Last week, I read an article by Timothy Egan in the New York Times International edition which convinced me that all the political upheaval presently in the Western world is an incredibly good thing.
Egan headed off to a ‘Search for Meaning’ festival at Seattle University in Washington state, convinced that he’d be among a ragtag handful of overly earnest attendees.
In fact, the event was sold out with standing room as people crammed on top of each other listen to keynotes on finding meaning in a time of change and disruption.
‘Face it,’ wrote Egan about America, ‘We have become a lazy, aging, fairly ignorant democracy.’
But the events of late in politics in America and throughout Europe, he says, have indirectly benefited a host of institutions: ‘a free press, an independent judiciary, high school civics, grass-roots political activity, cautionary tales in literature and theater, and spirituality.’
Off their sofas
Subscriptions and readership are up in all the major mainstream press and the mainstream radio, as people try to sift real news from fake. People are reading more – in large part about totalitarian regimes and how they start. They’re getting off their comfy sofas and out of their TV rooms to take to the streets or write to their representatives in government.
And perhaps most significantly, for the first time in several generations, young people are civically engaged, desperate for information about government and politics.
‘The kids are demanding that their teachers do something to prevent another generation of political illiterate citizens from coming of age,’ says Egan.
The Sixties supersized
It’s becoming cool again to be a political activist, as it was in the Sixties, but now the stakes are higher and the brief so much larger. It’s not just about protesting an unjust war. It’s about blowing up the current system and building again over scorched ground.
But in the midst of the continuing crises in our current way of life, we need to take measures far more radical than individual instances of benign capitalism or civic recovery.
Virtually all developed countries are founded on a culture of individualism and individual gain. For hundreds of years we have followed a false trail of individual satisfaction as our primary motivation, at great cost.
As individualism rises, the indices of every major aspect of life satisfaction, from health care and education to life span and urban safety, fall further among every member of the population, rich and poor.
With every step away from connection and wholeness, our natural birthright, we take a further step toward separation and alienation, and away from what is best and truest about ourselves. We create further economic crises, further political struggle, more conflict, more calamitous ecological disaster. We erect higher and higher walls between ourselves and the rest of the world
A revolution of the heart
Right now, we now require nothing less than a revolution in our thinking. We must abandon the path of atomization, in the way we relate to people, in the way we create our neighborhoods, and, most importantly, in the way we view our world.
It’s time to begin a new Age of Enlightenment, one that recognizes and honors wholeness, and abhors the polarization of one people, one religion or even one political party against another.
But there are already little signs sprouting up here and there in the most unlikely places that the game is changing, the revolution has already begun.