The cascading crises of global warming, peak oil and suicidal terrorism are making it obvious that we are all on one lifeboat together. In the midst of this crisis, we cast about for pieces of flotation, and there are many within reach when we look beneath the surface chaos.
How we think about, how we frame, what we are doing is so much more important than what we are doing. The issue before us is not personal survival, it is how we think about our survival, our strategies of survival, and the real meaning of our survival. Global warming is not just inconvenient weather patterns, it’s a mass extinction event, and our interdependence has marked homo sapiens as an endangered species.
When the bees go extinct, they take an entire food chain with them. When the algae in the ocean die off, so does the food chain that depends on it. If we cut down a forest, the air and water become toxic. We are also highly interdependent with all cultures, all races, and all nations. For example, if we close the border to immigrants, fruit and vegetables go up in price or disappear altogether. We can no longer use the strategy of killing each other to grab energy resources, because the bottom line of warfare is a net loss of resources.
When we define ourselves as independent agents competing for mastery over a finite set of circumstances, we imply that we are surrounded by enemies in a hopeless situation. This leads to homicide and, more often than that, suicide. When we humbly see our place in the context of the larger system of humanity, we are much more likely to participate in solving complex problems which may have otherwise seemed overwhelming. The willingness to cooperate is the new touchstone of the sanity that leads to not just survival, but an abundantly joyous survival.
When we re-frame global warming or peak oil as our opportunity to cooperate in expanding our access to resources that have been until now unavailable to us, we open a vision of new possibilities, and so it is with building the peace. Terrorism is our opportunity to access communication skills that have been previously unused. Real strength, real self-esteem, comes from relating to people instead of dominating them. This is the core idea behind the plan for a Department of Peace and Nonviolence (HR 808), and the thousands of citizen activists that are hammering away at building this new lifeboat for all people. This is one of those possibilities, and my personal favorite, that arise from looking beneath the chaos on the surface and re-framing what we are doing on this planet.
When we act as if we are in unity and solidarity we learn how to make it real. The greatest monuments and wonders were built by people who cooperated in large teams. The foundations of a new wonder are being drawn now, teams are multiplying exponentially, the celebration of new vision and camaraderie are reverberating like whale songs under the storm-driven waves, and everyone is welcome, including you.