I wrote the following as a reflection from a series of conversations people from around the world had to discuss the climate crisis. As I looked through the wondrous materials considered and assembled by the Conference Weaving Now What? Deep Dives, I was dazzled by the jewels in the Now What?! Consciousness Deep Dive Conversation Harvest. Immediately, I thought of Indra’s Net. Before telling you why, it is important to understand what this net is. And, to find out more about Now What, visit the beautiful new site: Now What?!The art of being fully human in a time of crisis
Śūnyatā (emptiness) – This is a Buddhist concept that has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. It is either an ontological feature of reality, a meditative state, or a phenomenological analysis of experience. [I believe for something new to emerge there must be space for it, thus this feature of reality both outer and inner is essential to all who seek to bring into the world a kinder, gentler, restorative reality.]
Pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) – This concept “is commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key principle in Buddhist teachings,[note 1] which states that all dharmas (“phenomena”) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”. [I cannot think of a more essential concept to consider as we engage together in these sessions and others along with the weaving done afterwards. I always need to be reminded what dharma means. There is no single English translation for this word. Essentially it is the behaviors that make life in the universe possible. I think fits beautifully with us joining together in conversations that seek to understand and uplift behaviors that sustain life on our planet. If we don’t understand each other, we are indeed stuck.]
Interpenetration (coalescence) – This concept developed from the Huayan school. It holds all phenomena (dharmas) are deeply interconnected, mutually arising, and every phenomenon contains all other phenomena. Various metaphors and images are used to illustrate this idea. The first is known as Indra’s net. The net is set with jewels which have the extraordinary property that they reflect all of the other jewels, while the reflections also contain every other reflection, ad infinitum. The second image is that of the world text. This image portrays the world as consisting of an enormous text which is as large as the universe itself. The words of the text are composed of the phenomena that make up the world. However, every atom of the world contains the whole text within it. It is the work of a Buddha to let out the text so that beings can be liberated from suffering. [So, there you go. Perhaps this is why Indra’s Net popped into my mind as I read through the jewels, which is only a tiny piece of the harvest and this is even a tiny part of what is happening when we connect with each other and seek mutual understanding. We are indeed reflected in each other. We are the jewels in the Indra Net enveloping Earth.]
I imagine two wonderous Indra’s Net. One net holds our universe. It is woven by time and space that create the matrix holding everything we see in our universe. The second Indra’s Net is like the first, but this one wraps around our beautiful Earth. All life on Earth create the threads that are woven together to create this web. Humans have taken on an exaggerated importance in this web because of the level of consciousness we have attained. I am not going to delve into my thinking on this now…perhaps later… but suffice it to say we have changed the matrix from which we were born, and now we have a Herculean Task upon our shoulders to repair what has been damaged by us so life may continue to exist on this precious jewel in the larger Indra Net—Earth.
I think when we come together and listen to each other, we repair Earth’s net. Each of us has a special place and unique abilities that are needed to sustain Earth’s Indra’s Net. Each human being is informed by individual passions, interests, experiences, and failures. Some of us are really good at speaking, others are really good at organizing, still others are healers, and others bring visions. Each human being weaves part of this wondrous web enveloping Earth. To heal and repair our net, Earthneeds all our insights, energies, passions, and gifts.
So, this is the idea that struck me as I read the harvest material from the conferences, deep dives, and other conversations. It seems to me every human being is a jewel in Earth’s Indra’s Net. Through us the energy needed to repair, strengthen, and heal this netis made visible. We are essentially portalsof transformation, and it is going to take as many ofus pulling in the same direction as possible to change our collectivefate.
I have not had much time to read everything, nor did I have participate in the Deep Dives, but what I have seen is beautiful pieces of wisdom being pulled up from depths inside ourselves. Wisdom that has become submerged and lost due to current ways of thinking and living in our world. Let me stress the weaving being done through our collective action is utterly essential for the moment we are in now.
Given limits on my time at this moment, I am only able highlight a few of the jewels that caught my attention as I looked through the excellent excel chart being created to preserve some of the harvest from this collective work. There are also notes and videos of Deep Dives and from parts of the conferences taking place around the world. My selection of a few of the jewels in no way diminishes any of the other jewels.I am a simple and small portal of consciousness informed by my individual experiences, passions, dreams, and failures. All this naturally limits what I can see and how I see it. But, then thisis the beauty of Indra’s Net. Each jewel is unique and reflects every other jewel in the net. I suspect there are as many jewels in Earth’s Indra’s Net as there human beings alive on the planet, and the energy coursing through the webbing of this net is the wonderous life alive on Earth right now.
