Tag Archives: Humanity

Daring to Live with Risk

10 May

Truth Views

Daring to Live with Risk

By Kathy Custren

 

This Mother’s Day 2020 brings a special look at what this gift of life means to each of us. The role of mother as life-giver and nurturer means so much more in difficult times, pandemic or not. From the time of inception, life itself is a risky proposition. The act of living is an act of daring, where conscious and unconscious influences alike affect the choices we make.

Our Many Risks in These Viral Times

Among us live any number of ‘foreign invaders.’ These inhabit sizes of various orders of magnitude. Some are more welcome than others, but all pose some measure of risk to our lives. So, our underlying question is, “How much are we willing to be brave, bold, and resume existence?” What will this look like as time moves us ever onward in this new dimension of awareness?

Not being foremost experts on life, to be sure, we do find ourselves at a unique place in space and time. We can look back in history and see how human leaders have dealt with existential threats before and since. They have shunned, built walls, and killed off others they perceived were a danger to society. Lepers were cast out of villages, witches and invalids drowned, refugees committed to cages, while ones addicted and homeless drifted to less visible encampments.

A large risk factor to consider is how many people around the world live without access to healthcare. I could probably rephrase that to say without ability to pay for healthcare. Here in the U.S., there is a growth industry in providing specialized health to people, but it comes at a significant cost. Where larger hospitals find it burdensome to operate, smaller specialty centers spring up to take up the burden.

The Burden of the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule to which most people in various societies adhere says essentially, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ If we want something for ourselves, we ought to allow the same for others—except that paying for the privilege of good health does come at a cost. Once tapped into the expensive medical system few seem to ask where the money will originate, or how sustainable ever-rising premiums are. Many individuals and families are unable to carry the hefty payments of ‘affordable’ healthcare insurance.

Few of us are readers let alone epidemiologists. Medical personnel are like gods in whom we trust with our very lives and we pay highly for that service—as long as it benefits us directly. When we consider ‘giving’ the simplest level of humane care to others using more socialized methods of delivery, we balk at the expense, golden rule be damned.

Yet our most recent disruptor causing the most personal fear is a minute virus most of us cannot see. Unable to restrain it, we ourselves are housebound in an effort to mitigate its spread and impact. There are those who experienced COVID-19 and lived to tell the tale. However, the number of deaths continues to climb, and our ever-present fear of death keeps us distant.

Tolerance and Intolerance Abound

The pandemic that sweeps the planet is teaching us so much about what is and is not important. COVID-19, for all its dangers to life both physically and economically it definitely shows us there are benefits to change. What will we do with this knowledge as we move forward?

After two months of dealing with isolation and other impositions, we hear rumblings of resuming the old ways. There are tolerances or boundaries we feel are reaching their limits. Politics and economics are the driving force behind much of the noise, with health concerns moving to the back seat. People feel they are suffering more from the social distancing than they are from the disease.

Those who have lost loved ones and workers on the front lines who deal with health and basic services offer added insight into what those tolerance ought to be. Inherent inequalities cause some to back up their beliefs with firepower, apparently–life or death, care or ignorance, mask or not, money or starvation. As we move forward, will we listen, recognize the truth, act on it, and come to a greater understanding of what we can withstand, individually and as whole?

Trustworthy Data Would Be Nice

Scientists with data tell us there is still much we do not know. SARS-type viruses like COVID-19 can operate in waves, and we understand with certainty how this is possible thanks to data. Those who do not know they are carriers can infect those who are vulnerable. Data can show us better ways to manage risks in our daily lives. Like a teenager whose parents have reached their limits, the days of ignoring our lack of cleanliness and hygiene are over. We may need to raise the bar; higher expectations help us strive to do better.

Even with a wealth of information at our fingertips, we are less likely to take the time to seek truth. We rely more on what we see storied belief and innuendo than on hard facts. Thinking less critically means we are less mindful and do not question. We follow more than we lead and remain silent in our acquiescence.

By staying indoors primarily these past few months, our planet shows significant signs of recovery from some of our human imposition. Air quality improves, animals venture out, and we start to see what nature intends to drive home—that our home can play a greater role than our workplace. Will we trust that kind of data when the struggle for life at the workplace resumes center stage.

Conspirators: Bullies Versus The Aware

Those who seek to resume ‘business as before’ are sure to use strong-arm tactics. Will we be willing to sign away our physical or health rights and hold employers harmless if we contract COVID on the job? Those of us with compromised systems might have less risk working from home. This may not be an option for all in this position. Will individuals be permitted the sovereignty of choosing how they wish to interact with others in our COVID-induced paradigm?

