The worst of times, the best of times


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.

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17 comments on “The worst of times, the best of times”

  1. Well stated.
    And the more people understand how manipulation works, the better prepared they are to look beyond the immediate moment and their own perspective and appreciate the larger view. We must hold corporations and politicians accountable.
    As more people learn to get in touch with and trust their inner wisdom rather than choose a side, the better off we'll all be.

  2. Inspirational piece, Lynne! And I agree. Activism must first take place within our own hearts and then we can activate what needs to be addressed in the world. Never have we had so much wealth, convenience, access to information and interconnectedness while feeling that we don't have enough money, time, resources or connection. A cosmic irony writ large and splayed across a grandiose geo-political canvas. We are being forced to face the extremes of everything we are on our way to becoming if only to take responsibility and action to alter our own fate.

  3. This is what I've been feeling is underneath of of this, but it's said so much more cogently than I had spelled it out and I'm very grateful you have forwarded this on to me. It is so optimistic. Yes, we needed to get off our sofas and quite watching reality TV, sports and other distracting, escapist things and become aware an come alive in our neighborhood, our towns, our cities, our world , our lives. We'll be so much happier and the world will be a better place. this is a major wake-up call to all of us - get involved, become more of a citizen, a neighbor and less of a spectator.

  4. Much the same happened exactly 500 years ago (October 1517) when a theologian and monk reportedly nailed a thesis to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, to start a worldwide revolution that freed the masses from the autocratic power of Rome. His translation of the Latin and Greek religious texts into German meant that no-one needed a priest to intervene because God only understood Latin, let alone having to pay for their salvation with indulgences. Luther's writings needed a postal service but we now have the internet that has enlightened and empowered the masses. The world's populations are rising again in a unified challenge against the robber barons' rapacious financial dealings whether in oil, military or medical. What justifies the 1 per cent having 50 per cent of the world's wealth? Money is like manure, the bigger the heap the more it stinks but spread it around and it does a lot of good.

  5. Dear Lynn,
    The last years I have compared truth in opinions more and more with weather systems. Instead of right and wrong, black there is no sharp distinction and white the metaphore reflects also the posibility of stormy clouds as the situation is right now in the West. An unstable weather system heavily under pressure. The comparison may be enlarged. We have a true political climate crisis.
    It is tempting to believe a metaphore can help to gain insights. Like once the brain was compared with a clock and now a computer, all comparisons fail. But they are a essential carrier for our understanding of the reality. In the end we try to relate to the world in images on which we can reflect.
    I have read all your books, read your WDDTY and followed - helas just one time -one of your workshops. So I think I do understand your drive and positive thinking.
    In terms of weather forecasting I am less optimistic. The powers yet released - Brexit, Trump etc- will continue for there is not a yet powerful strong economic circular model for wholeness and connection. AkzoNobel with the ambition to grow slow and turn green, is immideatly under attack of PPG, the old fashioned money driven monster. Same for Unilever under siege of Kraft. Newspapers call it Angelsaksion war against Reinlandisch model. Also we see a deeper and wider spread in the VS between the political views. And I am not the first to warn for the next financial crisis. The last one was solved with the same measures that the mess created.
    The reason that I write this note - do you actually read mail of thousands of people ?- is that more is needed than just new awakend political awareness. It deserves a truly new way of decionmaking and truly different way of communication to get beyond the powerfull ego centric powers. This needs in my opinion a new generation of mind tools. Or .... old politic networks will eat eventually unorganised enthousiasm.... again.
    I have read books and articles on this subject - Ecovillages and decionmaking- know that you are well aware of other means of communication and group decisions. I think this will be vital to develop as an group instrument for a new economy before the MATRIX of government & Internet of Things and old fashioned capitalism will swallow all new enthousiasm.
    Who am I. Founder of Hamwells - over ten times internationally awarded entrpeneur - and creator of a digital circular shower that consumes 10% of a low flow shower head in water and energy and offers the wellness of a luxury rainshower. I have all the reason to believe we are going to make it. But I can see clearly that 99% of all green tech initiatives is just not making it. The new born circular initiaves are not well financed and are often a bad climate for supporting green initiatives. Leaving the "greens " no alterative than turn to the good old VC-sharks to raise money. Remind that we are seen as top twenty global initiatives that truly matter, and cannot find green support.
    Conclusion. I see myself as a great supporter of your work and ideas. What would be your reaction to develop an integrated green consumer & green market & green decicionmaking circular network. Just to be clear, I am not asking for help, but try to point out that the current initiatives on political spirits needs a broader foundation in a new type of group thinking and decionmaking to integrate it into the real world, to have a truly lasting impact.
    Conclusion 2: this whole email is an absurd request. I know. But maybe you have an idea .
    All the best!

  6. Bloody brilliant!! Yes people stand up and take charge of our lives and how we live them and let's dictate to the politicians how WE want things to go. People unite we are the power and its up to us to make change. Smiles everyone

  7. Right on!! I was marching again and feeling like I was back in the 60's. It felt great to actively do something for the cause of positive change. 🙂

  8. Wow. Thank you for letting us know about this fantastic movement rising out of the mire of the threat of fascism and out-of-control capitalism (which of course would not make it to the tv news). If that's what it takes to motivate people to take an active interest in the workings of their world, then some good has come of it.

  9. Very pertinent comments. Much of humanity needed a shake-up as it had become too selfish and complacent. Maybe we'll now realise that everyone has their part to play.

  10. Too many children are brainwashed or have been presented with a mindset which continues throughout their lives. Religion is one thing. If you are born a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu etc, most of your life, your decisions, how you live, are heavily influenced by certain religious rules made thousands of years ago, which still obsess in the modern world. Parents and their political views are also instilled in children - left wing, right wing opinions are literally the result of brainwashing. Teachers have an influence and it's a pity that in addition to the basic subjects, a lesson on living is not part of the curriculum, teaching children to maintain their sense of wonder and optimism and learning to become an individual not laden with other people prejudices.

  11. We in the UK - as you do in the US - seem to have wound up with an 'adversarial' system of government.
    Funnily enough - most of Europe, after hundreds of years of fighting each other, seem to have come to systems that work best with coallitions - systems where people with very different views collaborate together to make a result
    In the everyday world it seems that things work best when humans with very different views contribute together and compromise to find the way that suits everyone best ! How do we get from there to here ?

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