5 Lessons From Black Panther That Can Save Our Lives and Transform Politics
by Frank Leon Roberts, New York University
1) Radical Collectivity and Revolutionary Empathy
2) Intergenerational Wisdom
3) Resotrative Justice
4) The Women Shall Lead The Way
5) The Ancestors Are Always With Us
☆The life pouring through us, pumping our heart and breathing through our lungs, did not begin at our birth or conception. Like every particle in every atom and molecule of our bodies, it goes back through time to the first splitting and spinning of the stars. —Joanna Macy
☆Our inner spiritual world cannot be activated without experience of the outer world of wonder for the mind, beauty for the imagination, and intimacy for the emotions. —Thomas Berry
Long ago, St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), named a Doctor of the Church in 2012, communicated creation spirituality through music, art, poetry, medicine, gardening, and reflections on nature. She wrote in her famous book, Scivias:
You understand so little of what is around you because you do not use what is within you.
This is key to understanding Hildegard and is very similar to Teresa of Ávila’s understanding of the soul. Without using the word, Hildegard recognized that the human person is a microcosm with a natural affinity for or resonance with its macrocosm, which many call God. Our little world reflects the big world. The key word here is resonance. Contemplative prayer allows your mind to resonate with what is visible and right in front of you. Contemplation erases the separateness between the seer and the seen.
Hildegard often used the word viriditas, the greening of things from within, similar to what we now call photosynthesis. She recognized a readiness in plants to receive the sun and to transform it into energy and life. She also saw an inherent connection between the physical world and the divine Presence. This connection translates into energy that is the soul and seed of everything, an inner voice calling you to “Become who you are; become all that you are.” This is our “life wish” or what Carl Jung called the “whole-making spirit.”
Hildegard is a wonderful example of someone who lives safely inside an entire cosmology, a universe where the inner shows itself in the outer, and the outer reflects the inner, where the individual reflects the cosmos, and the cosmos reflects the individual. Hildegard said, “O Holy Spirit, you are the mighty way in which every thing that is in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.”  It is truly a Trinitarian universe, with all things whirling toward one another: from orbits, to gravity, to ecosystems, to sexuality.
Indeed, for Hildegard nature was a mirror for the soul and for God. This mirroring changes how we see and experience reality. Later, Bonaventure (1217-1274) wrote: “In the soul’s journey to God we must present to ourselves the whole material world as the first mirror through which we may pass over to the Supreme. “ The Dominican Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) said the same: “If humankind could have known God without the world, God would never have created the world.” 
Nature is not a mere scenic backdrop so humans can take over the stage. Creation is in fact a full participant in human transformation, since the outer world is absolutely needed to mirror the true inner world. There are not just two sacraments, or even seven; the whole world is a sacrament.
[Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart, ed. Maurice O’Connell Walshe, rev. Bernard McGinn (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009), 275.]
When we look down on the Earth from space, we see this amazing, indescribably beautiful planet. It looks like a living, breathing organism. But it also at the same time, looks extremely fragile.—Ron Garan, NASA Astronaut
I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life. —Deuteronomy 30:19
What are you saying?
Science of Mind
’It all starts in love, and it all fades into love. Love is all there is. Some people may have an issue with using the word God. That’s perfectly all right. Substitute the word love for God, or Gaia, or Spirit. In doing so, scripture takes on a different feeling. For example, in the beginning, Love created the heavens and the earth.
Love is stronger than any force in the Universe. Love—the deep, unconditional love—has the power to change everything.
When we love the whole race with the whole heart, then we shall enter the presence of [love] who is love. -Christian D. Larson
“Beauty, whoever we find it, is the salve that keeps us vital and fresh. But Truth, in its uncompromised and naked story, no matter how harsh, has a Beauty all its own that is cleansing. […] Like X and Y chromosomes, they make up the fundamental elements of life that no one can do without. They are the yin and yang of existence–one cleanses the wound, while the other heals the wound.”
Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty
That is all you know on earth,
and all you need to know.
“This is why we must remember the Holocaust and other atrocities exactly as they were. This is why it is essential to bear honest witness to our own naked stories.
Still, as wise as the message he came upon is, there is an equal lesson in how young Keats came upon it. For only by voicing our tender pains can we find our way to the deer Beauties and Truths that like ropes and wheels can carry us.”
“Breathe fully and, in the next breath, allow the beauty around you to revitalize the place in you that is raw.”
How our current tax laws prohibit the nation’s best leaders from fully confronting mass incarceration
[And other social/political issues.]
by, Shaun King
“But let me make it even more personal for the world I operate in. At last count, we have over 70,000 black churches in America. It is the most consistent and influential institution in black communities from coast to coast, but the leaders of those churches, because of various tax laws, are not allowed to use their buildings or pulpits for explicit political endorsements. They can’t email it to you either. They can’t do it anywhere on church property or with church equipment. Even though those churches and those communities are ravaged by mass incarceration, they aren’t allowed to really get into the fight to inform people of what to do and who to vote for that will change the system. So, what we end up having are 2,400 District Attorneys in power, often fighting against the health and well-being of black communities, with 70,000+ pastors who cannot freely campaign for alternatives. I’m not even saying we should remove this prohibition — I just need you to know it’s there — and for black communities — this is problem is heightened — because the primary leaders in the community can’t get very specific about criminal justice reform.
It goes much deeper than that.
Because of tax laws governing charities, including almost every single civil rights organization you’ve ever heard of, including the NAACP, the Urban League, the ACLU, and others, those organizations are not allowed to endorse political candidates or use their resources in political campaigns of any kind. They can skirt around the issue. They can host forums with every candidate. And that stuff helps, but not enough. They can’t tell you which sheriff and jailer and DA is corrupt or violent or horrible. They can’t tell you who needs to be replaced and who you should replace them with.
The same is true for most fraternities and sororities — who have deep influence around the country. It even includes hardcore justice organizations that do amazing work — organizations that I love and respect — but would lose their non-profit status if they actually endorsed a political candidate.
So guess what they say when it comes time to vote?
That’s about it. If they say much more than that, it could truly jam them up legally. So all they can tell people, is “go vote.” That’s it.
Can I be frank?
“Go vote” is not enough. And the proof is the very system itself.
If “go vote” was enough, our 2,400 prosecutors would look and feel and act very differently.
If “go vote” was enough, Republicans would not control the House, Senate, Presidency, Supreme Court, and the majority of governorships and state legislatures right now.
“Go vote” is a not a political strategy. It’s hardly a slogan. Hell, it’s not even a good tweet. It lacks the specificity and nuance that people to know who to vote for and against. It lacks the detail needed to actually change the system.
So what happens is people go vote, normally down a single party line, often voting for complete strangers, often choosing random names from among Democrats, hoping they are great. Often, they aren’t. Some of the worst DA’s and judges in America are Democrats. Good people run against them, but the leaders people know and trust can’t tell you that. I can tell you 20 cities off the top of my head where this is the case right now.
What I am about to say pains me. I am not pointing at you. I am owning it.
We got where we are right now because we’ve been out-organized.
People who mean us great harm are in power right now because they have out-organized us.
Yes, they’ve often gerrymandered their way into success, but even that was them out-organizing us.”
“I wanted to make sure that even if our souls were left behind on that classroom floor, our voices would echo on to the halls of Congress.”
-Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg
What History Says About the Parkland Moment
How high school students hope their activism will change gun legislature. History shows how that could – and couldn’t – happen.
by Karen Yuan
The teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting have become nationally prominent activists for gun control almost overnight. But while they’ve drawn attention to their positions, these students will face an uphill journey: Yesterday, the Florida House voted down a motion to consider banning assault weapons—as Stoneman Douglas students watched from the gallery.
