Alejandro López
Let there be an opening
to the quiet
that lies beneath
the chaos,
where you find the peace
you did not think possible,
and see what shimmers within the storm

Anonymous

 
In our current world, it is easy to remain a passive observer of the state of things and simply turn on the television and reach for a beer. Or, worse, a weapon, as is apparently becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States, New Mexico included. It is much harder to dig through the massive amount of information available and figure out what is happening at our own front door, as well as further afield. It takes time and a commitment to dialoging with others, to grappling with ideas and listening to other people’s points of view, even for a while, if we are to enrich our understanding of the world and its complexity.

Reading volumes on every discipline might help illuminate how on earth we got to this juncture in human history where, because of extreme climate change and our propensity for war and violence, we may not survive as a species much longer—a most sobering thought, indeed.

It often isn’t easy to know how to do the right thing in the face of dwindling water supplies, trucked-in foodstuffs, depletion of natural resources and proliferating social crises of every kind. Thankfully, two articles in the December 2015 Green Fire Times provided us with viable alternative ideas that most of us can pursue in this hour of winter darkness, if we so choose. Deep thinkers Robert Christie and Rina Swentzell concluded that, in a world out of kilter in the way ours is, it makes sense to transform our individual lives and private spaces into microcosms of the world that we would like to live in. And actually do it!

Christie states that, in time, the effort by people to create such a world has the potential of coalescing into a huge, unstoppable movement. Such efforts would be joyous and creative, predicated on the adoption of a set of values different from those many currently adhere to, if “survival of the fittest or richest” can be considered a value. The cultivation of human beings with true appreciation for all living beings and our planetary home would indeed yield a completely different reality. As Greg Moss, author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Non-violence states in a recent article, “We human beings wield a cosmic power in the attitudes that we choose to take.”

Within the boundaries of our homes, yards and other private places, we are able to do things that enhance not only our lives but also the lives of all with whom we come into contact. We can garden and cook, read and study, write, meditate and exercise. We can play games, tell stories, create music, dance, celebrate, care for one another, make things and, of course, recycle all that we use.

A couple of people I know personify this process of redirecting human energy toward things that really matter. Bob, a man in his late 60s, spends much of his time testing alternative technologies, especially simple solar-energy solutions that address the challenge of inexpensively heating homes. He offers these options to his friends, neighbors and community. Stacie, a young Buddhist woman, has so completely devoted herself to recycling every item she uses, together with minimizing consumerism, that she has created a household that generates close to zero trash. Having accomplished this, she functions as both a role model and a fountain of knowledge about this profoundly important ecological process.

We can open our homes to others and pursue activities in small groups where people can develop solid friendships. The positive impacts generated by these activities will invariably spill out into the public spaces of neighborhoods, larger groups of people and community initiatives. Through grounding ourselves in such life-affirming activities, the media and the terrible things that occur in the world will have a lesser impact on our psyche and will not deter us from pursuing a self-reliant vision.

To not take charge of our lives and nourish our families and communities in these ways is to remain open to the prevailing winds of consumerism, militarism and a general sense of helplessness or hopelessness. At this time of serious global ecological crisis and social unrest, it would be a pity to not take the opportunity to plumb the depths of our reserves of intuition, intelligence, courage, strength and compassion in order to “seed” the world with joy, beauty and hope in all its forms and manifestations.

 
Alejandro López is a multimedia grassroots cultural worker who lives and works in northern New Mexico. For several years, he served as New Mexico coordinator for PeaceJam, an organization through which Nobel Peace Prize laureates worked with local youth toward the creation of a more just and empathetic society.