As with any massive control group, conspiracy theories exist based on who might be manipulating the story. This lack of trust says there are always multiple sides to consider along with various experiences. Being aware of this manipulation level—what some people will do to others to get what they want—has also been a sore spot for many of us. We do not want to endure the shame of being fooled on top of other economic hardships we or our families face.

This will surely give rise to the rights of the individual, perhaps more than ever before. While one may be willing to participate with ‘the system,’ there are limits to life and limb we must consider as heavier burdens today. The impact on the healthcare system alone dictates our need to tread wisely.

Human rights in many respects are being questioned. Idiocy abounds, as we see the return of crowds who protest with guns, amass without safe distance, and encounter without basic masks or covering. There are always those who will say, “Damn the risks; you can’t tell me how to live my life.” And there are those of us who are quite fine with letting them express that sentiment.

The Meaning and Guise of Safety

It may be safe to say that many of us feel comfortable living with some elements of risk. We understand life can never be risk free. We might even count the may things we have or do that add to our overall feeling of comfort and safety. Locking our doors, operating a video camera, alarms, or smoke detectors, having a weapon, having health insurance all stem from ‘just in case,’ the unexpected need arises.

The pandemic causes us to stay indoors and isolated ‘for our safety.’ We understand that while the virus may not be a large bother to people in good health, we see the growing number who die due to the disease. Being at risk for contracting an unseen virus has us all questioning what it means to be safe and what our individual comfort level might be. Will ‘the great unclean’ become an even larger risk than it has in generations and societies of the past?

Picking through the weeds of chaos that surround us will mean making the kinds of choices that best benefit us directly. This mindfulness is especially true where the wrong choice can kill you. Something as simple as washing our hands is a choice. Choosing to avoid others wherever possible and not passing along contaminants is another.

Risking Truth and Consequences

For those of us who may be unable to reach a personal safety conclusion, we can be sure that there will be some level of imposition. Whether it is peer pressure or law enforcement, at some point we will be charged with proving how much of a risk we are in and of ourselves. Testing is the key to determining this safety risk, but a good defense lawyer might advise, we can always question the veracity of those tests. The underlying doubt still exists: Who will we believe?

When there are ways we can stay safe while conducting business, let us do that. When it comes to telling others what they can and cannot do, those boundaries must be drawn clearly while not infringing on our inalienable rights. Provided, of course, those of us living this great life can agree on what those human rights are, truly.

For all who seek truth in this gift of life, it would be wise to remember that our words and actions both have consequences. Let us be mindful to act and speak loudly and clearly. As we awaken to this new pandemic-fueled reality let us be open to the possibilities and make the best decisions we can, as we dare to live.

To Listen, Perchance to Act

24 May

To Listen, Perchance to Act

By Kathy Custren

 

As I sit here in the early morning, reading an article from early 2019 by Dahr Jamail on TomDispatch.com, the title becomes painfully clear: “We Can’t Undo This.”

The article on our climate crisis hits all too close to home; to the many truths felt by life around the planet; that I purposely avoid looking at the supporting articles and documentation to which Dahr links. There is no question that there really is no ‘going back,’ or little being done to reverse the train on which we ride.

I liked it much better when comedic philosopher Bill Hicks called life a ride, like a roller coaster, rather than consider this voyage through time and space as little more than a runaway train reaching the perilous end of the line.

As Dahr wraps up the article, he gently encourages readers to ‘listen to the Earth.’ To wit:

Listening While Saying Goodbye

It’s been estimated that between 150 and 200 plant, insect, bird, and mammal species are already going extinct every day. In other words, during the two and a half years I worked on my book 136,800 species may have gone extinct.

We have a finite amount of time left to coexist with significant parts of the biosphere, including glaciers, coral, and thousands of species of plants, animals, and insects. We’re going to have to learn how to say goodbye to them, part of which should involve doing everything we humanly can to save whatever is left, even knowing that the odds are stacked against us. [Emphasis added]

For me, my goodbyes will involve spending as much time as I can on the glaciers in Washington State’s Olympic National Park and North Cascades National Park near where I live, or far more modestly taking in the trees around my home on a daily basis. It’s unclear, after all, how much longer such forest areas are likely to remain fully intact. I often visit a small natural altar I’ve created amid a circle of cedar trees growing around a decomposing mother tree. In this magical spot, I grieve and express my gratitude for the life that is still here. I also go to listen.

Where do you go to listen? And what are you hearing?

For me, these days, it all begins and ends with doing my best to listen to the Earth, with trying my hardest to understand how best to serve, how to devote myself to doing everything possible for the planet, no matter the increasingly bleak prognosis for this time in human history. [Emphasis added]

Perhaps if we listen deeply enough and regularly enough, we ourselves will become the song this planet needs to hear.