After mass shootings, discussions around gun violence—especially gun control legislation—often flare up and then die down, without new legislation, as the news cycle moves on. With help from our archives editor, Annika Neklason, I dug into the Atlantic archives, looking for insights into what might come out of this moment—and what might not.
THE PARKLAND MOMENT: AN ATLANTIC HISTORY
The weapon used by the Parkland shooter, the AR-15, has a storied history. The weapon at the center of today’s debate took an unusual path to prominence. James Fallows explored in 1981 how the AR-15 was developed, advocated for, and modified in the military. In the 1960s, after a series of evaluations, the Defense Department had recommended its lightness, reliability, and “lethality.” The weapon was soon deployed in Vietnam. But without a few more bureaucratic interventions, it might never have become notable.
A proto-school shooting in 1988 looks eerily similar to those of today. That year, in Virginia Beach, a student used a semi-automatic weapon he’d bought from a federally licensed dealer without facing checks to shoot teachers and classmates. In 1993, Erik Larsen said that gun manufacturers, dealers, and regulators “virtually assure [the] eventual use [of guns] in … school yards of America.” That was five years before Columbine.
The Clinton-era assault weapons ban passed in Congress by only one vote. In 1994, Bill Clinton signed a law that restricted the number of military features a gun could have and banned large capacity magazines for consumer use. But in Congress, many opposed it, wrote Patrick Griffin, Clinton’s chief congressional affairs lobbyist. And by strong-arming the passage of the law, Clinton helped to create the intense partisanship that now defines Congress—which his party lost to the Republicans that year. His victory “stands as an enduring cautionary tale.” The law expired in 2004.
The Parkland students may already understand that change won’t come easy. What sets Parkland apart, wrote Robinson Meyer last week, is how its teenagers are familiar with the reality of “a school for children [becoming] a charnel house.” They’ve grown up observing a lack of change. They were born after Columbine shocked their parents’ generation. “So when that hideous transformation struck their school,” wrote Meyer, “they already knew what they wanted to do.” And their perspective is recasting an “otherwise clichéd national debate.”
NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks to Nicole Hockley, who lost her son Dylan during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, about offering support to parents who lost a child in last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla. She went to Florida to help parents there, and went with them to the White House.
“…and I just said to them, you know, if you keep fighting all the time, it’s draining, it’s negative and it can destroy you. But if you stay focused on the win and on something constructive and what you’re – you know, focus on the end game, what you’re trying to achieve, that’s going to keep you motivated and keep you going because they’ve got a lot of momentum now.
And they’re building up to, you know, the March 24 March For Our Lives. And they have a lot of momentum in the country behind them. And I was saying, you know, you need to also focus on March 25 and beyond because eventually the media will turn away. The spotlight will go away. And it’s how you use your voices in that silence because that’s when the long-term battle really starts.”
“…it was like Sandy Hook all over again. And everywhere I went – the school, the hospital, the disaster center – I was just triggered on every single level to the point that I actually got incredibly physically sick on the weekend because I think my body just crashed. But it’s – and even seeing the media now, the clips of the kids leaving the school and the crying, it’s Sandy Hook all over again five years later. And it kills me that we’re still allowing our kids to die and not taking enough actions to protect them. That’s just – as a person, as a mother, that’s just heartbreaking.”
More than 800,000 students live in school districts where shootings have happened. That’s 2% of the US population.Entire communities are damaged, from students who escaped to those attending schools in the area, to parents, friends, neighbors, clergy. As one Parkland, Florida, rabbi put it after the attack there a week ago, a shooting reverberates throughout the population — no one is truly untouched by such a tragedy.“The entire community is torn and broken. Every child that was killed has five or 10 best friends that watched it happen and that dodged a bullet,” Rabbi Shuey Biston told NPR on Friday. “And we’re grieving together. We’re mourning together.”
