Lately there has been a lot written about the end of the earth as we know it. Articles that speak to the 6th extinction process that we could now be in. Whether there is evidence to support this or not we are unquestionably in a time of great-change or turning as Joanne Macy speaks too. The impact of these changes is slowing altering the face of the earth’s landscape while accelerating the tipping point that will require our immediate attention if not only to address our own survival. Most of western civilization who has not been drastically impacted by these changes continues to experience a numbness associated with the denial of the long-term consequences to immediate human made environmental impacts. Impacts built from a consumer driven philosophy of striving for abundance and power. This power and abundance becoming the valued priority at the expense of all.
What psychological hypothesis guides this approach, without some sense of regret for its overall impact? What do we shut down within ourselves to mask recognition of our impact?
Could we be dissociating, experiencing a numbness formed from the addiction we foster by continuing to want and strive for more. Is it the lack of association or relationship with all that lives around and even within us that nurtures the separation? What comes first or do they both dance their weaving mechanism of desire, separation, and addiction as we see in those addicted to drugs, food, gambling etc. As we feed the addiction the separation increases leading to a focus that disregards the consequences no matter how destructive the outcome.
When we hear of the extinction of a species, is there no response because we don’t feel connected or see the inherit value in this life? Because we have no association or link to this being, don’t understand the root link between their survival and ours?
Will it take the loss of the elephant or a hummingbird? Will it take the loss of the forest down the street or the beautiful delicate rose that we give to our loved one on their birthday? Will it take the multitude of floods that wash away our farming land and their ability to grow the precious food that sustains us? Even if it directly affects us will we be caught in the cycle of addiction so deeply that we ignore our own extinction.? Maybe?
I also wonder if there is something else that keeps us from change especially now in the face of the environmental trauma that is occurring on a tremendous level. To acknowledge this trauma is to acknowledge our own grief and responsibility in its cause. Could there be a depth of grief we are not willing to tap into, because in doing so it will come with a place of regret, guilt, and powerlessness. A place of loss unlike any other that we would have to admit too and feel. And an acknowledgment that also expects a response of some kind that we are not sure we can or are willing to give.
To feel the weight of guilt and grief tied to the consequences of our impact on the land could be overwhelming and destructive. Especially when there is discussion focusing on the end of times. What better reason to go back in denial even for the best of us, if it is too late why bother.
Even the best of us who understand climate change still fly, watch TV, buy the best clothes, and unknowingly purchase items forged from the destruction of the earth. The reality is that in mainstream culture it is difficult to live a completely environmentally ethical life. And yet still we try the best we can, live the best we can in a world that demands we go numb.
For those of us who choose to acknowledge the trauma occurring and view the destruction of the land and seas with an open heart we encounter the realization that the time for eluding or recovering lost environmental impacts maybe impossible such as the melting of the glaciers. That instead we must come to terms with an environment that will be changed forever and learn to adapt to an evolving landscape. That we can become those who continue to speak to the easing of its destruction while we prepare for its evolution.
But first we must create the space for our own grieving, for the loss of the rain forests, the clear clean seas, the extinction of animals like the Northern Darwin Frog, Western Black Rhinoceros, fresh water shrimp, several species of butterflies and more. To grieve for the elimination of farming lands in countries such as Africa and South American because of the lack of water leaving thousands of people starving and malnourished. For the wars that are being fought and will be due to decreasing resources.
For me the dream is my awakening offering the foothold to understanding not only my own trance like state in not responding but also to the enormous impact and tasks that lie ahead. My dreams offer a voice to my own process of engaging the landscape around me by opening me to the story within. They are reflected to me in the story and its feelings who I am in relationship to my inner and outer self and they give voice to the earth through the universal energies of the unconscious realm.
Dream “I am standing on the edge of a large lake and in the distance, I see men capturing a black bear cub and placing her in a caged locked in the bed of a truck. When I look around I notice the mother bear running trying to escape but evidentially falling to the ground with exhaustion. Around me other baby animals are being capture as I stand idly watching. What do I do?
Dream: I am a government agent who has just received a call from a scientist letting me know the earth’s food supplies have been tainted with a virus.
These types of dreams have come to me over the last few years. When I follow the story of the dream and step into its associations and feelings I tap into a breath of sensations that guide me to insights regarding the numbness of witnessing and experiencing trauma on a personal and universal level. I become of aware of what has kept me from wholeness and how I lost my voice. How my nourishment was tainted on a physical, emotional, environmental, and spiritual level. How I have been kept from the nourishment of the land. And how the land is losing its ability to be and give nourishment.
And in receiving this insight and wisdom I can have the opportunity to heal by experiencing the grief and anger of it all. It is in opening to the gesture of the grief that I can step closer to opening to the gift of who I am in relationship to my soul and the soul of the earth. It is in this healing that I can claim my place in the world and my role in relationship and service to the earth.