Read the full version:
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176516/tomgram%3A_dahr_jamail%2C_%22we_can%27t_undo_this%22/?fbclid=IwAR2tUCzmamtywnswUct629wyXEfN1oxyuL8TkPpxgo2OkQjyHZttXzqBLMU

It is in this mode of hospice that I turn on my small desk fan, while noting the irony of reading such a powerful piece on climate disaster. Personal comfort being what it is, these gentle times of listening to our planetary home is encouraging; hopeful, even—ever hopeful.

Leaving a bit of hope for posterity is no small feat in the midst of such huge and vastly changing numbers. We can see it already, the human toll that is rising along with the rest as part of this natural culling. It is ludicrous to think that it might avoid us personally, but here we are. I have little doubt that this very situation happened before—where great change wiped away large numbers of “advanced and civilized societies”—leaving smaller, disparate numbers with which to start anew.

This brings Dahr Jamail’s plea to listen more into focus. Listening to our mother planet, seeking to ease burdens rather than adding to them, being part of the regrowth and sustainability, are all going to be very important as we move forward. And we are moving forward, there is no doubt about that.

Cosmically, we do have our protectors on the spiritual side of things; the energies of ancestors who lived and died before us. This is one less worry if anyone truly cares to look beyond the physical. Of course, we tend to ignore that whole side of our existence, except when it is most expedient to beg and plead for mercy, help, and strength. So many of us would rather gather in multitudes to hear musicians or watch cinematic manipulation than consciously address planetary change.

Few among us carry the label of leader when it comes to climate change and regenerative action. Even fewer worry about the ills of our planetary home and what might be done to save it. Perhaps the message of the conspiracy theorists has hit home…the aliens are waiting to rescue us. That must be it.

Blink.

Beyond bemoaning the reality, the overwhelming discord that echoes back from the walls of our undeniable doom carries the general message of, “but the problem is so large, what can one person do?” Rather than getting one’s hands dirty, so many are very eager to simply wash their hands of the whole mess.

It is a lofty position in which to be, to be sure.

There is healing to be found in the very Earth itself; and as Dahr’s words encourage, each of us, Each. Of. Us., bears responsibility for handling our very own part of this endeavor.

The looming question beyond the climate is this:

What have “I” done today to help heal the planet?

There is much cleaning to do. ~ Blessings!

On Reality and Reputation

28 Sep

Ford Kavanaugh

On Reality and Reputation

By Kathy Custren

 

The current saga of the senate confirmation hearing of judge Brett Kavanaugh unfolding in the public arena of the U.S. Government embodies the struggle between history and storytelling; of reality and reputation. There is a war on, not only to ‘manage the truth,’ but to silence voices that would otherwise speak out—or, as many wonder—would have spoken out years ago. The power struggle is a real one, where we pit one person’s reality of experience against another person’s claim of reputation.

As the senate confirmation hearing points out so well, these are not only larger stories of a nation. These stories reach down to the personal level, as with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, where so many experiences serve to define what makes or breaks each one of us. What are the lessons that make up our past? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, or so others tell us. Defining those very personal stories and airing them for the world to see is no small feat; nor does it diminish the horror we find at its core.

For some persons who take charge of telling horrific stories, it is more a matter of choice and creativity. Take very successful novelist Stephen King as a prime example. He has made it his life work to bring us creative stories that scare the bejesus out of us—that shock our sensibilities and may awaken the darker side of our collective psyche as to the unnameable fears that lie dormant in some deep layer or layers of our understanding. King takes us down some dark and sketchy roads at times, but his many readers trust his reputation of masterful telling in the many stories we consume eagerly.

This senate confirmation hearing and the extended stories of the #MeToo movement are quite another thing entirely. With Stephen King’s stories, we pay good money for a good scare. The stories of pain and fear elicited at the hands of other men over time do not hold the same sense of masterful reputation. Women tell stories of scary experiences at the hands of men that are beyond the parameters of choice or want. Persons who suffer abuse would not ‘pay good money’ to have these types of personal encounters or to welcome them to our life story; yet, they are all to prevalent to deny. These are real horror stories, to be sure, and they have an effect on the overall dark and painful experiences of women over time. These are generational stories, not merely national ones reaching the spotlight of public scrutiny.

These painful stories go beyond the airing of one’s dirty laundry—beyond the more civil storytelling of gossip and innuendo. The oddity to all of this may carry the hashtag #WhatsNext. Stories like these are not like good horror novels that we can put down at times after reading a chapter or can put on a shelf to add to our collection. What are we going to do with all these many horror stories that come out of the darkness and into the light?