The first jewel I want to highlight is one that I saw reflected in several discussions. This is the jewel of sacred ceremony. We need to remember our thoughts are powerful. They are able to collapse the infinite sea of possibilities in which we all swim into a single thread of reality. We do this by thinking, choosing, and acting (or not acting). Moment by moment we contribute our strand of reality to all the other strands being created by every living being on the planet. As the strands interweave, this becomes our shared reality. Humans have become particularly powerful in sculpting our shared reality by using our minds gifted with consciousness (or cursed – as many world myths account this moment as man’s great fall). I write about this in other places, so I will not delve into my meaning here, but only say humans emerged from a more primordial state of consciousness into the state we understand it as today. This singular accomplishment allowed humans to not only perceive the world, but to apperceive it. I will talk more about this ability to apperceive our world later, but for now, I will simply provide you with a definition of it:
From Wiki: Meaning in psychology – In psychology, apperception is “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” In short, it is to perceive new experience in relation to past experience. The term is found in the early psychologies of Herbert Spencer, Hermann Lotze, and Wilhelm Wundt. It originally means passing the threshold into consciousness, i.e., to perceive. But the percept is changed when reaching consciousness due to the contextual presence of the other stuff already there, thus it is not perceived but apperceived.
Apperception is thus a general term for all mental processes in which a presentation is brought into connection with an already existent and systematized mental conception, and thereby is classified, explained or, in a word, understood; e.g. a new scientific phenomenon is explained in the light of phenomena already analyzedand classified. The whole intelligent life of man is, consciously or unconsciously, a process of apperception, in as much as every act of attention involves the appercipient process.
The next jewel is the significant of language in constructing our realities. Here again our ability of apperception is powerful for we have civilized and cultivated most of the world simply by seeing possibilities different from what nature originally provided for life to exist. And, so here we stand at the edge of every moment with this power to apperceive infinite possibilities, and language is the tool we use to share our visions of what is possible. So, yes, it is a commanding tool in constructing our shared realities because it allows us to cooperate in collective action.
It also comes with peril, as this group of jewels point out, for we can misunderstand each other if we do not take care in truly understanding how words are being used and what is truly being said. Our ability for language is an ability that we have perhaps grown too accustom to wielding. I really like the idea of reconnecting with other cultures and languages. This is a beautiful way to understand how utterly diverse our ability to communicate with each other is… and through communication, our ability to co-create. Human cultures and civilizations have unfolded in so many incredible and diverse ways across space and through time. So, getting stuck in our head with words that have become too small for our current reality is a trap, and it is good to learn how to get out of our self-created thought traps. Gaining perspective of different languages, different cultures, and even different ways of communication (e.g., dance, visual art, dreamtime, empathy), helps us re-appreciate our ability to communicate with each other in so many different ways. This I believe helps us to perceive nuances better for every word is really a universe. Here is one of my favorite shorts by Dr. Maya Angelou – Power Of Words.
The next jewel is learning to let go of the story. Here the question was asked: What are the actions I might take now that allow me to fully offer my gifts in service to what is needed in response to the possibility that everything is going to work our just fine or it is not going to work out? I think this is wonderful because it helps one to understand they can take an active role in telling the story unfolding right now about Earth and her fate (or a passive role). I think most of us began to believe (for me it was around the 6thgrade) that our voice does not matter, that our thinking will never be good enough, and that our internal knowledge is wrong and has no place in the world of educated men (I do use men here purposively).
To survive in our modern civilization, we learn how to bend ourselves and squeeze into the tiny boxes of perception and apperception that are allowed by the systems dictated to us by our modern, civilized world. Most of these systems come out of Western Civilization for this civilization has had a huge propensity to colonize the world with its particular brand of thinking and mindset. For humans living in modern Western systems, there are patterns for how to make money, where to live, how much free time to spend with friends, family, or anything else that is important, even how to think and use our minds. Since so many human beings are born into this system, we do not even realize how much control of our shared narrative we have given up by making ourselves fit into this story being told mostly by powerful ones inside of Western Civilization.
Most of us do not realize how shallow the conscious waters have become inside of this great narrative. But, we have been told we must swim only in these designated waters—conscious waters that are too shallow to sustain us much longer. I think other cultures and civilizations have not taught this out of their people. This is why we need our indigenous brothers and sisters, but we do not need to misuse their precious knowledge (as another Jewel cautions), rather this knowledge is inside every person trapped inside Western thinking, we need to marshal our courage and venture back into the deep end of our conscious capacities. This is where our indigenous brothers and sisters can be guides, but we must do the work. And, help each other to take a more active role in telling our personal story that becomes part of the collective story…this is so important. Active storytelling is a precious jewel—indeed, it is a super ability.
Another really critical element in this list of jewels is letting go of the ending of the story. When we let go of what we hope or want the ending to be, we put ourselves squarely in the present moment. This is where our power is. It is not in the past (we’ve already been there). It is not in the future (we are not there yetand thusour choicesare only future possibilities). It is NOW—this is where we choose our thread of shared reality. This is where our voice can help guide the flow of the collective story being told about Earth and its inhabitants. By letting go of our attachmentto what the ending needs to be or should be, suddenly all possibilities open up again.
