When I ask people about the state of this twirling world, some say: “We’re going to hit the wall,” or “It’s horrible, what’s happening with war, politics, the cost of medications and housing, but what can I do about it?” That’s a dangerous thought. We do have people power – if we stay engaged and proactive, with a good hearted vision.
But, instead of changing the world, we simply change the subject. Some hope a magic wand will appear. We deal with collective stress in different ways, sometimes dissociating or getting more impatient. Or we tell ourselves, “If we can’t actually improve our situation, what’s the point of getting worked up?”
I understand, sometimes we do have to compartmentalize – life can feel overwhelming. But turning away from reality also enables humanity to ignore crises like climate change. Until it hits home.
We are in unprecedented times. We need to do self-care while still caring about unfairness and suffering. We see more polarization, horrors, speeded up technology and anger than we have for years. Even in buttercup Sonoma the divide between rich and poor glares at us.
What to do? Terry Patten wrote: “We are being called to evolve beyond the exploitive cannibalizing behaviors arising from narrow self-interest, and to embody values that serve the greater good of the whole. We are being called to develop a new revolutionary framework for our global future, based on a profound realization of our interdependence, our prior and ultimate wholeness and unity.”
As we enter winter, with family complexities, political unrest, health challenges, and colder nights, we’ll need tools to keep centered, contribute and stay courageous. Whether it’s meditation, faith, exercise, therapy, Netflix, reading, podcasts, traveling, friends, or looking for more support.
Can we each mature and grow, valuing the common good? Dialogue with dignity could be built into all our endeavors. The work of listening well, negotiating and communicating skillfully is a steep hill at times, for me too. Wouldn’t it be easier if transformation just descended on us from a big magic wand?
There is so much to learn about living in a civil way, not a civil war. More than three billion people have internet access today, and within the next few years five billion will. This could be a time of planetary birth…like a woman’s labor pains…. painful, frightening, unpredictable… perhaps amazing on the other side of contractions. We, the people, can birth a world of common decency.
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute reported in 2011 that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority. What new narrative do we want to propel forward for the next generations?
What story will we weave? This newspaper printed an important message in the last issue: We Stand Together Against Hate. Our words can be our wand. And what do we stand for? How about: sitting down to the table and intending solutions, instead of more dividedness and killing?
Katy Byrne, MA, LMFT, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the Bay Area for over 35 years. Author, The Power of Being Heard. ConversationswithKaty.com. 707.548.8982