These are stories of family, friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, and grandmothers that we cannot as easily close the book on and put aside for a while. These are very real stories that open unhealed wounds of persons who relive past trauma. These stories cross cultures and generations in their depth, which only adds to the rising tide of shared pain. These experiences are difficult to digest and, as many in powerful positions would like us to think, hard to believe. Yet these are the very realities of abused women and men which others with reputations, like judges, senators, or priests, would seek to control.

As we walk down the middle road of our existence, with a chorus of painful reality on one side and the ruthless gang of reputation on the other, there is a very real battle for what we believe. Who is telling the real story? Who will we install in positions of power and judgment over others? And who will be around to write the history books when this greater narrative reaches its eventual end? ~ Blessings!

The Forest for the Trees: Doing What We Do Best

16 Jun
silhouette of a man during sunset

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

The Forest for the Trees: Doing What We Do Best

By Kathy Custren

 

The Forest for the Trees

Part of what intrigues me so about The Conundrum these days is that there are people, very good people, who have such a difficult time with discernment. Oh, vision clarity is not the issue. Unlike yours truly, many can see perfectly well without the aid of corrective lenses. But somewhere along the way, one’s visual acuity or ability to process what we see is called into question. We can describe it as not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Take the issue of life—a large topic, to be sure; but there are those of us who are unable to see the fullness of life. We may have many salient points about the sanctity of life and how important it is to live a good and virtuous life. In our zeal, we hit all the important points about how miraculous and precious it all is, but at some point after that, we fall off from truly committing to the full picture. We see the tree just fine, but not the forest in which it sits. In fact, there is probably a logging project going on not that far away. Forest for the trees, forest for the trees…we struggle with borders and boundaries on a regular basis, and while we tussle over these ill-defined lines, the sand shifts under our collective feet. We are at a point in time where we cannot avoid dealing with our collective consciousness in the forest that surrounds us. –And make no mistake, the other animals in the forest are watching our every move.

Why is it that we are unlikely to equate the taking of, by way of example, a potential human life, with as much gravity as we could the life of an existing tree? Do our rose-colored glasses need that much correction? Try as many do to argue the point, “but it’s only a tree,” a life is still a life, right? We feel pressed to provide rights to one type of life over another. Perhaps this is our problem—the stigma or prejudice we assign to life itself. We hold one type of existence differently than we do another, and this is what permits any number of atrocities to take place. Welcome to our world today.

 

Playing God, and Other Sundry Pastimes

You see, the issue is not in condemning or annihilating the forest, but in playing god…in thinking we have the right to pave the way—whether it be for profit or some other ‘way of being.’ Ultimately, we are taking one life for another, which is the condensed version of selectivity. As imperfect as we human beings are, where do we get off (a) taking life, (b) telling others they cannot take away life, or (c) enjoying the ability to create life in the first place?

The gods of yore (read your mythology) were keen on the entertainment aspects we puny humans once provided them, and probably still do. They are just a lot quieter now with their storytelling, seeing what their folly has wrought. And while on the supernatural topic of dimension and timelessness, we must remember the concept of reincarnation/karma, which speaks to the transformation of energy and the ability we will undoubtedly get to perfect ourselves if we so choose. We are so wrapped up in the physical that we tend to forget the spiritual aspects associated with being here…the forest for the trees, yet again.

So quick are we to point, ridicule, and stigmatize others, that we cannot see the forest ourselves. The interconnectedness we share whoosh! goes over our heads. The one planetary home on which we exist has cycles and timelines much greater than our own, and rather than paying attention to that story, we would much rather inflict our own narrow view. Bottom line, when we disrespect life it has a way of coming back around to haunt us, ultimately.

 

Into the Mix We Go—Now What?

Our forebears tried to warn us; they have left clues if we care to take notice. But, our collective visual problems come into focus yet again. We have trouble seeing correspondences within our own age, in active and real time, let alone thinking about ‘the past.’ We tend to leave such analysis to the history books that end up being rewritten to mask the atrocity of our impact on the planet. So, we should worry about ‘the future;’ and rightfully so. There is a shifting role of ‘the bad guy’ in the story—the antagonist—that should keep all of us on our toes. No matter what name we call that character, be it the devil, monster, disease, death, or any number of labels, we fear its presence and fight to overcome it, whatever “it” may be.

