My outrage meter has been pegged for more than a year now. Actually it is busted beyond repair so I have difficulty filtering “news” of a governmental and economic system that I no longer acknowledge as representing my own soul and spirit. So, the question arises, what am I to do with this swirling mass of insane and dysfunctional energy that engulfs us all?
Here are some strategies that have arisen in my own life that I try to follow as Nancy and I continue our journey into freedom, simplicity, and joy.
Disconnect from media
This is an essential step but one in which we each have to find our own parameters. I don’t have a television and I do not check any internet news. I know how to check for essential information – where the fires are, what the weather might be, how my community is faring, etc. Whatever approach to media you choose to use, I do recommend that it involve a fairly rigorous abstention. It is too easy to get pulled back in to the morass of news that is enervating and not actionable. Facebook posts are the slippery slope for me and I have to do a lot of “unfollowing” in order to keep my balance.
Discipline the mind and the imagination
The main reason for media disconnect is to protect the creative quality of the mind, which is a fantastic tool for change and healing, but which is so vulnerable and easily contaminated. This quality has been hijacked in our society and twisted into material striving, distracting pursuits, and dystopian imaginings. Disciplining the imagination requires us to constantly keep in mind a utopian rather than dystopian image of the future Earth. What we imagine will ultimately be what comes to pass, not in some magical fairy-tale way, but as the rational and logical outgrowth of how our energy focuses and manifests. What remains constantly in our mind is what we will ultimately put our energy into.
I’m imagining a future, say seven generations from now, in which permaculture ecology will be the standard practice. I’m imaging a future in which simplicity will be the practical guide to happiness. I’m imagining a future of smaller communities, inter-generational and inter-racial. I’m imagining a future where “jobs” have been replaced by “work” that fulfills talents and nurtures the community. I’m imagining a future of small appropriate houses and vehicles. I’m imagining a future in which each community consciously decides what kind of technology they will use. (See The Amish)
Make no mistake, imagination is powerful and it has too long been manipulated by fear and insatiable desire, all for the benefit of the very few. It is time to reclaim it for its rightful purpose, but it won’t be easy. Watch each day how your imagination gets pulled into fearful future scenarios. We’re not playing Pollyanna here. We’re disciplining the most creative weapon in our arsenal.
There are countless ways of staying under the radar of institutions that oppress. In as much as possible, purchase only what you actually need from sources you believe to be healthy. Limit your housing needs to an appropriate size. Educate your children in the realities of global needs. Connect both yourself and your children to the Earth in as many ways as possible. Leave any job in which you feel you are compromising your ethics and beliefs. Learn to live joyfully on a very little, and you will become one of the little “termites” whose actions will eventually cause the whole rotten house to collapse under its own weight. These things will not be easy. They will be very difficult and sacrificial, but we must remember that we are talking about an actual resistance movement here, not some do-good casual effort. Read about the WWII resistance movements in Holland and France and find a new perspective on the importance of our choices. They were resisting the Fascist occupation of their country. Our country may appear heading toward Fascism right now, but that is a limited perspective. In the gaze of history we are resisting the destruction of the Earth Itself and that resistance will be needed long after Trump is gone.
Protest is an unskillful use of outrage. It dissipates the energy and always produces a counter-protest, mobilizing the forces of hatred and ignorance. Protest should be a very limited tool, used rarely and with great skill so that it brings together a large mass of people and makes them ready for a specific course of action. Otherwise it is a waste of outrage.
Focus on Joy Above All Else!
Without the joy that the freedom of simple resistance can bring, we merely continue to support the forces of fear. Without a deep and abiding joy in the wonder of the Earth, we simply keep playing the “ain’t it awful” game. Playing that game is exactly what has brought the chaos. The more joy we learn to cultivate in the ordinary and beautiful, the more hope we bring to those around us and ultimately to the world itself. My anthem has become a song I learned decades ago from Pete Seeger. It was written by Dave Mallett in the mid-70s. I sing it every time I walk and hike in the forests and mountains. I highly recommend it. The Garden Song.