Each of us makes our own sense of the world. We sometimes share that view in the hope of finding comraderie, common ground and even solutions.
In Reshad Feild‘s book “The Last Barrier”, the teacher says to his student:
“You have to put your message on the wind. You never know who will hear.”
Like many blogs, Clear Blue Sky is a place to express creativity through essays, musings, humor, poetry and photography. But whether they’re in the form of writing, photography or other art, each of us is obviously expressing more than just creativity when we send our “messages on the wind”. There’s joy in sharing observations, opinions, creative expressions and wit, but there’s also an underlying message we’re all trying to convey. . . something that comes from the heart.
My underlying message is that I agree with others who say the world doesn’t need to be the way it is. And the outlook isn’t as dire as it may seem. Mine is a positive hopeful message.
The problems are obviously enormous and, if we do not change course, the future is definitely not bright. But the situation is not static. We can change our mindset. And once our mindset transforms, our political and economic systems will transform too (much faster than we might think). (Here are some examples of the change in mindset that can bring powerful positive real world change).
Those systems are more malleable than we might imagine since more and more people are realizing they serve the few at the expense of the many. Once a majority of the people decide they want to make real changes, those positive changes become truly possible.
Many of our problems are the result of one bad policy that’s been championed for the last 20 years (more on that below). And that one policy can be changed by proven peaceful methods. The momentum is definitely building for that shift to take place. We already have all the power we need to transform things. We just need to discover and use the proven peaceful tools already in our possession. If we do that, we can transform our system into one that benefits human beings and sustains the planet.
Many of our problems are also the result of patriarchy. There is a severe imbalance between the masculine (cartesian reductionism – looking at things in silos) and the feminine (consistent with systems theory where the relationships between the parts are viewed as the key rather than the individual parts). That imbalance is the root cause of many of the dilemmas we face today. We absolutely can resolve the issue of patriarchy. And once we correct that imbalance, many of our political, economic, social and environmental problems will be resolved. The menu item at the top of this blog entitled “Patriarchy” offers some clips that provide a profound view of this problem and how to fix it.
Racism is also obviously a driver of so many of the problems in the U.S. Like patriarchy, if we can transform our dysfunctional view of race, we can fix a lot of what ails us. This can definitely happen. James Baldwin courageously pushed us to confront our deepest fears that drive our destructive behavior. He opened his celebrated novel “Another Country” with a quote from William James that reads as follows:
“They strike one, above all, as giving no account of themselves in any terms already consecrated by human use; to this inarticulate state they probably form, collectively, the most unprecedented of monuments; abysmal the mystery of what they think, what they feel, what they want, what they suppose themselves to be saying.”
By including this quote, Baldwin is challenging us Americans who are hung up on race. He is pleading with us to recognize that we are causing untold suffering for others and ourselves. The good news is that we don’t have to remain in that inarticulate abysmal state. Once we face our fears, other people and the planet will stop paying the price for our ignorance. And we will be better off as well. We can do this.
We have a brilliant future ahead if we face our deepest assumptions, band together and build a new nation without all the baggage and hangups. Now is our moment to shine.
We should all put our “messages on the wind”. We just never know who will hear. We will learn a lot. And we may discover that we agree on a lot more than we thought.
Once we realize that we have more in common than we have separating use, we can begin to make decisions from a position of unified strength rather than making demands from a position of divided weakness. It all begins with an understanding of how we are all interconnected and in the same big boat. This blog is devoted to attempting to promote that understanding. Because once we achieve it, we will have the power to turn this world on a dime in a way that prioritizes people and the planet. C’mon. Let’s thrive!
We definitely are experiencing a lot of suffering (see photos below). It seems we need to be working on both the political and spiritual levels if we are going to survive and thrive. We can do this! But we have to step out of the distraction of materialism and absorbing the corporate media’s view of the world. (7 corporations now own 90% of the world’s media). We need to get real and get to work.
Paraphrasing Vincent Harding, many have become increasingly dissatisfied with explanations defining racism, sexism or capitalism as the sole source of our troubles. They are definitely destructive and need to be fought with all of our might, but there is something else that is driving our dysfunction and suffering. . . There’s a lack of attunement, a loss of sense of self. And there can be no justice on these shores until we address that issue of the human spirit.
The award-winning film “Planetary” (2 minute preview here) shows how spiritual transformation can inform political solutions in very profound and practical ways. We really can turn this thing around. Once our underlying assumptions shift, then the political, economic and social pieces will fall into place much more quickly than we might imagine. What appears so formidable and unchangeable is actually rotting from the inside out so it will change into something more humane and sustainable more quickly than we think. We want to transform this system into one that nourishes human beings and the earth. To create that evolution in our world, we will need to achieve an evolution of consciousness. The resulting new level of awareness will allow us to see opportunities to which we are currently blind. Once we achieve that, our efforts to push for change will be empowered and the political, economic & social systems will click into place. Still lots of hard work to do, but the change of mindset smooths the path a bit and keeps us on track. It also keeps our creative energy level high, something we need to keep up an effort that will take years to achieve.
When up against a system that dehumanizes people and degrades the planet, we need to join together with determination, wisdom, love, kindness, compassion, a recognition of interconnectedness and an awareness of our collective power. When we band together and utilize the tools of peaceful resistance, we can achieve great things just like people all over the world have using the method of nonviolence.
Successful examples throughout history light the way. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Gene Sharp, Jamila Raqib, Cornel West, Jack Kornfield, Mingyur Rinpoche, Thich Nhat Hanh and others all point us in the right direction in ways that combine peaceful spiritual revolution with political, social and economic transformation.
