Okay, I had my fun making fun of the crazies who have the power or the spotlight or both to wreak havoc. How else to deal with such insanity? It helps to keep a sense of humor.
But it’s also a good idea to lean in a bit toward understanding. What is going on here? Why the rise in Fundamentalism? Why the ten steps back just as we were beginning to move forward? Why are so many making such outrageous claims and blaming earthquakes, riots and baby genocide on “promiscuous beef-eating gay women?”
Here’s a formula. Rapid change= high anxiety. The one sure thing you can say about the “interesting” times we live in is that things are changing more rapidly than we can assimilate. Heck, I can’t even count on my Niji pen still being manufactured and when offered the new choices at the stationary store yesterday, one was too fat, one too thin, one too tall. It made me anxious.
Anxiety is related to stress is related to a constant low-grade fear. In a world that is unstable, unpredictable, unreliable, anxiety rises, sometimes all the way to fear. Fear of the other, fear of the unknown, fear of the next change just as we were getting used to the last one.
Fear is the lowest form of the brain functioning, the emotion that sends us into the basement of our mind where all we can do is flee, fight or freeze. The access roads to the higher realm of neo-cortical thinking are blocked in such a state. That would help account for the outrageous non-thinking highlighted in my last blog. When we can’t think clearly, we reduce the conversation to blame. And always someone or something else.
Fundamentalism is the home of the non-thinker. The fundamentalist of any religion or philosophy gives up the birthright of the human brain in exchange for an easy security. And all of this is perfectly understandable given today’s world. When change sweeps us away like a Class IV rapid, we reach out to cling to the nearest rock. Enter religion, dogmatic politics, gang membership (both the street kind and the good ole boys clubs). We’re desperate to hold on to something that is sure, dependable, un-demanding. Something that only asks us to believe, not to think. Something that is simplistic and black and white, no bothersome nuance or shades of color. Something that promises protection from the “them” through compliance and complicity in the club of “us,” something that reduces complexity to “good (us)” and “bad (them).”
So while such regression is understandable in the light of the way the brain and psyche function, it is counter-productive to what the situation demands. Instead of clinging to the rocks, we need to release to the flow, surf on the tidal waves of change, tap dance on the shaky foundation, improvise like the jazz musician responding to the moment. While the fear and anxiety and stress are real and not to be lightly dismissed, we can turn their energy toward the higher realms of thinking and feeling, transform them through the active imagination and the probing intellect and the compassionate heart. We need to unthaw the rigid mind and exercise our flexible thinking, unlock the fortressed heart and let love begin to breath again, unbutton the imprisoned body and get dancing. Let’s use all the colors in the crayon box, let the volume move with nuance between soft and loud, let language regain a range larger than “awesome!” and “cool!”
We won’t get much time on the soapbox—headlines don’t do subtlety and ambiguity—but we can stem the tide of ignorance with informed knowledge, move beyond mindless blame to recognizing our own demons, offset sheer stupidity with breathtaking imagination. We can ride out the tsunami of rapid change, find a few eddies and quiet pools off to the side and keep hope alive through the time-honored practices of exalted thought and feeling. No blame, no shame, light the flame, claim your name, play the game. You get the idea.
PS I found my old Niji pens online.