Monday, September 28, 2009

Slowly, Cheerfully, Lovingly

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not an emergency. Let me repeat, this is not an emergency.

Yes, we are poisoning the earth, destroying the ecosystem, exploiting each other, and squandering precious and scarce resources. Yes, we need to make drastic changes. But there is no urgency.

Urgency is what got us into this mess. We cannot anxiously and frantically make our way out of it.

Think about it. If we want other people to change, how will we approach them? Would you listen to a panicked person screeching about doom and telling you it will happen unless you do something? How does that compare with listening to a quiet and calm person, someone you respect, carefully suggesting changes that you could make that would make a difference?

You may argue that it's too late to have a reasoned approach. Maybe it's too late altogether. Again, if you are in a car that has already gone off the cliff, will shrieking and yelling make a difference? If you can't do anything else, maybe you should enjoy the view.

I don't know where we are, what the total picture is. What I know is that if we are going to create social change, we have to do it in such a way that people will find it attractive.

We need to listen to others. Hear their fears. Be calm, patient, and forgiving. Calm, patient, and forgiving--of everyone, including ourselves. We need to be cheerful and loving. Cheerful and loving and insist, quietly, that things need to change.

Quote of the Day: "There are those who are trying to set fire to the world,
We are in danger.
There is time only to work slowly,
There is no time not to love." - Deena Metzger


ethicalsusan said...

A quote I got from the Women's Theological Center -
Go slowly - there is not much time.

SoapBoxTech said...

I'm not sure that I agree with urgency as having gotten us into this mess. Personally I think there is pretty good evidence that the biggest culprits are complacency and self-centredness, mixed with a goodly amount of subconscious programming. I think too much of a sense of "this is not an emergency" actually makes the whole situation worse, as people feel there is time for someone to do something about the situation. This also leads to the rarely admitted "well, I will be dead before its a real emergency anyway" mindset that I see a LOT of.

Now this doesn't mean that I advocate a lot of mindless running about and shrieking either. I agree that a certain amount of listening, patience and forgiveness is necessary. But sometimes, rage is necessary too.

I cannot help but look at history and see how often the quietly insistent are merely overrun in the end. Maybe it is the Scottish blood in me, but I just can't help but feel that balance is being cheerful and loving when that is what needed, yet also capable of grim determination in the face of malevolence.

Also, I feel there is a trap in the notion that the only way to create social change is in making it attractive. Change is hard, or it isn't change. This doesn't mean there cannot be attractive aspects and obviously the end result must be attractive, but the danger is that so few are willing to acknowledge or accept that change is hard, even absolutely necessary change.

I hope I've not brought too much negativity here today and I still very much mean my usual salute:

Peace and comfort to you, MoonRaven, and to all.

MoonRaven said...

Thank you, Susan, that's a good quote and a good reminder.

I appreciate your honest response, SBT, and I think you are right on several points: complacency and self-centeredness certainly helped get us into this mess, as well as the programming from the advertising and propaganda industries. But a good deal of what is killing us is this 'gotta hurry, gotta go for more urgency' that doesn't give people time to think and evaluate what's going on. I suspect that some of the 'complacency' is just apathy and exhaustion from trying to keep going on the treadmill.

And I don't question at all that change is hard. Trying to make it clear that a different society would be much better for us is anything but easy--given what is being stacked against us. In fact, I would say that being slow, cheerful, and loving may be one of the more difficult things you can do in this society. But I think it's what's necessary. And determination, as well. Slow, cheerful, loving determination.

Thanks for your response.

SoapBoxTech said...

I shouldn't have used the word hard, it is too general. I was trying to suggest that change, the kind we're talking about, involves a significant aspect of suffering. It's just not hard. I think you probably know that is what I meant, but I wanted to be as clear as possible for any other potential readers. And maybe you didn't quite understand what I meant after all. :)

And like I said, I'm not disagreeing with the need for a definite step away from the current social paradigm of "keep your head down and move along as quick as possible, grabbing to yourself whatever you can". I just see so many who cannot find a balance between rushed and slow. And this prevents a lot of people from recognizing, or accepting, that we do indeed face an urgent situation. 200 species a day going extinct, is urgent. The breakneck pace at which we are consuming a few hundred thousand years of freshwater buildup is urgent. I would also say that the acceleration towards an authoritarian world state is seeming pretty urgent as well.

So I am suggesting neither a fast nor a slow response. I am suggesting a determined evaluation of the situation and an appropriate level of FOCUSED urgency in response.

Thanks for the conversation, MoonRaven.

ethicalsusan said...

I've been thinking about how removed many people are from the problems of the world and others in the world and therefore do not see a need to make changes. On a day to day level the fact that 200 species are disappearing daily has not impact on my life that I can see. At times I can understand the connection I have to others and to the natural world and to protecting them. At times I remember my connections and try to act accordingly. I've adopted enough habits - recycling religiously, composting, not owning a car and trying to just use hybrids when I use Zipcar, but if I am honest, those are minimal efforts.

I'm grateful that there are many people who are more aware and proactive than I am and concerned that there are probably many more who are less aware of how the consumption in their lives affects the whole world.

Austan said...

Education is a slow process, whether it be ourselves or others.

What I see most as a deadly cultural (or should it be "vultural"?) threat is a trend toward reacting in fear immediately. To everything.

You're dead on in noting the speed with which things are pushed to be done. Fear creates urgency. Great things aren't accomplished quickly. Terrible things fall with lightning speed.

Perhaps that old slogan "Speed Kills" should be resurrected...

MoonRaven said...

Thank you for the reminder. 'Education is a slow process... Fear creates urgency.' I can't say it any better than that.

Jerry said...

Fear is A cause of urgency, not the only one. Reality can be a pretty big creator of urgency as well.

If I am attacked by a coyote, for example, the reality is I am going to have to react urgently. But if I am somewhat prepared, and aware, fear will only be creating so much of that urgency. But some fear will also lend strength to my reaction.

So again, I don't disagree that reckless urgency is dangerous but to place so much emphasis on just going slow not only belies the fact that sometimes things MUST be done quickly, but tends oversimplify the reality of the situation.

Very little other than balance seems to be key.