Smoke…and the Great Social Awakening

The West and Northwest are on fire; smoke from millions of acres obscures mountains and hills hundreds of miles away.  Crops are withering and dying in the drought as the sun bakes down on them without mercy.

Reservoirs are emptying and not being replenished with rain; rivers and creeks are running dry; dust storms are increasing, the preventive and wonderful plains windrows having been chopped down to make way for factory farming.

As the farmers look worriedly toward the sky, searching for signs of rain to come, so do many of us try to see through the veil of smoke before us…that we might see that which it obscures.

The Earth keens in pain and loss as her waters are poisoned, her mountains and forests are defiled; her atmosphere is made ever more toxic.  She weeps, but her tears are dry, and they bring no relief.

And yet, among the rumbles of volcanoes coming alive again…the subtle shifting of her tectonic plates from the pressures at her molten core, there may be signs that more of us are awakening as she grumbles and groans.  Could she be sending us a message?  Or could she simply be absorbing the thunder of drums and stamping feet and the banging of kettles as so many humans begin to express their power and will to push back on the forces of greed and power that are killing her for profit just as they plunder and kill them so cavalierly?  Fanciful, but  useful imagery for me…

The globe is at the beginning of a Great Social Awakening, and it has spread to our shores in the form of Occupy and other movements seeking to construct a better, more equitable  and sustainable world for all, including…the world itself.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about ‘Awakenings’ and the shifts of higher consciousness so many say is coming soon; many say this year’s winter solstice will bring great expansion to human awareness, psychic growth and the realization of connectivity among ourselves and the planet.  I don’t know if it’s so, but I love to hope that it’s true.

I read a bit about an author, David Loy, who used Buddhist teachings as a model for a new future based on a Great Social Awakening.  The Buddhists teach that all suffering is caused by the three poisons of greed, ill-will, and delusion.  We’re overly familiar with the first two, and many of us are more appalled daily at the needless suffering caused by those plutocrats without consciences who have no inner moral compasses, and no desire to question what their lust for power and money obscures in terms of the human potential for brotherhood, empathy…and love.

Many philosophies take pains to warn us that we are all creatures of both Light and Dark, and must always be ready to consult our inner lives and selves in order that we might bring our personal darkness into the light of our awareness, in order to vanquish it, or at least tame it.  It’s so easy to forget that the not all the darkness resides outside ourselves.  We point our fingers out at others instead, and miss the larger part of collective accountability.

As election season approaches, and our fears for the future increase, it’s easy for so many of us to find refuge in old delusions, tribal affiliations and beliefs: the smoke that obscures The Truth of the mountain.  It’s increasingly hard to find common ground to speak with relatives, neighbors and even with each other on the boards about either the truth of what our nation has become, or that it’s time to seek new alternatives for the future.  The need for wholesale change from the ground up is frightening to so many.

It may have been poet and activist Phil Rockstroh who recently opined that as we become physically isolated from each other, and no longer can comfortably, even sometimes legally, meet on The Commons, we have lost the ability to reach out to one another in caring and understanding, or even in civil argument: more smoke and drought.  We become more suspicious of new themes and ideas, and retreat into a more comfortable and familiar somnabulence.  Personal growth and awakening often bring discomfort as we discard our illusions and delusions; discarding them will require us to open our hearts and minds to some harsh truths, and are forced to reset our beliefs into new configurations.

For many on the left, it may be simply too painful to acknowledge that we got conned, whether by this President or that the Democratic Party was still the People’s Party, not the other corporatist party, at least at the federal level.  We may have been conned into believing: that capitalism could be tamed by regulations; war can bring peace; we are essentially powerless to join together to re-dream the world; that cynicism is sexy; or that since Paul Ryan is so hideous, we have no choice but to, once again…vote for the Known Evil  the More Effective Evil  (h/t Glen Ford) that must be better than…those Evil Republicans.  We forget to think toward the future with our votes (or not-votes for some) today.

David Loy and many others, including the Occupy movement, say that the way forward will only be successful if we base our social revolution and re-imagined government and institutions on generosity, loving kindness and wisdom.  It will require the presently ‘comfortable’ to bear witness to the suffering of the scores of millions of our brothers and sisters without jobs, the many children who go to bed hungry, those in prison mainly for profit, etc., and feel the pain of economic and social justice denied.  We need to stretch our empathy past our families into the world at large, and find common bonds and connected power of the many.  We mustn’t despair because we seem to be losing on so many fronts, and too many our compatriots are willing to vote for their traditional teams, no matter how absurd and futile we find it.

If we reach out to one another in compassion and understanding, find shelter among those we love and make  community, we may be able to get under the defenses we’ve constructed around ourselves as barriers to that which we believe might damage us.  Recent events in my life seem to have caused some PTSD-ish off-kilterness, and turned me at times into a hell-bitch.  A good friend reminded me recently to pull back, find my boundaries, and rediscover my core spirit.  He’s right, and I aim to try, eyes wide open, and arms akimbo (thank you, rc).  These dire times will require flight away from self-indulgence and pissiness.  And whoever said that if ya can’t build a revolution without joy, music and  humor, ya may as well stay home on the sofa, said it right, imo.  ;o)

“Awake we share the world; sleeping each turns to his private world.”

~ Heraclitus

(Ah, shoot.  This was meant to be a post highlighting many wonderful social/alternative business models/alternative labor and other movements happening now, and highlighting Occupy and other Fight the Machine events coming in September. didn’t turn out that way, but I will write some of that up soon.  Somehow, it morphed into this when I sat down to clack my keys.  Go figure.)  ;o)

“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number ~
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you ~
Ye are many ~ they are few.”

 ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley


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