The Eagle Eye is a student newspaper written and published by the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They continue to report post the massacre and community tragedy.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. To find out more about Connie Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
“We need to get out of their way.”
And the Children Shall Lead Us
by Connie Schultz
“There’s always been a certain percentage of Americans who don’t age well. Their regrets for their own wasted youth or their misspent lives harden them and make them all-too-eager to see the next generation fail. The only thing that’s changed for people like that is the forum for their rage.
If you are even tempted to think they’ll run out of steam, I suggest you get off your couch and out of those chatrooms and go meet some of the young people of this country.
Rush to do this. It’s only a matter of time before they leave you behind.”
In Parkland, journalism students take on role of reporter and survivor
The day after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Melissa Falkowski texted her students. As the school’s newspaper adviser, the teacher knew she and her students had a responsibility. “[I told them] nobody could tell this story the way that we could tell it,” she says. “The kids really embraced that.”
On that fateful Wednesday afternoon, their community lost 17 of its own—a soccer player, football coach, geography teacher, and member of the marching band among them—after a gunman opened fire at the school. Already, members of the school newspaper, The Eagle Eye, along with its broadcast journalism program, WMSD-TV, are sharing their experiences in their own outlets and in the national spotlight, treading the increasingly murky line between journalism and activism.
Senior David Hogg, who is WMSD’s news director, interviewed his fellow classmates during the massacre and has also become one of the most visible faces in its aftermath. The thoughtful, media-savvy student journalist has been vocal on cable news, passionately proclaiming on places like CNN: “We’re children. You guys are the adults….Work together, come over your politics and get something done.” Delaney Tarr, a senior and another of Garner’s students, delivered a rousing speech at a rally on Saturday, calling for swift and immediate change: “Because of these gun laws, people that I know, people that I love, have died, and I will never be able to see them again.” A total of 43 students belong to school’s print/online journalism program; another 200 are in the broadcast program.
Columbia Journalism Review
by Alexandria Neason & Meg Dalton
“And now, in the new political and cultural reality in which we find ourselves, there’s much work to be done,” she. “Where empathy is failing, and sharing has become usurped by greed and lust for power, let us double, triple and quadruple our own efforts to empathize — and to give our resources and our selves.”
Whistle Down The Wind gives people permission to envision and seek out a better world, and beseeches them to “be of good heart” while doing so.
That last phrase comes from a Josh Ritter-penned song, also called “Be Of Good Heart.” It’s an inspired cover choice, as is the rest of Whistle Down The Wind’s track listing, which features Baez tackling work from contemporary songwriters. She includes new discoveries — the hymn-like “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” Zoe Mulford’s stunning song about mourning the 2015 Charleston church shooting…”
I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
“Our yearly report on the state of extremism in America has found that the number of hate groups grew for a third straight year in 2017 — a year that saw white supremacists energized by the Trump presidency and black nationalist groups rising in response.
We’ve identified 954 hate groups — a 4 percent increase.
The radical right started 2017 on a roll, with allies in the White House. But then came Charlottesville, and white supremacists faced a backlash. Still, Trump’s rhetoric and the country’s changing demographics continue to energize them.
Here are the highlights:
- For the first time since 2009, hate groups were found in all 50 states.
- Neo-Nazi groups were up 22 percent, from 99 to 121.
- Anti-Muslim groups rose for a third straight year. After tripling in 2016, they added 13 more chapters last year and now have 114.
- Black nationalist groups expanded from 193 to 233 chapters in reaction to Trump and the rising white supremacist movement.
We hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the full report.
Now, more than ever, your part in this fight against extremism is critical.”
US Citizenship and Immigration Services Will Remove “Nation of Immigrants” from Mission Statement
THE LEAD U.S. AGENCY tasked with granting citizenship to would-be Americans is making a major change to its mission statement, removing a passage that describes the United States as a nation of immigrants. In an email sent to staff members Thursday and shared with The Intercept, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna announced the agency’s new mission statement.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.
