a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
from “A Ritual To Be Read To Each Other,” by William Stafford~
my 2011 book Navigating
The Coming Chaos: A Handbook For Inner Transition,
I quoted a 2010 study conducted by the Pew Research Center entitled,
reveal Americans’ declining living standards and increasing anger,”
which stated that “Wide layers of the population, who have seen
trillions of dollars funneled from the public treasury into the
coffers of Wall Street executives while their own living standards
have been assaulted, their jobs slashed, their children’s schools
closed, and vital social programs such as Medicare cut by billions of
dollars, have no faith in the US government to secure their most
basic social needs.” I then concluded:
can safely assume that our future holds a significant degree of
violence as those who have unequivocally relied on their government
and the conventional values of working hard and playing by the rules
to redeem them, discover the extent to which they have been deceived.
Add to deception, dispossession, and you have a powder keg of rage
which if turned upon oneself becomes suicidal and if turned upon
others, becomes socially volatile or even homicidal.
your knee-jerk response is to argue that things would have been
different or worse with Hillary in the White House, please stop. Stop
and notice that with that very response, you are opting to stroll
down the more pleasant and appealing path of denial of the severity
of our predicament. Likewise, if you choose to lash out at the
Democratic Party for not choosing Bernie, you are charting a
trajectory of delusion.
read the writings of the authors named above and notice the extent to
which a significant portion of what we have written has starkly
unfolded in the past decade, particularly since the financial crash
of 2008. We were prophets, and much of what we foretold was accurate,
some of it, dead wrong. Yet if you read and took seriously one
quarter of what we wrote, you may be disappointed, but not shocked by
this moment in time.
have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four
years, and in that time scored some important victories for working
families – the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax
Credit, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example,” says
Reich, “But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of
wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those
at the top, and undermined the working class. In some
respects, Democrats have been complicit in it.”
Reich asks, “What happens when you combine freer trade, shrinking
unions, Wall Street bailouts, growing corporate market power, and the
abandonment of campaign finance reform? You shift political and
economic power to the wealthy, and you shaft the working class.”
November 8, 2016, the white working class of America moved the
tectonic plates of the culture by giving a resounding victory to
is the significance of this besides the fact that the working class
the significance is that when a society is unraveling from the inside
out, it almost always takes a drastic political right turn in favor
of division, scapegoating, demonizing the poor, racism, ethnic
cleansing, the oppression of women, financial austerity, and utter
disregard for the environment. It is now clear that the half-measures
of a ruling elite which would not take seriously the rage of the
working class have failed miserably and have been permanently
deposited in the dumpster of American politics.
we shocked? Really?
than running from the room screaming with our hair on fire, let’s
use this incredibly teachable moment to learn some of the painful
realities and profound existential lessons that this Presidential
election is attempting to teach us.
civilization and the paradigm at its core—a paradigm of
disconnection from ourselves, from each other, and from Earth—is
being shredded before our eyes, and there is no “fixing” it.
It’s done, and perhaps we’re done as a species. Get over it, and
get on with it.
get on with it by dumping our denial and delusion and looking
squarely in the face of the sobering data not only regarding the
state of our culture, but the life-support status of our dying
planet. In a recent story from Cosmos Magazine, we learn that “Sea
urchins flip inside out to become an adult.” The
story continues by noting that, “The tiny babies spend their early
life searching the vast depths of the ocean for a suitable home. But
once they find one, they undergo an incredible transformation.” It
is now time to “flip our consciousness” inside out and become
the adults that our catastrophic predicament is demanding us to be.
We are going to be tested mightily—perhaps beyond anything we can
now imagine within the next four years and perhaps longer.
do we grow up to respond to the crisis? After facing the full extent
of it, we allow ourselves to grieve. We sob, we cry, we rage, we
wail and scream and allow animal noises to erupt from our bodies now
wracked with remorse and regret. Yes, we have colluded in creating
this crisis, but it’s not enough to beat ourselves up. We must
recognize that without grieving, it doesn’t matter one whit what
we do or don’t do in response to the crisis because grief is love,
and if we don’t allow our hearts to be shattered with grief, we
will never touch the depths of love that are required for us to
navigate the consequences of humankind’s deranged choices.
Choosing separation instead of love is what got us where we are, and
above all else, our predicament is demanding radical heartbreak and
astringent love and relentless reconnection with self, others, and
to understanding and doing shadow work. For nearly four hundred
years, the United States has not dealt with the shadow of slavery.
It has not dealt with the shadow of Native American genocide, now
revisiting us at Standing Rock. Nor has it dealt with being the
first nation to use nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nor
has it recognized its repugnant imperialism and its obsessive
proselytizing of the globe with corporate capitalism. Donald Trump
is a shadow magnet, and like a poultice applied to an infected
wound, he has drawn out the toxicity of our culture for all to
behold. Many resources abound for doing shadow work. One resource is
my book Dark
Gold: The Human Shadow And The Global Crisis. Most
importantly when working with the shadow, we must remember
that not looking
at it (ie, “Your books are too dark; I just can’t read them”)
the shadow will not diminish but only grow larger until it has our
undivided attention. Thus the title of this article: “Now can
we talk about the end of business as usual?”
culture will become increasingly divided. Terrified, hurting people
will continue to “other” their fellow humans and the ecosystems.
Anger will deepen. Violence will become epidemic. If we are not
doing grief work and shadow work, we will become enveloped in
vengeance and retaliation, so well modeled for us by our new
President. In order to become whole, as opposed to further divided,
we must, and I mean must,
create safe circles of connection and community with each other.
Anyone who attempts to navigate the crisis on his/her own or just
with “me and mine,” will not and cannot.
the same time that we face the crisis squarely, engage in grief
work, shadow work, and creating safe circles of community and
support, we must regularly bathe in joy and beauty. In order to do
so, we must recognize the difference between circumstantial
happiness and the permanent core of joy which lives within us. It
may seem strange that humans need guidance in how to experience joy,
but in a lifeless, flatline culture, we do. For this reason, Andrew
Harvey and I wrote our newly-released bookReturn
toolkit for creating and sharing joy as the ultimate essence of our
Pinkola Estes tells us that we
were made for these times.
I could not agree more, and I frequently remind us that none of us
simply fell out of the sky at the time of our birth onto this planet.
There is some sanity, some intention in our being here on this
particular “mourning in America.”
an interview last
year with Stephen
he shared the etymology of the word catastrophe.
The first syllable, cata,
implies going downward. The second syllable strophe,
implies going inward. Our current global and existential crisis is
tenaciously pulling us downward and into the inner world of meaning,
purpose, grief, love, and joy. We have the choice to resist going
there because “it’s too dark,” or we can notice that the
darkness is now all around us, and it is very, very deep, and it is
calling us to “flip inside out,” in order to experience