This fearsome, fighting mentality leads us to assign ‘war’ to just about everything, and look at us today. We have wars against drugs, crime, terror, “the other” or “the stranger,” and the labels go on. Forest for the trees again; as we are busy fighting wars, there is much collateral damage; so much for the sanctity of life. We tell ourselves that we are fighting a war to at least provide an excuse, as we drill down even further into the personal lives of people who, for a variety of ‘personal’ reasons, would choose to not let another life be born into this existence. Data drives the human machine as much as profits when it comes to caring: health care, life care, what is the real cost of the medicine that keeps us alive or that keeps the lights on at night? Suicide numbers are actively on the rise, so the choice point becomes crystal clear to many—and can we really blame them? Can we? When it is their choice between ‘this life’ and whatever takes place on the other side?

Hypocrisy aside, can we just let these people sit with the pain and reach that conclusion for themselves? Might we at least make the idea of simple existence a little less painful; perhaps cause a little less suffering? We are talking much more than just feeling an occasional pang of anxiousness here. Our collective pain reaches the level of our collective soul and cries out for attention. When we are unable to sleep at night, all of that suffering must go somewhere. If we really wanted to make a difference on a larger scale, why not target the bomb and weapons makers that annihilate entire swathes of living things off the face of the planet? Why choose instead to make life even more miserable for one who is carrying an unborn without the means to provide for it; or who come to our shore seeking asylum from even greater terror and death? We say we want to change lives, but am I and so many others missing the forest here? What support are we giving people who are here up to the point where pregnancy and one new life becomes a larger problem for “everybody?” Where is our humanity when one more hungry mouth to feed becomes unbearable? Nature has its own way of finding balance on a variety of levels, and let’s just contemplate that one a moment, shall we?

 

Social Media: Processing the Horrible

There is an overarching reason why social media is so consumer-driven. When we consider that we digest more than just nourishment, we cannot ignore the use of virtual reality to process some horrible things. For all those who avoid the internet like the plague, there may be some comfort in that; if not denial. For those of us who are online throughout the day, every day, we worry about the effects of over-consumption and how it might play on us psychologically. Plato’s cave? What is real and what is an illusion?

  • Fake news (from those ‘in charge’) to distract us from horrible changes; many of us would knowingly be in the streets…911…’false flags’…missiles on the way to Hawaii – an oops with deadly results.
  • We ‘elect’ people into positions of governance but fail to direct (provide feedback to) them; instead we get on social media and share memes and thoughts, thoughts and prayers, while few of us attempt to advocate for change or—heaven forbid—actively do something.

Social media goes beyond advertisement…we are not just sharing ideas on the newest restaurant in town or our favorite recipes or sports teams…we use it to process news on all levels, local, state, national, and international. Recent storm damages, wartime skirmishes, human trafficking, and animal poaching and abuse, all find space between the photos we share of our latest meal, Suzie’s school concert, or Uncle Joe’s traveling dart team. I am grateful for the ability of social media to bring us together and share ideas, so let us use this technology wisely. We must bring about great change if we really, really want to make this world a better place.

The way we all process the most horrible parts of our existence means that, in the midst of “all” the things that assail our senses, greater numbers, greater attention, greater energies are spent in managing our time and attention. Can we spend time better by being off the virtual reality and back in the real world and work? We must deal with both the offline and online versions of ourselves—the real and the spiritual combined—and what we bring into this world. So, time and change must apply to both.

 

What Price, Love? The Real Cost of Our Humanity

Is it me? I grew up under the now liberal(?) Christian notion of people loving one another, being a helper, and doing what we can to make the world a better place. So, seeing overwhelming inequality and suffering mixed in a culture of war and death does not sit very well with my psyche—how about yours? We know we can do better. I come from a time, not that far from this present moment, when people were taught to be kind to each other—where bullying, graft, and greed were seen as evils and faults to eschew rather than inspirational parts of our personality. It is not an ‘ego thing’ to care about others; in fact, we might say this lack of empathy is another human failing that we must address.

It goes beyond ‘to each his own,’ and if it means taking a hard look at what we call our borders and boundaries then let’s do that—maybe it is the right time? Here in the United States, I still like to think the founding fathers had it right—we either unite as one or we die alone. We are stronger together. The natural order does have us looking at the real cost of what it means to be a human alive today, and the price is as incalculable as the unspeakable name of God. Both were once revered and sacrosanct; today, both God and life are trivialized—both subjugated to the realm of control, and quite uncomfortable to wear.

When we lose sight of the forest, we also lose sight of its value. When we lose the knowledge that unites us, we separate like a rogue cancer cell might, enveloping and annihilating the health of the surrounding area and all within it. ‘As above, so below’ comes to mind. We have a collective body of pain and trauma to address and heal, and now is as good a time as any, timeless beings that we are.