In this moment of infinite possibilities, we can get about doing what we are so good at doing. In fact, we have evolved as human beings to not only perceive the beautiful world around us, but to appercept it. I am using apperception in the psychological meaning of this word, as defined earlier: “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” With this ability, we become transformers. It is what we do better than any other species on the planet, and that is to take our individualized toolbox (the mind) equipped with individualized knowledge, experience, and hopefully wisdom and create something new. Even when we don’t employ our wisdom, when we choose from the infinite number of possibilities swirling around us every momentof every dayand act on one, we collapse the infinite stream of possibilities into one possibility. This becomes our thread of reality.
So you see, we are more powerful than we think… and yet, just like the Buddhist concept of Pratītyasamutpāda, we are completely dependent on each other making the best choices possible to survive within our shared reality—the web we weave together. What a dilemma!
The world cannot be saved by one human being, not even by the most powerful and rich 1 percent of human beings. I don’t know how many it is going to take to save Earthfrom the looming climate crisiswe have woven into the story, but it is probably going to take asmany of us as possible who are awakening to our new role as narrators in this collective story. So, releasing the ending you want is essential because to be a powerful narrator, it is essential to see the present moment for what it is and tell this story as accurately as you can… how you avoided the rocks or boulders in the stream, how you saw and out smarted the poisonous snake laying wait in the rocks, how you navigate the stream of possibilities.
These are power stories. They have always been power stories from timeimmemorial. Now we must learn how to tell these powerful stories about ourselves again against the backdrop of our modern age with all its distractions, pain, and fear thatcreates chaos meant to keep us docile and frozen in non-action. Or at least trap us in polarized action. Such action simply gets cancelled out by its equal and opposite action by others trapped on the other side of a false divide. It is a trick of the powerful narrators of our time who currently control most of our collective narrative. Too many of ushave fallenintotheir trap, makingus desperately grasp at things beyond our reach. This especially happens whenwe lose the firm ground of our inner reality; then, we are especially at the mercy of nefarious forces trying to control the collective story through fearmongering and other dramatic techniques.
We must grow stronger consciously. This is how we strengthen Indra’s Net because each one of us is a jewel in this beautiful net. We can help each other by giving freely our time and attention to lift each other when we falter or fall. We don’t have to leave anyone behind. When we stand on the plain of our present moment and really see what is in front of us, we are powerful beings. This is a link to some of my early writing and visual storytelling about these ideas. This began to emerge inside of me more than two years ago: Consciousness Waves.
Another jewel is pain. Here another critical question is asked: How do we create a space for pain? So much of Western Civilization is focused on avoiding pain at all costs. I don’t know about you, but I grew up feeling it was not OK to admit to feeling pain. Physical pain was fine to admit. Everyone can clearly see if you have a scraped knee or broken arm. But, emotional or spiritual pain…this was scary. Often it is assumed you did not follow the prescribed rules you were taught, and thus you are the cause of your own pain and deserve to suffer. No one deserves to suffer. Hardly any of us has such control over all the things that impact us, it is ridiculous to blame a person in pain for their pain. But, so often this is what we do. I have been going through a year of pretty intense pain, I can tell you one thing: Pain focuses ones attention and time like no other stimuli. Pain tells us something is wrong, and it prods us to seek solutions. When we are in pain, trivial matters, mindless distractions, the things that use to fill our time fade away and the mind focuses on finding solutions. [I captured this idea in a fantastical little story about my trials in The Divine Dodo – Hanga Dyra Mingja.]
So, yes, make space for pain. Do not be afraid of the power pain offers. Perhaps this is what victim blamers are really afraid of… the person experiencing pain finding their power making them no longer so easy to control. Finding solutions to things causing pain is absolutely critical.
In this collection of jewels, there is also discussion about the power of music. I write about the power of music in another story I am writing, so I will not wax on about it here. I will simply say our ancestors understood the power of music and how it can inspire action in the minds of individuals and groups. We have forgotten the power that music and dance give us. We have let them become co-opted into the realm of entertainment and money-making. It is so much more than this. It is part of our internal guidance system. Find your song. Find your dance. This is how the universe moves and expresses itself through us. Our magical powers to transform reality rises from inside of us and through us… and it is through our collective action that what rises from inside our minds is made visible through our collective action in the world—this is our shared reality.
Another jewel closely connected to pain is grief. Indeed, grief as this group discusses, breaks open the heart. The group also shares a beautiful poem expressing grief exquisitely. Grief connects us to our empathy. Our empathic powers are needed now more than any other time in human history. To me empathy is not just understanding that someone else is in pain or is grieving, but it is the capacity to stand beside the person who is suffering, to bear witness to their pain knowing we cannot take their pain from them, but perhaps we can help them hold it for a time… maybe help the person endure it, however long it takes.
