I’ve had some version of this blog post in my brain for several years now, ever since the last presidential election in the United States. I haven’t been able to fully find the words during this time of the non-stop barrage of incredulous things that just keep coming that have created a daily spin cycle that has been dizzying, all completely by design. I certainly am no prophet, I don’t have the answers, and I am very aware that I’m just one more white woman putting her thoughts out there, so I’ll preface all this by saying that I write my thoughts as much for my own catharsis as for how it might resonate with others. I have a way of thinking about all of this that has gotten me through, and sometimes I lose my way, but when I can find my way back to it, it helps re-center and ground me in a way. And it is this…
I first started hearing about the the notion of what some have called an awakening about five years ago or so. Some of the spiritual and intellectual minds of our time have spoken of it in some form, including Martha Beck, Byron Katie, and others. I don’t mean this in religious terms, but rather in terms of our collective consciousness. This notion that we’ve been asleep, and there is a major shift happening in the collective consciousness of all living entities on the planet — all of which, except humans, of course, already know what’s happening, and are wondering what took us so long. There are endless lenses through which to view it, from environmental to economical to social to spiritual, but it’s all of them, really, since they are all interconnected.
Here’s an analogy that I’ve been using: We’ve been sick with an insidious illness for a long time, like a slow growing cancer within the body politic, not just in the United States, but globally. It’s been there, below the surface, with various symptoms showing up, while we medicate and placate it with stories that we tell ourselves to make us feel better. But it’s still there. And I was under no illusion that we had somehow overcome it by electing a black president, or by all the green energy and environmental initiatives, or by a surge in the latest spiritual whatever-floats-your-boat-isms, but I was feeling pretty optimistic by those things. That while we still had a long way to go, perhaps we were finally on the road to a better place. And then election night in November of 2016 came along and to say that I was in the group of The Shocked & Dismayed Naive Optimists would be an understatement. But here’s what fairly quickly followed: I realized that this illness, this disease that had been there all along, that we had to get all the way sick with it to ever expunge it from the body politic.
And now here we are. Months into the latest global health pandemic. Years into a political climate that has been a daily barrage of orchestrated distractions, all by design, while the puppet masters behind the scenes push through their self-serving agendas. Decades into environmental destruction that is unrecoverable. Centuries into oppression that is inexcusable. And the body finally got all the way ill, the cancer completely metastasized, and the old ways have to die away in order for new life to be born and flourish. Like a forest that can only regenerate after a fire.
This is the great burning, the awakening, the shift that many have been talking about. It may seem like it’s the end of days, that everything is falling apart, that it’s complete disaster and chaos. Because it is in some regard. But more importantly is what is on the other side. This may sound all too woo-woo for some, but if you go back to the illness analogy, that can help. The planet is sick. The economy is sick. Our social constructs are sick. And the only way to health is to go all the way through it to get it out of the body, because continuing to just medicate it with excuses, bury it with financial profits, mask it with hollow deeds, those things will never rid us of it.
We finally hit a huge tipping point with just one issue, and that is racism in this country. What we are seeing now is unlike the protests and civil unrest that have come before. There is a larger ground-swell happening, with more and more dominos all tipping at once. I mean, just one example: NASCAR finally banned the confederate flag at its events. NASCAR, people. We had a BLM/BIPOC march in my little town in southern Utah, a town in a very red county in a very red state. Large corporations are taking a stand and changing policies. Just to name a few examples. But it’s happening.
We also had to really be shown how flawed and fragile our political system is here in the U.S. I don’t mean the classic left-versus-right political debates, or the blanket lazy notion of “politics are inherently corrupt”, but that the very system itself is flawed in its design and fragile in its management. It took getting all the way sick to fully see it, and to see the work that we have to do to fix it — not to what it was before, but to what it should be to truly serve the citizens of this country. We were disillusioned by the notion that we had checks and balances in place, yet we have just seen how completely inadequate those have been, especially when the distraction of someone like the current president is like candy to those behind the curtain that can get all sorts of things done while we’re focused on the Disaster of the Day. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on, we can all agree that this has been an utter shit show. But we had to get all the way sick to see it.
The danger now is for us to get, or continued to be, so overwhelmed by all of these issues, whether it’s civil rights, environmental issues, economic issues, health issues, or all of them, that we fall back into the disillusion of comfort for the familiar. We’re seeing that with cities and states wanting to “just reopen already”, stemming from the desire to pretend that this global pandemic is behind us and we just want to “get back to normal”. But here’s the thing — there is no getting back to the old normal. Because it wasn’t OK to begin with. The planet, our earthly home, just finally bitch slapped us hard enough that we need to wake up. Really wake up. We can’t continue to destroy our home and think it will sustain us. Just like we can’t continue to destroy our humanity and think we’ll survive.
And while I don’t have the answers, the elephant in the room, that I haven’t mentioned, but is at the core of all of these issues is money/greed. The Civil War was as much about money/wealth/power as it was about anything. There is huge money/greed/power in politics. Same with health care, which is a for-profit business in this country, and therefore is fundamentally flawed. In my current industry of animal welfare — we’re not ultimately going to fully address the issues until we focus on the financial aspects, which are many, and are complex. Economic systems are not ethical, and yet we fool ourselves into those arguments; capitalism by its very design requires a poor working class, and we keep coming at that from an ethical argument, which will always fail. Not because it’s OK to create and oppress a poor working class, but that we can’t change that within the current construct. It’s like talking to a $20 bill about its feelings — it doesn’t have any. But the wealthy rely on this construct, so they’ve successfully sold the public the fear of anything else being this evil that must be squashed. Health care as a fundamental right is therefore painted as so radical that it’s snowflake socialism that will ruin this country. Same can be applied to the whole gun argument — it’s money/greed. Etc. Etc. Etc.
The way forward, at least for me, and how I have maintained my sense of well-being through all of this, is to just keep reminding myself of this transition, this metamorphosis, if you will, which will take quite a while to fully manifest, but we’re in the midst of it already. It’ll continue to feel like a hurricane for a while, but calm seas are ahead, if we can just seize this moment and really open ourselves to the type of fundamental spiritual, economic, environmental, and humanitarian shift that is needed to get us there. Subtlety wasn’t working. We had to get knocked on our ass. And now, where we go from here is everything. Let’s choose wisely.