USCIS’s previous mission statement, still available on the agency’s website Thursday, read:
USCIS secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.
In a written statement sent to The Intercept after this story was published, Jonathan Withington, USCIS Chief of Media Relations, said the new mission statement is “effective immediately.” Asked if USCIS had changed its view on whether the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, Withington wrote, “The statement speaks for itself and clearly defines the agency’s role in our country’s lawful immigration system and commitment we have to the American people.”
An academic, friend who lives in Canada, just emailed and wrote that the new language, ‘sounds like Hitler’s manifesto.’
Also from The Intercept:
IT DIDN’T GET much notice, but Sen. Jim Risch made extremely alarming remarks on Sunday at the Munich Security Conference, in which he said President Donald Trump is prepared to start a “very, very brief” war with North Korea that would be “one of the worst catastrophic events in the history of our civilization.” Trump would go to these extraordinary lengths, the Idaho Republican said, in order to prevent the government of Kim Jong-un from developing the capacity to deliver a nuclear warhead to the U.S. via an intercontinental ballistic missile.
[…]Risch will likely become chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, if the GOP maintains control of the Senate and the current chair, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., retires. Risch said he and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. — who was sitting next to him on stage at the conference in Germany — had “drilled down with the administration” on its North Korea policy. Risch emphasized that the Trump administration was not bluffing.
Joining Trump in the US delegation are White House press secretary Sarah Sanders; Idaho’s GOP Sen. James Risch, the chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism; Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and US Forces Korea; Chargé d’Affaires at the US Embassy Seoul Mark Knapper; and Sgt. Shauna Rohbock, a former Winter Olympian, current Team USA coach for the bobsled team and a member of the US National Guard.
Sen. Risch has proven less than a reasoned intellect since his tenure in Idaho. He is loyal to party only, repeatedly putting party over country. He has served in Idaho politics since 1974. He is a poster boy for term limits.
“The Americans are very impressionable people; they see what they want to see. I have a lot of respect for them. I am not upset at all that I ended up on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see him.”
Russian Oligarch Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, one of 13 Russians indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday, February 16th, 2018, for interfering in the American election.
“Facebook, Twitter and Google have all identified the Internet Research Agency as a prime source of provocative posts on divisive American issues, including race, religion, gun laws and gay rights, particularly during the 2016 presidential election. Facebook found, for example, that the agency had posted 80,000 pieces of content that reached more than 126 million Americans.” [NYTimes]
Imagine a world where democracy lives up to its lofty promise… where problems are solved by debate and compromise rather than vitriol and internet trolls. A nice thought isn’t it?” asks Brian Klaas. As a scholar of democracy and authoritarianism, he’s seen fear-and-division politics rising across the world, but says we’re more powerful than we think in reversing this trend. Beyond the uncomfortable stats of our civic shortcomings; he shares moments with those he’s met risking their freedom and their lives for a democratic choice; and offers five concrete ways we can start changing what we don’t like.
Thoughts from Brian Klaas:
Democracies around the world are dying. Remember: Being a citizen is a full time job.
People who say, “my vote doesn’t matter”? Wrong.
Politicians pander to those who vote. (Who votes in majority? Older white males.)
Democracies are dying. One man in Russia who was being followed by the secret police told Klaas, “You don’t know how lucky you are.”
“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
-David Foster Wallace
We need to remember how powerful we are.
Of the people.
By the people.
For the people.
Ongoing paradox: People are unhappy with the system, but not many do much to understand it…or do anything.
In the midterm election in 2014, 36% of registered voters voted. 64/100 didn’t bother.
In the 2016 presidential election? 60% voted. And the current president was voted in by 30% of the US population. Apathy voted a candidate into the Oval Office.
80,000 people tipped the election…enough to fit into a football stadium.
We get the candidates we deserve.
P A R T I C I P A T I O N
Our collective power to save democracy:
Vote in every election…local and national, because the local candidates become national candidates.