I think really powerful empaths can absorb into their own bodies other people’s pain, anger, grief, and the unbearable emotions. I think our ancestors and indigenous people understand how this works and know how to help transmute these powerful emotional states. But, this takes time and skill to understand and most of us in Western Civilization have lost this ability. However, Medicine men and women around the world still possess it, and known how not helping people navigate these difficult parts of the journey can impact the health not only of the individual suffering but of the entire group. In most modern cultures, we have lost the rituals of transformation that can transmute and balance these negative and destructive energies with their equal and opposite energies. It is here where we have our power as individuals and as groups in helping each other find and maintain balance so that wisdom can rise and shine brightly.
This is all I have time to reflect on right now. I wish I could do more, and I am sure my thinking and efforts to communicate are inadequate for the rich reservoir of ideas, thinking, collaborative efforts transpiring through this collective work (collective action of transformation) unfolding right here and right now. I can only encourage each person who has participated in the dialogues or who is just discovering these resources to use your own unique toolbox of thought, perception, experience, ideas to continue strengthening this net we are repairing together. We do this by providing our time and attention in whatever capacity we feel called to do and with whatever time we have available to do so. Time and attention are the most valuable resources in the universe. It really is all we need to be powerful narrators of our personal stories, which of course become a part of the collective story of Earth.
After writing this, I came upon readings and conversations about the importance of emptiness. I quite frankly did not understand how absolutely essential emptiness is when I wrote the above. I intend to write more about it when I have time, but for now I must devote most of my attention to finishing editing the story I began 7 years ago (almost to this day for I remember first finding the thread to the story I have been writing ever since late one September afternoon–this story is Sapience). And so I leave you only with a quote from Carl Jung whom I was reading and finally understood the power and importance of emptiness. He said:
“The archetype corresponding to the situation is activated, and as a result this explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall a prey too. “
“If 30 years ago anyone had dared to predict that our psychological development was tending towards a revival of the medieval persecutions of the Jews, that Europe would again tremble before the Roman fasces and the tramp of legions, that people would once more give the Roman salute, as two thousand years ago, and that instead of the Christian Cross an archaic swastika would lure onward millions of warriors ready for death–why, that man would have been hooted at as a mystical fool. And today? Surprising as it may seem, all this absurdity is a horrible reality. Private life, private aetiologies, and private neuroses have become almost a fiction in the world of today. The man of the past who lived in a world of archaic ‘representations collectives’ had risen again into very visible and painfully real life, and this not only in a few unbalanced individuals but in many millions of people”
“There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life. Endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic constitution, not in the form of images filled with content, but at first only as forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. When a situation occurs which corresponds to a given archetype, that archetype becomes activated and a compulsiveness appears, which, like an instinctual drive, gains its way against all reason and will, or else produces a conflict of pathological dimensions, that is to say, a neurosis.”
— The Portable Jung, The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, p. 66-67
I laid in bed meditating on the last few paintings I created (with assistance from my subconscious helpers) on the AMAZON and the FIRES. I asked for guidance what these paintings were about and what they were trying to communicate to myself and all of us. I heard the word very loudly in my minds eye, INTERCONNECTEDNESS. I thought of what the ravages of the fires meant in the Amazon with millions of acres burning, Siberia and all over the world currently. I knew since we exist on a living planet this effected us all because it is all energy and ripples to where ever we live on the planet. I felt so deeply that my heart was hurting, what is this doing to us psychologically? The death of so many species of life discovered and undiscovered, animals, bird life, Indigenous Peoples and the changing of their narratives, stories retold, insects, the dependency of interspecies. We are connected intrinsically. Do you feel the burning of the Mother in some way? How? Does it effect you? Do you feel hotter than usual? Is your anger or grief manifested in some level unexpressed? Do you notice the disconnectedness we feel around us to avoid talking about what really matters now, how we continue to live on a planet that is burning, flooding, getting hotter and hotter year after year? Do you feel the avoidance? Do you see it with more acting out and violence? And, meantime shallow discussions continue, and we don’t address the core of what really is happening as denial feels so safe or at least it offers an illusion of safety that these events are not taking place? I cannot and refuse to live in that place of complacency and denial.
First, I am an artist with every fiber of my being. I know the writers, artists, musicians, creators of gardens, novels, poetry, films, dance, storytelling can be a catalyst of change. I would like to think as we get our work in the public domains that we can change the narratives. We can write the truths, is it uncomfortable? Yes. Painful and even traumatic? Yes. But we no longer have the luxuries of denial. We depend on one another.
We are INTERCONNECTED. What happens to humanity through devastating events trickles into our fields of energy. We needed these plants, animals, people, villages, communities, stories to be a part of the Universal Narrative as they burn what does that mean to you and the place you live on the planet? Do not think the area you live in is not a possibility of future events? This home is a living organism and it will keep having it’s evolution. We absolutely cannot escape that. I think at this time on the planet we are dealing with what is true and what is not. Climate change at the most intense and dire levels are being recorded now. This is true. There is a chasm between honoring and offering sacred reciprocity to the planet and honoring ourselves and others in a good way. Do no harm. You ask how we can do that?
