Our Summer of Dissonance

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary online, dissonance is defined as:

1 a: lack of agreement, the dissonance between the truth and what people want to believe; especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs;
b: an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement; “the mingling of bitter comedy and stark tragedy produces sharp dissonances”— F. B. Millett

2: a mingling of sounds that strike the ear harshly : a mingling of discordant sounds; especially, music : a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord.

Synonyms of dissonance include: conflict, disaccord, discord, discordance, discordancy, disharmony, dissension (also dissention), dissent, dissidence, disunion, disunity, division, friction, infighting, inharmony, schism, strife, variance, war, warfare.
(Citation: “Dissonance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissonance. )

As any skimming of news websites clearly shows, Dissonance is now the buzzword of our current times. Those of us living in the United States are immersed in our collective dissonance 24/7, with no relief save for turning off all devices, airplane mode or taking an off-grid getaway.

Case in point: President Trump travelled to Mount Rushmore National Monument on Friday, July 3, to hold a political rally for the Independence Day weekend. I guess one could argue it was a savvy marketing campaign—the backdrop for his barely veiled, White Supremist propaganda was the faces of four American presidents carved into the granite rocks of the monument. The link to the NYTimes article is here.

As America’s POTUS denounced “dangerous left-wing fascists” who are defacing “national heroes” by toppling many statues of White Supremists (including confederate heroes) across the country, he conveniently neglected to mention that the Coronavirus infection rate increased by 90% over the past couple of weeks. Dissonance. As the Trump administration continues its deliberate denial, fact twisting and blatant lying about the pandemic’s effects on all aspects of American life, the tones and cadences of dissonance reverberate ever louder throughout our collective souls.

Then there’s America’s national shame about racism that continues to lay bare the core wound of its founding and accumulation of wealth through the slavery of and violence against Black people. Since the George Floyd murder by police at the end of May, a tidal wave of protests, opinion pieces, journalists, political voices, writers, and scholars have clamored to amplify this collective moment of dissonance in the hopes that finally, finally, White people will get it. Systemic racism is everyone’s problem, perpetuated by White silence and complacency to the status quo. One of these voices, Marvin Blakely, a civil trial lawyer, in this weekend’s NYTimes opinion section, writes,

And how could I calmly describe how people of color are penalized for not knowing and adhering to the culture of white America, while no value is placed on our culture, which they so freely appropriate for profit? How do I help these friends understand that the solution to the race problem lies with them? Ultimately a conversation is just more talk. What about taking action, no matter how small?

If they truly wanted to be of help and have meaningful conversations, with me or anyone else, I decided to tell them, they should begin by acknowledging that the problem lies in the hearts and minds of them, their brothers, sisters, parents, and in-laws.

I told them that a conversation in which you acknowledged years of undeniable oppression and then suggested Black people “move on” was as offensive as taking no action and remaining silently complicit. After the acknowledgment, I would ask that they educate themselves (and others) and, before engaging in those conversations that white America suddenly finds necessary, listen. After completing Steps 1, 2 and 3, you are ready not just to talk, but to act in a manner consistent with our mutual humanity.

Dissonance. Discord. Disharmony. Dissolution. Disrespect. Disregard. Disease. Dis. The prefix is defined as: negation, reversal. It is undeniable to the vast majority of us by now that we are smack in the middle of a collective Dark Night of the Soul. Our collective soul is being forced to face its shadow. In Jungian terms, the shadow of the soul is made up of all the unresolved, denied, repressed, hidden and shamed elements of our ego. Until the shadow is exposed to the light of acknowledgment, clearly seen and somehow forgiven, it remains as a force of negation, a receptacle of humanity’s sewage. We are in the midst of shining the strongest, most piercing light yet on our collective, core wound and its devastating consequences on entire sections of the human race. This is the most important work we must collectively do now. No matter how frustrating, horrifying, nauseating, disgusting, or dirty, facing our collective shadow is imperative for healing the unspeakable wound we must all heal.

Dear Readers, the moment we are living through now defies description. Though many (including me) attempt to describe what we are facing, ultimately we are rendered speechless. The dissonance runs so deeply through the core of our humanity, that it is tearing us apart, quite literally. What can we do, how can we hold the dissonance without breaking into a million pieces?

