1.) Where are we now?
Melting icecaps, rising oceans, warming temperatures around the globe, massive climate change... Overpopulation, over consumption of resources… The biggest mass extinction of living species since the ages of the dinosaurs… Not to mention the extinction of human cultures and languages – the modern industrial and technological societies are running the world via corporations that now hold the legal rights of a human being, but have none of the heart, soul or conscience of human beings. These are frightening and dark times.
To let this kind of information (and this is only a pin-drop summary of some of it) sink in to the level of true understanding requires an opening of the heart and the experience of a great deal of pain. What is happening right now on our planet is awful and so devastatingly heartbreaking that everyone’s initial reaction to it is to turn away in disbelief. We awaken and look for a moment, then go to sleep again because we cannot handle the inevitable emotional reaction to this awareness.
But a powerful new idea for me is that this pain is not something to be avoided. It is healthy. This pain is useful because it comes from LOVE, and allowing ourselves to experience this pain, to not be afraid of it, is the first step in moving forward and guiding us towards what we need to do.
2.) How did we get here?
The seminar proposes a wonderful idea ~ humans are not inherently flawed, or evil, malintentioned, or even stupid. We are simply mistaken. We are functioning from unexamined assumptions - an untrue set of subconscious beliefs, which have led us to the desperate situation we find ourselves in today. These culturally misguided beliefs are things like:
- I am separate from everyone and everything else
- What I do doesn’t really matter and doesn’t make a difference in the world
- Humans are separate from and superior to nature
- More is always better, and we can have infinite growth on a finite planet
- Technology will save us
- Competition is more natural than cooperation
- Success is measured by how much money you make and how many things you have
3.) Where do we go from here?
ENVISIONING THE FUTURE ~
One of the biggest awakenings I gained through this symposium came from a visualization we did. We closed our eyes and imagined we were sitting in a big meadow near a river, in a circle with our great great great grandchildren. The earth was safe and healthy, and humans and nature were thriving together in harmony. The children asked us what we did, all those years ago, when the world was in chaos. What part did we play?
What shocked me in this exercise was not the question the children asked but rather the image of a future world where we had survived, where life as we know it had not all ended in doom and destruction! Somehow, I had never thought to imagine something like this. I think this is because as humans, we have a tendency to react, instead of to dream and vision. Most systems in place in the world today are a result of reactions to something that wasn’t working, instead of creations stemming from a complete vision of the best possible way something could work.
So, this is one of the things we are beng asked to do – to change our dream for the future, and envision what WOULD a healthy, whole and sustainable future look like? It is time to start dreaming new dreams!
NOT ALONE ~
In thinking about what to do to create that future, it is easy to feel alone. But we watched a clip from the Bioneers Conference in which the speaker shared that there is a movement going on right now bigger than any movement that has ever come before. Some have called this humanity’s immune response: There are over two million organizations worldwide working towards social and environmental justice issues. The names of these groups began scrolling across a screen. The speaker said, if we were to watch that screen for all of today, and all of tomorrow, and all next week, and all of the next month, we would still not have seen the name of every organization on that list! That was powerfully comforting to me – to feel that there are many all working towards this new dream.
YOUR PART ~
The other most significant exercise for me was this: take a piece of paper and fold it into thirds. On the leftmost third of the paper write a list of all the things you love to do – your passions, what makes you come alive? Then on the rightmost third of the paper, make a list of what you see as the greatest needs of your community and of our earth that trouble you most at this time. Then, open up the paper fully, and in that middle third think about what actions could link these two areas together. And that is your part. And, it may not even be something you need to DO, so much as someone you need to BE.
One last idea from this seminar that was incredibly helpful for me came from Lynn Twist, co-founder of the Pachamama Alliance. She said, it does not matter exactly what it is that you do. It can be large or small. But it is essential that you find YOUR part in all of this and do that. You don’t have to do it all, you can’t do it all. But you are not alone, and if you find your part and do that, that will be enough.
Of course, we must ALL find our part if it is to be enough. So I deeply urge you, on behalf of all humanity, on behalf of the earth and all its living creatures, on behalf of your life, and my own, and all the great great grandchildren to be, please awaken and do your part, whatever it is, it is undoubtedly the most important thing you can or ever will do. The entire future of everything on our planet depends upon it.
thank you so much,
with love & respect, your fellow earthling,
* The Pachamama Alliance was born in response to a request from the Achuar, an indigenous people deep in the Amazon region of Ecuador. Guided by their dreams & visions, the Achuar decided to seek a partnership with people from the industrialized world who could work with them in protecting their rainforest home and traditional way of life.
From the beginning of this partnership, the indigenous people encouraged a focus of ‘changing the dream of the modern world.’ It is our ‘dream’ ~ over-consumption without regard for social and environmental consequences ~ that is driving the destruction of not only the Achuar’s rainforest home, but the health and well being of all peoples, our planet, and every living creature on earth.
The Symposium’s goal is to change this dream, to wake participants up from the trance we are living in, to identify the unexamined assumptions that create and maintain this trance, and begin to appreciate the extraordinary possibilities emerging at this time in history. Participants are encouraged to find their unique and powerful role as agents of change in creating a new and sustainable future for all of us.
Since its launch in San Francisco in March 2005, the Symposium has spread rapidly, reaching hundreds of thousands of people in 50 countries on six continents. It is now being delivered by nearly 3000 trained volunteers in at least nine languages.