One small ripple of extending kindness is a start. A kind word. Reaching out to someone in need with no concern of how it will benefit you but how it will help your neighbor. Recycling, being conscious of your water intake, composting, zero waste, eating no meat, gardening your own organic foods with no pesticides we know of all these possibilities. Living in respect of one another and the planet is a act or prayer of gratitude. Having deep conversations with others about these issues helps. Reading literature and books that guide in changing the narrative helps. Creating a painting of contemplation helps. I know we are all so busy but what if we chose one thing to volunteer our time to weekly? One hour or two? Giving back to a cause or agency you strongly believe in? I love teaching art classes to high risk students or working on creating safe environments for others to gather and share conversations with. Painting is always my medicine. Listening to your dreams and intuition, it rarely steers you wrong.
AIRIA OF THE AMAZON, RAIN MEDICINE, ELLORA OF ECUADOR, and THE CHILDREN ON THE BORDER all came to me without premeditation. So many of my paintings do, I say this humbly as I do not know the magic that will enfold till I start the process. Our paper, our canvases, music sheets are bursting to translate messages. This will be the new planetary language. It is a new language we are learning through interconnectedness, one of co-existence. We have no other choice if we really want to make it. Our lives count on it. Our breath and all that lives and breathes on this planet counts on this. It’s beyond the stage of urgency which leads me to the next topic of being ECO GUARDIANS. I am still in the process of writing this entry.
Thank you for consideration of these words.
I must write them. I am asking you to please contribute your storytelling and narrative to this piece. I want to hear from you. I am counting on you. Till we meet again…
Today, many people realize we are in a moment demanding deep wisdom combined with meaningful action and sacrifice so our children and grandchildren might inherit a world capable of sustaining life. At times, it feels like facing a massive tidal wave of indifference, denial, and unawareness of the growing signs that if we do not stop what we are doing to the climate (and very soon…perhaps less than 12 years!), then we won’t even be able to mitigate the worst effects of the ever increasing and more destructive climate catastrophes. Even worst, there are people in this world who do not want to change the status quo because they are profiting from the systems pushing us all over the climate cliff. These are powerful forces. They are unconscious in nature and surround us night and day as revealed by the confusion and division keeping us from working together to make positive and sustainable change. Soon Earth’s delicate ecological balances will be pushed too far.
As a ray of hope, I am dedicating this post to highlighting some of the people and groups around the world who are pushing back against these destructive forces… people who embody the changes Earth needs Now.
One courageous person is Cynthia Addawan who lives in a mountainous region of the Philippines where her people continue to live in tribes and protect their land from intruders. She told me how most of the young men in her tribe are still trained to go to war using spears and bolos and how the Spanish colonized her country for almost 333 years but were not able to conquer the mountain tribes (her people). Then, the Americans and Japanese came, but her tribe managed to retain their originality and culture (not easy in the face of the steady swept of Western Civilization bent on creating one gigantic monolith civilization). Over time, she described how her people adopted more peaceful ways of settling disagreements. Since the 1980s, there have been few tribal issues leading to war, and recently they celebrated indigenous month, which includes commemorations of ancient war dances. This festival is not meant to encourage young people to go to war, but rather to realize the richness of their tribal traditions and how the mountainous tribes have come to understand and practice more peaceful ways of dealing with differences and conflict today. Thus, the commemorative war dances celebrate their shared heritage and help the youth understand and value the journey the mountainous tribes have taken to avoid conflict and sustain peace. She read my blog about Mr. Rogers and is now reading some of his wonderful work to her classes for she is a teacher and understands how important it is to teach the children and youth about handling strong emotions. She is also working to establish a Climate School in the Philippines and collaborating with people around the world to do this. She says beautifully, “I am so concern about all the children—the little angels of this earth. We owe them a planet and a future. We have the power and responsibility to give them a better place to live, and one way to do this is to conserve the environment. This is one legacy we can leave them. Another is to help them control their mad emotions and to channel these energies into something that is beneficial both to them and to other human beings.”
Another person working to help save our civilization is Hans Jørgen Rasmussen. He sees helping children and youth in their activism worldwide as one way to help. With more than 30 years of practice as a psychologist behind him, he understands the dynamic forces confronting young people today. One of his approaches is listening to and being open to standing by a person who is facing a challenge or a personal crisis by availing himself to be supportive as a dialogue partner—you might call it a coach—whereby he gently helps people experiencing a difficult part of their journey by listening. He understands he cannot solve another person’s problems, but he can walk beside them in empathy and compassion. By doing this, he offers support as the person figures out a solution for themselves and finds a way forward, and while dealing with their challenge, they often find unknown resources in themselves resulting in an empowering process with personal growth a by-product of this process. Other ways he is helping to address the threat our civilization faces is by applying his skills in psychology, coaching, and teaching to: 1) start a Climate School in his home town & create a Climate website: Saving Our Planet; 2) build a collection of climate change related videos: The Climate Cinema; 3) co-found a NGO named Saving Our Planet that offers awareness raising concepts such as The Climate School free of charge to organizations, institutions, and groups; and 4) start a climate awareness project in collaboration with a large private school and a university in Turkey, where he spends the winter… and he’s just getting started.