Before the election talk to 10 people before voting.
Be the boss to your politicians; they work for us. Whether they agree with you or not, tell them how you feel.
Reach out to someone who believes completely differently from what you believe. And listen.
Run for office or organize a new political group.
Actions become ripples and those ripples become tsunamis.
Think about it. If women waited for an invitation, we still wouldn’t have the right to vote.
2018 is ours. And the youth? They are activating.
︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶
Go see it. It will give you hope. (Stay until the very final credit rolls.) ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
There is a beautiful Tibetan myth that helps us to accept our sadness as a threshold to all that is life-chaing and lasting. This myth affirs that all spiritual warriors have a broken heart—alas, must have a broken heart—because it is only through the break that the wonder and mysteries of life can enter us.
So what does it mean to be a spiritual warrior? It is far from being a soldier, but more the sincerity with which a soul faces itself in a daily way. It is this courage to be authentic that keeps us strong enough to withstand the heartbreak through which enlightenment can occur. And it is by honoring how life comes through us that we get the most out of living, not by keeping ourselves out of the way. The goal is to mix our hands in the earth, not stay to stay clean.
I keep breathing deeply through the breaking my heart. In daily ways, we are judged, discounted, and even pitied for glories that only we can affirm. In the end, life is too magnificent and difficult for us to give away our elemental place in the journey.
At some point in our lives, almost every one of us will have our heart broken. Imagine how different things would be if we paid more attention to this unique emotional pain. Psychologist Guy Winch reveals how recovering from heartbreak starts with a determination to fight our instincts to idealize and search for answers that aren’t there — and offers a toolkit on how to, eventually, move on. Our hearts might sometimes be broken, but we don’t have to break with them.
-Guy Winch, author “How to Fix a Broken Heart”
Grace under pressure.
Remembering their earlier struggles, Anthony closed her letter: “And we, dear old friend, shall move on the next sphere of existence—higher and larger, we cannot fail to believe, and one where women will not be placed in an inferior position, but will be welcomed on a plane of perfect intellectual and spiritual equality.” The sentiment was timelier than anyone expected. Stanton, who had been homebound and in ill health but still publishing commentaries, died before the letter was published on October 26, 1902, two-and-a-half weeks before her birthday.
In her letter, Anthony sounds optimistic, despite her lament that only in death will they experience equality. She seems confident in the suffrage movement’s new leaders. There is a sense that things can only move forward for women.
-Humanities Magazine, by Katy June-Friesen, Volume 35, Number 4
“Complacency is much more dangerous than fatalism.’
New York Magazine:
There’s a lot of scientific debate about the future of climate change. But have you ever considered the worst case scenario? David Wallace-Wells gives us one terrifying glimpse into the future after consulting experts from various fields.
But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough. Over the past decades, our culture has gone apocalyptic with zombie movies and Mad Max dystopias, perhaps the collective result of displaced climate anxiety, and yet when it comes to contemplating real-world warming dangers, we suffer from an incredible failure of imagination. The reasons for that are many: the timid language of scientific probabilities, which the climatologist James Hansen once called “scientific reticence” in a paper chastising scientists for editing their own observations so conscientiously that they failed to communicate how dire the threat really was; the fact that the country is dominated by a group of technocrats who believe any problem can be solved and an opposing culture that doesn’t even see warming as a problem worth addressing; the way that climate denialism has made scientists even more cautious in offering speculative warnings; the simple speed of change and, also, its slowness, such that we are only seeing effects now of warming from decades past; our uncertainty about uncertainty, which the climate writer Naomi Oreskes in particular has suggested stops us from preparing as though anything worse than a median outcome were even possible; the way we assume climate change will hit hardest elsewhere, not everywhere; the smallness (two degrees) and largeness (1.8 trillion tons) and abstractness (400 parts per million) of the numbers; the discomfort of considering a problem that is very difficult, if not impossible, to solve; the altogether incomprehensible scale of that problem, which amounts to the prospect of our own annihilation; simple fear. But aversion arising from fear is a form of denial, too.
