In a prior post I shared a question that keeps arising for me in meditation: What would you do if you really believed Arvol Looking Horse’s words: “Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger?”
Some months ago, I read Belief Without Borders by Linda Mercadante…a deep analysis of the growing groundswell of spiritual “Nones” – a.k.a. the “spiritual but not religious.” I could find much to resonate with…but one glaring absence left me flummoxed.
Nobody talked about having an outward vocation or purpose in life. No One. The non-question fairly screamed its absence: it was not asked, nor was it raised by the respondents, even implicitly. Incredulously, I wrote to ask the author about this silence, and she verified: no one brought the topic up at all.
As I sat in utter shock at seeing the results of the midterm elections – a similarly thundering non-turnout by Democrats, particularly women, particularly Millenials, who are among those with the most to lose – I was wondering: were the two somehow connected? Was the apathy linked somehow to a sense of helplessness, disconnection, non-involvement in the events of the world (I’m setting aside the documented issue of purposeful disenfranchisement – that’s a topic for another post…)?
Much has been written about President G.W. Bush’s urging following 9/11: Go Shopping. I’ve written here about the cultural immersion in fantasy, from TV shows to computer games and virtual reality. Bread and circuses – the distractions worked in ancient Rome and they work equally well today.
But the problem is – contrary to what the Law of Attraction would have us believe, disagreeable realities don’t stop when we’re ignoring them. Social injustice, environmental devastation, war, famine, pestilence and death don’t go away when we close our eyes, sing La la la and think happy thoughts. Quite the reverse, in fact.
We can bury ourselves in work, play, retail therapy, food and drink, narcotic substances, fantasy, gaming, on and on – but world events and global devastation will not stop plowing forward just because we escaped into a more pleasant, ephemeral version of reality. Oppressors, ignored, will not suddenly turn into philanthropists; they will only amp up their destruction of the planet to add to their wealth and power.
It doesn’t matter to a warming planet, dying species, drying rivers, poisoned aquifers, vanishing rainforests, in the slightest whether we have this, that or the other “must-have” dress or vehicle or app; whether we’ve beaten XYZ “boss” in the latest RPG or paid just $XX amount for a full tank of gas. It doesn’t matter to the planet whether Republicans or Tea Partiers or climate-change-deniers of the day insist that the status quo can continue without consequences. Those consequences will come no matter what comfortable untruths the politicians and pundits spout…and no matter what comforting blandishments we offer ourselves to feel momentarily better about the state of affairs in the world.
And then there’s the enemy within: the paralyzing thoughts, the “I don’t matter, I don’t know enough, who would listen to me? — I don’t have this, that and the other credential, I’m in a completely different field — I’m the one who stops conversations by asking the questions nobody wants to hear — reality sucks, but what else have we got?”….on and on and on.
But what if these paralyzing self-doubts are integral to the forces of destruction? I remember attending a sweat lodge in which I was asked to serve as “outer door” – a guardian/warrior position responsible for watching the perimeter of the lodge circle and protecting the people inside. I was told to make prayers while feeling the lodge circle as a membrane, where it was strong, where it was thin, and to keep my sensors alert for any shifts that might indicate negative energies breaking through.
I did as I was told…all seemed well until paralyzing doubts began to arise: what the —- am I doing here? This isn’t my heritage, I have no right to be doing this! What do I know about this anyway? I’m not trained… and on and on. I suddenly realized – my prayers had stopped and I was engaged in self-sabotage: where did that come from? Feeling the energy of the perimeter, I found the breach, began hurling prayers at it…and heard the prayers inside the lodge, which had faltered, suddenly rise into song.
Distractions, self-doubts and projections onto others: these are the most effective forces that keep us silenced and ineffective.
Last Sunday a group of friends gathered from widely differing spiritual traditions and personal backgrounds to talk about Andrew Harvey’s masterful book The Hope: A Guidebook for Sacred Activism. The issues I’ve described above are just a few of the topics we addressed….and plan to address in deeper conversations on an ongoing basis. Simply not being alone, finding people who shared our pain and struggles to move past the confusion and despair of our time to positive action for change…this gave a profound sense of hope and healing to all.
One of the key insights we found was that “sacred activism” – action directed by Spirit – showed up as a unique calling to each of us: some felt called to direct action, others to private ritual, or writing, or….
But whatever our calling was, we felt strongest and most effective when we were listening to and following our unique inner guidance from Spirit.
I’ve written in other posts about the tragic loss of self-worth and personal purpose created by this society. If there is any salvation for our species – and life on this planet – it rests on our shoulders, our awakening to our individual connection and importance and responsibility to Spirit and to all of Life.
Yes. We each have a purpose that has nothing to do with our paycheck or social standing or net worth.
Yes. That purpose is critically important to the fate of life on Earth.
Yes. We are each responsible for choosing to step past our personal and cultural addictions to discover and act on that purpose.
And if we each become aware of our connection and importance and responsibility to Life, individually and together, we can find that we are not alone, and affirm each other in the journey.