My friend Lucy Rist is founder and runs Girls in Sports—which is a Swedish-based charity that empowers girls through sports and outdoor adventure. Recently, Girls in Sports was selected as one of 5 international organizations that will work together through this international initiative called Girls in the Lead, helping girls become leaders. Through this initiative, Girls in Sports is collaborating with four other organizations based in South Africa, India, Germany, and U.S. to build capacity to empower girls around the world.
My friend Alöna Litovinskaia is designing an innovative educational curriculum for children and youth that will help connect them to the enduring value of nature and working together. Part of the curriculum involves play where children and youth explore and engage together in a natural setting called Kid’s Land. In this space there are many challenges that require them to use their creativity and work together to solve problems in a playful, fast-paced world they are creating as a group. With the help of facilitators versed in art and architectural, management and psychological, as well as educational backgrounds, kids design, plan, build, and settle upon rules and laws to govern their country. She says, “It’s going to be a great and fun practical and social experience for growing minds!” To see more exciting elements of this new space and vision, visit Newa.
My friend Hannelie Sensemaker WorldPainter Venucia is on a journey to explore and embody Whole Person (Embodied Wholeness) Living, Relating, Creativity and Innovation. She is sharing her life’s work through the JOY Generation, which is an embodied wisdom and adventure portal helping to transform the world through JOY. The JOY Generation Portal is the playground where our younger generations can take part in self-discovery adventures and have access to wisdom, inspiration, and guidance as they engage with peers around the world. The portal offers access to 3 interactive web nests; namely JOY Planet, JOY Rides, and JOY Festival (JOY Generators believe good things come in 3’s!). Without a JOY Planet, we cannot thrive, and thus, this is the home of JOY Casts that talks with individuals across the globe who share wisdom, insights, and other possibilities in her series: Your World or Mine? The second aspect of the JOY Planet is the Joy Panorama Interactive Multimedia Multi-Sensory experiences that provides opportunity to explore phenomena and concepts impacting the ability of humanity to thrive. As humanity fails to find solutions to so many dilemmas, in JOYSense, Hannelie and the JOY Generation team share a variety of Collective Sensemaking downloadable, online, and physical experiences. Hannelie is a seasoned author, public speaker, facilitator, and radio host.
Fyodor Ovchinnikov is a facilitator for the Just, Sustainable, and Flourishing Future seminar, which is part of the Young Professionals for Sustainable Development Program. This program provides professional development for young professionals seeking opportunities to align their careers with the UN Agenda 2030 or to make a career transition to a different sector or industry while focusing on some or all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many participants report making useful professional contacts with mentors and panelists, building long-term peer support relationships, learning about relevant networks and opportunities, and feeling supported, inspired, and more confident integrating UN SDGs into their work as hallmarks of the program that they found genuinely helpful. If you are interested in mentoring our participants, apply here: https://www.una-sf.org/mentors. More information about the program: https://www.una-sf.org/ypsdg
These are just some of the compassionate and passionate people around the world working to make a difference to secure a sustainable future. We have a longs ways to go to ensure our children, their grandchildren, and 7 generations forward have a livable planet. This is our legacy. We begin by taking the first step together. No other time in human history have we been as deeply dependent on each other as we are Now. We need to hear every voice for today we stand as one global human tribe where every member’s choice is a vote for a sustainable and livable planet, or not. We have never depended on each other as we do Now.
Now is the time for wisdom and for working together.
Other Voices and Places Helping to Change the Tide:
In Seattle, a youth driven group has established Zero Hour. They have also taken the bold action of suing the state of Washington for not taking enough action for a sustainable future (WA State Children’s Trust Lawsuit), and they are doing so much more (visit their site)!
Recently I began to read child of the jungle — the true story of a girl caught between two worlds. My good friend, I will call him M., who lives in Germany knew I was going through a difficult time after the sudden death of my father. He said the book reminded him of me because he knew my father had been a missionary in the jungles of Brazil, which is where I was born and lived for my first three years. As I began to sink into this story, I definitely see resemblances between my early life and her life as this girl who gets caught between two worlds—though there are stark differences. For one, her father moved his family to a very remote place in West Papua, Indonesia on the island of New Guinea to live among the Fayu tribe who until then were an undiscovered people that were unknown to Westerners. Her account of her father’s first encounter with this isolated tribe and how he came to know he was being called to be with them is an incredible story that I will not recount here. Needless to say, her experiences were much more dramatic than my own, but I recognize the girl caught between worlds, and my friend was right to send me this book.