One suggestion is to simply surrender and let the pain of our collective wound open you. You may experience what feels like dying, a pressure so tremendous that it is unbearable. Yet, if you are willing to let the forces of dissonance break you open, what you find within the heart of that pain will astound you. Rumi once wrote of a field that exists beyond the pain of the world. And that field absolutely exists, waiting eternally for anyone curious and brave enough to find it. It is a place of utter calm, of peace beyond human understanding, and of constant love. It is not far from each one. Just as the composer understands the supreme importance of silence within a symphony, we too must learn to understand the importance of finding the depth of wisdom within the heart of pain. Dissonance leads to eventual harmony when one is willing to do the work.

Pandemic Diaries, part 4; and Resources to Help

 

Covid-questions-The Daily_NYTimes
Photo credit: Questions from a 9-year-old in Chicago who hosts “The Show about Science.”Credit…Bianca Giaever/The New York Times

In the week that has passed since my last update, life has become increasingly paradoxical—on the one hand, personal reality has become strangely quiet and predictable, while on the other, we collectively continue climbing up the roller coaster in anticipation of the moment when we all begin screaming in earnest. Perhaps that is a bit melodramatic, and yet, I’m sure many are feeling similarly about now.

Being a news/prose junkie, I have read/listened to a lot of information and intel over the past week about Covid 19, New York’s crisis, the drama which unfolded on Capital Hill surrounding the unprecedented, 2 trillion dollar aid package by the US government, and yet more news stories. This weekend, I am at saturation level with mainstream news and am taking a break (as I hope are many of you also). I have consciously worked to turn off the news, put down the phone, refrain from checking the New York Times and NPR every couple hours. Instead, I’ve slept a lot, stared out my windows into the wide open sky, taken daily evening walks around my neighborhood, and noticed the stirring of spring all around. Crocus, daffodils, grape hyacinth, windflowers, and the first tulips are blooming in neighbor’s yards. Trees are getting ready to begin blooming soon. In a couple of weeks it will be Easter, a holiday that is near and dear to my heart as it ushers in full-on Spring. Renewal, rebirth, and reset—these are as real and important as the current crisis humanity is facing, and important to notice–perhaps more important than the latest body counts and infection rates of Covid 19.

I’d like to share a few resources with you, Dear Readers, that I have found comforting, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Perhaps one or more of these wise people’s words will also help you in some way as you each navigate the current pandemic and its surrounding emotional roller coaster energies. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some articles, websites and YouTube videos. If you have found any resources you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section of my blog!

https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/

Charles Eisenstein is a brilliant thinker, author, and maverick for a growing audience of people around the world. His essay on Coronavirus and its implications, just published on his website, will give you lots of food for thought. Reading it pushed several of my buttons, and I had to read it in sections. He never fails to make me think, and, ultimately, give me hope for our future.

https://www.shareable.net/series/coronavirus/

Shareable.net is a website devoted to highlighting ways that humans help one another in communities around the world. They have created a series of articles to show how people are helping each other (and ways that you can help your neighbors and community) during the coronavirus days.

https://bioneers.org/what-bioneers-are-saying-about-covid-19-zmaz2003/

Bioneers.org is a wonderful group of thoughtful, brilliant people who are dedicated to the work of creating a healthy, equitable, sustainable world for all of us humans and nature upon Earth. I highly recommend reading their articles, watching their videos, and listening to their podcasts regularly.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/podcasts/the-daily/

The Daily podcast by the New York Times. This one is devoted to kids questions about the Coronavirus. Great information, plus sweet kid voices asking the questions.

https://www.youtube.com/

For those of you who can benefit from listening to a spiritual master, I’ve been watching this man, named Mooji, the past few weeks and find his teachings and advice very soothing and helpful. This link is to his latest message to humanity, and is highly recommended.

As we continue along the pandemic situation, with all of its challenges and frustrations, I wish each of you the courage, strength, and knowledge that you are here on Earth at this time because you are needed now. Continue to ground the light and love, and shine it out to all you meet, whether in person or virtually. Love, light and blessings to all.

 

 

Getting closer to extinction

extinction-rebellion-protesters_England
image from https://www.newstalk.com/news/extinction-rebellion-dublin-849302

Dear Readers, many of you know that today, May 6th, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a massive report on the state of our natural world. The news is even worse than many believed. According to the IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Wilson, the evidence presented in the report “presents an ominous picture…the health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” (www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment)

The report’s authors found that approximately one million species are threatened with extinction in the not-too-distant (meaning within decades) future, if humanity doesn’t put the brakes on global climate destruction through industrialized civilization. Both the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers carried the story in today’s headlines, and I recommend reading them for further details (links below).

