Not Afraid Enough – naming ‘he who cannot be named’

“Instead of medicating ourselves on shopping, food, drugs, alcohol, eternal youth, gossip, reality TV, and intense narcissism as a way to avoid facing what we feel in our increasing fear, far better to step deep into the fear, to speak the truth, and name the devil. For ‘he who cannot be named’ does indeed have a name. Dare we speak it?”

It seems we are living in a world of fear. I certainly feel it. Fear of the breakdown of our climate, our economy, of families, of our way of life. At a personal level, fear of how I am going to make it, to survive, financially. And what type of world am I leaving my daughter?

I often think back to other ages in history. Like the great plague. Imagine how terrifying this time would have been? No one family spared. A terrible, gruesome death, no pattern to it for the people to make sense of. Who lived and who died was like a lottery. It seemed so unfair, so irrational.

Or to the recent world wars. Even in our relatively unscathed Australia, most of our young men were gone on ships to the other side of the world, where letters took more than 6 weeks to arrive one way. The enemy of the day was on our door step, invading Darwin, North Queensland, and Papua New Guinea. Food was rationed. The future was uncertain.

It seems that every period in history has had events that have had similar energetics in common.

*Terrifying uncertainty
*Loss on a significant to extreme scale – be it life, or home, or community, or country, or environment
*The need to bring in harsh austerity measures
*The seemingly random arrow of fate, choosing one person, or community, or nation, over another
*The influence of nature that renders man without power – be it a plague, or a tsunami, or fire, drought, flood, or the rage of the microbes
*An elite power structure that had as its bedrock rampant corruption, greed and arrogance

We in our cosy western lifestyles have had it good for quite a while now. At the same time, we have gotten very fat. Obese. Lazy, unbelievably unhealthy, and indulgent to the extreme. We feel incredibly entitled to the life we have become used to. We feel entitled to shop at will, to over spend, over feed, and over consume pretty much everything. We feel entitled to eternal youth.

I watch with great fascination at the unraveling of an empire of propaganda. Murdoch and his insatiable desire for world domination. How timely. What a beautiful example of how life can change in a heart beat. I love that the British people will not let this one pass to the keeper. There is nothing money or the illusion of power can do when people unite and rise up. History has demonstrated this, time and again. And in our very recent history, we watch as the power of people in community say No to greed, corruption and injustice and in so doing discover they were not victims after all. They had chosen their own victim hood.

So here we are, fat, lazy and entitled, with the slow creep of terror seeping through the cracks. Yet at the same time we do all we can to avoid the fear. Our ‘new ageism’ means that fear and anger are bad. We should be skipping down the yellow brick road throwing daffodils all day long, imbued in such positivity. And if we are not doing this, then something is wrong with us.

Yet maybe we are not afraid enough? Maybe in our indulgence, our narcissism and laziness, we have avoided really standing in the fear. Really looking into the dark places. Naming the devil. For surely if we did, then we would be in the streets, up in arms. We would insist on radically changing our ways. We would demand that what a Stanford University report has revealed, that the world can switch to 100% renewable energy in 20 to 40 years, using today’s technology, is implemented. We would insist on changing our political system from one where elections are brought for obscene amounts of money, and the politicians are forever pawns of the power of their purchaser. (In another world, this is called prostitution. Also fascism.) We would demand that our economic system returns to a system based on genuine productivity and value. We would find it totally unacceptable that one child dies of starvation while we spend billions on the costs of an obesity epidemic. And we would rage against a machine that allows the wealth to continue to be in the hands of a small few, a result of the multiple asymmetries that we have condoned as acceptable

And maybe, just maybe, if we did these things, we would change the course of the next few years enough to prevent a large scale systems breakdown.

On the other hand, humans have usually required to push themselves to break point before getting off the couch. Collapse can be very motivating once people have moved through the paralysis of fear unaddressed.

And just as each period of history has similar energetics in common, how we respond to serious crisis has common elements.

*A resilience and resourcefulness re-emerges that has been in a stupor from too much shopping and eating
*People come out from behind their walls and engage in community
*Generosity rises, amidst the lack and austerity
*Thoughtfulness and compassion resurrect
*Happiness goes up as life’s true values once again find a seat at the table (family, community, love, health, simplicity)
*Respect for each other and nature is held as sacrosanct
*The greedy, arrogant and corrupt power structures are uprooted and rendered harmless, even if for but a moment
*Genuine human productivity and creativity are valued

History has shown that we resolve, at this point in the cycle, to learn from our lessons, and never do this again. But, like a very slow spreading cancer, drop by drop, nano milimetre by nano milimetre, we fall back under the spell. And the cycle repeats. And again.

When people talk about this current time in history as being the most critical time in human affairs, I am not so sure. We have had many critical times. We suffer deeply from short termism in so many ways.

Instead of medicating ourselves on shopping, food, drugs, alcohol, eternal youth, gossip, reality TV, and intense narcissism as a way to avoid facing what we feel in our increasing fear, far better to step deep into the fear, to speak the truth, and name the devils. For ‘he who cannot be named’ does indeed have a name. Dare we speak it?

The question is, do we have the guts, the tenacity, the passion, the compassion, the love, and the will, to get off the couch and do something?

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