2017 saw some serious lifting of veils.
Even those who would really rather not notice couldn’t avoid the turmoil and upheaval of an increasingly fractured society coming to terms (or not) with another busted myth, the one we subbed in for belief in God, that of Progress. We’re not looking quite so Developed today as we’ve loved to imagine in the West. Nor is Nature looking quite so Conquered.
Still, that we all to varying degrees bury our heads in the sand is more than understandable. Feels more like necessary: an honest glimpse into the enormity of our social, economic, and political issues is immediately overwhelming, to say nothing of the rapidly deteriorating biosphere on which all life depends. On the zoom-out, no matter how hard we fight for the strictly human issues that so require our attention, we fight on a sinking ship.
It all adds up to an inner voice/texture/weight/darkness/etc that, while I can speak only for myself, would guess is common to most everyone, however buried or amplified: “what’s the point? We’re all gonna die! Nothing matters!” Conceiving of death as an infinite nothingness waiting patiently to claim each one of us forever and ever turns out not to inspire much in the way of sustained bravery.
So where are we going to find the strength (not to mention the time) to fight the battles that surely by now are moral imperatives, those of social and economic and ecological justice, and is it possible to fuse our fights into one?
We’ve got more empirical knowledge and information than we know what to do with, but it’s not translating into enough of what we need – the grounding force of wisdom. Let us look no further for wisdom than the leadership of Indigenous peoples at the forefront of progressive movements across the world. They have so much to teach us about activism. They are not protestors, they are protectors — rightly denying the conventional lexicon as it fails to accurately describe their resistance. Unlike so much of our “pickled in anti” (no matter how woke) activism on the left, Indigenous resistance, as witnessed at Muskrat Falls, Standing Rock and beyond, is sourced in love for the living systems that nourish and enable all life, and that no one can do without. It is resistance conducted in ceremony, bringing the protectors into ever-deepening love of what they protect.
Our interconnection with and dependence on this world — what a great deal of any true spirituality is founded on — is a scientific fact, but to know so intellectually is not enough. Faith in something greater than ourselves is not so much a leap of the mind, but an experience of the heart, through which the mind is illuminated. There’s no better place from which to operate. Doing so doesn’t mean giving up our anger; we need our anger to resist. What we don’t need is hate. Hate is scorching up our insides and the world without, though the dividing line is ultimately arbitrary.
So let us follow the example set by the bravest among us, whose humanity has been under attack for literal centuries, but who yet continue to summon the strength and love to “Defend the Sacred.”