Reflections on Hope, Part 2

Focus on what you can control about what matters.
It is easy to become overwhelmed.

In the last post, I reviewed the negative forces that I believe impact the likelihood of catastrophe as the outcome of global warming. I want now to reflect on the positives concerning my hope for a mature culture.

As stated, I strongly believe that, if we are to survive as a species, we must more towards maturity; we must move towards:

  • the many features of justice and love that have been advocated over the centuries (the features that represent our greatness as a species), and
  • the ability to have power over the processes of power (the nemesis that has plagued our civilizations for thousands of years).

In the past few years, I have often stated that, as individuals, human beings are capable of incredible greatness, but as a species we are psychotic.

There are many positives, but unfortunately they are not as easy to describe as the negatives. My struggle in this post is to organize the positives in such a way as to convey hope. Here I define hope as “evidence in the present for what I seek in the future.”

The positive forces include:

  • large numbers of people and organizations making headway in technology, social justice, and other forms of cultural transformation.
    • In particular, Gilding in The Great Disruption (2011) notes of human beings: “They were slow, but not stupid.”
  • the huge diversity in the creative ways in which change is beginning to occur in our civilization, thus increasing the possibility of self-organizing systemic change.
    • major advances in science and technology.
    • much better understanding to complex systems, leading to better understanding of resilience and sustainability.
    • much more powerful theological understandings and challenges, with an emphasis on community and correction of systemic injustice.
    • many examples of the convergence of science and spirituality. For example, Shinzen Young[1] notes: “the world of rigorous science and the world of deep meditation have begun a courtship dance.. . . a new knowledge powerful enough to rapidly alter the course of human history for the better.”
  • numerous social challenges by diverse organizations, ranging from to native communities, seeking greater attention to ecology and the dangers of global warming.
    • It is essential that these forces affiliate, but it is equally important that they provide diversity, so as to provide the opportunity for creative resolutions to difficult issues.
  • the recognition that profound change usually comes out of left field. It is not predictable how and when it will happen. As example, I think of the many times in my life that major change occurred in a day or less when events came together in synchronistic ways. This was true of the mystical experiences I had, and it was also true of both my decision to settle in Orangeville Ontario (1992) as a therapist, and my developing a day retreat center (1996) for anger management — profound change within hours.

When I look over the above, it does not look like much in the way of evidence! Much of it is very subjective.

I am also influenced by my own mystic experiences that have been transformative of my life, especially that of a three-year period of Cosmic Consciousness, an experience of profoundly knowing that “all shall be well,” a trust in the goodness of the universe.

Furthermore, I am very aware that to live into the power of the negatives is to create a self-fulfilling prophesy that we are all doomed anyway, so why bother? I am not willing to do this; thus I choose to be active in response.

However, each person will have to struggle with their own despair in this horrendous issue. I have deep compassion for this struggle — in my dissertation, I noted a statement of the 17th century scientist-philosopher Blaise Pascal: “those who study acedia do not come away unscathed.”

It is helpful to me to remember that the Chinese pictogram for crisis is a combination of the symbols for danger and for opportunity. There is also the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times!

I believe that my primary journey as a human being is to become more loving — and the issues of global warming certainly provide that interesting opportunity. I hope we will survive (and thrive in) these dangerous times, but I also recognize it seems like a coin toss as to what will really happen.

Onward — what are the blocks that stop human beings from maturing.

[1] Unsolicited email, 2016 September 9, Shinzen Young on The Science of Enlightenment.

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