To The Best of Our Knowledge:
There’s a lot of scientific debate about the future of climate change. But have you ever considered the worst case scenario? David Wallace-Wells gives us one terrifying glimpse into the future after consulting experts from various fields.
And while many people are working to try to counter this imbalance, most are approaching it with the very same mind-set that has created this predicament. Before we can begin to redeem this crisis, we need to go to the root of our present paradigm—our sense of separation from our environment, the lack of awareness that we are all a part of one interdependent living organism that is our planet. This can be traced to the birth of the scientific era in the Age of Enlightenment and the emergence of Newtonian physics, in which humans were seen as separate from the physical world, which in turn was considered as unfeeling matter, a clockwork mechanism whose workings it was our right and duty to understand and control.
While this attitude has given us the developments of science and technology, it has severed us from any relationship to the environment as a living whole of whose cycles we are a part. We have lost and entirely forgotten any spiritual relationship to life and the planet, a central reality to other cultures for millennia.1 Where for indigenous peoples the world was a sacred, interconnected living whole that cares for us and for which we in turn need to care—our Mother the Earth—for our Western culture it became something to exploit.
But there is an even deeper, and somewhat darker, side to our forgetfulness of the sacred within creation. When our monotheistic religions placed God in heaven they banished the many gods and goddesses of the Earth, of its rivers and mountains. We forgot the ancient wisdom contained in our understanding of the sacred in creation—its rhythms, its meaningful magic. For example, when early Christianity banished paganism and cut down its sacred groves, they forgot about nature devas, the powerful spirits and entities within nature, who understand the deeper patterns and properties of the natural world. Now how can we even begin the work of healing the natural world, of clearing out its toxins and pollutants, of bringing it back into balance, if we do not consciously work with these forces within nature?
Nature is not unfeeling matter; it is full of invisible forces with their own intelligence and deep knowing. We need to reacknowledge the existence of the spiritual world within creation if we are even to begin the real work of bringing the world back into balance. Only then can we regain the wisdom of the shamans who understood how to communicate and work together with the spirit world.2
While there may be a growing awareness that the world forms a single living being—what has been called the Gaia principle—we don’t really understand that this being is also nourished by its soul, the anima mundi—or that we are a part of it, part of a much larger living, sacred being. Sadly, we remain cut off, isolated from this spiritual dimension of life itself. We have forgotten how to nourish or be nourished by the soul of the world….3
We cannot return to the simplicity of an indigenous lifestyle, but we can become aware that what we do and how we are at an individual level affects the global environment, both outer and inner. We can learn how to live in a more sustainable way, not to be drawn into unnecessary materialism.
We can also work to heal the spiritual imbalance in the world. Our individual conscious awareness of the sacred within creation reconnects the split between spirit and matter within our own soul and also within the soul of the world: we are part of the spiritual body of the Earth more than we know.
The crisis we face now is dire, but it is also an opportunity for humanity to reclaim its role as guardian of the planet, to take responsibility for the wonder and mystery of this living, sacred world.
THE WIRED GUIDE TO CLIMATE CHANGE
How this Global Climate Shift Got Started
“If we want to go all the way back to the beginning, we could take you to the Industrial Revolution—the point after which climate scientists start to see a global shift in temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. In the late 1700s, as coal-fired factories started churning out steel and textiles, the United States and other developed nations began pumping out its byproducts. Coal is a carbon-rich fuel, so when it combusts with oxygen, it produces heat along with another byproduct: carbon dioxide. Other carbon-based fuels, like natural gas, do the same in different proportions.
When those emissions entered the atmosphere, they acted like an insulating blanket, preventing the sun’s heat from escaping into space. Over the course of history, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have varied—a lot.”