We sense betrayal. Our political leaders have betrayed us so we reach out desperately to another political voice. We close down and choose to “go it alone.” We reject our commonalities in favour of building physical, ideological and emotional walls.
It’s frightening, because we don’t know where the safe ground is. Just when we think we have found it we find that it is just a mirage. The promises of change by our (new) leaders turn out to be just that – promises with no substance.
What do we do when everything is collapsing? Where do we look for some safe ground? How do we return to normal? When the unthinkable happens, can we imaging the thinkable?
That is the question for us: how do we imagine something different? Can we find the opportunities in the middle of this collapse? How do we respond?
Fear or Love
It has been said that humans respond from two base feelings – love and fear. All other feelings are derivatives of these two.
We could respond with fear and there are signs that many of us are doing that. When we allow our fears to take over then we respond with one of the three classic responses: flight, fight or freeze. If we choose to flee then we attempt to do so back to where we came from. It was safe back there so we try to rush back. We look for the old story, the old story of how the world was, or at least, how we thought it was. But the old story no longer satisfies, it doesn’t tell us how to respond in this new millennium.
If we choose to fight then we easily fall into the trap of hatred. We find enemies who have “done this to us.” We look around and find “others” to blame. As many teachers have taught for centuries, hatred is not the answer. When we hate others, we become hateful (even hating ourselves) and all that happens is that hatred is perpetuated. It is certainly not reduced.
And freezing? That is no solution either. We slip into despair, frustration, depression, and withdrawal.
If we flee we go searching for old saviours. If we fight we look for new saviours who are going to lead us against our enemies and make us great again.
There are no saviours. There are knights in shining armour. There are no Amazonian warrior women who will defeat our enemy. There are no rescuers – be they political leaders (or parties), business leaders, religious teachers or sports stars.
What happens if we respond from a feeling of love? One of the first things we remember is that we are all in this together. There is no “other.” When we recall this we can respond with empathy and compassion. We open up to our vulnerability and recognise that being uncertain is not a burden. Vulnerability allows us to connect with one another, as well as to connect with our own soul and spirit.
Uncertainty allows us to ask questions. It allows us to ask “what is the new story that is emerging here?” And when we remember that we are all in this together we begin to look towards the margins. We begin to find answers amongst the dispossessed, the unacknowledged, the despised. We find answers amongst the admonished, the forgotten and the exiled. We even find answers in the forgotten parts of our selves. We find answers in our souls.
It is no coincidence that there is a connection between finding these answers and vulnerability. To be willing to go to the margins of society or to search our deep souls requires us to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable allows us to recognise that answers lie in places that do not exist in the old story.
When this happens we begin to create, and co-create, our new story.