In my last post, I expressed my exuberance for launching the site and taking the leap into a whole New Personal World in service to helping us create a whole New Collective World.
I’m not exuberant today. I’m horrified. Grief-stricken. Profoundly sad. And even more resolved than ever to help us create the New World together. Today is August 11, 2011, still pre-launch, but a day that needed to be written about even if it couldn’t be published until now, almost 2 weeks later. I didn’t even see it coming. It happened in, of all places, a smoothie shop. Today, I cried. In public. Suddenly. I was too upset to be embarrassed and too horrified to care what people thought. I’m a pretty tough cookie, not prone to emotional drama. Besides, it’s not like smoothie shops are known for their traumatizing effects on the human psyche. So, when I dope-de-dohed my way into the shop, I had no idea there was a Significant Emotional Event on the way. As is the case in many establishments these days, the shop had CNN blaring from a TV mounted on the wall, streaming a perpetual torrent of violence, scarcity, fear, and oppression into the consciousness of its unsuspecting customers. While I waited, I watched snippets of the economic crises, with its images of graphs, Wall Street, and politicians essentially standing in separate corners spitting at each other. I watched bombs destroying a phallus-like tower in Syria, and cars and buildings burning in the riots of London. I saw images of floods, droughts, hurricanes, and the aftermath of tornadoes. I followed bleak headlines as they scrolled across the bottom of the screen, receiving a multi-sensory dose of bad news—in words, sounds, and pictures. It’s amazing how much death and destruction can be packed into the time it takes to make a smoothie. While these deadly manifestations of a humanity that has lost its way were disturbing enough, they did not trigger my distress. Sadly, I’ve gotten used to the daily collection of crises, even as my heart goes out to those most profoundly affected and to all of humanity for collectively creating the conditions in which these crises flourish. Though I wish it were not the case, it all just affirms that a fundamentally new space to create a fundamentally New World in a fundamentally new way is desperately needed. So, I sat there, shaking my head, hearing how loudly the world was screaming for something new and feeling how acutely I wanted to offer My Work in response to it. I saw a child dying. Slowly. Many of them, actually—322 a day for the last 90 days. The glazed look of death from the eyes of starving, innocent Somalian children and their desperate and dying mothers stared back at me. These horrific images, even from the impersonal distance of thousands of miles and the mirage of a two-dimensional electronic image, was simply too much to bear. My heart broke. Tears sprang from my eyes and grief poured from my heart before I could even register what I was seeing.
|Associated Press|There’s a certain hollow blankness human beings get in their eyes when they are dying slowly, their life force exiting one drop at a time, that is unmistakably final. This is the look I saw in the eyes of an innocent child. My heart broke even more as the camera zoomed in on the sunken face that would never know what a smoothie is.
I couldn’t even tell if this being was a boy or a girl, so lifeless was this child. This haunted look in adults is disturbing. In a child, it’s heart wrenching. That we, as a supposedly evolved and sophisticated species capable of creating anything our hearts can dream and our minds can conceive could create conditions where this could happen is unconscionable.
And yes, we did create these conditions. Nature may do her thing that requires us to be adaptive and resilient, but weather does not create famine. We do. I’d gone into the shop to get a smoothie, the act itself a reflection of a typical comfortable, Western suburban life. It’s the kind of life where crises are typically delivered not by direct experience, but via pixels on a flat screen TV while we wait for our nutritious, organic health drinks, and before we head out to pick up our dry cleaning or a gallon of milk. What I got instead was far more profound. In the eyes of a dying Somalian child, I experienced the Reason we must create a fundamentally New World and the consequences of failing to. In destroying each other and the planet—either directly or through not-so-benign neglect—in favor of material gain, we are killing our children. And, because our numbers are higher, our consumption is unbounded, and our weapons are larger and more sophisticated, we are killing their children as well.
|Photo: Tyler Hicks/NYT|Change may be hard, it’s nothing compared to extinction. If we’re killing our children and our children’s children, we’re killing humanity. The child was showing me—showing all of us—that continuing to build our world on a scaffolding of violence, scarcity, fear, and oppression is to march humanity to its own demise. She was beseeching us to awaken, engage, and unite to create the New World on a foundation of peace, abundance, joy, and freedom. Through her innocence, she was showing us the way back to ours, so that we might live in a world that reflects that innocence. So that we might live, period.