I try to avoid including too much of other’s writings in my blog posts, but Daniel Pinchbeck expresses what I’ve been trying to say about addressing our environmental catastrophe in ways that others might relate to better. If we don’t act now to change, we are doomed.
Materially, we can shift global practices in farming, industry and energy production within a few decades. We can reforest the planet. This would put a massive amount of excess carbon back in the Earth. But along with the material, industrial aspects of this transition, we will need to undergo a shift in our values, beliefs and habits. In other words, we need to change our technical and industrial base, our political and economic system, as well as our consciousness and our culture – our way of relating to the world. I know this is no small feat, but it is possible. It could occur through a tipping point, where a small group discovers a new way of being that quickly spreads out to encompass the whole. And it could happen fast. Pinchbeck, Daniel. How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation (p. 20). Watkins Media. Kindle Edition.
Writes Lawrence LeShan in A New Science of the Paranormal. ‘We must be open to facing the possibility that we will find things so new and startling that they change our preconceptions about ourselves and about the universe we live in,’ he writes. ‘So far, we have not had that courage. Perhaps now with species extinction looming before us, we will find that courage.’ Pinchbeck, Daniel. How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation (p. 20). Watkins Media. Kindle Edition.
I saw the end of the long count as an invitation for humanity to undergo a global awakening and take a different path. This would mean adopting aspects of the worldview and some of the practices of indigenous and aboriginal cultures. These small-scale, traditional societies developed methods of longterm continuity based on their spiritual ethos of interdependence and connection to nature. As Native American sociologist Jack Forbes puts it, ‘The life of Native American peoples revolves around the concept of the sacredness, beauty, power and relatedness of all forms of existence. In short, the ethics or moral values of native people are part and parcel of their cosmology or total worldview.’ We can, I think, merge crucial aspects of the indigenous worldview – as well as the ecological and social practices that stem from it – with our advanced technical capacities. If we manage this, we can learn to respect the limits of the Earth and bring our global civilization back into balance. Pinchbeck, Daniel. How Soon is Now: From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation (p. 21). Watkins Media. Kindle Edition.
A common theme of those who think and write about our environmental problems is to find ways for mainstream society to learn from and adapt indigenous ideas and practices.
Two-eyed seeing “recognizes the benefits of seeing from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing, from the other eye the strengths of the Western ways of knowing, and using both of these eyes together to create new forms of understanding and insight.” Elder Albert Marshall (Mi’kmaq, Eskasoni First Nation) from Urban Tribes, edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
I’ve written of how I hope Quakers might, as Daniel Pinchbeck says above, “be open to facing the possibility that we will find things so new and startling that they change our preconceptions about ourselves and about the universe we live in.” If we can manage to get beyond the constraints of the thinking of the society we live in, and truly be open to the Inner Light, might we find a way? Will we have the courage to do so?
Maybe those of us who participated on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March might be one of the “small groups that discovers a new way of being that quickly spreads out to encompass the whole”, as Pinchbeck says above.