Endless news reports on mainstream and social media indicate that while we are in a mess, threatened by climate change, dismissal of civil society and its needs such as education, health, art and security – we do have ways of challenging the status quo. We have the evolution of our human nature that is far more complex than is given credit. We are at risk but the world has not ended yet.
We are stuck in a mythology that arrests our development, as our political representatives cease to problem solve but focus instead on who is to blame, shopping for scape-goats. We shake at our breakfast table listening to all the pundits warn of the many threats to our security until we are convinced we have no power at all.
Eventually we stop planning, fundraising, organizing, sharing and caring, turn inward until the next bad driver, rude neighbour, or abusive boss, reveal everything that is wrong with the world and then we blow up in rage. At the end of the day, we return home, turn on the TV and watch hours of insults and brutality for entertainment.
To fight back against this continual, sensory oppression, we need to own the future in the way we care for our family, our jobs, our clubs and our places of worship.
We are not spectators, we are investors, stakeholders. This is what it means to be citizens in a civil society where we treat each other with respect. It’s not a competition, it’s not a game. There are helpers, advisers and experts ready to support our community building. They are not always right or wrong. The heroes are not gun totting movie stars, but your neighbours, ready to help, grateful for what others have done.
We give and take, celebrate our achievements, acknowledge our mistakes, become literate in what works and what doesn’t. Take on the small tasks until we develop the confidence to take on the big ones.
Trust is developed in community when we refuse to divide it by class, skin colour, or religion. People are less threatening when we get to know the person behind the fear, and learn to listen. We learn how to be vulnerable and to be sensitive to the ways in which others are vulnerable.
Then the scales fall from our eyes as we realize we have been trained to see our world and ourselves as a construct for the ruling system, rather than who we are. We become more curious about how our best interests are sabotaged by fear and prejudice, and how we can transcend those pitfalls, and that most crises are fixable. That we have more courage to face up to the challenges of the unknown than we thought.
Then it becomes clear to us that being human is the task. That all other things like being a parent, a teacher, a police officer, a councilor, a president, needs study and education, but most of all requires the continual engagement of the heart and mind.