We stand at a choice-point, a potent moment in history where we either decide our future collectively, or where we will potentially have no future at all. That may seem extreme, but in effect that is what many scientists are telling us with the news that Carbon Dioxide has now reached 400 parts per million. It is also evident when we look at the complex Global crisis we are now in, with on one side social upheaval, war and terrorism and on the other, deepening environmental and climate issues. In the midst of this there is still great reason to be hopeful.
Indeed, the two issues are interconnected, for example the Severe Drought in Syria was one significant reason for its instability. One road forward leads towards sustainability, equality with mutual respect between people and nations, the other leads to climate collapse, division, war, and possibly even extinction. We are powerful enough and capable enough of having the world we dream of if we have the courage to choose it and act on this resolve, but we must act.
“CO2 concentrations haven’t been this high in millions of years. This milestone is a wake up call that our actions in response to climate change need to match the persistent rise in CO2. Climate change is a threat to life on Earth and we can no longer afford to be spectators.”
– Dr. Erika Podest, Carbon and water cycle research scientist
There are two paths forward
In Arizona, on the Hopi Reservation, high up in the painted desert is a rock called Prophecy Rock. You don’t need to believe in prophecies in order to understand the simple and profound teaching etched into this ancient stone. There are two paths forward. One path stays on the Earth where the people live in balance with natural systems and you can see a figure planting corn. The other reaches for the sky with steps leading upwards. The path leading upwards comes to an end, whereas the path on the ground wraps around the rock. The lower path symbolizes that a balanced life with nature will continue forever. This is the moment we have collectively reached as a species, the crossroads between a sustainable future, or one that will inevitably end.
We have witnessed an increased number of extremes in both the forms of terrorism and weather. Political leaders are starting to recognize that warfare, religious extremism, and immigration are often rooted in scarcity of resources that will only increase with climate instability. With $1.6 trillion spent and the incidents of terrorism having increased 5-7 times since the start of the War On Terror, people are beginning to ask the tough questions.
“If we are going to see an increase in drought and flood and extreme weather disturbances as a result of climate change, what that means is that peoples all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources,” -US Presidential Candidate, Bernie Sanders on CBS’s Face the Nation
Love or Fear: the basic choice on all levels
From the micro to the macro, from within and without, we see the same patterns emerging. The cellular biologist Bruce Lipton has shown us that on a biological level, a cell has two basic functions: growth or protection. Sometimes a cell needs to close off and protect, but prolonged time in a closed-system leads to illness and eventually death. The cell wants to grow, and that requires an open system.
“In humans, the extremes of the two polarities might appropriately be described as LOVE (+) and FEAR (- ). Love fuels growth. In contrast, fear stunts growth.” -Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.
The emotional undertone beneath these two states starts internally, or biologically, but is also enacted externally in the way we live. This also has much to do with our belief systems as Lipton has shown through his work in the Biology of Belief, showing the clear relationship between what we believe and our biological health, Ultimately, just like the cells within us, we have a choice between acting from love or fear. Love is an open system built on trust. Fear is a closed system built on suspicion and lack of trust. We have to have the courage to choose love in the face of fear. Nobody says it is easy, but this is the choice we face.
We have the ability to re-write the patterns that exist within us, and around us based on this conscious choice. When you view life through this lens it is easy to deduce the root of almost every action based on this binary juxtaposition. This is not to make one more important than the other, since fear has an important role to play in our lives as humans. However, fear unchecked leads to paranoia, delusion, more fear, prolonged state of closed system and ultimately illness, or death.
Safety dissipates fear, but calls for safety through ‘security’ in a world ruled by knee-jerk reactionary, fear-based responses, just isn’t going to work. Love for your family only goes so far when you’ve allowed yourself to be afraid of everything beyond what you know. In a world that is becoming increasingly interdependent and connected, it is becoming less of an option to turn our back on, or push away, the things that we fear. It is time to check our fears and choose to open up. Simply stated, we must believe that Love > Fear.
“I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes” – Nicolas Hénin
Some political leaders choose to respond with a show of force after a terrorist attack. We saw this after the devastating attacks on 9-11 in the United States and now again with the French response to the Paris Attacks last week. More bombing and violence does not stop the violence, it perpetuates it, while increasing the amount of refugees in a never-ending cycle. Yet not everyone responds this way. There is another option that allows us to stay open, to love, to trust. This path is lit by compassion, spiritual resilience, and understanding. This is nothing new as it is at the foundation of many religious and spiritual teachings. Now each of us are presented with an opportunity to live this wisdom for the betterment of ourselves and out future.
“The connection between warming temperatures and the cycle of Syrian violence is, by now, uncontroversial. As Secretary of State John Kerry said in Virginia, this month, “It’s not a coincidence that, immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced its worst drought on record. As many as 1.5 million people migrated from Syria’s farms to its cities, intensifying the political unrest that was just beginning to roil and boil in the region.” -Why a Climate Deal is the Best Hope for Peace, BY JASON BOX AND NAOMI KLEIN
Politics and climate issues converge
Terrorists are asking us to stay bitterly divided and perpetuate the violence and fear, the environment is asking us to come together as one human family to address the balance of life on the planet. Each one of us has an opportunity to go within and ask ourselves what we choose. We can create something new using our higher wisdom and technology, or we can allow everything we cherish to fall into destruction and chaos. We are not passive observers, it is time to own our place within the unfolding of conscious evolution on this planet.
Every act of kindness, every community gathering is an opportunity to cast your vote and paint love upon the canvas of life. Globally synchronized meditations and conscious events are a form of subtle activism. Using internet map technology, organizations like Unify and others have successfully coordinated large global events to show solidarity, love and friendship across national and religious boundaries. The Dalai Lama recently made a very valid point when he reminded us that praying to God to help us through man-made problems may not be enough, we must act.
Violence is a reaction by short-sighted, out-of-control people. At 81, I believe it cannot be resolved through prayers or government help. We have to begin the change at individual level and then move on to neighborhood and society. We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.
-Dalai Lama’s response to Paris Attacks
It’s time for us to choose our future
While meditation or prayer may clear our minds and center us for the spiritual resilience that will be required, it is going to take action. This action can come in the form of every interaction you have, every post you share on social media, and who you vote cast in your nation, state, town. Continuously ask yourself, “Am I acting from a place of love or fear?” The choice is ours to make individually. A better world is possible, let’s create it together!