Despair for the World – September 2012
Have you even opened this month’s newsletter? Or were you stopped by the words, “Despair for the World?” If you were tempted to just skip over this one and maybe even delete it entirely, you are not alone. During our lifetimes, our amygdalae have learned what is unbearable for us, and the plight of the world, with its enormity and its horror, is inherently too great to be born, especially alone, and especially in a culture that is always running low on resonance. As our amygdalae learn this lesson, they give us the order to avoid all contact with dire need, to delete our e-mails unopened, to change the radio station when the global warming is mentioned, to go directly to the Arts and Entertainment section of the newspaper without pausing for the front page.
When was the last time anyone said, “of course you don’t want to open that e-mail with its message of emergency – because maybe it makes your stomach hurt and your head spin and your eyes lose focus – and maybe you feel despair and complete disenfranchisement from contemplating the uselessness of taking action? Do you long for certainty, for the clear expression of love in your actions, for cleanness of intent?
When we are held with resonant understanding, our overwhelmed and traumatized amygdala relaxes, and the voice of our prefrontal cortex, with its capacity for imagination, empathy, agency and action, can begin to be heard. As double-binds are named, the bonds of confusion are loosed and we start to have new freedom for clarity and vision.
In the western world most of us live in a double-bind of using more than our share of the world’s resources while feeling utterly powerless to find another way of living. How can we relinquish what we have and still provide for our children, or still avoid homelessness or total and unwelcome dependency in our old age? We have filled our world; there is nowhere to run to now – there are no wilds, there is nowhere left to homestead and live off the land and very few places where we can live off the grid. Is there any honorable or clean choice left to us now? How do we hold ourselves with compassion in the face of eternal compromise?
The work of naming our despair in community and the possibility of having it held and resonated with is the subject of this month’s teleseminar. We will look at what happens to our minds and our bodies as we slip into hopelessness and overwhelm, and the ways in which words and resonance can revive our nervous systems and remind us of our fierce and savage love for the world.
We all have a unique responsibility to find our way through this particular tangle of our fragile earth’s history. It requires that as many of us as possible be on the journey to integration, so that we are not disabled by our hopelessness or despair, but are instead fully empowered to make choices, discover and create the individual paths that make sense to each of us, find community, and take action to change the world.