On the other side of our despair at the state of Life on Earth is empowerment.
In the Work That Reconnects, Joanna Macy teaches that to get there, we have to first acknowledge the truth of the pain we feel for the world.
That pain manifests most commonly as grief, anger, fear, guilt, emptiness and feeling overwhelmed.
We mourn the immense amount of Life lost - individuals, species, ecosystems.
We are outraged by the ideologies and systems, institutions and individuals, actions and motives that have caused all the death and all the waste.
We are terrified for ourselves and for our children as we face the uncertainty that Life itself may not go on.
We experience emptiness all the times when we are numb, witless, collusive and immobile in the face of all the destruction.
Macy calls this "Pain for the World", and she makes 3 important points about it:
1. It is Universal - we all feel it at some or other level of our consciousness. It doesn't matter if we are a peace activist or an arms dealer, each of us is an 'open-system' embedded in Life, utterly interconnected, and so we all feel pain for the world.
2. It is Unprecendented - while our predecessors experienced many hardships and trials of life, they lived with a certainty that Life would always go on. That certainty is lost, and this is the pivotal psychological framework of the times.
3. It is deeply suppressed - as if we fear getting lost in this huge anguish, we tune out our pain for the world, which is a problem because it is this very suppression that renders us powerless and passive.
Finding the ways to truthfully acknowledge and express our pain for the world, preferrably in community with others, is an empowerment process. In our deep sorrow, we reconnect to our great love of the world. In facing our terrors, we find our courage and our capacity to trust. In giving voice to our anger, we allow our passion for justice to bloom. In acknowledging our emptiness, we make space for the new to arise.
In her book, Coming Back To Life, Joanna Macy offers a wise, inspiring and practical guide to understanding our angst, safely owning our pain for the world and moving out of apathy into compassionate action.
In this state, we can be useful, positive contributors to today's all-encompassing revolution - A Great Turning from the doomed global Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining one.
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