Join with me in my fervent and daily prayer: Heaven help us, until we can help ourselves and each other.

 

Mother, Sister, Writer, Editor, Advocate, Optimizer, Cosmic Interpreter, and Devotee of Positivity, Kathy Custren writes about The Conundrum since 2007. Connect with “Consciousness Live” on WordPress and Facebook. With united hearts, let us move humanity forward.

Acting to Prevent Human Misery

25 Jul

Acting to Prevent Human Misery

by Kathy Custren

 

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” –Eleanor Roosevelt

 

First Do No Harm…First Do No Harm…First Do No Harm

“You are under arrest.”

Imagine waking up to hear these words. It gives us pause to think about being arrested. Much like The Conundrum, it brings conflicting sensations to us. Beyond the sensation of ‘What did I do wrong?’ is the idea of being withheld from being around others for some extended period. Incarceration and institutionalization have extended ramifications on the human psyche, so we seek to avoid this type of situation as much as possible.

 

The frustration that comes from being arrested in some way is not something that works well with many of us. We dislike being barred, restrained, or otherwise told no. Whether individually or collectively, we want to be the ones to place those boundaries, draw the lines, and say when enough is enough.

 

Because what is ‘enough’ can be different for everyone. One person may not be able to stand making their way around a track one time, while others run with hurdles freely. The unique gifts we each bring to the game of life are part of the overall balance of things; yet we tend to focus on what is lacking. Rather than enjoying the bounty we have, we attach to always coming up short, and blaming or stigmatizing those who “bring us down.”

 

Proactivity – What Lies in Knowing and Understanding

So, being proactive is part of our DNA, so to speak. Why invite trouble, heartache, and suffering, when we can seek to avoid it? Why persevere with pain and suffering when there are ways to eliminate various problems?

 

Thinking ahead and designing for the future, is something that gives us a lot of enjoyment. Knowing that we have a well-thought plan of action is helpful to us. We budget time and money to achieve our goals. We consider the ‘what-ifs’ in life and provide for emergencies or contingencies that we know are inevitable.

 

Famine, drought, and disaster are as inevitable as death. In human and world history, there have been any number of catastrophes that cause migration and loss of life. Would we sit on our laurels knowing that what we have could be wiped out at any time? Or, would we seek to somehow make disaster a little less threatening, knowing its inevitability?

 

Flight or Fight – Responding to Trauma

Many are familiar with the ‘flight or fight’ response. When faced with a traumatic situation, we choose to either fight what is challenging us or run from it…live to fight another day. Each of us does what we can, ultimately understanding that it may not be the best option, but the only one we can make at the time, under the circumstances.

 

Yet, we seek to demean or diminish those who are dealing the best with the circumstances they have. None of us truly walk in the shoes of another—we cannot be them. We can only seek to understand, and perhaps commiserate, that ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ We are either on the donating or receiving end of charity. What goes around comes around…as is the way.

 

Disrupting our comfort level must be something we do every day. If we yearn to stay in, go out. If we want to laze around, get busy. And if we encounter a need, by Jove, let’s do what we can to bring comfort instead of adding to the misery.

 

Beyond the fight or flight is the flow—the giving aspect that there is always more. Once we recognize this ‘flow to things,’ we may understand much more about what it takes to respond to traumatic events. As we struggle to understand and comprehend the great mystery, we get small hints of resolution that we really must heed.

 

Systemic Failure; Structure Remains

So much of what we envision when we think of the destruction of something, whether it is an old railroad line, building, society, or an ecosystem, leaves us with gaps we know are there. The abandoned railroad may have chunks of line missing, but we can tell what it was. An abandoned warehouse could be missing most of its windows or machinery, yet it retains a sense of its former glory. Society itself has many holes…cracks through which vulnerable people fall at an alarming rate. And as the world changes entire biological structures as seen in various epochs, the basic elements remain the same.

 

No one system is perfect, and the structure that upholds it may still be hanging on, but all these gaps are things we could address. Holes in infrastructure could mean there is work to do. We rarely think about quality control when it comes to social or world situations. From patching up a pothole in the road to repairing a broken friendship, there is always room for improvement.

 

Death and destruction are a part of life; they are the dark times amid the light. Understanding this inherency is something upon which we would rather not think, because that requires planning, too, as much as living does. We may not have much of a say in our own demise, but ignoring the fact that it can happen at any time is one of those ‘unlikely events’ that tugs at the back of our mind.

 

The Natural Order and Ages of Humanity

All individuals feed into the greater [good] of our existence, still we fail to see “them” as being an integrated part of our greater wholeness. We use the idea of rivers running to the ocean to describe the natural order. In much the same way, we say all spiritual roads lead to God. The systems we have in place operate as part of the natural order, and serve the larger whole accordingly. Oh, humanity! The same is true with each other.

