Am I ready?

Today is a day of contemplation and caramel-coconut Oreos, a day of intentional nothingness. I have now watched “It’s A Wonderful Life” three times. Fortunately, it’s my favorite movie. There is no place I need to be or anything I need to do, so it’s just a day without expectations or disappointments.

I am wondering where I am right now, in my heart and in my head. I’m not sure I know the answer, but the more I think about it the more I am convinced that it doesn’t really matter. I am above ground and vertical, thick thighs and cluttered apartment and all. It’s my reality, and I can either accept it or reject it; the latter will be complicated. It’s hard to deny reality.

I am feeling that collectively there is a massive denial of reality, an effort to negotiate with the universe. That doesn’t seem to be productive or even vaguely successful. It only generates friction, which generates heat, which makes us uncomfortable. One would hope that when the discomfort is enough we’d change something, but the human species is incredibly stubborn so it seems that we have a way to go before the revolution.

If there was a revolution, what would that look like? I would love to say it would be the dissolution of elitism and supremacy cultures all over the world, the rise of equity and dignity for all humans. It would be the shiny city on the hill, the Promised Land with appropriately dramatic music and lighting. It would be the stuff that dreams and movies are made of, where the bad guys are vanquished and the good guys prevail. Everything tied up neatly in about 90 minutes with popcorn and a soda. Something tells me that is not the way revolution goes.

The American Revolution didn’t go that way. The Civil War didn’t go that way. The French Revolution, the Bolshevic Revolution, or the Haitian Revolution didn’t go that way. There was cataclysmic change, but not without bloodshed and lives lost and anguish. I’m not sure if the change envisioned was the result or not. But there was change.

It occurs to me there is more than one revolutionary vision in this country right now. The inherent conflict between the visions is propelling us forward, by fits and starts, sometimes forward and sometimes backward. The bloodshed and lives lost and anguish are more our reality than vision for outcome. We are myopic in that way, it seems, becoming enamored of the process rather than the prize. The struggle seems exciting and we become fixated on personal power and will. Perhaps that is what fuels all battles, the personal battle of one person against another, multiplied by thousands.

I am not entirely sure any of the visions are realistic, or attainable. On the one hand we are convinced that reviving the status quo of the past is the only credible goal. But on the other hand, we proclaim that we are seeking radical change. I contend that we don’t truly know what the revolutionary product will be. What does this world look like if everything was repaired and ideal? That may not be something we can realistically achieve.

The universe is not neatly divided into right and wrong, proper and improper. It’s systemss theory on steroids, Jenga on ampehtamines. If you don’t know what you’re doing, or even if you DO know what you’re doing, changing anything can result in disaster. Perhaps the disaster is inevitable, and necessary, to precipitate the ultimate change we’re after. Unfortunately, it’s too frightening to go the distance with changing the systemic infrastructure too much, because we get stuck in the intermediate and temporary results.

I’m not sure if we can get past the intermediate changes. They seem like long-term and permanent changes because they are viewed through our lens of our generation and maybe that of our grandchildren, something we can see. The changes we seek may have to be more permanent, more far reaching, but intentional. We are still very reactionary at this point, and often surprised by the intermediate outcome of something that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Vision for the future has to go beyond simple elongation of the present circumstances. I contend we need to be planning for the unplanned, expecting the unexpected. This is the stuff of science fiction novels, and that creativity is exactly what is needed. Let’s take our current way of life and tear it down on paper, or on a movie set, and run the exercise all the way to the end.

Some of the more interesting apocalyptic visions have been the stuff of bestsellers and first run cinema. “The Matrix” and “Terminator” gave us a dark vision of the extreme outcome of industrialization. They ran the vision to the end, and it was not pretty. Personally, I could see the potential for the fictional reality of both films, and that has been a bit frightening.

Are we willing to do without some of the comforts and automation of our current reality in order to prevent those dark and inhumane post-apocalyptic visions of the future? Probably not. Can we get to a more ideal reality without depriving ourselves of the standard of living we’ve come to enjoy (at least in the Western world)? Are we ready to sacrifice our comfort in order to create a reality we’ll never see? Probably not.

First-nations cultures talk about the seven generations to follow us, and that we need always be cognizant of actions we take now and their impact on the next seven generations. That vision focuses on things like the land, and the natural world. Western culture has talked about at least the next couple of generations, and focuses on indicators such as economic health. Perhaps we need a vision that includes more of what we want, and not simply what we need. I believe we’re going to have to design the world we want to have as our legacy.

We need prophets, visionaries, and creative souls. We need to admit that we don’t know how this is supposed to turn out. We’re going to have to trust that we can be unselfish and humble. The revolution is not going to occur on land, or sea, or in the physical world that we know. It’s going to occur in the human heart and the human spirit. This scares us silly because we cannot touch that, or control it. We don’t trust that we’re all after the same thing, regardless of personal aggrandizement. I’m not sure if we’re up to that anytime soon.

The best thing I know how to do right now is to focus on my intentionality, to know what I’m doing and why. Counter intuitively, I have to slow down. That doesn’t come naturally for many of us on the planet right now. Moving rapidly, at least for me, often means that I don’t have to think about uncomfortable things or things that scare me. I am getting things done, and that’s usually what generates systemic reward. If I don’t understand that I’m part of larger systems, the moves I make will benefit only me. I don’t think such a posture is good enough.

It’s going to take a while to deconstruct the house of cards that has been constructed. THe winds are blowing now, with greater and greater force, and the storm is closer than ever now. The cards are not meant to withstand that, and though we understand that we really have no plan or vision for what happens if the cards are blown away entirely. I believe we need to be working on Plan B – what happens when the house of cards has been thrown to the wind?

I want to see us create a new world that doesn’t rely on recreating the past. A new world that is reality based, leverage on natural laws and universal laws and our own imperfections. It’s folly to envision a world where people are perfect, because we’re never going to be perfect. It may be more prudent to create a world where people respond to their imperfections with humility and flexibility rather than lies and subterfuge. But what do I know?

Everything is changed after the storm.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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