, or to sit in despair are not our only options. They're emotionally understandable, perhaps even necessary as an immediate protective reaction, but they're not based on the wisest interpretation of reality, nor do they work, in the long run.
There is another way, one in which we commit ourselves to the simplest and most universal teaching: to dedicate ourselves to do for others what we would like them to do for us, or to not to do to others what we would not want them to do to us. This is how life works. It includes discerning the truth: that today's pain needs to be attended with compassion and wisdom, binding wounds and protecting the vulnerable, but also that we have more access to knowledge about how to do that than we may ever previously have dreamed. And another truth: that old systems of domination may be collapsing, because human beings are waking up - it's not that things are getting worse, but that many of us who lead "comfortable" lives are no longer willing to tolerate the worst aspects of human behavior in how we organize society. So those of us who have been used to lives of privilege are now more primed to notice the injustice that many people have always considered predictable. And another: that just because most of us are less threatened by violence and disease does not mean that are hearts are not sick with longing for connection. For shelter.
The ugliness of polarization and authoritarianism, the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, and climate change caused by humans are all problems of tribalism. The antidote is not more domination, or revolution, or isolation, or purification, or victimization, or accumulation. The antidote is reconciliation - humans with each other, with the ecosystem, and with love itself. What is love? The will to stretch yourself for the wellbeing of another. How do we love? One step at a time.
This is not weakness, but simply learning from the history of courageous activism, on a global scale, and down the street. Let's learn more together. In the coming months, The Porch is hosting a few offerings aimed at transforming the story we tell from separation to connection, fear to courage, despair to imagination, them to us. Click here for more details - hope to see you there. There are stories to be told, work to be done, and surprises to unfold. Til next time, in the spirit of a better story.