 

Over time, we identify with these various levels of growth and change. Each generation takes this upon itself…as a yoke of sorts…to break free of the past, of our families, of our history, to start afresh. Consider correspondences to the seven ages of man, the seven chakras of the body, or heptatonic/diatonic scale in music. There is a natural progression, sequence, order, and structure that exists, to which we may apply any number of creative things.

 

When we defy or deny this natural order, it causes all manner of discord, pain, and suffering. As we mindlessly use and abuse our way through life, we mindfully choose to bring pain upon ourselves and others. Some of us cannot help it, since it is all part and parcel of the balance we embody. It should not surprise us that we can identify imbalances in the natural order because these will become evident rather close to home.

 

In our struggles, the choices we make become ever more critical. We feel they are tied most precipitously to our sense of existence. One wrong decision when we have little cushion to fall back on can hurt a lot. Rather than making the wisest of choices with an eye on the prize of future goals and achievements, we are left to decide between the lesser of two evils, or which one will hurt less. This fear-based, restricted stance is a different vantage point from which to operate, entirely.

 

How did we get this way? How can such an advanced or progressive society find itself in such a morass of degeneration? It is dichotomy at work once again. All part of the magnum opus of life; of which, we get to experience but a very small part. As in alchemy or the nearest rainbow, this natural progression is a constant reminder that there is always more beauty to behold. We. Can. Turn. This. Around.

 

What Holds Us Back? Class? We Do, We Do.

“So, wait,” you muse, “if there is always more, then why does it feel as if we are headed towards an ending?” Ah, indeed, there are many endings. Just as there are many beginnings. Balance says there are just as many opportunities for making good choices as there are to make poor ones. This may be especially true if the sum of our choices yields little in the way of true advancement.

 

Sure, we can point to any number of technological advancements. A bounty of progress, built upon years of research and development, high capital expenditures, plenty of commerce, travel, trade agreements, contracts large and small, and decades if not generations of toil and sweat. Where would the CEO of Exxon be without the toil and sweat of the Appalachia coal miners? Where would Apple be without the lowliest of workers hired to solder tiny parts together in a clean room somewhere in China for sub-minimum wage?

 

This advancement of ‘things’ comes at the cost of other things, and people. There is no doubt about it. As we deplete one aspect of our planet’s resources, as we manipulate the materials to suit our fanciful ideas, is there much thought given to the sustainability factor? Humanity excels at tremendous waste. We become the very embodiment of the cancer that invades our bodies, in much the same way we wreak havoc upon the Earth.

 

What if all the fossil fuels we use and burn so rapidly were buried underground for a reason far greater than any our greedy little minds can imagine? We ignore the indigenous who warn us of our lack of foresight. Shoot, we ignore evidence in front of us that exist in the soulful mirrors of the eyes of our fellow beings. We dare not look; treat each other with great ignorance; with a distain and ugliness that drives others away. Do we really feel safer this way, reinforcing the ‘illness’ that ego-driven greed has led?

 

Brick by Brick, We Build a Wall

In our confined freedom, away from others, we can breathe a heavy sigh of relief. Until we realize it is too late—that we have traded what was our life for a jail of our own design. Gates and walls once again reign supreme as methods of both division and presumed safety. For all our interconnectedness, we are driven farther apart. Our children and the most vulnerable and sensitive among us bear the battle scars to prove it as they die at their own hand with each passing day.

 

The folly of walls built by empires in years past do not seem as ridiculous now, perhaps? We hold still others in prisons for far lesser crimes than we allow large corporations to continue doing with reckless abandon. Why, it is an industry—good ‘decent’ work in all these penitentiaries. We taint the most valuable of resources so that every bit of nature carries a premium price, for the greater good, of course.

 

Our drive to excel causes anxiety that contributes to a wide range of mental problems, but we dare not admit this because of the stigma mental illness continues to hold. Decades and generations of apples not falling far from diseased trees does not contribute to a quality orchard. While there may be fewer ‘institutions,’ many people in pain are behind bars, suffering, seen as ‘less human’ than “we are.” Dare to help, and be considered ‘part of the problem.’

 

‘But it is not all horrible,’ we console ourselves. ‘Look at where all the tax money goes. Plus, there is Patreon, and PayPal, and GoFundMe, and all sorts of ways we help each other now. We can join with ‘the big buys’ and sponsor and subscribe to our hearts’ content. Nobody has to know the depth of our generosity. And the churches, all the churches around the world—that’s their job, after all, these non-profits and people who care.’ Except there is a deep economic imbalance that exists. The needs far outweigh the fulfillment…there is always more need, too. How do we reconcile this on a balance sheet?

