The human heart can go to the lengths of God.
Dark and cold we may be,
But this is no winter now,
The frozen misery of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move,
The thunder is the thunder of the floes. The thaw, the flood, the upstart spring—
Thank God our time is now, when wrong comes up to face us everywhere!
Never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul men ever took.
Affairs are now soul-sized.
The enterprise is exploration into God.
Where are YOU making for?
It takes so many thousand years to wake,
But will you wake, for pity’s sake?
Quoted from Christopher Frye’s Sleep of Prisoners
One week ago, I was still in Shanghai as mainland United States was counting its Tuesday night votes. Hour by hour we watched from thousands of miles away as the poles closed, and the votes of one state after another were tallied up.
I had planned to write an in-depth report of my workshops in China and my impressions of a changing country this weekend, as soon as I recovered from jetlag. I still intend to write that report, for there is much to share. Today, however, I must first reflect on my considerations of what is happening, and where we will all go from here.
Having just returned from another culture, another country, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I am trying to read the body language, the attitudes of the people I meet in the aftermath of the election. I am reading a lot on the internet, in both the mainstream and alternate press as well as social media, and also discovering essays of writers and bloggers struggling to make sense of what is going on.
Full disclosure: I loved Bernie, because I felt he was genuine and a truth-speaker. I considered him to be a bit of a utopian, but I wanted to world he strives for to become real. When he dropped out of the race, I turned to Hilary, not because she is a woman, nor because I condone how entangled she is with the big corporations. Rather, I considered that she would be a safer bet, because the world is in a precarious place right now. Here I am thinking of international relations in the far east, the middle east, the refugee crises, energy crises, global warming and environmental disasters.
As we neared election day, however, I began to read more and more about the possibility of civil war. Even as it became clear to me that there is truly a sharp division in this country, I was pained to realize how many people were ready to explode with racial, religious, sexual hate and bigotry.
And now. Here we are, one week later, and the new story is already unfolding.
I am not nearly as concerned with the protests on the streets as I am with the dozens of reports of personal attacks, property damage, hate crimes and even murder that have been committed in the past three weeks.
This is where my deep questioning leads me.
In my community, we have a weekly study to consider leading thoughts of Anthropsophy. This autumn, as we studied Rudolf Steiner’s lecture series called “From Symptom to Reality,” I was struck by a leading thought that he presented. He said that it is the central task of our age to come to terms with evil. In our age, even as we awaken more and more to our spiritual maturity, we will have to recognize that each of us bears within ourselves not only great goodness but also the forces of the great hindrances to evolution. Any one of us could, if we succumbed to our base natures and instincts, commit the great or small transgressions against one another.
Small transgressions including petty littering, or straining our environment a little bit by using too much plastic. Larger transgressions contribute to the collapse of entire ecosystems or outright murder.
Where do I really monitor my own behavior?
My own “small evils” begin with my impatience or dismissal of another’s worth. As a consciously striving woman, I wish I could always be as consistently good as my intentions are. I could be kind and helpful and generous in all my thoughts and actions. Even my subtle violence bears within itself the seeds of the great violence that lives in the psyche of a person who neglects to so his or her self-regulation.
I am reminded of the late Sir Laurens van der Post, a South African author whose childhood was molded in equal parts by his family, British landholders in the African bush, and his caretakers and life-teachers, the bushpeople and the Maori. He perceived from an early age how those who were considered to be the primitive folk of Africa actually carried extraordinary wisdom and knowledge that was inaccessible to his intellectual comrades. When World War II broke out, it seemed to him that the horrible crimes being perpetrated against the minority peoples –in that case, the Jews in Central Europe—were only possibly because the perpetrators of hate had lost their own connection to the good and true forces. This schism in the soul, he said, is a direct result of the tyranny of intellectuality, of people’s alienation from their capacity for love, and the loss of an authentic relationship to nature and to spirit. In this, he became a Jungian, and spoke of the shadow of the collective unconscious that was driving the madness of the war years.
My thoughts? In the hate movements of our age, that which is less-than-human, the shadow of our lower selves, our beastiality has been unleashed. This crisis is of our own making, and none of us is so evolved yet that we don’t bear part of the shadow in ourselves. Those hate crimes and acts of bigotry and violence that we see are born out of the way that we have become alienated from our own higher selves. Do I carry even the smallest possibility of such hatred in myself, in some judgmental part of my soul? How did that possibly take root in me? My education? Consumerism? Egotism?
What feeds my shadows and makes me less than human?
By daring to write these painful words in the first person, I insist of myself that I look my own shadow in the face. And in looking, I look for the healing that will help me overcome the shadow.
How can I evolve, to be in Right Relationship to the earth, to my fellow humans, to my Creator?
I hold that Love is truly a Being, a god who has united him/herself with our earth. Love lives both in the heights of heaven and in the depths of our souls. This Godly Being of Love will not command us, but his/her ways are uncompromising, and waits to be sought for, greeted, and welcomed.
This Being of Love, whom I will name God-become-Human, stands with us, ever present, as the living archetype of the fully evolved human being. Where that Sun shines in our souls, we find the inspiration and the power to choose Love instead of hate.
Rudolf Steiner urges us to seek to understand the nature of evil, as it lives in our souls and in our world.
As human beings we are still a “work in progress:” we are still evolving towards our godly future. On this journey we must learn to recognize that which is “not-god” within us, and be willing to renounce whatever petty joys our grudges, spitefullness, laziness, prejudices, fear, hate, love of comfort (please, continue the list yourself) may afford us.
In the great journey of human-earthly-godly evolution, I hope we can follow the words of the playwrite quote above.
“It takes so many thousand years to wake,
But will you wake, for pity’s sake?”
In the aftermath of this election, as a new phase in American life begins to evolve, I am heartened to read the voices of some of my friends and heroes, great writers of our age who call upon us to use this phase of history to take the next step of evolution. If you are interested, please check out some of the following articles.
By Otto Sharmer: On the Making of Trump: the Blindspot that Created Him http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58264d03e4b02b1f5257a1ca?timestamp=1478908400601
By Charles Eisentein: The Election: of Hate, Grief and a New Story
By Adebayo Akomolafe: On Trump: An Open Letter to the Brokenhearted
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