How does our inner life connect into our thinking and feeling about climate change? Our activism? Or even do they connect? It’s likely that many of us haven’t considered this question much, if at all, and for good reason: Mainstream thought, which exerts a strong gravitational pull, carefully avoids the connection between what’s happening in the outer world and what might be happening in the inner world of the citizen. The mainstream has its own agenda and your spiritual life definitely isn’t part of it. Even long-term meditators and spiritual professionals tend to keep these two compartmentalized.
The reality is that facing climate change raises challenging personal questions. If you become serious about your personal response to it, you will run into unconscious or conscious opposition from mainstream thought, from groupthink, and where that thought lives in you. To counteract it, you’ll be going out on your own path. And that’s personally risky and scary.
But even though it’s risky, we have this other side that wants to speak up, that doesn’t want to hide. I know I do and my observation is that we all have this other side. This side isn’t very safe and is more or less buried compared to our intellectual understanding. It comes after what we know and asks the question, “So now that we know there’s big trouble, what do we do?”
It’s a challenging question and you can’t look up the answer in a book or on Google. We each have a unique vantage point on the world that no one else has or ever could have. It’s deeply ours. And sharing ours – sharing ourselves – is what we have to offer. It’s almost sure to get us into trouble, even if the trouble is only in our own minds and nobody really cares or notices. Sooner or later, if we’re really willing to embody and stand for something, someone else won’t like it. Perhaps it will be someone we’re bonded with and then our security and identity will be directly challenged. There’s a risk associated with speaking up.
So then there’s a further question that was previously hidden: Are our ideas, thoughts and feelings worth risking for? And just behind that is another question that’s closely related: Are WE worth risking for? In a time of change like this we “get to” negotiate day to day or even hour to hour and minute to minute, our answer.
It gets worse and better. What I’ve noticed in groups where any individual dares to speak with their real voice that that voice is bigger and stronger, more important and connected than they’d thought. It knows more than they thought; there’s more at stake. It feels it has something unique to say that the world needs, perhaps just a corner of it, but something that can’t be withheld without paying a steep price.
I’ve been discovering and I’ve been witnessing in some people involved in this work that learning to find that voice is offering them the depth of love and clarity they’ve always wanted. This particular post is not primarily about that but it’s true nonetheless: a tremendous gift is ever present in the hard work of being with our challenging time. There’s much more present here than the mainstream narrative has any sense of.
That inner voice doesn’t find itself well without listeners who are at least partly tuned to the challenge here. We can’t really do that on Facebook, which rewards conformity and virtue signalling – and ignores or punishes narratives that challenge the status quo. I believe we need social spaces for this, groups. You can’t fake it as easily. You see and hear others and you recognize their struggle as your own. Face-to-face groups very much includes live groups online because we’re likely to find people who are also working on this. Some of our people, our tribe, people who are also looking for us.
Join me and other in a videoconference to be with all this next Sunday, June 2 at 1pm Eastern, 90 minutes. Make sure you’re subscribed if you’d like to receive the details.
One thought on “The personal challenge in climate change”
Really appreciate this Andrew. Thank you.