 

Brick by brick, we build a wall around our hearts, minds, bodies, homes, and countries. To extend ourselves wholeheartedly becomes somehow unbearable, as if cancelling out the good that caring does. To give ourselves unselfishly somehow feels alien to us. At the same time, an odd inclination in what is left of our reptilian brain hints that this could be the very path to humanity’s salvation—to not go the way of the dinosaur.

 

We close ourselves off from each other, then take drugs to numb the pain. Worst still, we close off one thought from the next, compartmentalizing our lives in such a way that juggling becomes the norm. How can we possibly think in a logical manner when we cannot connect the dots? Yet we dare hope to be healed and for all beings to be at peace.

 

Connecting the Dots for the Whole Picture

Puzzles can be fun, you know? A favorite growing up was ‘connect the dots,’ where you started on dot-1 and drew lines to dot-2, and dot-3, and so on. It might have been 15 or 20 dots later before the entire picture was complete, but those lines of connection were what made the image happen. Real life is just as uncomplicated, and just as much fun.

 

Why, then, do we make it so complicated? Is it because we cannot bear to extend our heart energy, that resonance that rings true? What happens when we reach out and connect, dot-to-dot, person-to-person? And what happens if somebody were to touch us? That is energy right there, that carries long-term memories with it. We can choose whether that energy is positive or negative. We can even make a difference and add positivity, to make it better. Again, it is up to us.

 

Yet when it comes to the heart, better seal that sucker up tight, unless you want to be labeled a ‘bleeding-heart-liberal.’ We cannot abide the various images that have been drilled deep into our subconscious and feed our ego. Keep, conserve, retain what is yours lest someone else “take” it from us and cause scarcity that threatens what we know.

 

We cannot possibly hope to help anyone who feels help in any fashion is a weakness. This stigma adds further harm to the pain and misery that exists, but try to explain this to someone who says they have done all that they can. This pessimism and negativity does not allow for miracles to take place. How can they, when we put up a barrier that says, “No!”

 

Constant Evolution and Arrested Development

Nature devises constant evolution; ever-changing and adapting to suit the most optimal outcome. Building walls is our feeble attempt to remain disconnected, despite what nature shows us is the interdependence of all that exists. Our spiritual teachings imply there is more beyond this material world, so even when ‘this’ is over, there is always more.

 

Do we allow this arrested development to continue? Shall we stifle and snuff out our brilliance to save face? If someone is not too proud to beg, will we give them an even harder time of it by placing even more restrictions and stigma on their already bowed backs? How many hoops and red tape will be enough to satisfy? Will we give any more at all, or have a holly jolly laugh at the absurdity of making them “try harder?”

 

Or, will we see that ‘but for the grace of God go I?’ Will we become a channel of peace and share openly instead of doing it behind closed doors? We seek transparency in so many things today, yet hide ourselves away from what makes us most uncomfortable. We would rather not see the homeless, the addicted, and those in need, until we join their ranks. As Joan Osborne wrote:

 

“What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us?

Just a stranger on the bus

Tryin’ to make his way home?”

 

Nearer My God to Thee, indeed. How close could we be to understanding so many of life’s mysteries, by making just the right connection? As precious as we feel life is and can be, we remain oblivious about our role in it all, and how we can do better.

 

We spend valuable hours, days, and months focused on the parade featuring a man with orange hair who claims to be a leader and does not lead; on this man’s family; on a cast of characters who come and go almost as quickly as they do in the City of Oz. It may well be the next nail in our collective coffin of displacement, this lesser-of-two-evils choice. We must eat our sin, while those who require our time and attention most fail to get the help they deserve. All while the travesty of our folly plays out before our eyes to keep us constantly and mindlessly entertained.

 

I mentioned ending earlier, and this too shall end with an impassioned plea for sincerity and justice. It’s not much, but is not easy. The words of other writers echo in the chamber. Let them resound in our hollow hearts and maybe turn that emptiness into something more—honest, open, and fair. For those who lack the means to say so for themselves, I humbly beseech we continue to do more, not less, for each other.

 

Let us act to prevent human misery and avoid heartache. As with everything else, there’s always more.

 

“In a world whose absurdity appears to be so impenetrable, we simply must reach a greater degree of understanding among men, a greater sincerity. We must achieve this or perish. To do so, certain conditions must be fulfilled: men must be frank (falsehood confuses things), free (communication is impossible with slaves). Finally, they must feel a certain justice around them.” –Albert Camus