The part I wish to recount is The First War (Chapter 10, page 65). The Fayu were known to be fierce and warring people consisting of four distinct tribes within the whole of the Fayu people. From time to time, they would fight among themselves as well as band together to keep out others from their territory. It was due to one of the Fayu leaders who was tired of war and sought peace for his people that this remarkable family came to live among the Fayu who are a people most remarkable in their own way for many reasons. On this day, the girl, Sabine, was sitting around a fire with her brother and their childhood Fayu friends eating kwa (breadfruit) when the Fayu men of their village grabbed their bows and arrows and assembled at the beach as canoes landed and unknown warriors stepped out. Sabine said, “No one smiled and none of the customary courtesies were displayed.” Her father went out to greet the newcomers and tried to engage them in conversation with the bit of Fayu he had learned. For hours they talked. Then, the voices grew louder. Sabine recounts “the Fayu were standing and sitting in two groups — the men of our village on one side, the strangers on the other.” Another hour passed, and she recounts the hostility grew and the gravity of the situation thicken as the warriors gripped their bows. Her mother called her and her brother inside. Her father soon followed as the loud talk became aggressive shouting. Her father barred the door. Sabine and her brother watched from the window where now the men were all standing facing each other and screaming. She says, “Suddenly the atmosphere changed again. I felt something I had never felt before. I can best describe it as a dark, heavy and threatening. The sun was still shining brightly, but somehow it seemed darkness had descended.“
This is important. What she witnessed as a girl and so beautifully captures in her story is an incredible power we all hold as human beings. The challenge has always been how to channel and control these tremendous flows of energy when they break over our collective edges of consciousness and social norms long ago established to create peace and sustainability. This is not the same energy of the sun that powers the Earth — though the sun has long stood as a symbol of it through the ages. Rather, it is an energy that powers the human spirit, and we are the channel makers — it is up to us to recognize this energy and direct it as we choose. Her father was trying to help the Fayu warriors direct this rising tide of energy in a less violent way, but the energy was greater than him in that moment. What the warriors did next is utterly fascinating. Sabine describes it this way: “Individual men began stomping their feet. They moved in circular motions and began repeating a single word, ooh-wa, ooh-wa, ooh-wa. This was the war cry. Soon all had joined in the chanting. They faced each other, stomping the ground, arrows notched in their bows. Then they started to run in what seemed to be a pre-determined choreography. First, the two groups would run away from each other until they were about fifty yards apart. Then, they ran at each other, stopping when only a few yards separated them. More stomping would ensure, and the the war dance would be repeated.” This went on for hours! Can you imagine this? The warriors have talked for hours, then shouted for hours more, and now they dance, for hours. Even in this extreme and dangerous state, they are channeling this powerful energy — an energy left unchecked could destroy every man, woman, and child in the village. Sabine recounts how the warriors entered a trance state: their eyes glazed over and movements became stiff and robotic [they have descended into an unconscious state]. She says their voices changed as well with some becoming very deep while others grew shrill, and this continued for hours more. She remembers getting bored and going to read a book when she heard a scream of pain that pierced the chanting… then another and another… the war had begun. Time sped up. She and her brothers were kept away from the windows, and fortunately no stray arrows pierced their hut.
This recounting is amazing and incredibly important to understand for this type of energy does not occur only among primitive tribes in far off places who are considered to be uncivilized. Indeed, I would say they are highly civilized for they have learned how to collectively channel this dangerous energy — this war dance they did evolved over centuries. When the other warriors finally left, no man was left dead. Many had arrow injuries that if left untended could kill them from infection; however, the women and children and village were not destroyed despite the terrible darkness Sabine recounts feeling descended upon them all — like a destructive storm.
We have forgotten this in the West. We have forgotten we can be overcome by terrible forces rising from deep within ourselves. Our ancestors knew this and developed rituals and spiritual practices to help them navigate these forces. Of course there were still wars, and humans have done terrible things to other humans since the beginning of being human. But as human beings, we have obtained the gift of consciousness, which provides us with a powerful tool to navigate these inner storms that can rapidly overflow the collective channels we have constructed in out social systems and erupt in catastrophic and terrible ways. Consciousness gives us an offramp from destructive inner storm that rise from time to time, if we choose to use it. And, these warriors did to the best of their abilities use their consciousness to mitigate a terrible calamity that was brewing.
Mr. Rogers understood this too. Yes, I said Mr. Rogers who gave us decades of gentle and dignified children’s programming. I watched him as a child. And, I loved him until one day I had absorbed too much from my surroundings that told me Mr. Rogers was a show for babies, and he was a simple man, and I should not watch him anymore. This was a sad day, but I sneaked watching him from time to time until my life flowed in different directions.
If you watch the Mr. Rogers documentary you will see in the very beginning he plays a piano while he talks to the camera. He was a magnificent piano player and understood how difficult it was to master this instrument. While he plays, he says growing up is like playing a complex and beautiful song. Some modulations are easy to master and a child needs very little help doing so — others are very difficult and a child does better when he or she has someone who can help them until they master it. How right he was, and this idea formed a foundational piece to the television programming he was going to go on to create — the one I watched as a child!
