Involving us, evolving us (Epilogue)
“When the words are spoken, there is silence. When the relative is over, the absolute remains. The silence before the words were spoken, is it different from the silence that comes after? The silence is one and without it the words could not have been heard. It is always there—at the back of the words. Shift your attention from words to silence and you will hear it.
“The mind craves for experience, the memory of which it takes for knowledge. …[T]he mind craves for formulations and definitions, always eager to squeeze reality into a verbal shape. Of everything it wants an idea, for without ideas the mind is not. Reality is essentially alone, but the mind will not leave it alone—and deals instead with the unreal. And yet it is all the mind can do—discover the unreal as unreal.”
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That
As anti-apartheid freedom fighter Steve Biko said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” The oppressors want to keep us asleep in a dream of their making—and a seductive dream it is. But before we lose more of our hard-won freedoms, and before we mentally degrade too far in our ability to examine our choices, we must make the one choice that will transform everything: to awaken from that awful dream, to recover our power and autonomy to be sentient in this situation, and to start envisioning and building alternative flows of power into existence.
If we were to resist Trump, cooperatively, and with decentralized power: this could in fact be the time in which we rediscover our power of knowing better, the sanity of basic human goodness, the appropriateness of life-embracing ethics to cut through the ruse and topple even the fanciest false despots. It would at least be a broader and deeper will-to-insight, as the Occupy movement in 2011 was an inkling, that when we act together in our common best interests, when we have in-depth conversations, thereby building relationships with each other, we do better for ourselves, for our lives and our situations. The merger of capitalist interests and government (corporatocracy) is now complete in the unholy, inverted image of Trump ruling as President of the United States of America. May we finally—all of us—admit that these systems of oppression do not truly serve us, and that the objectives of the ruling elite do not represent us.
Six years ago, Occupy was a container for our disenfranchised rage. As a social movement, it incorporated only minimal norms and structures by which to circulate conversation equitably (Occupy’s version of Consensus). Because Consensus was so ill-suited to its application in the large-scale encampments of diverse people, unskilled in its norms and protocols and unseasoned in its usage, some argue that Occupy’s dysfunctional attempts at self-governance through Consensus turned people off to imagining that grassroots anarchistic organization could really work.
What Occupy lacked, though, was a unifying platform beyond the unfocused rejoinder of “We are the 99%.” Occupy lacked a method and a structure robust enough to empower conversation into action and to transform people’s daily lives beyond the boundaries of the mass encampments. It did not, at the time, emerge with a coherent vision. But it was a crucial, necessary discourse.
To the extent that the Occupy movement’s demands were never fulfilled, the agitation in the form of a movement will undoubtedly resurface. The perennial question is whether we are prepared to face our shadows—really reflect and penetrate to the roots of grapplings with ego, greed, violence, and inequity—and apply our intelligence to learn how to be more efficient and effective next time.
What I am proposing is a well-designed, open, and participatory system that operates and functions like a genuine improvement over the systems governing us daily right now. It privileges the best ideas from the designers’ minds in its process to set in places some basic structures, before letting in a flood of users. But it would be designed, at the cybernetic level, to serve our visionary purposes as a planetary collective.
However—and this is key—the designers themselves would not be privileged above-and-beyond other human beings as a result of their contributions…their ideas are. The memes they baked, whose recipes they innovated upon, will get passed down through the generations. Whereas the conventional notion of how an individual human being “passes on their legacy” is by reproducing (babies), let’s flip that: if we identified as a participatory collective, then we might find our purpose in the history of how the memes we affected passed on to benefit humanity. The world’s innovators and inventors who are giving their lives to generating solutions know that no purpose is more important: any exploits regarding their ego simply don’t compare in meaningfulness. The actual systems are what individual human actors can tack their legacy onto—not the hoarding of personal, private wealth that accumulates only to feed the psychological hungry-ghost of the ego and the privileged situation of one’s direct descendants.
Now that we have reached “global consciousness,” with our communications technology forming a kind of “brain” by which we can know ourselves at the collective, planetary scale, we are pressured (by the new terms of our survival) to undertake a shift in consciousness as a society. Instead of operating at the egoic level, seeking to reproduce our bodies and grow our personal wealth (these material, manifest expressions of ourselves), we must seek to propagate our well-adapted ideas, nourish those, develop those to maturity, and see how those interact with and shape the reality for the offspring of all beings.
