We’re all living in a very special time-a time when profound evolutionary development can be felt and seen more palpably and more tangibly than ever before. In fact, the rate of change today is moving so quickly, it is, more often than not, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually overwhelming. But we can’t go back. In fact, there’s nowhere to go back to. The simpler world that we may yearn to return to simply doesn’t exist anymore. I think the real issue at hand is whether we are morally, intellectually, philosophically, and spiritually prepared not only to not resist the momentum that we’re already being carried by, but more importantly, to actually take responsibility for it. I passionately believe that this is the great spiritual challenge at hand for all of us. Whether it’s a task we’ll be able to meet, I don’t know. But I’ve devoted my life to awakening in as many people as possible a wholehearted desire to try.—Andrew Cohen
Reading this passage and thinking on it has inspired me to examine some of the idealizations still lingering in my worldview. One of my hobbies is historical reconstruction. Learning about life in the middle ages, especially studying women’s everyday lives, cured any romantic ideas of the middle ages very quickly. Many people watch movies of ladies living in castles doing embroidery and idealize their lives. Think of it! No computers! No email, facebook, online dating, or commuting. The other side of that is no antibiotics, no birth control, no escape from spousal abuse, and no opportunities for education. Many young people now are idealizing rural agrarian life around the turn of the century in their quest to feel more connected to their food sources and less connected with the consumer culture. Think of it! No high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified seeds, petro-chemical fertilizers, or zoning laws preventing you from having chickens in your back yard. The other side of that, of course is no zoning laws preventing a slaughtering facility next door. Or a tannery. No Farm Bill to keep you from literally starving if your crops failed. Canning not because it’s fun, but because otherwise you’ll be eating nothing but cornmeal mush and salted meat all winter, and that’s if you’re lucky. No corner grocery stores with every food from across the globe, available all the time.
Yes, we all can see where our excesses have gotten us. How often do you think about why we have these excesses in the first place? We have these excesses because, for the first time in history, we can. Now comes the lesson of “Just because we can, should we?”
This I think is the question we have to ask ourselves moving forward. This is how we can take responsibility. We have more choices than ever before, and we can choose to take the best parts of the past and reject the excesses of the present as we move into the future.
I feel that great swaths of American culture are moving in the right direction, as defined by myself alone. When I look around, for every person watching “Honey Boo Boo”, there is another gardening for the first time. The trendiness may pass, but too many people have caught the bug for it to die. Permaculture is trending right now, building on the local/sustainable/DIY movement, hopefully creating the tidal wave that will wash over our culture as much as the hippies did 50 years ago.
In this time of great change, what parts of the past are missing? What excesses are you rejecting in the present? What do you want to carry into the future?