If you have not seen Fred Rogers testimony to Congress in 1969 when PBS’s budget was on the chopping block with Senator Pastore leading the hearing, then you should watch it. By the time Fred Rogers turn came to testify, Senator Pastore had just told everyone how bored he was from all the written testimonies being read. He was not in favor of funding PBS, and it looked like the tide was going to run the other way for the newly established PBS with funding about to be revoked. This is why Fred starts out the way he does telling Senator Pastore he trusts he will read his 10 minute testimony later, but now he just wants to talk about it. Fred didn’t know what he was going to say in that moment, he had to turn on a dime, but if you watch this, I think you will get goosebumps just like Senator Pastore says he was gets as Fred talks.
At the end, he asks Senator Pastore if he can tell him some of the words to a song he sings in his program about the good feeling of control. He tells the Senator that children need to know it is there. The Senator says yes. Mr. Rogers begins: “What do you do with the mad that you feel.” He stops to tell the Senator the first line came straight from a child for he works with children with puppets and storytelling. Then, he continues, and the part I find most miraculous is this part:
It’s great to be able to stop When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong, And be able to do something else instead And think this song:
I can stop when I want to Can stop when I wish I can stop, stop, stop any time. And what a good feeling to feel like this And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside That helps us become what we can.
He is teaching children how to channel their mad. How to stop and consider their choices. How to know they are in control and how to get in touch with another type of feeling also rising from deep inside that helps us become what we can. Every single human being on the planet has access to this place that is deep inside us and helps us become what we can. Our ancestors and the people we continue to call primitive understand this. Mr. Rogers got labeled a simple man who was not to be taken seriously by adults because he understood this. He understood depths of the human psyche few modern human beings ever come to understand today. This is partly due to the lopsided nature Western culture has adopted (see Is Collective Transformation Possible for more on this idea). Increasingly, the Western way teaches us to discount our inner realities and to pay attention solely to outer adornments that are attained by making money, leaving our inner worlds to run amok from neglect and ignorance (like unschooled, unloved children). There are spiritual practices, religions, and many pockets embedded within Western culture still paying attention to the importance of our inner worlds, but even Mr. Rogers felt the tide turning the other way towards the end of his life. After 9/11, he was asked to make a series of short messages to convey hope and understanding in the wake of this great tragedy — an event that shook people to their core, including Mr. Rogers. He was reluctant to make these promos for he said he felt he could not say much of anything that would make a difference. I suspect he felt something profound had shifted in our collective human consciousness, and despite all the good work he had done for decades, he could not stop it, and it was getting heavier and darker. But, he made them despite his feelings of inadequacy, and we are so lucky he did for we lost Fred Rogers two years later. In this clip below he says: “Look for the helpers…. there are always helpers rushing in to help in the wake of any tragedy.”
And, this takes us back to what Sabine witnessed as a child in the far off jungles of New Guinea living among the Fayu people. What she felt and how she described it as a tangible force that descended among them all with such destructive potential is something we need to understand Now. It is the same force Mr. Rogers was teaching children how to channel and control through his song. It is the same force running amok today, but on a much, much grander scale for we have become so interconnected and interdependent. Men like Sabine’s father, the leader of the Fayu tribe, Mr. Rogers, and my father are the consciousness warriors of our time. They understood what can happen when these forces do run amok. As consciousness warriors, they learned how not to use bows and arrows, but to use their consciousness and the deep spaces inside themselves where empathy, compassion, caring, and love rise eternally. By Western standards, these are weak and mostly useless emotional tools that prove inadequate to survive in the fiercely competitive economic environments we have created. The key words here is we have created, and we can create them differently by imbuing greater understanding of our fullest human capacities that are grounded in human dignity, equality, and love.
I won’t say any more about all this. I am hopelessly inadequate for the task with far fewer accomplishments than so many other great thinkers and doers who have come before me. But, if any of this has moved you as the reader, may I suggest you read the book by Sabine Kuegler: child of the jungle, watch the Mr. Rogers documentary, and read some of Carl Jung’s writings about the collective unconsciousness. Take what serves you modulated within your own vast knowing accumulated through your own experiences and spiritual, religious, and cultural practices. All I know is we need the Consciousness Warriors to rise Now… both men and women… for the war is within… the forces are as old as time… and our greatest tool is our inner light of consciousness and learning how to use it wisely just as Mr. Rogers taught us in this song What do you do with the mad that you feel?
What do you do with the mad that you feel When you feel so mad you could bite? When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong… And nothing you do seems very right?
What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag? Or see how fast you go?
It’s great to be able to stop When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong, And be able to do something else instead And think this song:
I can stop when I want to Can stop when I wish I can stop, stop, stop any time. And what a good feeling to feel like this And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside That helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady And a boy can be someday a man.