It’s easy to extol the benefits of freedom if one has nothing much to lose. Harder minding that course when loss is both significant and sure. Concepts are helpful conceptually, but once we are old enough to recognize that certain themes seem to recur cyclically, we are less disposed to blindly cast our lot to the winds of change; more inclined to reflect and determine if we are about to commit the same errors yet again without benefit of the learning.
Knowing the extent to which we are liable for our own impact on the state of the world, it is difficult to stay with the pain and uncertainty of it, to remain centered in wholeness while encountering profound loss. And yet this is our challenge. Stay appeared more the cognomen of my mother’s generation. Stay, despite hardship, another’s substance abuse, in spite of one’s own emotional and physical wounding and utter loss of pleasure in any corner of life, stay. In marked contrast, my generation rebelled, some say rightly so, as we cultivated gratification at any cost; as we exhibited flagrant disregard in maintaining any sort of connection that smacked of self abnegation. Those who protested the Vietnam war and expatriated themselves did so with hardly a backward glance. Idealism reigned; freedom was ours for the claiming. We ran screaming from an impracticable past and the rest of the world noticed and took heart.
Not surprisingly, ours was precursor to the Me generation that followed. Pendulums swing. Now as we surf the long tidal wave of overdue; as it breaks onto shores, severing restrictive bonds especially pertaining to minorities – women, children, the dispossessed – we simultaneously face crises of global proportion. Our own government is corrupt and many social services past generations struggled to establish, including the sacred cow of Social Security, stand thigh deep in jeopardy. As a species on Planet Earth we are running perilously low in available resources, including food and water. Natural disasters further rattle the underpinnings of the collective. Developing nations are rapidly escalating their expansion, striving toward the template of “free” enterprise an adolescent nation created. In the end, who can be held accountable?
The best may yet lie before us, but certainly not without taking stock of what we have shaped and wrought upon the rhythms of the natural world. Denial or justification cannot replace honest soul-searching. We must begin, in earnest now, to actively model and implement sustainable change at a grass roots level. If we wait for our fractured government to make sweeping changes, if we infantilize ourselves before Big Daddy, we stand disempowered; helpless, hapless and ultimately hopeless. The world is watching, it hasn’t given up on us so much as we have given up on ourselves. Like lemmings off a cliff, we’ve been marching into blind chasms of overwhelm and despair. We throw our hands up when they are most needed to work at correcting our trajectory. Can we do it? I’m betting, with a little self accountability providing impetus, we can.
Concrete is heavy; iron is hard – but the grass will prevail.
~ Edward Abbey