Martin Luther King, Jr. actually nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize. Just like King & Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh demonstrated how personal spirituality informs public action. He did this via what he called “engaged Buddhism”. All these leaders showed how the forces of love and compassion can create real & lasting positive change in the lives of millions of people. They demonstrated the truth of Gene Sharp’s message to us: Nonviolent action is the most powerful weapon on earth.
There are obviously also more recent examples of this “love force” in action. The 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, the 2011 – 2012 Occupy protests worldwide, the 2016 Standing Rock protest in North Dakota, the Black Lives Matter movement, the 2017 Women’s March, 2017 anti-fascist protests and the 2017 Lancaster Stands movement all demonstrate the power of solidarity. Some battles are won. Some are lost. In either case, the energy and momentum are building. Each iteration of organizing strengthens the bonds and sharpens the tactics.
So, as much as things are getting worse, they’re also getting better. A lot better. Awareness and mindfulness are expanding. People are waking up to the delicate web of relationships and interconnectedness that ties the world together. Our ability to organize is strengthening. The recognition that our current arrangement is unsustainable is spreading.
The number of people joining in the fight is increasing. Citizens who have never protested in their lives are out in the street. And, most importantly, we are beginning to discover Gene Sharp’s brilliant toolbox: There are 198 methods of nonviolent resistance and marching is only one of them. Jamila Raqib, Sharp’s protege, describes the breadth of proven peaceful options and their power HERE in her wonderful TED talk.
Raqib grew up in Afghanistan after the Soviet occupation. Here’s the way she describes struggles for justice in the world in new terms:
“When people have a fundamental issue at stake, for most of them, giving in is not an option. For these types of conflicts, when people’s rights are violated, when their countries are occupied, when they’re oppressed and humiliated, they need a powerful way to resist and to fight back. Which means that, no matter how destructive and terrible violence is, if people see it as their only choice, they will use it.
Most of us are concerned with the level of violence in the world. But we’re not going to end war by telling people that violence is morally wrong. Instead we must offer them a tool that is at least as powerful and as effective as violence. . . The greatest hope for humanity lies not in condemning violence but in making violence obsolete.”
There is a reason that dictators around the world curse Gene Sharp’s name. His 198 methods of nonviolent resistance work.
Two books also wake us up to the power we already possess: This is an Uprising (a new book by Mark & Paul Engler) and No is Not Enough (by Naomi Klein). Definitely check them out. The future is truly bright when we have effective and proven tools at our disposal.
Once we realize that we have more in common than we have separating us, we can begin to make decisions from a position of unified strength rather than making demands from a position of divided weakness. Together we are so much greater than the sum of our parts.
This isn’t just a nice thought. It has the power to change the actual world we live in for the better. Think about it. . . In the U.S. and many nations around the world, 1 person still equals 1 vote. And, for every greedy polluter who buys politicians and rigs the game, there are 99 of us. That means the people’s interests should be represented on almost every issue. (In fact, our power is so great that we should have to make a special effort to ensure that corporations and the super rich have a voice. They are such a tiny minority that it would be easy for those groups to be marginalized).
Check out this leaked Citibank memo to see just how powerful we the people are due to the 1 person equals 1 vote principle. It turns out that we actually hold all the cards.
As we saw in India where 100,000 British tried to rule over 300 million Indians, an unbalanced system can only last so long. Check out this 30 second clip showing how Gandhi (depicted in film) and his followers used peaceful noncooperation to force the British to leave. The odds seemed insurmountable then too.
Political and economic leaders race around trying to sure things up. But they can’t because the current system is built upon a rotting foundation of exploitation that leads to destruction of the environment, poverty, the hollowing out of the middle class, severe inequality and concentration of wealth.
- 50% of children in the U.S. live below or near the poverty line. (Columbia University School of Public Health study here )
- 20 individuals now have as much wealth as the poorest 150 million Americans (half the country per The Nation magazine here ).
- A study by the Atlantic found that 47% of Americans were economically insecure and couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency (Article in the Atlantic: “The Secret Shame of Middle Class America.” here )
- According to a study published recently by CBS News, 78% of workers in America are now living paycheck to paycheck. And each year that percentage is increasing. Article here .
- The environment is clearly being damaged at a rapid pace. In addition to climate change and pollution of our air, water and land, there is also alarming news like this: THE GUARDIAN: “Natural World Faces Collapse as Wildlife Population Plummets”
- All the economic insecurity is breeding an environment historically conducive to the rise of fascism and more overt forms of racism, something we’re beginning to witness now.
Even some of the relatively small number of people that benefit from this system recognize that the jig is up. The CEO of the largest carpet manufacturer in the world made a startling admission about reaching the end of the line on our current way of life. See 30 second clip here.
** The astounding thing is that, as you’ll see in some of the posts on this blog, many of the statistics in the bullet point list above are driven by one bad policy that’s been championed by both Republicans and Democrats (and leaders around the world) during the last several decades.
The good news is there is there is a way to BEAT this destructive policy and replace it with one that puts people and the planet first. If we decide together to use peaceful methods to end that ONE BAD POLICY, we can eliminate a lot of the suffering and destruction shown in the bullet point list above. We now have the momentum we need to pull that off.
(post continues below photos)
The Rastafarian poet, Bongo Jerry put it like this:
“Sooner or later but mus’
the dam is going to bus’
What force can stop them,
this river of people who know their course?”
Steve Jobs in this quote describes the power we have to transform our world:
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your
life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. . . Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
In this passage, James Baldwin describes the transformation we are about to undergo:
“The excluded begin to realize, having endured everything, that they CAN endure everything. They do not know the precise shape of their future, but they know that the future belongs to them. They realize this. . . and begin, almost instinctively, to forge a new morality, to create the principles on which a new world will be built.”
I hope my “letter on the wind” finds you well. I know that together we can light up this world and make it brand new. We have only just begun.
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