Even though this news is truly beyond words in its implications, I struggle to find some tonight in an effort to cope with what is mostly inevitable now—the extinction of much of our world’s natural ecosystems, which will certainly lead to societal collapse for humanity. I have been writing about this consistently for the past few months, as the evidence clearly shows that our common situation is becoming more and more of a crisis. I implore everyone reading to STAY AWAKE to what is now occurring, and DO NOT allow yourself to go numb in the face of what lies ahead. It is all too easy to do this, and in fact, global consumerism is doing everything within its considerable power to entice us to go numb, go shopping, buy a new car (because that will for sure help things along), watch endless sporting events, and any number of other distractions designed to do anything EXCEPT pay attention to what is actually happening now, before our very eyes, on Earth. WE MUST ALLOW OURSELVES TO FEEL THIS NEWS WITH OUR HEARTS.

Yes, it is difficult, nauseatingly so, to honestly face our deepest fears of annihilation. No one, really no one, on our planet wants to admit that we have ruined our precious home, Earth. Millions, even billions, of us are in utter denial, because taking responsibility for what we’ve done is simply far too painful. In the New York Times article today, there were well over a thousand comments on the story. They ran the gamut from utter sadness and despair, to blaming and shaming any number of groups for our predicament—the Baby Boomers, Big Oil and Gas, the government, the Republican Party of America, even people who haven’t made it to the Vegan club yet.

I am 24 years old. For as long as I remember, I have known about and understood climate change and the impacts it would have on us….I want to live the life I have prepared for and that future generations have had, working in my career field and eventually marrying and having children. I fear that my generation won’t be able to do these things or worse, will do them only to compound and perpetuate the problem. My heart is broken.Emily, a reader’s comment in NYTimes May 6th article

But honestly, at this point, what good does it do to point fingers and blame this or that group of humans for the mess we are in? Clearly, Big Oil and Gas corporations have shamelessly and lavishly promoted the use of fossil fuels for over half a century, even as they knew of the risks to our planet by burning them. Yes, those corporations’ CEOs and stockholders should be held accountable for their part in it. And, how many of us in the developed (and now developing) nations have been buying and using gas-fueled vehicles for years and years? The truth is, nearly all of us born before the turn of the 21st century are at fault.

It is time to urgently and collectively engage in the process of answering the question: Now what? How do we turn this ship around and stop destroying our world and all the life upon it? The IPBES Global Assessment Report, in its entirety, gives many suggestions and sound, scientifically proven advice for how to do exactly that. The report was compiled by 145 experts from 50 countries, who analyzed scientific papers and reports from approx.. 15,000 scientific and government sources during the past three years, with input form 310 contributing authors. The report ranks for the first time, the five biggest drivers of change in nature, which are listed (in descending order from most impact to lesser) here: 1) changes in land and sea use, 2) direct exploitation of organisms, 3) climate change, 4) pollution and 5) invasive species. (www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment).

Tonight, I feel like I imagine I would if a doctor had just given me or one of my family members a terminal diagnosis. The world’s leading scientists have given us all a terminal diagnosis about the state of our planet’s ecosystems, including the world’s plant, mammal, bird and sea populations. How will we cope with this diagnosis? Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation Facebook group and forum, along with Extinction Rebellion’s websites, are some places to start. There you will find people writing about these reports, ideas, feelings and actions to take as the early medicine to combat our disease. Please do not look away any longer. The sooner we collectively face our self-made tragedy, the sooner we can take actions towards healing and reconciling our part in the new world we’ve created.

Addendum:  In the space of twelve hours, the New York Times moved its article on the climate report down to “In Other News,” I guess to make room for an article titled, “See What the Stars Wore at the Met Gala,” as a perfect example of just EXACTLY what is causing our impending extinctions and current crisis. I am dumbfounded.

Links:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/06/human-society-under-urgent-threat-loss-earth-natural-life-un-report

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/climate/biodiversity-extinction-united-nations.html

www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment

https://deepadaptation.ning.com/

https://rebellion.earth/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/deepadaptation/