I Am Calling the Warriors of Peace.
I think I was born walking a spiritual path. As a young child, I returned again and again to the big questions: Who am I? Why am I here?
I remember crying myself to sleep at eight or nine years old, agonizing over the concept of gravity. I couldn’t explain my problem with it, but looking back, maybe I wept because gravity kept me here when I wanted to fly among the stars.
Like many others on this path, I often felt religion and politics were beneath me. I wanted membership to the clubs of the mystics, dreamers and the poets, not the world of facts, rules and opinion. My sights were on perennial wisdom, truths with a capital T, personal enlightenment. Transcendence. My interest in science was limited to how it conspired with my hope of a conscious universe.
Even though my body was grounded, my soul was untethered. I thought that was a good thing. I was quite devoted to it. Buddhists call it non-attachment. Others call it not giving a shit.
Many decades into this game, I am waving the white flag. Gravity has won and I accept that I am here, with you, sharing this time and place. Truth with a capital T is that my body and soul reside on a planet that I have been mindlessly consuming while pursuing the lofty ideal of personal liberation.
Truth with a capital T is that she has been plundered and we are now at grave risk that she can’t provide a future for the bodies we live in. Truth with a capital T is that I have been thinking of her as some kind of vending machine. That she was here to support my transcendence. It’s funny how we think of our mothers.
I was sold that personal awakening led to never-ending happiness. But my disquiet is bigger than me and can’t be calmed just from personal healing. My story is your story: trauma, shame, rejection, loss, and disappointment. This is a collective malaise. We also share the other side of the tale: love, forgiveness, connection, hope, and a desire for meaning.
The idea of personal happiness or personal enlightenment is a fallacy. When you value your own miraculous life, it’s hard to be blissful in the presence of anyone’s misery. If you’re awake, you’re awake to our collective suffering.
Devoting ourselves to our own contentment while colluding with forces responsible for violence, cruelty, injustice and anguish is a form of psychopathy, irrespective of how spiritual or nice we may be. Politely turning away doesn’t make it less real. We are in this together, even in our complacency.
I’m going to assume that, like me, you want to be a good person and that you would do anything to protect your family. I’m going to assume that, like me, thousands of years of power-over-others social conditioning has messed with your values, clarity, and vision.
Despite your cynicism, endless to-do lists and desire to prove your significance, you probably have flashes when you recognize that you are a born miracle.
Maybe you experience the intelligence of nature as it breathes itself inside you. That mysterious force which animates you. You momentarily grasp that you are her. He is you. We are that. We are specks of consciousness made from stardust, living on a spinning blue planet floating inside an infinite universe. We are all made of the same substance. There is no us. There is no them.
We share this time and this experience. And following that logic, we see that if we subject any living being to abject cruelty, we are hurting ourselves in return. But from our clothes to our phones to our food, atrocity is woven into our daily rituals. We are barbarians at a safe distance from our violence, not because we are evil, but because we’ve lost the ability and desire to look after our own basic needs.
We call our ineptness and cruel systems ‘convenience’, and now extinction rates are estimated to be between one and ten thousand times higher than in 1950.
Robert Sandford, the EPCOR chair for Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, told me that “we have literally altered Earth system function to such an extent that the world’s future generations will inherit will be unlike the world any human has ever known. Fulfilling the promise of meeting the needs of our generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is at present no longer possible. At this moment in time, there is no guarantee we can offer that even we — let alone they — will be able to meet their own needs in these altered conditions, let alone meet the needs of their children.”
Sustainable development cannot exist as long as our economy is based on the destruction of our ecology. There is not enough left for our children. Development must do better than be environmentally neutral, it must be restorative by design. For our species to have a viable future, we must align our own consciousness to our physical world and begin the work of restoration.
As Mr. Sandford said in our email exchange, “we must go backwards before we can move forward again.”
Many of us are rubbing up against an excruciating anxiety where our day-to-day duties feel meaningless. We feel we can’t admit it, much less change the way are living. When everyone is suffering from the same disease, who can offer the treatment?
Are we are holding out for a Hollywood hero or the great second coming? Who, besides me, hopes Elon Musk will take care of everything? Who believes that our leaders will sort this out? How many are saying Bring on the zombie apocalypse but can’t go a day without a hot shower? How many think we live in a holographic world and are patiently waiting for the next level?
Who’s saying Humans are resourceful and they will figure it out? How many of us are taking authority for both our own happiness and the future of our world?
Facing climate change is brutal, but there’s nowhere left to go. There’s nothing left to colonize. Our species invested thousands of years righteously believing we could dominate nature, and now we’re facing our demise. The debts of human consumption are overdue, and we’re the generation who gorged ourselves silly and got stuck with the bill.
“For us,” says Mr. Sandford, “it is coming down to this: Either we will witness the greatest and most rapid transformation of humanity’s understanding of itself and vision for the future of the world and the planet; or we will have the most carefully and completely documented collapse of a civilization in all of human history.”
In other words, either we immediately and collectively evolve into doing what’s best for the common good, or we drive off a cliff with a car full of kids without ever hitting the brakes.
We’re all at the wheel of the proverbial vehicle. Most of us are stepping on the gas when we should walk away from the car. Knowing what we do, an appropriate response might be to immediately abandon gross consumption, plant billions of trees, and reexamine our place in this world. Who are we? Why are we here? And the question my eight-year-old girl didn’t know she could ask: what do you long to contribute?
This may be a good time to restore our indigenous nature and hear our indigenous voices. We are all people of the Earth.
Gravity insists on it.
I am calling the warriors of peace. I am calling the ones who see past the divisive rhetoric of these times to the hurried destruction of our world. I am calling those who know that life will continue with or without us, but are in awe of themselves and have reverence. Those who care. I’m calling the Bodhisattvas, the Lorax‘s.
I am calling those who identify not with their gender, race, sexuality, religion, politics, economics, nationality, education level, profession, or even their trauma or their good fortunes. I am calling those who can see past their personal stories, and when they look into a baby’s eyes, they see the universe unfolding.
I am calling those who dip their feet into oceans and smell, see, taste, touch, hear and salute the great mystery. Those who look at trees as ancient wise beings. Those who are fucking amazed they are even having this experience.
I’m calling those who are awake to both their own glorious mystery and to the mass extinction event we are in. I’m calling those who have not yet entered the battlefield of public opinion because the sharks of pain and trauma that swim in circles are ready to steal your light and take you into their dark feelings of unworthiness. Those whose healing has yet to begin. Let’s heal them.
If you’re hiding in the shadows, turn up your light to the power of ten. We need your charisma, your unique, juicy, wonder-filled spark and wisdom. The full expression of yourself is what will keep us going.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
Sandy Ibrahim is a Canadian of Egyptian and German descent. She does not know if her grandmothers are cheering her on or rolling over in their graves. After leaving her childhood home at 17, she has been pursuing sovereignty while maintaining a state of reverent bewilderment. She’s spent the last two decades raising two sons, and has worked as a systems analyst, a boxing coach, and a book-marketer. You can currently find her practicing Yoga, freaking out, writing, and volunteering for TreeSisters. You could contact her via her website.