Saturday, 15 April 2017

An incomplete Easter: Good Friday, the Passover and revisiting Susan Griffin

It’s Easter long weekend, and today is Good Friday; a solemn day of remembrance for Jesus’ death on the cross.  Mid-morning and the local aged-care facility erupts with noise: not of wailing, but of the amplified exuberant sounds of piano and song...’hokey pokey’, and similar.  It is a ‘Cabaret moment’:[i]  one in which on one level something horrendous is occurring, or is remembered as having occurred, while simultaneously there is a loud party in progress which drowns out and blocks any thoughts of the not-so-pleasant.

For me this juxtaposition is also a metaphor for our world and how we, as humans, act.  We seem to turn from facing the tough and ghastly events in our world, prefer to direct our attention and/or the blame elsewhere, and carry on as if nothing has happened.  What I don’t understand is how we don’t seem to be able to, as a global village with a global consortium of leaders, face and sort out the horrendous events occurring across the globe and agree and act on real solutions.  Our leaders are intelligent beings, as we are, so they must be aware.  How can they in all conscience ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, act as if it isn’t occurring?

But no, better/easier to open yet another coal mine than support alternatives that may slow our oceans’ and atmosphere’s increasing temperatures which are gradually killing all that lives there/here.  Better/easier to over-harvest/over-produce and throw the excess away than to live on what we need. Better/easier to make sure our sexual organs perform at optimum level by tormenting and killing animals than to confront and give in to human limitation.  Better/easier to continue an arms race than to explore ways of working together - well it takes too long after all.  Better/easier to kill or maim ‘the other’ than to compromise, even a little.  Better/easier to leave distressed people to struggle for survival somewhere else than to find ways of absorbing them into our own ‘family’ and giving assistance, even if it can only be in a limited way.  Better/easier to create robots as workers, pets, children, friends and partners than to deal with the messiness, unreliability and expense of real people.  Better/easier to believe in the economic paradigm of eternal growth than to face the reality that this is a finite world.  Better/easier to see the solution to all this as finding another planet to begin the same thing all over again[ii], than to confront this world and respond to what it is telling us here and now.[iii]

Over the last couple of months I’ve been reading a number of books and articles that have come my way and they all repeat the same message – we are losing control of our planet and our future, and we have lost respect for the natural world:  the non-human world that is alive and that we are part of, as it is of us.  In particular, Richardson’s conversations with environmental scientists addresses the issues and questions I am raising here.[iv]  

In Australia we are in autumn and heading towards winter, a time of death and withdrawal, perfect for Good Friday contemplations.  Yet the Resurrection on Easter Sunday three days later does not sit comfortably in this context.  The resurrection is a promise of hope; that all is not lost and regeneration is possible.  Resurrection is a theme better suited to spring and New Year when traditionally the concept and celebration of the death-resurrection cycle make more sense. 

Certainly there is no hope for resurrection of our planet or human awareness at present, even given three days grace.  Yet is it possible to absorb this promise into our consciousness and not let go what we believe is an alternative path for our world and its healing?  It is a hope that our ancestors’ death-resurrection rituals and myths encompassed so it must be carried in our psyche somewhere.  Is it tied to awareness and feelings such as frailty, humility, wonder, love, compassion...not at all robot-like?

As I have reflected on this I have ended up in a place I did not expect to be this Good Friday; one of me, as an unbeliever, hoping and, yes praying, for the awakening of the human psyche and for the future resurrection of our world and its beings.

This week is also the time of celebrating Passover, another spring festival:  a time to remember and give thanks for the Exodus when God liberated the Jewish people, ‘His people’, from slavery.  But do we expect God, or goddess, or Life Force, or the Cosmic (un)conscious, or whatever we believe in, to save us from the destruction we have caused ourselves?  I don’t think so.  That is shifting the blame.  We do need to take responsibility and act. 

So who are my prayers directed to…my higher self…like-minded others...the Internet network…the great vacuum of space…the space between?  And what purpose do they serve?  Is it enough that my prayers and writing articulate my concerns to myself and that they may offer some support to others chancing on this blog who may be as concerned as I am[v]...I/you/we are not alone in this?   Wherever my prayers go and whatever purpose they and my writing serve, they remind me of Susan Griffin’s wonderful poem, Prayer for Continuation[vi].  Here are a few verses.

There is a record
I wish to make here.
A life.
And not this life alone
but the thread
which keeps shining
like gold floss woven into cloth
which catches your eyes
and you are won over…….

It is my love I hold back
not wanting to be seen
scrawl of hand
don’t guess
don’t guess at my
a wholly wild and raging
love for this world…

Do you think it is right
to despair?
No, no, it is not about
right and wrong.
It is the thread

The 22nd April is UN Mother Earth Day.  Let's take a few minutes to dance/sing/make music...for the healing of the Earth and all that lives here. International Mother Earth Day

c. Annette Maie, 2017

[i] Alluding to the stage musical and film of the same name.
[ii] A solution which has been suggested by respected scientists Paul Cox and Stephen Hawkins.
[iii] The paradox is that we humans have invented and created amazing things.  We are incredibly clever in many ways, but not in this…not in finding and acting on a solution to clean up the mess we are leaving behind.  I also acknowledge that the idealism underlying this paragraph is challenged by the reality of multi-layers and complexity, including conflicting interests, embedded in these issues and that there are those who may never care.
[iv] Kolbert, E. (2014)  The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History; Habib, B (2015) Sustainability is not enough: a call for regenerationLow, T. (2001)  Feral Future;  Shaw, S. & Francis, A. ed. (2008)  Deep Blue: Critical Reflections on Nature, Religion and Water;  Richardson, J. H. (2015)  When the End of Human Civilization is Your Day Job.
[v] Although I am concerned that our world and our leaders are heading down this path, I am more concerned that our leaders choose to refuse to face it, and by doing so are consciously betraying us.  I love life and all that it has to offer and that is enough for me. The earth will sort it out and create something new with or without us, and the cosmos will continue.  It is the perception of our leaders’ betrayal of the people they have been entrusted to care for which I find unforgiveable.
[vi] Griffin, S. in Caldecott, L & Leland, S (eds) 1983.  Reclaim the Earth: women speak out for life on earth. pp. 215-224.  There is also research that explores how our feelings and intentions can physically change our DNA, and speculation about how our DNA might possibly influence outside factors via, as yet unpinpointed and unproven, energy-like fields - Cal et al.;

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