I can’t hold back this rant today, after being triggered by yet one more video of the catastrophic Camp fire and PG&E’s culpability. I have family who live in northern California, who evacuated in the presence of roaring flames and who experience PTSD at the slightest whiff of smoke.
At some level I think we all know — especially the President — that what is being deliberately hidden by government and corporations has the potential for being traumatic, and we are all have been so traumatized already by politics, the weather, the economy, war, and badly damaged children… we want a breather! Where is the hope? When does the impossible gridlock of centralized power open the floodgates of unresolved grief, and if it did, is there any other outcome than social chaos?
I believe there is another way, and it is unfolding right now before our eyes. The impossible is becoming possible, and the outcome is not chaos. Come with me as I rotate, broaden and refocus our telescopic vision.
Broadly speaking, our culture has an accumulated grief from centuries of violence (towards ourselves, our communities, and our environment), and processing that grief appears, on its surface, to be an impossible task. It is not. However, it is an absolutely necessary step to prevent our self-destruction. It’s that serious.
Focusing on the feeling of impossibility, the sadness of failed expectations that is not fully experienced, a loss that is not fully acknowledged, a grief that is not allowed to flow through oneself produces a crisis of denial and a feeling of being stuck. The cynicism and anger is an expression of “don’t touch me, get away from me, you could not possibly understand my pain, and I’m not ready to share it with you or anybody else because, if I do, I have no idea of what might happen next in a situation in which I have no control.”
Said another way, domination and violence come essentially from an inner panic — feeling abandoned, alone, and unsupported in a situation that appears to be out of control. It’s really about control: pain control, damage control, and reality-story control.
There is always a hidden opportunity to learn amazing things about one’s inner strength, dignity, compassion and changing life-story by allowing uncontrolled grief to flow. However, we cannot believe with our minds that grief will ever re-assemble our broken hearts into a shining beacon of love. The trick is to get out of our heads and into our hearts, to just do it, trust the process, even experiment with it, and see what happens.
The process of letting go of self-centered grasping for control always heals violence and creates bonding between people in the midst of, or in spite of, our grief. Those bonds lead to win-win situations that are creative, evolutionary and, from a whole-systems perspective, efficient. This produces non-violence and compassionate love, the very things our hearts are yearning to experience. Learning to safely own and communicate our pain, in ways that build community instead of tearing it apart, resolves the panic.
When the panic is gone, courage takes its place. Courage is a natural human asset, a natural healing power, that enables us to act in the face of uncertainty, attempt the impossible, and flow with situations that our minds will tell us are out of control.
We all — yes, ALL — have a frightened, naive self that has the desire to maintain control, and we all — yes, ALL — have the capability of responding with courageous, mature, disciplined compassion to that small self. We may not be the ones who made our culture of violence, we may believe that we do not even participate in it, and yet we are capable of undoing what has been done for centuries. Violence can be unlearned, and the human species is doing it. Now. If you don’t believe me, just google-search for peace and justice studies, restorative justice, nonviolence, trauma healing, transformational resilience, compassionate action, citizen diplomacy… the list is long!
I am witnessing in my lifetime the discovery that we are not alone, we were never alone, and we never will be alone. It’s that good. Rotating our vision to the spontaneous, diffuse movement of movements arising globally that are building communities devoted to healing, we are confronted with what amounts to a blinding light. Out of all the suffering and desperation comes a surrender to our brothers and sisters at the very least, and often surprising, blissful experiences of nurturing, encouraging love.
PG&E may change its ways. California may decide to make it a public utility instead of a private corporation. Maybe. However, what really must change is not out there, it’s inside me and you, our sense of isolation and being stuck in situations that are out of control. We are not alone. We are not stuck. Help is not coming from centralized power structures, help is coming from individuals who feel they belong to each other and their place on this earth.
Let us focus our telescopes on that vision, a culture of belonging, a culture of peace, a culture of reconciliation and collaboration. I cannot participate in a collaboration if I am self-centered. I must compassionately acknowledge and release my self-centeredness, my self-pity and victimhood arising from my small self. I must surrender my ego, my vanity and most of all, my distrust. Then the impossible becomes not only possible, it becomes real, here and now.
My family in California has deep gratitude for the community of belonging that surrounds them and uplifts them. Their local fire department saved their home, located at the end of a long, bumpy gravel and dirt road. They have amazing, supportive neighbors. Their family surrounds them with unconditional love. They have friends all over the world from their travels, from Burning Man and the ecstatic dance community. They are connected to their land through gardening. They have enough hope to birth a new baby that is demonstrating the joy of life every day.
Belonging is possible.
Thank you for reading this to the end. How did this land with you? Your response is welcome. ❤️