Choose Hope Over Despair in Uncertain Times

Where we can find hidden and rich treasure is in the place of darkness, according to John O’Donohue, the late Irish author, philosopher and theologian in his soul-filled book Anam Cara. In other words, we need not be afraid of the dark. O’Donohue refers to the wounded soul of our inner being, where much revelatory material resides for us to identify, transform and heal, to be able to manifest more fully who we can be.

In the outer world, some people perceive the uncertainty of this historic moment as something to be feared, while others use the uncertainty to exploit human fear for self-serving purposes.

Always as well, however, there exist those individuals who choose a third path, beyond fear and opportunism. Any of us can make this choice any time, anywhere.

The third path calls us to reflect and act from our Higher Self, which guides us closer to our human potential. Doing so awakens our innate `spiritual will’ rather than remain limited in our responses to the world by functioning merely from a `personal will.’ Spiritual will directs us to who we can be. Personal will is based on ego, namely, who we think we are and want the world to see, catering to our familiar comfort zone.

A prevalent tendency in human nature to resist change, however, can become a stumbling block that obstructs us from growing towards our potential. The fear about change resides in layers of our unconscious, which is why change appears so difficult. We simply are not aware of our own unnamed resistance, instead projecting our unnamed fear onto exterior sources to rationalize why change is not possible.

Consequently, through history, too often the possibilities of transformation present themselves only when chaos prevails, such as in war and natural disasters. Indeed, we marvel at the stories about heroism, sacrifice, fortitude, perseverance, and other inner strengths that folks discover within themselves, to survive and rebuild their lives. Such inner strengths represent aspects of the Higher Self, and actually are accessible within each of us.

Historically, specific nations or groups within nations, could feel isolated, protected, and prefer to be uninvolved, believing – rightly or wrongly – that the collective `we’ are not responsible for what befalls people half a world away. Disasters were seen as occasional, unconnected, not affecting `us,’ ergo, not `our’ concern.

Differently today, what we witness – and increasingly experience now in the developed world – is an extended period of what, ultimately, is leading toward radical disruption to life as we know it – that is, what we, collectively speaking, in the `developed world’ have come to take for granted as our right to an affluent way of life.

Following World War II, everything in mainstream North America – from socialization processes to mass media and popular culture – tells us every waking moment how our purpose in life ought to focus on striving for our own individual success and, secondly, the well-being of our immediate family. Today, the forms of consumer culture and celebrity culture say it all, in illustrating sorely reduced and misguided priorities about why we exist on this planet.

What distinguishes today from the past is what ought to be painfully obvious – we are all involved, as `life as we know it’ incrementally is being chipped away to present a different way of existing on the planet. The increase of mindless, extreme forms of entertainment, complemented with portents of gloom and doom, seem to distract too many otherwise decent human beings from putting energy into using their innate creative intelligence to engage in marvelous, life-affirming possibilities collaboratively as community members and planetary citizens.

But the penny still has not yet dropped for folks who tenaciously hold on to the status quo, despite new swaths of the employed who now include well-educated, veteran professionals who have lost their livelihoods. They are shut out from offering their much-needed `long view’ knowledge and experience to a troubled world and in a mainstream society coming apart at the seams, stitch by stitch.

Why did the mainstream news media generally omit mention of those participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement? The answers are several – speaking as a disillusioned, former journalist. Amongst the above-mentioned veteran professionals are many caring, investigative journalists who have lost their jobs, while conventional funding has largely disappeared for similarly dedicated documentary filmmakers.

Be aware that media corporations, which have other agendas than truth telling to help humanity and the planet, increasingly have swallowed up independent thinking news organizations in the past 20 years or so. As for broadcast news per se, it focuses on dramatic conflict not conflict resolutions to human dilemmas that can empower people.

Regarding television overall, reality TV, talent competitions and similar dumbed-down forms of entertainment are much cheaper to produce than investing in well-researched investigative documentary films and high quality dramatic productions.

Yet the stories that inform us about who we are, our purpose on earth and what befalls us when bad things happen, have been the glue to give coherency and meaning to human existence. They have elevated our minds, hearts and spirits since rock paintings and texts written on clay tablets.

Meaningful stories continue to be essential, to give us a map of life, and what we have dreamed as possibilities for the past, present and future. How then can we work together, to create new funding sources and distribution venues, as storytellers and audiences, and thereby give voice to stories that offer imperative understanding about our very existence?

Meanwhile, what is happening around us was foreseen several decades ago, namely, extreme and numerous environmental events disruptive to planetary life. But, few people paid attention to the signs. Consequently, much more harm has occurred to our brothers and sisters in the developing world than had to happen, and more harm is imminent. Human arrogance mindlessly continues to wreak havoc, because of the willful disregard for what fundamentally sustains life on this planet.

Hope for the present and future, regardless, continues to reside in the ever-present individuals among us on every continent – and those who preceded us who bequeathed perennial wisdom for all generations – whose vision is guided by light and love regardless of how dark everything might appear.

Such individuals include caring souls, past and present, who chose to dedicate themselves, quietly and without fanfare or much support, to discover, protect and restore whatever sustains life. They range from grassroots, land-based peoples who still practice under-valued ways of knowing to medical, scientific, philosophical and spiritual visionaries – all of them having a focus on what really matters – despite their work and contributions being under-recognized, even sometimes dismissed.

Also included, potentially, is any one of us, whether our life has fallen apart professionally or not, who decides to choose the third path, to participate in the human and planetary project of our time – healing and transformative activities (that include telling good stories) for the larger good.

What is required is not simply learning new skills, although that is useful, even in opening up new neural pathways to keep our brain healthy. Yet, consider further reasons.

For what is fundamental to opening one’s mind, and heart, is the embrace of new ways of thinking and asking new questions. What will be the impact of our choices, for example, in new business models, on the planet’s life support system and fellow human beings?

Recognize your own inner power. Choose to help in creating a future along a journey there that makes being alive an incredible adventure. Do not fear the unknown, but instead participate in a more deeply life-affirming present and future.

Do not despair, nor give away your power to the messages bombarding you from news and pop culture that feed off fear, divisiveness, stereotyping, vanity and selfishness and, furthermore, that misrepresents, exploits, or omits altogether what really matters.

Seek out alternative sources of knowledge and processes of learning, as well as colleagues and friends who similarly want to share insights and wisdom about approaches and tools to learn and grow. Discover untapped capabilities within yourself and new directions to contribute in the wider world – and experience hope and fulfillment.

One strategy along the `third path,’ to which I referred earlier, calls upon the awakening of our unconscious, that I characterize as `awakening the feminine.’ It is one of the themes of the workshops that I offer in this moment of transition happening in the lives of a growing number of people at multiple levels.

Awakening the feminine is valuable for men and women, to become more fully aware about the multiple layers of human consciousness that influence why we respond to the world in particular ways and, moreover, how to respond with more of our capabilities. In doing so, we exercise our free will and replace fear with love and compassion.

At a later time, by the way, I also will describe the importance of aligning the feminine and masculine principles that reside in human consciousness. Both principles exist innately within each man and woman. Establishing the harmony between them is another step in tapping our inner potential.

Next week I will address `awakening the feminine’ and introduce a saucy lady whose image recently was added to my website. Can you guess which image I mean? Stay tuned and find out who she is.

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