With Brexit on one side of the Atlantic and a potential impeachment rearing it head in the West the Stealers Wheel lyrics ‘Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right’ rings in my ears. Not even Desperate Housewives has as much drama as that which is plastered across news reals daily. Add this to the terrors befalling the Kurdish people in the East and the intensifying fires in Australia down South and you would be forgiven for thinking that we are off to a terrible start to 2020.
Armed with some Active Hope techniques gifted to us by Joanna Macy I plunged headlong into my Ecological Grief in 2019. After a winter of healing and hibernation, I have found within myself a profound sense of trust and belief in what we can accomplish during the decade to come. I can see with clarity that we can transform our suffering into healing, though the path will be discovered only by travelling it. In this collection of writings would love to share this spirit with you as we venture forward into the new year. Instilling a deep rooted vision for a better future isn’t something one can do alone. Community spirit, open heartedness and powerful ideas will be our road to victory.
The Green Step intention for 2020 is to promote collaboration and provoke transformative dialog among the people of the Great Island and Cork. In that vein, I hope you’ll forgive me if some of what I share with you pushes you outside your comfort zone. Only in that space of unknowing and mystery can we make the essential, alchemical changes that the Earth needs of us. The Sustainable Development Goals 2030 actualization target serves us by adding more fuel to the fire of urgency as the consequences of our mindless actions become clearer to us by the day. Please know that what I say is meant with the intention to bring about healing and all of your views for and against my ramblings will be valued if you care to share them with me personally or with the community.
“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side if I am to be whole.” These are the words of psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung. One of his most relevant concepts to the modern day catastrophe we find ourselves is that of the shadow. The repressed, therefore unknown, aspects of the personality including those often considered to be negative are relegated to the shadow realm. If left untended the shadow can fester and wreak havoc in your life. Of course the inter-connectedness of life means that anything that can plague an individual can also plague and ruin a society. I believe that light is being shed on our collective shadow at this moment in time which is why things are appearing more polarized and terrible than in the recent past.
In 1972, the same year ‘Stuck in the Middle’ hit the charts, two instrumental papers were published and subsequently ignored, that argued for a radical restructuring of the global society to prevent climatic and cultural breakdown we are now in the throws of. A Blueprint for Survival by Edward Goldsmith and Robert Allen was backed by over 30 leading scientists of the time. Together they recommended we revert to living in small decentralized, largely de-industrialised communities to sustainably manage our ecosystems, economy and moral behaviour. The Limits to Growth paper published by 17 researchers offered a computer simulation of exponential economic growth with a finite resource supply. The consequences of a limitless growth mind-set are now being widely felt.
Instead of heeding their warnings we built the neoliberal, capitalist society we are now enslaved to. You may be inclined here to blame this politician or that new trend. Yet, whoever you like to point your finger at there is no denying that together the world leaders and we its citizens have co-created the current state of affairs. We are all complicit in ignoring the evidence no matter how big or small our part. You may find this jarring or uncomfortable to read. It’s hard to own but you know as well as I that it is the truth. While we live in a post-truth era the truth is inevitable uncomfortable.
The discomfort you feel in owning this truth holds within it a great opportunity. Just as Jung leap off the spring board and into the subconscious and the European alchemists sought to transform base metals into gold this challenge is our invitation to dive deep and transform the darkness within our own lives. By doing this potent work you will add more lightness, healing and truth to the collective which we so desperately need. We could see the conservative, fear backed movements around the world as a manifestation of our shadow. People are scared and with good reason. Cunning leaders are manipulating this fear to have their way and gain more control and power.
As Mother Earth teaches us true control and power come from the practice of acceptance, patience and balance. True power lies in connection to our scared places, the rhythms and spirits of nature and each other. As the earth rests in the darkness of winter this is the perfect invitation for us to also reflect on the year gone by and the decade the lies ahead. Where have you created needless suffering within or outside of yourself? How can you offer healing and support instead? What talents and ways can you contribute to the healing of our culture and the systems we live in? (I will talk more on how to do this in later installments of this series.)
We all have a part to play in transforming the crisis (economic, cultural and ecological) at hand. It’s up to you weather you see that as a burden or an opportunity to better yourself and your community. There is no denying that it is a huge challenge but by deepening the faith and trust you have in yourself, your community and the people around the world, those who are making tireless efforts to make the world a better place, we can venture down this path with courage and a sense of adventure. Together we can overcome any obstacle and we will. Just you reading this is proof of that.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for the next installment of this series on Jan 16th. If you want to discuss this is more detail and would like some support you can reach out by email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively please leave a comment below.
Grá & Gratitude,