Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crises as Catalysts

We like to think that we are unified and wholesome individuals. We are taught we are a unified and wholesome nation. Globalization promises a unified and wholesome world. And yet things are not as wonderful as they proclaim to be. We clearly observe division and contention within the world around us, within our communities, within our connections, within ourselves.

Fighting with ourselves
The truth is dualities are natural—we all have dual natures. Contradictions are prevalent, abundant and undeniable, and, yet, precious time, energy and resources are wasted on ignoring, fighting and/or imagining those tensions away. We impose hardline, hardline after hardline when we ought to question anything that presumes to be set in stone because very few things in life are static. Far too many universals are set for us daily but none of them can ever adapt to the changing needs of local conditions. Even successes are rarely reproduced—never formulaic.

In vilifying the side of ourselves, of our lives, of our world that we deem "negative" or "other," we completely miss the shadow's inherent potential. The dynamic diversity of duality—the conflicting tension and creative interplay between individual and community, community and nature, nature and individual—is advantageous for our continued existence and evolution.

Facing our shadows
The first challenge of our time is to recognize dual realities within each of us and each of our communities as well as our broader natural environment. Each individual must diligently figure out and face their other-selves. Each collection of individuals gathered into communities must also figure out and face their multifaceted-selves for resiliency; for the common benefit of all involved.

Bombarded everyday with manufactured products to solve manufactured problems, we are woefully disconnected from the very real problems before us. It is not easy but it is possible to develop a systems ethos: an observant and experimental openness to critical-thinking and problem-solving. One learns to allow tensions-and-interactions to demonstrate how to approach a newly observed issue, how to adjust to shifting circumstances of environment, how to transform problems in one area into solutions in another.

But, recognition and evaluation is a continual process. It is never finished because the complexities of existing are ever changing—interconnected with and interdependent upon multiple other fluctuating, developing, living things. Human beings and our social organisms coexist within a complex system of culture, which coexists within the greater ecosystem of our earth. All systems influence each other—all seek harmony, balance, equilibrium, though not without obstruction.

Finding our strength
Each individual is unique, autonomous, growing. Together, individuals comprise uniquely-defined and -characterized communities that are self-sustaining and resilient, continually becoming and developing. Exercising autonomy in our lives and in our communities is unfamiliar and uncomfortably clunky at first, but it will become everyday with practice. Not only is it possible but it is also becoming urgently necessary for us to reconnect and resolve all of our own problems locally, with less and less dependence upon or influence from disconnected outside forces.

Our greater challenge (our path for the future) is to embrace all dualities and harness their full resilient potential—not just for surviving but for thriving, individually and inter-personally. While the work is never finished and the problems are numerous and great, together the burden is not so heavy and the task is not insurmountable.

When adversity is our greatest adviser, misery can be our creative muse, but crisis is certainly our catalyst for change.