I attended a showing at the IMAX theatre in Victoria about the Hubble telescope recently. It concluded with a view of earth from space while making the point that in all the unimaginable expanse of all the universes combined, there is no more idyllic place for us to be. There is no other place where our species belongs – none. This beautiful and bountiful orb is it. While I watched, I could not help but reflect on the paradox of the message on the screen versus the strife-driven, capitalistic reality outside the theatre walls. I don’t get it. Anyone I talk to wants the world to be a safe, healthy and beautiful place for our children to enjoy. The great pool of scientists who created the images for the big IMAX screen, along with anyone with a lick of sense, understands that we have to take care of the planet. Yet we are collectively pissing on it.
Our contemporary societal forum is political, complex and competitive. In the west, success is measured in terms of “strongest” and “fastest.” So, while all the “save the planet” rhetoric fills the media, life in the west seems to be devolving into a more jungle-like arena where competitors are set on devouring each other for profit.
However, along-side this atavistic drama we have also grown a more sophisticated dimension of ourselves. With more scientists alive today than all the scientists who have ever lived, combined, our species has advanced in technology and has gained more insight into the laws of the universe than ever before. Reason does have a place on the positive side of the wellness balance sheet. Those who reason are united in a rally cry for human solidarity and saving our planet. The call seems to echo from all quadrants of society. The message is clear and unmistakable, “WE MUST ALL WORK TOGETHER FOR OUR COMMON GOOD.” The subtext is that the planet is a closed system. Its systems and resources need to be worked with in responsible ways in order to ensure their sustainability. The planet just isn’t that large. The common good imperative targets humans, everything living in their care, and everything that humans interact with. It is a rational and seemingly obvious statement that any sane person would understand and support.
Yet when it comes to walking our talk, we falter. I will always remember the “Hands Across the Sands” event where people around the world were supposed to join hands on their local beach in solidarity for keeping our oceans and water clean, i.e. safe from oil spills. Something like ten people showed up at Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo. The well-intentioned rally became divided when two organizers, each with their own contingent, couldn’t agree on which piece of waterfront the “correct” one was. All I could think of was, “The human race is doomed!” We are squabbling with each other and killing not only each other but also anything that we fear for one reason or another. It all comes down to that – fear. What that looks like in the world includes such things as the concept of “race” and the divisiveness that results from perpetuating fear-based ideas. The aftermath of the residential school atrocities is no exception. I pray for healing and connection across all man-made boundaries – racial, geographic and otherwise.
Beyond ego and fear issues, when it comes right down to it, the average schmuck will turn his back on his family’s, as well as the planet’s, wellbeing if it means scooping an extra dollar. On a global scale, money worship translates into emergent sociopathic corporations controlling access to resources, including life-giving water. It translates into the oily violation of the Gulf of Mexico, along with an enormous loss of wildlife. It translates into governments crawling up each other’s butts for economic advantage whilst sacrificing their citizen’s healthcare and education, along with the wellbeing of the planet.
When I take a step back from it all, I see that we are all tested in life. It doesn’t matter whether you are a child or an adult. It is how we learn and evolve as individuals. When we are tested, we expand our character. We need a certain amount of hardship in order to grow into all that we can be as self actualized human beings. On a larger scale, I see Mother Earth, in her delicate and profound majesty, doing all she can to restore harmony, beauty and order. I also see the cracks forming on her skin. That is evidence of a colossal amount of human disregard and willful degradation. As a species, we may fail the ultimate test and annihilate ourselves. (The universe will no doubt continue without a hiccup.)
In the face of that possibility (some would say probability), I understand that the only things that belong to me, i.e. the only things that I can control, are my thoughts, words and deeds. As I live and breathe, I believe that the only meaningful and sustaining reality stems from and is anchored by the heart, i.e. Spirit, divine awareness. Once again, that takes my journey of awareness largely inward. There is not much of the world that is my business after all. That does not mean abdicating my responsibilities as a world citizen. As I understand the laws of the universe to work, it is in walking my talk in my personal affairs that I affect my surroundings. My job then is to discern what my business is and take care of it; that, and surrender to what is not.
Helena Green is a Counsellor, Health Management Instructor, Caregiver and Writer