This is our proper role in the life matrix—because, three generations from now, our progeny may not know our name, what we looked like, or what our innermost thoughts were. But they will know directly, through their lived experience, what contributions we made to the conditions they find themselves in. We can provide those children of the future beautiful conditions in which to exist. To achieve this, we need to develop and apply strong minds, and we need to engage as self-aware participant-agents in the media and actual environments we’re immersed in. And this is a much more useful, beneficial and sustainable movement than defending the privilege of certain (elite/white/male) babies to be born, and to prosper.
This is a disruptive time. Use it to let your consciousness soften—resist the urge to harden, to clench, to cling, to put up hard walls. Those who can bear witness to the skin of their so-called-reality tearing, those who can weather the stretch (and endure the pain of stretching), are able to permit other people’s truths to infiltrate their own consciousness. These people grow stronger, and transcend into new depths of blissful awareness and personal power—like an athlete’s physical endurance and breakthroughs. Tolerating the discomfort of holding several divergent perspectives to be valid at once and just, compassionately, bearing with other people and meeting them where they are at—you thus open yourself up to spiritual experience, just like the ecstasy of a mother giving birth could not be what it is without the burden of carrying the child over nine months, nor, the incredibly difficult ordeal of the delivery itself.
We need disruptions in order for the illusion to waver—just long enough that we are willing to take a fresh look at what we think is true and real. We need to endure for each other if we are going to take this moment and truly go beyond it, evolve our consciousness sufficiently so as not to regress further, to actually learn from it, grow from it, and become better people as a result. Don’t be afraid—nor indulge any of fear’s sister apparitions, such as anger or hostility. Be open. Be strong. Embrace the difficulty out of a sense of love for your life—and love others, no matter where they are in their own journey and process. Because, as Stephen Covey says, collective change can only happen at “the speed of trust.”
Climate change is well underway. We need to mobilize the fullness of our human potential and resources to address the imbalances in our ecosystems. We are facing a fatal precipice, in which we expect to support a human population numbering over seven billion on a biological platform of decimated oceans, corrupted soils, degraded lands, depleted forests, and a rapidly warming climate. That we could accomplish this feat (short of drastic changes) is a beyond-absurd delusion. That so many people subscribe to it, though, is cause for extreme alarm. And after all these exhaustive imperative arguments about the necessity of dismantling today’s incumbent power structures, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out: that our total environmental and social collapse is empirically accelerated by—ta da!—economic disparity and concentration of wealth in the hands of a global elite.
It is a huge waste of increasingly precious time and attention that we even legitimize these structures with our investments of belief in authenticity and authority. Notice how these patterns of harsh regressive actions—the aggressive executive orders, barring journalists from the White House press briefings, purging devoted personnel from government offices, fabricating outrageous claims that are aggressively defended while real investigative efforts are branded “fake news,” blatant defiance of revered political and social norms—are designed to make us feel powerless.
Whereas, if we can handle these actually-challenging tasks—of holding space for one another, of tolerating differences and being flexible in our assumptions, of letting go of the need to feel superior to others, of invoking the courage to dream up and build up alternatives, of building collaborative and hopeful alternatives even in the thick of our daily courageous battles for survival—then we are actually far more powerful than the the weak-minded global elite (and powerful enough to resist the lure of “power over” hierarchical social structures which lay waste to life’s intrinsic natural potential).
We are powerful enough to burst through the artificial narrative-bubble of projections of power-over, and step together into the brisk air of the real world in all its complexity—painful, wonderful, multiplicitous. If, in that fine first inhalation of fresh air, we take in a deep moment of peace, we may hear the aspirations of all living things, reflecting to us:
We want to live.
We want to live well.
We want to embrace the good intrinsic to life.
Do you hear this whisper in your ear? Do you feel it in your breast? Do you catch visions of it in your dreams?
We have the power to afford a far finer future, holistically; to all our present-day relations, to subsequent generations of human beings, and in symphonic concert with all the living beings that encompass us as our sacred mirror.
In gazing at this sacred mirror,
May I relinquish the line separating my apparent self from my environment (the two are one).
May I both give and receive compassion (the two are one).
May I see profound wisdom in my reflection.
May all beings know happiness and the root of happiness.