Liberating Thoughts for the New Year

     For some days I have been wanting to post an inspiring and hopeful New Year’s message to EARTH CONNECTION readers.  I thought about writing something myself but couldn’t come up with anything.  I looked around on the Internet but couldn’t find the uplifting message I was looking for.

     Although I wanted to send out a message of hope and encouragement, the truth is, I need such a message myself.  

     Since I couldn’t create or find the upbeat message I wanted, I decided to go where my natural energies were leading me–to learn about the despair work of Joanna Macy.   I’d been thinking for quite awhile about this wise woman who, in the 1980s, helped people to confront honestly the possibility of nuclear annihilation and to deal with their feelings about it in healthy, empowering ways.  What might she have to say now, I wondered.  Would she have wisdom for dealing with fear, grief, and despair about our dying planet?  Could she offer guidance for finding empowerment?  

     So I looked into Ms. Macy’s recent work, and I found just what I needed to bolster myself in the coming year.  I hope it will benefit you as well.  

     In her beautiful, thoughtful, instructive piece to which I post a link below, Ms. Macy writes of the necessity of allowing ourselves to fully feel our pain, fear and sorrow over the future of our planet and all that we hold dear.  While such a course is difficult, it is the only way, she believes, to be healthy and to find the power to act effectively on behalf of our planet.  We are not helpless, she says.  But because we fear the feeling of helplessness, we turn away from our natural love and grief for the earth.

     So this is the message of hope that feels right to me this New Year’s.  We are in a terrible situation.  We must honestly face it and experience the depth of our feelings about it.  It seems counterintuitive, but doing so will empower us.  And we need to be empowered if we are to act for our future and that of our children.  Ms. Macy’s artaicle is very long, but very much worth reading.  I invite you to make the time for it.  

     Joanna Macy has given me an idea for 2011.  I plan to learn more about the Council of All Beings program and the collective mourning mourning ritual she has developed to help people to work through their repressed responses to the threat of environmental disaster.  I am thinking about organizing such an event in my area.

     And so I wish you a hopeful, inspired 2011.  Despite the gravity of our environmental plight, I believe there is a great deal we can do about it.  And taking in the wisdom of Joanna Macy can be a great help.–April Moore

4 Responses to “Liberating Thoughts for the New Year”

  1. Todd Says:

    Thanks April. A wonderful article! Wishing you and Andy and all of us a great 2011! Todd

  2. Elizabeth H. Cottrell Says:

    Wow, what a powerful and thought-provoking piece, April…doubly fascinating for me because of my own exploration of the Power of Connection at Some excerpts really jumped out at me:

    “interconnectedness with life and all other beings…is the living web out of which our individual, separate existences have risen, and in which we are interwoven. Our lives extend beyond our skins, in radical interdependence with the rest of the world…

    “Once we tune into our interconnectedness, responsibility toward self and other become indistinguishable, because each thought and act affects the doer as much as the one done to.”

    I began my own exploration by separating types of connection:Connection with Self, with Others, with God/Source, and with Nature. But I have come to believe — and Joanna Macy clearly does too — that even the different types of connection are connected!

    I think it’s important that wherever we might be on the “despair spectrum” (in disbelief, in denial, in “double-living” or in outright despair, we must be sensitive to each other, listen to each other, and look for those threads of connection that empower us. I don’t know the source of the following wisdom, but it is appropriate here:

    A sorrow shared is half a sorrow…
    A joy shared is two joys…

    Another image is trying to pull itself out of my memory bank: in a movie about the childhood of a black pro basketball player (and I’m sorry, I don’t remember his name), in one scene, his single mother has gathered her children around her in a desperate hour inside their ghetto home…she holds up a single wooden match stick and snaps it in two…”That’s what happens when we try to stand alone,” she said. Then she put several match sticks in her hand to make a bundle. When she tried to break them, they were too strong all together. “When we stay together, we stay strong…no one can break us.”

    I’m paraphrasing her words, but it is a scene I’ll never forget, and it applies, I believe, to the importance of finding those connections that bind us so that we can combine our individual talents, skills, and strengths for a brighter future.

  3. Joan Kelly Says:

    I wish all the members of Earth adequate sustenance, ease and simple joy. I don’t know how much of that we can attain by “rules” and “laws”. So I wish that all of us find true compassion and empathy for our fellow man.

    It’s good that we learn to say: I love you. Happy New Year everyone!

  4. April Says:

    I appreciate your comments, Elizabeth. I’ve come to believe, and at times to actually feel, that we really are all one. It’s not just a metaphor; it’s real.

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